Weekly news


ERIO news and activities

* International Students Visit ERIO
A group of international Master students studying social studies and communication from Christelijke Hogeschool Ede (Christian School of Applied Science) in Holland visited ERIO’s office on the 6th of November 2015. ERIO’s staff met with them to discuss ERIO’s work and the current situation of Roma rights in the EU. The students showed great interest in minority rights as they have discussed the obstacles minorities face when exercising their rights during their studies. Our policy officer Marta Pinto described the work ERIO conducts, ranging from acting as a bridge between the Roma NGOs that carry out grassroots work and the European institutions, to training and empowering the Roma. Moreover, she spoke about the history of the advocacy efforts made my ERIO and other Roma organizations. The role of the media was also discussed. Ms. Pinto informed the students about hate speech and explained ERIO’s efforts to create an informal European Roma Media Network scheduled to be launched next year. The aim of the network is to bring journalists together, to monitor national media that uses hate speech against Roma. Also, discussion took place concerning the promotion of youth empowerment and the impact of role models. ERIO is currently developing a booklet for the end of 2015 of Roma role models to help further the Roma youth’s ambition. Moreover, we spoke about ERIO’s collaboration with other minority organizations. Ms. Pinto stressed that the Roma community should be aided to integrate but not assimilate, so that the diversity in the European Union can be further celebrated.

OTHER news

* Is Eastern Europe Really More Racist Than the West?
By Kenan Malik, NewYork Times

LONDON — SOLDIERS putting up miles of razor wire fencing to keep out refugees. A mother and child stuck in a field of mud. A truck parked on the highway between Budapest and Vienna containing the decomposing bodies of 71 refugees.
The scenes over recent weeks from the eastern borders of Europe have generated horror and revulsion. “Have Eastern Europeans no sense of shame?” asked the Polish-American historian Jan Gross. Another historian, the German-born Jan-Werner Müller, demanded that the European Union “ostracize” Hungary, “a country no longer observing its values,” by cutting off funding and suspending its voting rights.
For many, Eastern Europeans’ lack of generosity toward refugees reflects, in the words of one Guardian columnist, a fundamental “political and cultural gap” that divides the Continent. Eastern European nations threw off the Soviet yoke only a quarter-century ago and are new to the values of liberal democracy. Ethnically homogeneous, they are unused to immigration. Hence, many suggest, this insularity and prejudice.

Read more here
* Group of illegal migrants detained in Roma quarter of Bulgaria’s Plovdiv
By FOCUS News Agency, Focus Information Agency

Foreign nationals illegally staying on the territory of the country have been detained in the frames of a special operation carried out by the State Agency for National Security (SANS) in the Stolipinovo residential quarter, inhabited mostly by people of Roma origin, in Bulgaria’s second-biggest city of Plovdiv.
Director of the District Interior Ministry Directorate-Plovdiv, Hristo Razsolkov, announced the information speaking for Radio FOCUS.
“The operation was realised by the SANS, while we provided assistance,” Mr Razsolkov explained.
The Interior Ministry refused to reveal details about the operation. More information will be presented by the SANS.

Read more here
* Greek Roma couple cleared in child-snatching case

09/11/2015 - A Greek court on Monday dropped child-snatching charges against a Roma couple at the centre of a media frenzy in 2013 when a little blonde girl named Maria was found in their camp.
The court in the central city of Larissa said it had insufficient evidence to further prosecute Christos Salis and his wife Eleftheria Dimopoulou, the state agency ANA said. The couple did however receive suspended prison sentences for making a false statement to authorities about the girl's parentage. Four-year-old Maria made international headlines in 2013 when she was found living with the Roma couple who were not her parents in the Greek town of Farsala.

The girl was thought to be an abducted western European child until the Greek and Bulgarian authorities tracked down her real parents in Bulgaria, in a ghetto in the central town of Nikolaevo. Sasha and Atanas Rusev admitted abandoning the girl as a seven-month-old baby in Greece in 2009, during a stay for seasonal work, because they were too poor to look after her. Today Maria remains in the care of Athens-based charity Smile of the Child.

Read more here
* Child rights in European law: new practical guide from the EU Fundamental Rights Agency and the Council of Europe

On the occasion of Universal Children’s Day, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), the Council of Europe, and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), launch a handbook on European law relating to rights of the child.
“The promotion and protection of rights of the child is one of the EU’s objectives. However, legal practitioners are not always familiar with European law and jurisprudence in this area,” says FRA interim Director Constantinos Manolopoulos. “We are glad to offer this useful guide to assist practitioners better protect children so they can effectively enjoy their rights.”

