Weekly news

ERIO'S WEEKLY E-NEWS 22-02-2013

ERIO news and activities

* ERIO at a consultation meeting with the UN Roma Task Force 
On 18 February ERIO and other ERPC members attended a consultation meeting with the Geneva-based UN Regional Team and the UN Roma Task Force in Brussels. Representatives of the International Organisation for Migration, the World Bank and the European Commission also attended the meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to hear inputs from representatives of civil society and to include the expert knowledge of NGOs working directly and daily with issues specifically related to the problems faced by Roma. Chairing the meeting, Jan Jařab (OHCHR Regional Representative) pointed out the problem of lack of coordination in relation to dealing with problems of discrimination and violations of fundamental rights targeting Roma. Attention was drawn to the need of concrete action, as opposed to mere formulations of good intentions and goals, as the issues discussed are occurring everyday with severe and daily consequences for the Roma.
 
Ivan Ivanov the Executive Director of ERIO said that the UN should be more visible and active when it comes to ensuring that the  national laws and policies of EU member states and accession countries comply with UN conventions and treaties  which they have signed up to. Now days member states and countries in accession follow the instructions of the EU, other international treaties are ignored even if they are as good as or better than the EU legislation. An adequate reaction by all international actors is needed to recognize and tackle the ongoing discrimination of the Roma in all walks of life. Due to the long term fight by advocacy and human rights organisations - in certain fields like education - national authorities have recognised that the Roma are treated unequally and have taken some measures within the framework of their national strategies to ensure equal access to education for Roma children. But there are fields where authorities still deny that the Roma face serious barriers such as health care. Advocacy groups should strive for success in all fields in which the Roma suffer discrimination and exclusion at the same time, instead of  seeking  results in one field before targeting another  problematic field. 
* ERIO meets CAHROM delegation in Brussels
On 20 February, ERIO representatives met with CAHROM Delegation at the Belgian Ministry of Internal Affairs and Equal Opportunities. The Ad Hoc Committee of Experts on Roma issues (CAHROM) is an intergovernmental committee of the Council of Europe which deals specifically with Roma issues and responds directly to the Committee of Ministers.

The meeting included discussion on the Roma and Traveller situation in Belgium and Europe.  CAHROM members from France, Spain, Switzerland and United Kingdom asked specific questions concerning the social issues, life style and equal treatment of the Roma and Traveller communities. ERIO's director, Ivan Ivanov presented the work of his organization  emphasizing ERIO’s involvement in the consultation process  for the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies as well as in the Roma related policy making activities of the Council of Europe. He stated that ERIO’s network was closely involved in the work on the development of the National Roma Integration Strategies (NRIS) in most EU member states and that now the challenge is their implementation. Mr. Ivanov was asked to comment on the situation in Spain and France and also to give examples of successful initiatives. He told CAHROM members that the NRIS combined with other national existent general policies and legislation should be adequate to achieve the free movement of Roma in the EU and to overcome any problems resulting from this kind of migration. Mr. Ivanov stressed that participation of the Roma and Traveller communities at all levels is very important and that to achieve their social inclusion and equal treatment  effective  implementation aiming at  concrete results is needed as well as the strict and strategically focused use of the structural and other states funds.
* ROM-UP! final conference and partner’s meeting in Barcelona
Our joint project ROM-UP! is ending at the end of March. As such, on 20 February partners had a final meeting in Barcelona to discuss the project progress. The project had its final conference on 21 February at the European Parliament and European Commission Representation Office in Barcelona. ERIO, as one of the project partners, attended the event. Also present were representatives of the European Commission in Barcelona, Roma activists and organisations, representatives of regional/national authorities with competencies in education and Roma inclusion as well as students. Project results were presented and the actors involved in the successful educational experiences shared their experiences. Future steps and sustainability of the successful experiences in different countries were also discussed.
 
You can find out more about the project here: http://www.rom-up.eu/home
* ERIO at the EU Citizenship Hearing 
On the 19 February, ERIO attended an EU citizenship hearing entitled: ‘Making the most of EU citizenship’, at the European Parliament in Brussels. The conference was organized as part of the European Year of Citizens programme, which aims to promote EU citizens’ understanding of the legal rights and responsibilities conferred on them by the EU. The event was specifically convened to discuss ways in which the European Institutions could work to remove practical obstacles for citizens trying to exercise their citizenship rights. Amongst the speakers were MEPs, representatives of the Commission and other EU institutions, academics and lawyers. The closing speech was given by Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission.

