Weekly news


ERIO news and activities

*  ERIO met with Portuguese representatives of local authorities

On 2 June, ERIO’s policy officer, Mara Pinto, met with representatives of local authorities from 3 different cities (Paredes, Santo Tirso and Barcelos) in Porto, Portugal. The meeting was hosted by EAPN Portugal.
Although all local authorities are actively engaged in Roma inclusion issues, there was a general consensus that authorities are not well informed about the Portuguese NRIS and EU Roma related policies (such as the EU Framework for NRIS) and that the implementation of the NRIS at local level is very slow. Since the elaboration of the NRIS, many local authorities have been involved in a national survey where they were consulted to provide local data to assess needs of local Roma. One concrete strategy that has been implemented at the local level is the Program for Municipal Roma Mediators which aims at every Portuguese municipality with a significant Roma population interested in creating links and fostering dialogue between the Roma community, local authorities, and civil society organisations. Economic and political crises have certainly contributed to foster the fears of the European peoples. But fear is no solid ground on which to build the future of our societies. We therefore call all parties and MEPs sharing the ideal of a united and inclusive Europe to overcome their differences and stand up against this frontal attack to the fundamental values of our Union and ensure a racism free Europe.
* ERIO met with Portuguese Roma communities

On 2 June, ERIO’s policy officer, Mara Pinto, met with local Roma from 6 cities (Paredes, Aveiro, Matosinhos, Espinho, Porto and Barcelos) in Porto, Portugal. The meeting was hosted by EAPN Portugal.
The meeting aimed to identify their needs and to find out what is happening on the ground. The issue of discrimination was highlighted as one of the main obstacles to progress in all fields in life. Roma face discrimination when trying to rent accommodation, when applying for a job and in school. Another key issue of concern raised at the meeting was housing. There has been an increase in the creation of “Roma neighbourhoods”. An example is the Biquinha neighbourhood in Matosinhos where many Roma moved to after being expelled from other mixed neighbourhoods due to the demand of local non-Roma residents. Employment was another issue of concern. According to participants, most Roma have difficulties finding employment due to their lack of skills and discrimination they face (based on their ethnicity and accent).  There is a general feeling among Roma that in order to integrate, they have to assimilate and deny their Romani culture and habits. A common message was that for integration to be successful, changes need to happen among both non-Roma and Roma.  There is a need to change the attitudes and mentalities of both non-Roma (about Roma based on stereotypes) and Roma (about the tradition of early marriages). 

OTHER news

* Greek court refuses repatriation to Bulgarian Romani child
By voj, translated by Gwendolyn Albert

Athens, 04/06/2014 - A five-year-old Bulgarian Romani girl who was found last year by Greek police in a Romani settlement will continue to be raised by the Greek charity organization Smile of the Child. A court has now rejected a request from the Bulgarian authorities to return the girl to her native country. News server ČT24.cz reports that the Greek Romani couple who had raised the girl for four years still remain in custody on charges of falsifying documents and kidnapping. "The court has decided it is in the best interests of little Maria for her to remain in our care," the director of Smile of the Child confirmed to news server ČT24.cz. The girl will remain under the protection of the Greek foundation until she turns 18. She was removed from the custody of the Greek Romani couple by authorities last October.

Read more here
* Patrolling the Streets with Hungary's Roma Police
By Gyorgy Makula, Roma Initiatives Office

June 3, 2014 - In Hungary, an increased Roma presence in law enforcement cultivates cooperation and helps change ingrained stereotypes at street level.
Meet Gyorgy Makula, a police officer who's challenging prejudices and bridging communities.

Read more here
* OSCE conference on equal access to quality education for Roma children in the Czech Republic
By František Kostlán, ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert

Prague, 3.6.2014 - In the Czech Republic, Romani children comprise 28 % of the pupils attending what were once called the "special schools", according to the most recent research on the issue produced by the Czech Social Inspectorate. Czech Deputy Education Minister Jindřich Fryč presented the results of that research at an international conference on the education of Romani children on 30 May in Prague. 

Fryč said the plan is for such surveying of those schools to be repeated annually. The move is one of eight measures meant to support the further enrollment of Romani boys and girls into mainstream schools. 

Czech Human Rights Minister Jiří Dienstbier told the conference that inclusive education is not yet succeeding sufficiently in the Czech Republic. Only children who are diagnosed as lightly mentally disabled are supposed to attend what are now called the "practical elementary schools" (previously called the "special schools").

Read more here
* Over 200 Roma face forced eviction in France
By Amnesty International

More than 200 Roma, including around 50 children, living in an informal settlement near Bobigny, in the north east suburbs of Paris, are at risk of being forcibly evicted following an eviction procedure initiated by the municipality. A court in Bobigny will deliver its ruling on 30 May.  The Roma at the settlement were officially notified by a bailiff on 23 May that an eviction procedure had been initiated. Several days earlier, representatives of the municipality in which the settlement is located visited the settlement and told the Roma they would be evicted on 2 June. They did not specify how this would be carried out, which caused concern and anxiety amongst the Roma. Amnesty International believe the inhabitants of the camp were not consulted and no alternative accommodation has been offered to date to the families. They now live in complete uncertainty regarding their future and face imminent homelessness.

Read more here
* Nazlı Ilıcak draws criticism for derogatory words against Roma rights
By Daily Sabah

Istanbul, 28/05/2014 - The Roma Rights Forum of Turkey (ROMFO) has asked for an apology from Gülen Movement-affiliated journalist, Nazlı Ilıcak on Wednesday, after writing, "When a Gypsy explains his bravery, he mentions his thievery."
ROMFO made a statement explaining that people involved in media should stay away from hate speech. ROMFO's statement: "This saying has been used by politicians and in news articles, whether consciously or unconsciously."
ROMFO stated that, "If the word 'gypsy' was replaced with their own ethnicity, then they would understand the sheer weight of the saying, and maybe they would try to ease the pain of the Romanians who have been subject to ill-treatment for hundreds of years."

Read more here


* ERIO Training "Advocacy for Roma inclusion" 19-20 June 2014
The European Roma Information Office (ERIO) invites you to attend a training on advocacy skills which will be held on 19 and 20 June from 10:30-17:00 at the Maison Notre Dame Du Chant d'Oiseau, Centre de Formation , Avenue des Franciscains 3a, 1150 Brussels.
The aims of the training are to: Capacitate Roma, especially young and women, 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; Raise awareness on the use of media as a tool to fight discrimination; Inform about relevant EU developments such as the EU Framework, the NRIS and the Council recommendation in order to be exploited within advocacy activities.

You can register by email to office@erionet.eu or phone Tel: +32 2 733 3462
The deadline is 16.06.2014
Places are limited, early booking is recommended.

Read more here

* CAHROM calendar of Roma-related events

Please note that the 2014 Calendar of Roma related activities in Europe has been posted on the CAHROM public website: https://rm.coe.int/CoERMPublicCommonSearchServices/DisplayDCTMContent?documentId=090000168008382e due to the fact that it is rather “heavy”. You can see the snapshot of the site at the bottom of this mail to see the position of the Calendar on the site. You will notice that the activities mentioned in it are reflecting activities/events of various projects run by the Support Team of the SRSG for Roma Issues but also other departments of the Council of Europe as well as other institutions and organisations, based on the information received from them. Be so kind and send us the activities and events for which you would like to figure in our calendar, since one of the idea of the calendar is to share the information in time to avoid overlapping dates of important events.
Michaël GUET  E-mail: michael.guet@coe.int

Roma Portal of the Council of Europe: www.coe.int/roma
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