Weekly news


ERIO news and activities

* ERIO at the Workshop on the thematic evaluation on IPA support to Roma communities
On the 15 April, DG Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (NEAR) of the European Commission organised a workshop on the thematic evaluation of IPA support to Roma communities in Brussels.  Participants included representatives of the European institutions, international organisations, IPA beneficiaries and Roma and non-Roma NGOs. ERIO was invited to participate. During the workshop evaluators presented their tentative findings, conclusions and recommendations, which were discussed and consulted with all the participants.
* ERIO at ECRI’s consultation meeting of the Working Group on Hate Speech
ERIO was invited to attend the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) stakeholders meeting of the Working Group on Hate Speech organised in Brussels on 17 April. Invited stakeholders exchanged their views on the draft text of ECRI’s forthcoming General Policy Recommendation on combatting hate speech. Combating hate speech against Roma as a form of anti-Gypsyism is among ERIO’s priorities; therefore, we welcomed the opportunity to exchange ideas on the draft recommendation text. The final recommendation paper will be available in June.

OTHER news

* European Parliament resolution recognising the 2nd of August as Roma Holocaust Memorial Day
By Monika Šamová, ERIO

For many years ERIO has been raising awareness about Roma and Sinti Holocaust and pushing for the recognition of 2 August as a day to commemorate all Roma victims of the genocide during World War II. Therefore, ERIO welcomes the adoption of the European Parliament (EP) resolution on the occasion of International Roma Day – anti-Gypsyism in Europe and EU recognition of the memorial day of the Roma genocide during World War II through which the EP recognised the historical fact of the Roma genocide that took place during World War II and declared 2 August as the European Roma Holocaust Memorial Day calling on the Member States to follow its lead. The resolution was passed on 15 April 2015 during the EP Plenary sitting in Brussels with 554 votes for, 13 votes against and 44 abstentions.
The resolution is not limited only to recognition of Roma history; the EP expressed its deep concern at the rise of anti-Gypsyism considered as incompatible with the norms and values of the European Union and constituting a major obstacle to the successful social integration and one of the main causes of discrimination and marginalisation of Roma.
The EP also called on the Member States “to further strengthen the fight against anti-Gypsyism as part of their National Roma Integration Strategies” and to implement the Racial Equality Directive and the Council Framework Decision on combating Racism and Xenophobia more effectively.
Furthermore, the resolution reflected the gender and children aspect through emphasising the importance of specific measures for women’s and children’s rights within the National Roma Integration Strategies. 
* Serbia: Forcibly evicted Roma still awaiting resettlement despite EU millions
By Amnesty International

Three years after the forced eviction of more than one hundred Roma families from the Belvil settlement in Belgrade, a toxic combination of bureaucratic incompetence, inertia and discrimination has resulted in the failure of a multi-million euro European Commission (EC) funded project to resettle them. The majority of these families are still living in squalid racially segregated metal containers and around 50 may never be resettled, a new briefing from Amnesty International has found.

Launched on International Roma Day, the briefing, Roma still waiting for adequate housing,finds that, despite commitments from the City of Belgrade and €3.6 million funding from the EC, not one of the planned new housing blocks has been finished. Meanwhile evicted Roma have spent years living in container settlements far from schools, social services and access to employment.
“A flagship EC funded project intended to demonstrate how resettlements could be carried out in accordance with international human rights standards has been sunk by a catalogue of failures by the City of Belgrade,” said Garui van Gulik, Deputy Director of Europe and Central Asia for Amnesty International.
“Millions of euros were allocated for settlements and yet, three years on, the vast majority of Roma families thrown out of their houses, are still awaiting a place to call home.”

Read more here
* Amnesty Says Serbia Failed To Use EU Funds To Resettle Roma
By Ali Dağlar

Istanbul, 10/04/2015 - The Council of State has approved the cancellation of the controversial urban transformation project in Istanbul’s Sulukule neighborhood, which was historically populated by Roma people, years after the project was completed. The Council of State anonymously approved an Istanbul administrative court’s ruling from 2012 stating that the project constructed in Sulukule, located on the city’s historic peninsula and surrounded by ramparts, was “not beneficial to the public.”
The decision comes after Sulukule has undergone an extensive change in recent years due to a project funded by the Turkish Housing Development Agency (TOKİ), which replaced the neighborhood’s traditional buildings with “modern settlement blocks.” The changes forced the local Roma residents to resettle about 60 kilometers away, as they were unable to afford the newly constructed houses built on valuable real estate.

Read more here
* Three Years On, Evicted Roma in Belgrade are Still Homeless and Living in 'Squalid' Conditions
By Euractiv.com

08/04/2015 - There is still a long way to go for Roma integration in the EU, the European Commission said on the eve of International Roma Day, on Wednesday (8 April).
In a joint statement, first Vice-President Frans Timmermans, Commissioners Marianne Thyssen, Vĕra Jourová and Corina Creţu stressed that the Roma community, Europe's largest ethnic minority, with an estimated population of 6 million, still faces exclusion, inequality and discrimination.
"Change will not happen overnight, but the European institutions and member states are committed to fighting discrimination and improving integration," they said, emphasising their unequal access to jobs, education, housing and healthcare. "Roma children often cannot benefit from the same quality of education as other children," they insisted.
Since 2011, the EU has put Roma integration onto the political agenda across Europe with mixed results. The Commission is also supporting member states in their work to implement public policies and services for Roma inclusion; the new financial framework 2014-2020, for example, makes it easier to use EU funds for the socio-economic integration of the Roma population."

