Weekly news

ERIO'S WEEKLY E-NEWS 09-12-2014

ERIO news and activities

* ERIO at  Anti-discrimination workshop in Helsinki
ERIO director Ivan Ivanov attended  the workshop  Breaking Barriers : Recognising and tackling discrimination contributes to better inclusion of the Roma.
The workshop Breaking the Barriers aimed at raising awareness on effects of discrimination on inclusion of the Roma. Best practices of activities that enhance both equality and inclusion was presented in the workshop organised  on December 2-3 in Helsinki, Finland.
Finnish Minister of Health and Social Services Susanna Huovinen opened the workshop by stating that it’s a pleasure to see participants from so many different countries and institutions.

“Roma are the largest ethnic minority in Europe, but their deplorable status remains one of the most serious human rights issues across the continent”, she reminded the audience. Minister Huovinen highlighted that the measures aimed at promoting the socio-economic welfare of the Roma must incorporate a strong anti-discrimination message at all levels.
 
Anti-Roma tendency in Europe is a ticking bomb

“Despite the commitments undertaken and the resources committed, the situation of Roma has improved little, if at all, in recent years”, Mr Ivan Ivanov said. Of particular importance is the failure of many, and in many cases well-funded, initiatives to take account of the underlying systemic discrimination which is at the root of much of the economic, social, and cultural poverty and exclusion experienced by Roma.

“Improving housing or education or access to health care without addressing issues of segregation will bring only short-term improvements at best.” According to Mr Ivanov desegregation measures have to be taken in all areas in which Roma today experience segregation, most notably in housing and education.

In many EU countries Roma are physically cut off from the rest of the population, he mentioned: “At present, according to different reports Anti-Roma rhetoric and attitudes pervades all segments of European societies across the region. This is a ticking bomb.“

Mr Ivanov also reminded that any strategy aimed at securing the equal treatment of Roma today, needs not only to address present conditions, but also to seek to remedy the impact of past discrimination.

OTHER news

* Czech ombud: Number of Romani children in special education must be reduced
By ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert

Brno, 28.11.2014 - Anna Šabatová, the Public Defender of Rights (ombud) wants the Czech Republic to reduce the number of Romani children attending what used to be called "special schools" (today’s so-called "practical schools") because the state should assist them with undergoing classic instruction in the primary schools. The former "special schools" are intended for children with mild mental disability, not for schoolchildren who are not disabled and just need help, Šabatová said in a statement for the Czech News Agency.

The Education Ministry is intensively involved in this issue and will submit its Action Plan to the cabinet session on Monday for measures to take with respect to the education of Romani children, pupils and students in 2015 – 2017. The ombud is welcoming the fact that a proposed amendment to the Schools Act will introduce support measures to the schools that will be free of charge for children with special educational needs.

Šabatová also believes it is necessary to reduce the numbers of children in classrooms overall so teachers can give more time to them individually. She believes that not just Romani children but other preschoolers as well would be aided by the introduction of an obligatory year of preschool education.

Read more here
* Report on the High Level on Non-Discrimination and Equality, Rome November 6-7.
By European Commission, DG Justice, Unit D4 – Non discrimination policies and Roma coordination

 The following documents are now available online at the website of the event http://ec.europa.eu/justice/events/hle-2014/index_en.htm :
Summary and main conclusions of the eventThe text of the “Rome Declaration on Non Discrimination, Diversity and Equality"
The Orientation paper for the "High Level Group on Non-Discrimination, Equality and Diversity"

Read more here
* Making rights real - A guide for local and regional authorities
By FRA

December 2014 - On 2 December, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) and the Committee of the Regions are publishing a new joint booklet “Making rights real: guide for local and regional authorities”. Local and regional officials and elected representatives are key actors to support the fulfillment of fundamental rights in Member States. For instance, they facilitate access to education and healthcare, they ensure equal access to all individuals to public services, and they regularly deal with fundamental rights considerations.
 
How to ensure that regional and local initiatives comply with fundamental rights obligations? How different levels of government can work together to coordinate activities and avoid duplication? How to understand and engage communities and stakeholders? These are among the key questions addressed in this. The booklet aims to provide local and regional officials with a framework for understanding more about fundamental rights and applying them when making decisions and completing their regular tasks and activities. Downloads: Making rights real - A guide for local and regional authorities

The guide, which has been published jointly by FRA and the Committee of the regions, draws on lessons learned and example practices collected from hundreds of officials from eight Members States and compiled in FRA’s online toolkit Joining up fundamental rights.

Read more here
* Report on Gypsy, Roma and Traveller racism and discrimination launched in the UK Parliament
By Mike Doherty

Gypsy and Traveller campaign groups have launched a comprehensive report on racism and discrimination towards the UK’s Romany Gypsy, Traveller, Roma and Roma Migrants communities.
The report, “Gypsy, Traveller and Roma: Experts by Experience”, which claims that nine out of ten children from these communities have been the victims of racial abuse, is intended to monitor the Government’s efforts to tackle anti-Gypsy discrimination and promote integration.

