Weekly news


ERIO news and activities

* Continuing our training on Roma history and culture with school teachers
01/06/2015 - On the 1st of June, ERIO held its second training as part of its course on history and Roma culture in a primary school in Brussels. This training, part of the SMILE project, was focused on modern Roma history and the Holocaust.

During this training with primary school staff we talked about the Roma and Sinti Holocaust and possible ways to counteract rising trends of racism and xenophobia. Trainees listened to the testimony of the Sinti survivor, Rita Prigmore. Not surprisingly, most of the trainees were unfamiliar with the Roma and Sinti experience during the Nazi regime. That is why such trainings are vital and all partners of the SMILE project are doing it at national level.

Two more trainings will be carried as part of this course, the first on Roma traditions, symbols and beliefs on the 29th of June and the second about Roma stereotypes in September. 
See photos of the trainings here
Visit the SMILE project website here
* Continuing our training on Roma history and culture with school teachers
Yesterday we participated in the conference “How to safeguard the fundamental rights of the most deprived EU citizens” organised by MEP Fredrick Federley and MEP Soraya Post. During the event we discussed what measures should be taken in order to ensure Roma have a dignified existence in the host Member States; how to help them finding a way of supporting themselves and their families and how their integration in the new Member State can be promoted.

OTHER news

* France to spend €100 million tackling ‘unbearable’ racism
By FRANCE 24 with AFP

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls announced Friday that the government would pour 100 million euros into a major anti-racism and anti-Semitism action plan devised in the aftermath of January’s deadly Paris jihadist attacks.The programme, which among other measures increases penalties for crimes deemed to have been fuelled by racism and anti-Semitism, comes at a time when acts of racism against Muslims and Jews have shot up in France. "Racism, anti-Semitism, hatred of Muslims, of foreigners, homophobia are increasing in an unbearable manner," Valls said in the Paris suburb city of Créteil, the scene of a brutal attack on a Jewish man and his girlfriend in December.

On Thursday the country's Islamophobia watchdog said anti-Muslim acts had jumped six-fold in the first three months of the year compared with the same period in 2014, fuelled by the January 7-9 attacks when Islamic extremists went on a killing spree that left 17 dead. The Jewish community is also increasingly worried, with anti-Semitic acts doubling last year compared with 2013, prompting a rising number of Jews to leave for Israel. "French Jews must no longer be scared to be Jewish" and "French Muslims must no longer be scared to be Muslim", Valls said. And it is not just these two communities – the largest in Europe with an estimated four to five million Muslims and around 600,000 Jews – that are targets.
Read more here
* Hungary: Justice minister says Roma community “our shared responsibility” after being called upon to apologize
By Hungary Matters

27/05/2015 - The Roma are not scapegoats but rather members of society for whom we have a shared responsibility, Justice Minister László Trócsányi said during questions in Parliament on Tuesday. During the session, Socialist lawmaker László Teleki quoted the minister’s remarks from last week, when he said that Hungary had trouble taking in economic migrants as it was focused on helping 800,000 Roma catch up. Teleki said it was “unfortunate” that the government was “trying to cover up its failures through deceitful propaganda” and “play the Gypsy card again”. Teleki said “the least” the minister could do was apologise for his remarks.

Trócsányi responded by saying that he would never have thought he would be “labelled a racist .. by certain politicians and media” for “calling for the social inclusion” of the Roma community. The minister said he “outright rejects” the accusations. He said the wanted to emphasise that the Roma issue should be a priority that transcends the issue of economic migrants. He stressed that the government would make every effort to help the Roma community catch up.
Read more here
* Garda arrested over alleged media role in Roma children case
By Irish Times

29/05/2015 - A senior Garda officer has been arrested over his alleged dealings with the media when members of the force took two Roma children from their families after their skin, eye and hair colour aroused suspicions around the children’s parentage.

The officer now under arrest has already had his phone examined and his office searched under warrant.
His arrest on Thursday morning was anticipated but has been greeted with surprise in Garda and security circles as he was authorised to speak to the media at the time of the contentious events and had been instructed to do so. The National Union of Journalists said there were “unusual aspects” to the case that it would be “watching very closely”. “It would be important that nothing would happen that would damage the release of information in the public interest,” said NUJ Irish secretary Seamus Dooley.

Read more here
* Gypsy children learning in Belgium's "school containers"
By Shanghai Daily

01/06/2015 - In the western suburbs of the Flemish city of Ghent in northern Belgium, there is a "school container" built for Gypsy children.The Roma camp located in the western suburbs of Ghent is the largest of its kind in the country. It has the capacity to accommodate 25 families with up to five members. This is the only camp in Belgium that has its own school. The school is installed in a container at the initiative of the municipal authorities to ensure that children have access to education.
The teacher explains that visiting children speak different languages and that their literacy is very low. Therefore, the school has planned a number of educational games. In one corner, a bin is filled with many toys. The teacher said she sees many Gypsy children who have good academic potential. Unfortunately, the lack of stability in their lives does not allow for educational progress.

