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9576Roma?

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  • Mark Ranchik
    Mar 24, 2004
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      http://www.ihf-hr.org/viewbinary/viewhtml.php?doc_id=5367

      Text included here for ease of reading:
      ----------------------------------------------------------

      Roma in Slovakia: Discrimination, Inequality, Neglect


      Bratislava and Vienna, 16 March 2004 - In a press conference today,
      the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF) and the
      Slovak Helsinki Committee (SHV) expressed their concerns at the
      failure of the Slovak government to respect human rights principles
      and standards before and in the context of the series of riots
      recently conducted by members of the Roma community in Central and
      Eastern Slovakia.

      The riots emerged in February, in reaction to the entry into force of
      a new Slovak law on social benefits (Amendment no. 45/2004 to the Act
      no. 195/1998 on Social Aid). The IHF and the SHV are concerned that
      parts of this law have a clearly discriminatory intent, such as a
      provision limiting financial help to large families, which in
      Slovakia are mostly present among the Roma community. These families
      would see their benefits reduced after the fourth child -- a highly
      questionable, discriminatory policy.

      The IHF and the SHV stressed the failure of the state, over the last
      decade, to appropriately address widespread discrimination against
      the Roma population, in spite of expectations that improvements would
      be brought before the country's entry into the European Union.

      No significant steps have been undertaken to develop a comprehensive
      strategy vis-à-vis the problems of the large Slovak Roma community,
      and to address the growing anti-Roma sentiment that has followed the
      February events. "Discrimination, inequality, and neglect of the Roma
      question continue, while the authorities concentrate their energies
      into countering the alleged damage caused by the Roma on Slovakia's
      image abroad", said Aaron Rhodes, IHF Executive Director.

      Discrimination against the Roma population in Slovakia has been
      rampant for many years, and was only exacerbated by the new law.
      Racial segregation, including depriving Roma from residence permits
      in a number of Slovak towns and other unofficial measures carried out
      by local authorities and apartment owners, have led to the increased
      isolation of Roma in slum settlements lacking the minimum modern
      utilities. The extremely high unemployment rate, which the Slovak
      authorities often put on account of the "Roma culture" and other
      stereotypes, is largely due to widespread racial discrimination, with
      e.g. local employment offices accepting to post job announcements
      stating that Roma would not be considered. The practice of
      segregating Roma pupils in special neighbourhood schools or placing
      them in schools for children with developmental disabilities remains
      a burning issue raised regularly by the European Roma Rights Centre,
      an IHF cooperating organisation.

      Concerned about reports of abuse committed by the large police and
      military forces deployed in the context of the February riots, the
      IHF and the SHC are calling upon the state to carry out proper,
      independent investigations into these abuses. The case of the death
      of Radoslav Puky is of particular concern for both organisations,
      which are urging the authorities to carry out proper investigations
      into the circumstances of the death and to establish an independent
      committee in charge of the civil supervision of the investigative
      results.

      Urgent steps must be undertaken by the authorities to address the
      increasing intolerance within the majority Slovak population towards
      Roma people.


      For more information:
      Aaron Rhodes, IHF Executive Director: +43-1-408 88 22 or +43-676-635
      6612
      Ingrid Baumannova, SHC Executive Director: +421-2-5296 8875
      Henriette Schroeder, IHF Press Officer: +43-676-725 4829
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