Read more here
* Equal Opportunities for Europe’s Roma: An Economic Imperative in an Ageing Europe
By Mamta Murthi, New Europe

09/04/2015 - The countries of Central Europe stand out within the European Union with populations that are ageing and shrinking faster and differently compared to their neighbors. Unlike in Western Europe where ageing has been driven mainly by increases in longevity, countries in Central Europe (and the Baltics) have been ageing largely as a result of low fertility and emigration. Demographic change is significant: For example, Bulgaria has seen its population shrink by more than 15 percent since 1990, Romania and Hungary by more than 5 percent.
UN population projections show that this trend is expected to continue and even accelerate. Shrinking labor forces put economic growth at risk and contribute to fiscal pressures. A recent World Bank report argues that countries in Central Europe can respond to these challenges by promoting active, healthy and productive ageing. The heart of the policy response is to invest in people to ensure that current and future cohorts are well skilled and healthy so that more people are in work and can work for longer.
Read more here
* Turkish gov't continues reforms for Roma as EU struggles to find solution
By Merve Aydogan

Istanbul, 17/04/2015 - Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu met with representatives from the nongovernmental organizations of Roma communities on Sunday at Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul, where he called on Romanis who face problems in EU countries to come to Turkey. During the gathering at Dolmabahçe Palace, nearly 90 representatives, including many well-known Romani singers, came to discuss the issues that the Roma community faces in Turkey. While European Union countries fail to deal with Roma communities living in Europe, the EU Fundamental Rights Agency said one-third of Romanis are unemployed, 20 percent have no health insurance and 80 percent live below the poverty line.
Read more here
* Czech Republic: Victims of illegal sterilizations could receive CZK 300 000 in compensation
By ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert

Victims of illegal sterilizations could receive compensation from the Czech state in the coming years of CZK 300 000 (EUR 11 000). Persons who underwent such surgery between 1 July 1966 and 31 March 2012 without giving informed consent would be eligible. People whose legal guardians consented to such operations on their behalf would also be eligible. Those are the draft outlines of a law designed by Czech Human Rights Minister Jiří Dienstbier (Czech Social Democratic Party - ČSSD) and his team.

Persons living with disabilities and Romani women are expected to qualify for the compensation. "The draft special law establishes the rules that will help victims who have been unable to seek compensation through the courts or any other way," the authors of the bill say. Those drafting the law note that not all sterilizations performed in the country have been illegal or in violation of applicable regulations. The European Roma Rights Center (ERRC) raised suspicions in 2004 that primarily Romani women in the Czech Republic were being forciby sterilized. Dozens of women then applied to the ombud and some also turned to the courts. The Czech Government Committee against Torture proposed introducing compensation in 2006.
Read more here
* A Slovakian court passes orders from hell
By Roman Cupric

Infamous sentence absolving police officers of torturing Roma boys

A few days ago the Košice District Court (Sovakia) acquitted ten police officers - nine men and one woman, who disgustingly abused six boys between the ages of 11 and 15 in a police station. Judgement was given last week but the incidents took place in 2009. When we learned of this disgrace we immediately protested, publically denouncing the acts that took place in Košice police station in Eastern Slovakia. Nine individuals, nine beasts who unworthily wear a police uniform and belong to the security services of their own country, locked six Roma boys in a police station room and committed all sorts of outrage.
Through frightening shouts and terrible threats they forced them to hit each other. Then they made them undress and kiss each other whilst aggressive dogs threateningly barked at them. Some children were even bitten by the dogs. In the trial it came out that one police official held a gun to one of the boys’ head and asked him if he wanted to be shot, something that would happen if he didn’t lick his boots.
Read more here
* European Parliament recognizes 2 August as the European Roma Holocaust Memorial Day
By ternYpe International Roma Youth Network

April 15, 2015 marked a historical moment. The European Parliament voted with an overwhelming majority to finally adopt a resolution which recognizes “the historical fact of the genocide of Roma that took place during World War II” and concludes “that a European day should be dedicated to commemorating the victims of the genocide of the Roma during World War II.” Of huge importance is the fact that this resolution also “underlines the need to combat anti-Gypsyism at every level and by every means, and stresses that this phenomenon is an especially persistent, violent, recurrent and commonplace form of racism.”
ternYpe and its partners celebrate this achievement which represents long overdue, historical recognition to the victims of the Roma Genocide, to survivors and their families. This resolution is the result of the work of many Roma activists and organizations that for over 70 years now have been fighting for the fate of the Roma to be rightfully included into European history.
Read more here


* Urgent: Film Maker Volunteer at European Roma Information Office (ERIO)

Starting date: ASAP
Duration: May-June 2015 (approximately 5 days)
Salary: None – volunteer post
Location: Brussels
Closing date of application: 15 May 2015 at 12:00 (CET)
The European Roma Information Office (ERIO) is looking for a volunteer to participate in a short documentary to be filmed in the context of a European project which aims to improve Roma inclusion in primary schools across Europe. The documentary will consist of several small scenes picturing individuals, Roma and non-Roma, discussing every day topics such as school, sports, family/marriage, food and/or work. The scenes will be filmed in Brussels.

Although this is an unpaid position, the volunteer will have the opportunity to gain valuable professional experience as he/she will be involved with every stage of the pre-production of the documentary (including filming and editing). This will also be a great opportunity for the volunteer to network with other European professionals and film makers from the UK, Italy, Croatia and Bulgaria and to gain practical knowledge of the development of European level projects.
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