Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly President Mevlüt Çavusoglu has welcomed the conviction and sentencing of two men involved in the murder of Stephen Lawrence.
David Norris and Gary Dobson who were both given life sentences at the Old Bailey on 4th January 2012.
Mr. Çavusoglu said justice has finally seen the light after 18 years in what he described as one of “Europe’s most notorious racist hate crimes.”
“This case has done more than any other individual case to raise horror and concern about racism, not only in Britain but also across Europe,” said Mr. Çavusoglu. “The gratuitous nature of the killing, the initial failure in the response of the police and the botched initial prosecution led to a complete overhaul of the approach to race relations in the United Kingdom, which has spilled over into the rest of the continent.”
The PACE President continued: “However, this could only happen once there was a recognition that there had been a collective failure, and a recognition that there was ‘institutional racism’ not only in the police force, but also in many other areas of society, which had to be tackled.”
Mr. Çavusoglu said the problem of ‘institutional racism’ was one which continues to raise its head across Europe, whether in relation to migrants, asylum seekers or refugees, or in connection with other marginalised and vulnerable groups such as the Roma. It is one which the Council of Europe – through its Parliamentary Assembly, its Human Rights Commissioner, its anti-racism body ECRI and other bodies – monitors on a daily basis.
“Justice will only ever be a half-full glass for the Lawrence family. Nothing will bring back their son. But their relentless campaign for justice has changed the face of tackling racism and racist crimes. It has ensured that an innumerable number of persons, not just in the UK, but across Europe, do not have to stare at empty glasses of justice. We have the Lawrence family to thank for this,” Mr. Çavusoglu said.