Read more here
* Roma Generate Greatest Anti-Minority Sentiment
By Bruce Stokes

02/06/2015 - The most widespread anti-minority sentiment found in the survey was expressed against the Roma, also sometimes called Gypsies. Anti-Roma views are particularly prevalent among Italians (86% unfavorable) and the French (60%). Meanwhile, more than half in Spain (58%), the UK (54%) and Germany (52%) voice a favorable opinion of Roma. The lowest favorable ratings were in Italy (9%), France (39%) and Poland (41%).
Despite this relatively low regard for Roma compared with perceptions of other minorities, views of Roma have actually improved in the last year. The median over the six nations has grown from 38% favorable in 2014 to 47% this year, with the greatest improvement in the UK, where positive views rose by 16 percentage points. Women have a more positive view of Roma than men do in both the UK (58% among women vs. 49% among men) and Spain (64% vs. 54%, respectively). A majority of people on the left in France (56%) are favorably disposed toward Roma, while three-quarters of French on the right hold an unfavorable opinion. Similarly, while 65% of those on the left in Britain have a positive view, nearly half (49%) on the right make a negative assessment.

Read more here
* Child victims of violence rarely have access to justice, UNICEF says

03/06/2015 - Brussels:  Most child victims of violence in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia find themselves unable to speak up and file charges in court, according to a new UNICEF regional report launched here today. The report, Children’s Equitable Access to Justice in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia, sheds light on the tremendous barriers children face in seeking fair and effective solutions to put right the injustice and discrimination in their lives.
However, it also cites notable progress in the administration of justice. Governments in the region are increasingly adjusting their procedures in courts and police stations to protect the rights of children, in line with international standards. Legal, paralegal and social support to children going through justice processes is increasingly being provided. Through child rights centres or legal clinics, children and their families can obtain information on the avenues for redress, receive legal and social advice, be referred to a lawyer, doctor or psychologist or other services. In some cases, they can receive direct legal assistance to initiate a judicial process.

Read more here
* Sweden set to pen deal with Romania on welfare
By The Local

04/06/2015 - Sweden is set to sign a deal with Romania to help the struggling country solve some of its most pressing social issues, including providing aid for Roma beggars on home turf. Sweden and Romania are expected to sign the new agreement on Friday. The Nordic country has not yet earmarked any funds to the project, which will mainly focus on the education of Roma children, women's rights and welfare services.
The deal follows a surge in begging in Sweden, with a study in April suggesting that around 4,000 vulnerable EU migrants – many from Romania – are now living in the Nordic nation. Most of the beggars are members of the Roma community – one of the EU's largest minority groups. Many live in tents or caravans and make a living by asking Swedes for money outside shops and underground stations.
Read more here
* Council of Europe: More minority rights work is needed
By Spectator staff

04/06/2015 - The abilityof the Slovak government to effectively co-ordinate national minority protection has weakened lately, according to a Council of Europe opinion published June 4. “The government should pay increased attention to keeping minority rights an integral part of its agenda,” reads the Council of Europe press release. “Efforts to protect Roma from discrimination and especially address anti-Roma attitude in the education must be intensified.”
The opinion of the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities is based on the information provided by the authorities of the Slovak Republic in January 2014, and on the results of visits to Košice, Prešov, Dunajská Streda and Bratislava in September 2014.
Read more here


* Media: a key tool to fight hate speech and anti-Gypsyism - CONFERENCE INVITATION

Brussels, 26 June 2015
The European Roma Information Office (ERIO) invites you to attend the conference “Media: a key tool to fight hate speech and anti-Gypsyism” which will be held on 23 June 2015 at the European Economic Social Committee, room TRE 7701 (7th floor), 74 rue de Treves, 1040 Brussels from 09:00-17:00.

Media represent a strong communication tool in shaping the opinion and behaviour of Europeans on a daily basis. Roma are subject to discriminatory and racist discourses in the media whose reports continues to identify them as ‘outsiders within’ and as a threat to the fabric of the European society. Media tends to reinforce and reproduce existing stereotypes of the Roma and constructs them as useful scapegoats in times of economic crisis. These representations greatly influence individual attitudes and strengthen racist discrimination against this community, prejudice, xenophobia and even incitement to ethnic hatred.
There is an urgent need to address these issues. Due to the significant impact of media on European societies, journalists should take a special approach once informing about vulnerable groups such as Roma, who constitute the largest European ethnic minority. We should invert the role of the media as a tool for anti-Roma sentiment and use it to fight anti-Gypsyism. The media has a crucial role in combating racism and stereotypes about the Roma. This can be achieved with an ethical and critical journalism which aims to raise awareness and provide a greater understanding regarding Roma issues.
This conference will focus on finding appropriate and effective ways to sensitise journalists to Roma culture in order to overcome media negative stereotyping while discussing the role of the media in combating anti-Gypsyism. It will provide a platform for participants to exchange information and ideas about good practices and to discuss possible challenges and opportunities in tackling negative stereotypes and hate speech in the media.

This conference will be in English.

You can register by email or phone by giving your name, surname, title and the organisation you are working for. The deadline for registrations is 19 June 2015 at 15:00 (Brussels time).
For registration or any other queries, please contact: office@erionet.eu or Tel: +32 (2) 733 34 62
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