EU says Slovenia should do more to protect Roma rights

02-08-2003

While Slovakia is trying to combat corruption ahead of EU entry, Slovenia has been told by the EU to give better rights and protection to it's Roma minority.

In Slovenia Roma are joint in the »Roma Union of Slovenia« and the Union is also the official consultation body of the Slovene government. The Roma Union now wants the state of Slovenia to settle the legal situation of their community. The constitutional right before the law is secured but there are many issues that need more precise definition.

The bill on Roma communities has been proposed by one of the smaller parties of the Slovene parliament and the Roma themselves are not really satisfied with the solutions: Maja Rijavec, advisor at the Office for Nationalities:

"Regarding the arranging of the positions of the Roma ethnic communities, Slovenia still faces an old dilemma: to adopt one general law on one hand or to regulate the speacial rights of the roma ethnic community through regional laws on the other. That measn through laws that deal with issues at local level such as residential status, housing problems, condition, educational possibilities, cultural develoment, preservation of their identity and development of political particpation on local level."

In 20 communities Roma councillors have been elected, as the law requires, in the remaining 6 communities this should be done as soon as possible.

The majority of Roma in Slovenia lives in two areas of the country, mostly in larger settlements. And here lies another problem: The European Roma Rights center is concerened that Roma in Slovenia often live in segregated settlements which are characterised by a lack of basic utilities, such as electricity, running water and sanitation. Furthermore, the legal status of Romani settlements is frequently unresolved; Problems also arouse in the field of education.

The Open Society Institute in its report on the situation of Roma in Slovenia recommends greater efforts to educate authorities, particularly those working in areas with substantial Roma populations, to reduce prejudice and improve understanding of Roma needs and issues. To be truly effective in promoting two-way integration, tolerance promotion programmes focusing on the Roma should also target the general public.

02-08-2003