Siobhan Spencer OBE, of the Derbyshire Gypsy Liaison Group and Adrian Jones of the Northern Network of Gypsy Liaison Groups wrote the report with Dr Pauline Lane from Anglia Ruskin University in response to the Coalition Governments failure to implement European Commission’s Roma Integration Strategy about how Gypsy, Traveller and Roma are treated.

Describing the Coalition Government, Siobhan Spencer said she feared that the Strategy had “fallen on death ears” in the UK, and the report was holding the Government to account over this inaction.

Read more here
* How Getting Involved in Politics Transformed One Roma Village’s Future
By Marian Daragiu & Marius Tudor   Roma Initiatives Office

04/12/2014 - In today’s Romania, Roma are vastly under-represented politically, and many have come to find themselves divorced from democracy, something that has only deepened the community’s troubles. The story of Filipeştii de Târg shows how this kind of systematic disenfranchisement can hold back a people—and how those determined to break free of this can change their trajectory for generations to come.

Filipeştii de Târg is a commune of 7,700 residents nestled among the fairytale towns and forested hills of Prahova County, Romania. The commune is composed of three villages: Brătăşanca, Filipeştii de Târg, and Mărginenii de Jos. Thirty-five percent of its people are Roma, and with few exceptions they all live in the village of Mărginenii de Jos.

Read more here
* Tyson Fury and Billy Joe Saunders give Travellers’ fanbase cause to dream
By Kevin Mitchell, The Guardian

30/11/2014 - The fighting men of the Travelling community (of whom there are plenty) have long prided themselves on their courage and integrity in the ring while consistently falling short at the highest level after giving false hope to their thousands of scattered supporters, from the west of Ireland to various points around the North Circular and far beyond.

But Billy Joe Saunders, who grew up on a site in Hatfield, the grandson of a renowned bareknuckle champion, and Tyson Fury, from Manchester via the planet Mars and the son of Gypsy John Fury, may be about to deliver on that collective dreaming in 2015.
Both won fights in London on Saturday night that put them within reach of being crowned world champions. Saunders, in shackling Chris Eubank Jr’s late assault convincingly enough to escape with a split decision in their triple-championship middleweight bout, will get the first chance, in London in February.

Read more here
* Putting an End to the Myth that Roma Families Drain Slovakia’s Welfare System
By Jan Dinga, Think Tank Fund

04/12/2014 - One of the most pressing social issues in Slovakia is the widely held public opinion that Roma families are abusing the social system. This perception can be difficult to combat since Slovakia doesn’t track beneficiaries by ethnicity. Yet, as in so many cases, the best way to refute this assumption is with hard data.
To bring such data to the forefront, the Institute of Economic and Social Studies published the analysis Roma and Social Benefits, which implemented techniques to identify Roma beneficiaries. There is a common assumption that Roma people have large families, so we evaluated the proportion of public resources supplied to families with more than four children. We also examined the absorption of benefits by Slovakia’s “Roma” districts— districts that are at least two-thirds Slovak Roma, as identified by the Atlas of Roma Communities in Slovakia [PDF].

Read more here

ANNOUNCEMENTS and events

* Conference “From Beggar to M.E.P. – a Roma integration Story”
On the occasion of the International Human Rights Day and the International Migrants Day,
MEP Damian Drăghici (S&D) cordially invites you to the conference “FROM BEGGAR TO M.E.P. – a Roma Integration Story“, European Parliament  | Bruxelle
The protection of human rights is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. Human Rights Day provides an opportunity to promote understanding and recognition of the dignity and rights of all members of the human family.
Human Rights Day is a time to think about and honor the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It’s a time to consider our role in developing a culture where everyone has a sense of belonging, where all groups can succeed, and to which everyone can contribute. The S&Ds’ core values on external relations are solidarity, freedom, justice and equality. Justice is a key concept. Furthermore the socialist and democrats from European Parliament believe that the values of democracy and human rights are universal and should be at the heart of the EU’s actions.

Therefore, we would be honored if you would join us to the conference “FROM BEGGAR TO M.E.P. Damian Drăghici – a Roma Integration Story“, where you will witness various success stories of Roma origin people and how they affected the world.
* ERIO’s Screening/debate “The untold story: the Roma and Sinti Holocaust” on 12 December from 15:00 – 18:00 at the Centre Culturel, Room Capart, Avenue Charles Thielemans 93, 1150 Brussels.
The DVD includes interviews with Sinti Holocaust survivors and experts. One of the survivors, Zoni Weisz, will be a guest speaker and participants will have the opportunity to ask any question. Due to limited capacity, early registration by email is needed.  More information here
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