Council of Europe Director General for Democracy Snežana Samardžić-Marković says: “Legislation and policy promoting the rights of the child would have little impact without them being directly implemented through national and international jurisprudence. Professionals working with and for children need to have a full overview and, most importantly, understanding of the case law developed by the international and regional courts in this area. This handbook will be a precious tool to making children’s rights a reality in their daily lives.”
Read more here
* Czech study shows most non-Romani parents seek schools with few or no Romani pupils
By mik, Open Society Fund Prague, translated by Gwendolyn Albert

Children from socially excluded areas who do not receive adequate support during preschool age are more at risk of school failure than their non-excluded peers. That is the finding of a study focused on the inclusion of preschool-aged Romani children presented on 5 November by the Open Society Fund Prague Children who attend a regular nursery school instead of "preparatory classes" are much more successful in their later education, according to the report. The Institute for Research and Development of Education of the Faculty of Education at Charles University was commissioned to produce the study.
The report ascertained that the positive effect of nursery schools is more significant that the influence of so-called "preparatory classes". Such classes were reserved just for socially disadvantaged children until September of this year.
Children from socially excluded areas, especially where Romani people live, frequently never know any other environment when they are young, according to the authors of the report. "Without the necessary support, such children begin their school attendance with different experiences, knowledge and skills than their peers from the majority society. The differences are apparent in almost all areas," the authors say.

Read more here
* Refugees, Roma people want to be Rome Mafia civil plaintiffs
By Redazione ANSA

About 150 people and entities including refugees and Roma people asked to be admitted as civil plaintiffs in the so-called Rome Mafia case, which opened Thursday in the nation's capital.
The trial centers on an alleged racketeering ring made up of gangsters, businessmen and politicians that muscled in on lucrative city contracts for refugee and Roma people camps, trash collection, parks maintenance, and other sectors. Among the would-be plaintiffs are three refugees from Darfur, a 23-year-old Pakistani political refugee, and 37 Roma people who argued the defendants dissipated funds earmarked for improvements to a camp where the city had transferred them by force.
Others wanting to constitute themselves as injured parties include the interior ministry, the Lazio region, the city of Rome, AMA trash collection company, Confindustria employers association, cooperatives league Lega Coop, Codacons consumer group, Cittadinanzattiva (Active Citizenship) non-profit, the Lazio section of the ruling Democratic Party (PD) and the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S). The court will announce its decision at the next trial hearing on November 17.

Read more here


* ERIO’s Training “Advocacy for Roma inclusion” INVITATION
Brussels, 10-11 December 2015

The European Roma Information Office (ERIO) invites you to attend a training on advocacy skills which will be held on the 10 and 11 December from 9:30-15:30 at the Maison Notre Dame Du Chant d'Oiseau, Centre de Formation, Avenue des Franciscains 3a, 1150 Brussels.
The training is for Roma activists and it aims to:
- Improve the advocacy skills of Roma to enable them to be involved in the implementation of the National Roma Integration Strategies (NRIS) as well as in anti-discrimination and social inclusion policies at European, national and local level;
- Inform Roma organisations and representatives about the different types of EU funds, how to apply and how to effectively use them for the successful integration of Roma;
- Inform about relevant EU developments such as the EU Framework, the NRIS and the Council recommendation in order to be exploited within advocacy activities.

The training will be in English.

Places are limited. Please confirm participation as soon as possible, latest by 08 December 2015.
Register by email/phone by sending your name, surname, title and the organisation you represent to:
Tel: +32 (2) 733 3462
Join the The European Roma Media Network!

The European Roma Media Network was an outcome of ERIO’s conference “Media: a key tool to fight hate speech and anti-Gypsyism” organised on 23 June 2015 in Brussels. The ultimate goal of this informal Network is to join efforts to invert the role of the media as a tool to fight anti-Roma sentiments and 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.
The role of the Network is to provide an online platform for different stakeholders 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. A parallel objective of the Network is to monitor and react to hate speech and negative portrayal of Roma in the media and address the responsible authorities.Who can join? Members of the Network should be journalists (Roma and non-Roma), media experts or NGOs working on media.

Want to apply for membership?
To apply for membership please fill in this registration form and send it to office@erionet.eu
School Drawing Competition: For Roma, with Roma

You are invited to take part in a drawing competition organised by the European Commission for 7-10 year olds. The aim of the competition is to help children, teachers and parents think about what we share that allows us to live together in an inclusive and mixed society.
To enter, work in a group to create a drawing that represents the theme above. Draw your ideas of five ways we are all the same; whether we are Roma or not.

The deadline for the competition is 16 February 2016.
More information can be found here.
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