Weekly news

ERIO'S WEEKLY E-NEWS 15-04-2016

ERIO news and activities

* ERIO at the FRA consultation meeting
On 11 April 2016, ERIO participated in the informal meeting of the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) to discuss the ongoing work on indicators tracking progress on Roma inclusion and FRA’s cooperation with civil society organisations on this issue. Other networks also took part in the discussions such as ENAR and Pavee Point Travellers’ Centre Ireland.
The aim of the informal meeting was to discuss the practical application of S-P-O indicators and the possible role by civil society organisations in generating ethnically disaggregated data for monitoring progress of Roma integration. In particular, the meeting discussed the conceptual framework of the indicators framework and the various approaches to data collection.

FRA presented the latest developments of the FRA’s Fundamental Rights Platform and the conceptual framework of the S-P-O indicators and the reporting tool. The civil society organisations’ feedback was on the reporting tool and how it can be used. During the brainstorming session on the possible role of civil society organisation in gathering ethnically disaggregated data, ERIO’s executive director, Ivan Ivanov, stated: “Data is crucial for monitoring the progress of Roma integration. The lack of such data was the reason for the failure of many programs and policies aiming at Roma’s social inclusion. ERIO supports the suggestions of FRA for working with statistical offices to apply ethnic identities in censuses, working with academia on indirect methods for identifying ethnicity. We find very important the generating data at community level with capturing rights holders’ perspective. Any approach which could bring accountability, transparency and effectiveness in the implementation of Roma-related policies should be used properly. At the same time we should make sure that we do not play with fears of Roma people and raise awareness and largely inform of what is the purpose of ethnic data collection and why we need indicators for the monitoring and reporting processes.”
* ERIO at the EESC hearing
ERIO was an invited speaker at the European Economic and Social Committee hearing “Anti-gypsyism: possible responses” that took place in Brussels on the 5 April. The hearing highlighted the need to focus attention on anti-Gypsyism and possible ways to fight such phenomenon. ERIO’s senior policy officer, Marta Pinto, provided some tentative indicators to measure anti-Gypsyism such as incitement to death, hate, intimidation and violence towards Roma; denial of fundamental rights; discrimination and socio-economic disadvantages. Moreover, Ms Pinto discussed the strong impact of the current refugee situation on Roma inclusion. As she said, “With the refugee situation, Roma inclusion slipped down the political agenda and is used as an excuse to stop or delay the implementation of Roma inclusion policies.”

More information, including agenda of the hearing can be found here

http://www.eesc.europa.eu/?i=portal.en.events-and-activities-anti-gypsyism-programme

OTHER news

* EU Justice Commissioner says situation of Romani people is not improving
By ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert

Discrimination against Romani people continues to be widespread throughout the entire European Union and anti-Romani prejudice is currently on the rise in the context of the overall growth in extremism and radicalism there. EU Justice Commissioner Věra Jourová warned the European Parliament of that fact on Monday.
"We have done a great deal [to improve the position of Romani people] but the situation is not improving, in fact, it is even deteriorating. The Romani minority is the first to be afflicted by the deteriorating situation in Europe," Jourová said, adding that she is worried by the trend of previously-adopted campaigns, European values and strategies now being rejected.
The Commissioner said one of the main problems as to why the situation is not improving is that "we create policy for Romani people without them". She sees room for improving the involvement of Romani people mainly in the NGO sector.

Read more here
* Secretariat of Bulgaria’s council for cooperation on ethnic, integration issues honours memory of Roma who died in WW II
By Focus Information Agency

​April 8 is the International Roma Day. On this day the Roma from all over the world pay respect to the Roma victims during the WWII. The day celebrates Romani culture and raises awareness of the issues facing Romani people.Bulgaria also marks International Roma Day on April 8. Secretariat of the National Council for Cooperation on Ethnic and Integration Issues with Bulgaria’s Council of Ministers honoured Friday the memory of Roma people who died in the Nazi concentration camps during the Second World War, FOCUS News Agency reported.

A memorial service was held at the St Nedelya Church in the capital Sofia.
The event was attended by Chief of Staff of Deputy Prime Minister for Demographic and Social Policies, Minister of Labour and Social Policy, and Chairperson of the National Council for Cooperation on Ethnic and Integration Issues Ivaylo Kalfin; Rositsa Ivanova, Secretary of the National Council for Cooperation on Ethnic and Integration Issues; experts at the National Council for Cooperation on Ethnic and Integration Issues; representatives of the Ministry of Education and Science; representatives of the Ministry of Culture; Roma students from the Roma Veritas Association; and members of other institutions and NGOs.

The clergyman who held the memorial service said Bulgarian people had rescued during the Holocaust not only Bulgarian Jews but also the representatives of the Roma community.Due to Bulgarian people and most of all the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, no Bulgarian Roma person died in the so-called death camps, it was said. ​A wreath was later laid at the Monument to the Unknown Soldier in Sofia on behalf of Deputy Prime Minister for Demographic and Social Policies, Minister of Labour and Social Policy, and Chairperson of the National Council for Cooperation on Ethnic and Integration Issues Ivaylo Kalfin. (source: ​http://www.focus-fen.net)
* Turkey’s first Roma deputy calls for solid action against discrimination on Roma Day 
By Hurriyet News

​08/04/2016 - Turkey’s first Roma deputy, Özcan Purcu, has drawn attention to discrimination against Roma citizens, citing problems in education, healthcare and equal access to the job market. The deputy asked for “proof of love [for Roma people]” on International Roma Day, marked on April 8 each year, by taking efficient political action, instead of uttering “vain words.”