At the event, ERIO stated that the Roma community is one of the most marginalized in the EU, and that they face wide-spread social, political and economic discrimination in numerous member states. Given these citizens’ lack of integration, we asked how the EU institutions are going to work to inform the Roma of their citizenship rights, and help them overcome the obstacles to their enjoyment. Paul Nemitz, Commission director for fundamental rights and citizenship, responded by stating that certainly more needs to be done to provide funding for Roma inclusion, however, the Commission is in dialogue with the member states on this point and will analyse the forthcoming National Roma Integration Strategies’  implementation report before deciding on its next course of action. He then commented that the Commission, ‘in so far as helping Roma secure their rights, is providing more action than has ever been seen before’.

Viviane Reding concluded the session with an impassioned address to the hearing. She stated that ´citizenship of the EU is intended to be the fundamental status of member state nationals and is core to integration´. For her, the key challenge to be met by the Year of Citizens is that ´whilst many feel they are EU citizens, they do not know what rights and obligations arise from this´.
* Join our International Romani Network!
The ROM-UP! project has created an International Romani Network (IRN) to raise awareness of the successful educational experiences effective in the inclusion of Roma children. Anyone interested in this topic can join the network. We particularly welcome the contributions of grass roots Roma, Roma activists, teachers and other educational actors, politicians, researchers, Roma organisations and European, national, regional and local authorities.

If you would like to join the network please complete the online registration form here. Once registered you will receive an email giving you more information about how to contribute to the debate on the network’s forum (on both the project and ways to improve the educational inclusion of Roma in Europe). The forum will be moderated and only comments relevant to the goals of ROM-UP! will be published.

To find out more about the network and to sign up please visit the website: http://www.rom-up.eu./romani-network.htm

OTHER news

* Health Analysis of the UNDP/World Bank/EC Regional Roma Survey 2011
The UNDP Regional Centre in Bratislava released another important analysis based on the data from 2011 survey – one on Roma health challenges. Here’s the link to the introductory blog by Jaro Kling:

You will find there the links to the full publication (a must read for deeper reflection), a shorter analytical piece (goes perfectly with the morning coffee) and the policy brief (ideal ammunition for any policy event on Roma health). You can also access the other entries of our “Roma Inclusion Working Papers” series – on Slovak ESF funded projects claiming to address Roma inclusion, on Roma civil society, Roma education as well as the methodological challenges of (and possible approaches to) sampling Roma communities in integrated household surveys.

The report can be found here.
* Roma exploitation: end of the dream
Luludja holds up her modest rose bouquet in a French brasserie, moving along from table to table. She’s thinking of her family, the people she’s doing it all for. Most of the money, however, will be banked by a man in her home country, hundreds of kilometres away. She forces a shy smile. Her lips are painted bright red. Tonight most guests decline. They do not look her in the face and fail to notice the glistening green eye shadow she is wearing. After two hours and stops at various cafes and restaurants, Luludja finally manages to sell a rose for €3 to a young man in horn-rimmed glasses. She also sells her body, for €35.

Read more here.
* Slovak PM wants Romani children to attend boarding schools
Slovak PM Fico is proposing what he has himself termed "extreme measures" for Romani children, namely, that they be educated at boarding schools. Peter Pollak, the Slovak Government Plenipotentiary for the Romani Community, does not agree with this solution.

"You must remove the children from that environment and put them somewhere else," Fico said on Tuesday when speaking to a group of college students. He was discussing how to ensure a better future for children from the Romani community who live in conditions that are inappropriate. Fico not only spoke of "special facilities", but also of the fact that even though such an approach might be appropriate, it would prompt protests abroad and among human rights activists, whom he termed "sanctimonious". He told the students that "we either tell everyone that the situation in Slovakia is extreme and that extreme measures must be adopted for extreme situations, or we will just keep gabbling away about it".

Read more here.
* Hungary: Swastikas, SS symbols legal to display as of May
On Tuesday, the Hungarian Constitutional Court abolished a statute banning the public use of symbols of totalitarian power. The symbols concerned are the hammer and sickle, the Nazi swastika, and the red five-pointed star. The court said the ban violated the right to freedom of speech and was not worded precisely enough. It will be possible to legally wear such symbols in Hungary as of 1 May 2013. For the past 10 years their use has been a felony punishable by a fine. News server pravda.sk reports that the banned symbols also included SS signs and the Arrow Cross, the sign of the Hungarian Fascists.