“I have received many complaints like, ‘We filed a job application but they said they wouldn’t hire a Roma,’ ‘We went to the hospital, they made us wait only to turn us away without an examination,’ or ‘They make our children sit at the back row in classrooms,’” main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy has told Turkish online news portal bianet.

“In order to solve these problems, which are common in every field, we need to increase the number of educated Roma people working within the bureaucracy,” Purcu said.The deputy also said he was involved in a joint study being carried out by Mersin University and the Mediterranean Roma Federations Association, which showed that most teachers working in predominantly Roma neighborhoods asked to be reassigned after only one year.

“This is a very serious problem. Teachers working in schools where most students are Roma should go through special education in order to end discrimination in schools,” he argued, adding that he personally visits school principals or governors when people call him with complaints about the education.

Read more here
* International Roma Day, Press Statement, John Kerry Secretary of State
By US Department of State

Washington, DC , April 7, 2016 - On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I extend my best wishes to all Roma on International Roma Day. On April 8, we celebrate the rich cultural heritage of Roma people everywhere, and the contributions that Roma make to our societies, including the over one million Americans of Romani descent.

It is also a day to reflect on the exclusion many Roma face in their daily lives and to recommit to effectively remedy discrimination. Unfortunately, segregated schools, extremist anti-Roma rhetoric and violence, and marginalization from political and economic life continue to prevent many Roma children from reaching their full potential. We are resolved that Romani children deserve the same educational opportunities as their peers, Romani families deserve to live their lives free from the fear of violence, and all Romani individuals deserve the opportunity to provide for their families and have their voices heard by their government. To commemorate this day, the United States reaffirms our commitment to the inclusion and equal treatment of all Roma people, wherever they call home.

Read more here
* Improving opportunities for Europe’s Roma children will pay off
By Mariam Sherman, World Bank

​Eight years on from the start of the global economic crisis, close to one quarter of the European Union’s population remains at risk of poverty or social exclusion. But one group in particular stands out: Europe’s growing and marginalized Roma population.

The equivalent figure for Roma children stands at 85 percent in Central and Southeastern Europe. Living conditions of marginalized Roma in this region are often more akin to those in least developed countries than what we expect in Europe.

I have witnessed some of the striking inequalities and poverty that especially marginalized Roma children face first hand during a visit to Romania and Hungary last month. Lack of access to proper education and adequate living conditions indicate a lack of opportunities.

Roma children face “inherited” inequalities, transferred through poor living conditions from parent to child in a self-perpetuating cycle, and further strengthened by stereotypes and discrimination, or institutional or legal gaps. As a result, most Roma end up with lower skills, worse job prospects and poorer living standards than their fellow non-Roma citizens. And so the cycle continues.

Read more here
* Rights experts urge the UN to implement a panel opinion on Roma IDPs poisoned in camps in Kosovo
By UN

​GENEVA (15 April 2016) – Two United Nations independent experts today called on the world organisation to implement the opinion of the Human Rights Advisory Panel of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) made public last week, to hold the Mission accountable for leaving Roma families exposed to lead poisoning in camps for the internally displaced in Kosovo.
During 1998 and 1999, thousands of Roma were forced to flee by the armed conflict between the Serbian forces and the Kosovo Liberation Army and other Kosovo Albanian armed groups. Many became IDPs or refugees in neighboring countries and in Europe.

IDP camps were established in the late 1990s close to the Trepca mining and smelting complex, known to be the cause of lead contamination and other forms of toxic contamination of the surrounding areas since the 1970s. The camps, which were intended to provide only temporary accommodation up to ninety days, were in place for several years. The opinion of the Panel highlights the extremely poor conditions of the camps, as its inhabitants often lacked running water, electricity, heating, adequate healthcare or access to food.

“I have been following this case since the beginning,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Rita Izsák-Ndiaye. “It is disheartening that in the meantime lives had been lost and many had suffered serious health consequences.”

Read more here
* US Department of State: Marginalization of Romani Minority Remains Bulgaria's Most Pressing Human Rights Problem
By Washington

​Washington, 14/04/2016 - The marginalization of and societal intolerance towards the Romani minority remained Bulgaria's most pressing human rights problem in 2015, according to the annual Human Rights Report released by the US Department of State on April 13.

The report says that continued deterioration of the media environment and increase in media's corporate and political dependence were also problematic in Bulgaria. Corruption continued to be a drag on the government's capabilities and undermined public and business confidence in the judiciary and other government institutions.

Another reported human rights problem was the unlawful killing of an Afghani migrant by a Bulgarian border police officer near the Bulgarian-Turkish border on October 15. The list also includes harsh conditions in prisons and detention facilities, police violence, and long delays in the judicial system.

Read more here

ANNOUNCEMENTS and events

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
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