Read more here.
* Commentary: The difference between Czech and French politicians
This is really interesting: One comment by Maurice Taylor, head of the American firm Titan International, about the work morale of the French employees of a Goodyear factory has upset almost all of France. Taylor wrote to the French Government that "French employees receive high wages but work only three hours. They get hour-long breaks for snacks and lunch, talk for three hours and work for three." He went on to add that he is no longer interested in French workers or preserving the factory in France and would therefore be closing it.

According to Agence France-Presse, French Re-Industrialization Minister Arnaud Montebourg immediately responded and has declared war on Taylor: "Your extremist, offensive words testify to your total ignorance of our country. Be sure that I will have the relevant French government authorities double the controls on tires imported by you," he warned Titan International yesterday.

Read more here.
* Czech Republic: Good and bad examples of helping the poor

News server Novinky.cz reports that yesterday, 20 February, was the World Day of Social Justice, an effort to draw attention to the topic of poverty and social problems. According to the EU Statistical Office, 15 % of the population of the Czech Republic is jeopardized by poverty and social exclusion, defined as suffering from material deprivation or working less than 20 % of what ordinarily constitutes a full-time work year.

"I think very few people are aware of this, but as far as poverty goes, the Czech Republic is the best off in comparison with other European Union member states. Nevertheless, I consider it important to assist groups of citizens who are at risk, using money from European projects and the state," Czech Labor and Social Affairs Minister Ludmila Müllerová told Novinky.cz.

Read more here.

ANNOUNCEMENTS and events

* CCME Final European Conference "Tolerance, Pluralism and Social Cohesion: Responding to the Challenges of the 21st Century in Europe" - 6-7.03.2013, Brussels
The conference will discuss the results of the research project ACCEPT Pluralism and will be in Brussels on 6-7 March 2013 at the Euroflat hotel. In the afternoon of 6 March one part will be in the European Parliament.
* European Commission Conference "From pilots to outcomes"- 15.03.2013, Brussels
This conference is organised by the European Commission Directorate General for Regional and Urban Policy, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme, and will focus on evidence-based lessons on socio-economic inclusion for Roma communities.The conference will be also streamed on the internet. If you would like to follow it on line or join the sessions in Moldava nad Bodvou, Slovakia,in person, send a message to jaroslav.kling@undp.org. 

For more info go here
* Launch of the European Alliance of Cities and Regions for Roma Inclusion - 20.03.2013, Strasbourg
The Launch will take place during the 24th Session of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe on 20 March 2013 in Strasbourg, France at the end of the plenary debate on the issue of social exclusion at local and regional level and will be followed by a reception and a concert, co-organised with one of the founding participants of the Alliance - the city of Strasbourg.
* FSG Conference "Working with Roma families- a key towards the success of their children at school" - 21.03.2013, Brussels
The provisional agenda of the conference is available here
For more information, please contact marta.hernandez@gitanos.org
Register by 15.03.2013
* The Gypsy Lore Society Annual Meeting and Conference on Gypsy Studies - 12-14.09.2013, Glasgow, Scotland
Registration for the 2013 Gypsy Lore Society Annual Meeting is now open. Papers on any aspect of Gypsy/Romani Studies are most welcome. Please send abstracts via e-mail attachment (maximum 500 words) to the program chair, Dr Colin Clark, c.r.clark@strath.ac.uk. Submissions should include the author’s name, institutional affiliation (if relevant), address, daytime telephone and e-mail address. The deadline for receipt of abstracts is May 31, 2013 and you will be notified if your paper has been accepted by June 30th, 2013. Please address all conference inquiries to Dr Colin Clark, at the address below, or call 07826068961 or e-mail c.r.clark@strath.ac.uk.
ODIHR Annual Report on Hate Crime
The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) is now preparing the 2012 annual report on hate crimes. The report provides an overview of data collected on hate crimes, and of responses to hate crimes. It will be launched on 15 November, 2013 the day before International Tolerance Day.

As in previous years, ODIHR encourages submissions from non-governmental organizations and has compiled information to assist NGOs. Information should be sent to tndinfo@odihr.pl no later than 5 April 2013 indicating in the subject line "HCR 2012 (NAME OF YOUR ORGANIZATION)". For more information about ODIHR and hate crime visit http://tandis.odihr.pl.

More information can be found here.
Sample format for collecting information on Hate Crimes can be found here.
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