Weekly news


ERIO news and activities

* ERIO’s workshop “Protecting Roma Against Discrimination: the Role of Equality Bodies”
On 21 October 2014, ERIO in close cooperation with EQUINET organised its third workshop with Equality Bodies on “Protecting Roma Against Discrimination: the Role of Equality Bodies”. The workshop was held at the Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism (Belgian Equality Body) in Brussels and attended by Equality Bodies from 13 member states. In addition, representatives from the European Commission, FRA, UN, EQUINET and Roma representatives attended.

Within the framework of the National Roma Integration Strategies (NRIS) and the Race Equality Directive 2000/43 (RED), this event aimed to foster discussion between Equality Bodies, Roma representatives and experts on Roma integration.

The workshop was opened by Ivan Ivanov, ERIO’s Executive Director followed by Anne Gaspard, EQUINET’s Executive Director, who stressed the need to keep fighting for equality and to ensure that rights and laws work. Equality Bodies have a key role and EQUINET will continue to strengthen this cooperation. Jozef De Witte, Executive Director of the Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism, remembered that discriminations against Roma are an everyday reality in all aspects of social life. To end this, we need laws but also independent enforcement bodies, he stressed.

Lina Papamichalopoulou and Pia Lindholm from the European Commission showed that both national and local levels are key to tackle Roma integration and to enforce legislation. Equality Bodies are thus best-placed to face immediate situations on the ground and protect the Roma population. The morning session was then followed by presentations by Jan Jařab from the United Nations, Massimo Toschi from the Fundamental Rights Agency and Tamás Kádár from EQUINET.

The afternoon session consisted of two workshops where participants broke into small groups to discuss and share best practices, to exchange information and ideas about anti-discrimination issues in their own country and discuss challenges and opportunities when it comes to the NRIS and RED implementation.

More information can be found here.
* Roma/non-Roma parents and school staff discuss Roma children’s school integration
On 13 and 14 October, ERIO organised two group discussions involving Roma/non-Roma parents and school staff in the primary school Arc-en-Ciel in Brussels, Belgium. As part of the SMILE project which aims at fighting against the obstacles faced by Roma children in school, the group discussions constituted a second important step after the activity with 7 year-old Roma and non-Roma children organised on 3 October. Focusing this time on the school staff’s and parents’ points of view, the group discussions were very informative about the status of Roma children and families in school. Due to the reluctance of some parents to take part in such an activity, two separate group discussions were organised: one consisted of 4 non-Roma mothers (3 Moroccan and 1 Romanian) and 2 school staff (the school Head and a social assistant) while another included 5 Roma mothers from Romania. Participants were asked about their own and their children’s involvement in school life or their points of view about the existence of a culture of helping and sharing in the school. Both group discussions revealed a lot about the obstacles faced by Roma children in education. Although not exclusively limited to the Roma community, a number of specific difficulties were raised such as absenteeism, limited participation of Roma families or Roma children in school life, poor understanding of the educational system, (French) language problems, previous experiences of exclusion and discrimination and so on. The discussions were a good opportunity to examine the reasons behind these difficulties, such as cultural differences, language barriers, or lack of proactive attitude from certain Roma parents. The conclusions drawn from this experience will be a valuable basis to examine potential solutions to overcome the problems and to reduce Roma children’s marginalisation within the school system.  
To find out more about SMILE: http://www.erionet.eu/smile

OTHER news

* Twenty four Roma Families risk for Eviction in Serbia
By Amnesty International

Twenty-four Roma households at the Belvil settlement in Belgrade are due for resettlement at the end of November. If human rights requirements, including genuine consultation and providing full information are not followed, their removal for resettlement could result in a forced eviction.

The families are amongst 50 Roma households due for resettlement from the informal settlement at Belvil, in advance of construction work funded by the European Investment Bank (EIB). The resettlement of the first 24 families was originally scheduled to take place in September; it was then delayed until the end of October, and was then again delayed to the end of November. The families will be resettled into social housing units in Orlovsko naselje, in the eastern part of Belgrade. The remaining families are due to be resettled in 2015.

Read more here
* Evicted Roma Families in France forced to sleep in Gymnasium
The forced eviction of an informal settlement near Bobigny, in the outskirts of Paris, has left more than 60 people, including 15 children and infants, homeless. They are currently sleeping in a gymnasium in the centre of Paris but will have to leave imminently and without any alternative housing solution proposed to date.
On 21 October more than 300 Roma people living in the informal settlement of Bobigny were forcibly evicted. Only about 130 were offered any alternative housing solutions. More than 100 people left the settlement before the eviction. Police pressured the others to leave the municipality of Bobigny shortly after the eviction. On 22 October at 1am, about 60 people, including 15 children and infants, were eventually offered temporary shelter in a gymnasium by the local council of the 10th district of Paris. However, they will not be allowed to stay more than two nights in the gymnasium.

Read more here
* Report on  Lack of  UK Roma Strategy
By Grattan Puxon

A great task has been accomplished in the compilation of a detailed evaluation of the current policies pursued towards Britain’s half million Romanies, migrant Roma and Pavees, better known as Travellers. It reveals a picture of neglect, harassment and increasing marginalization. 
After half a century of Roma civil rights campaigning we are today confronted by the wrong-headed, carelessly imposed austerity cuts and anti-Gypsy measures of the UK’s on-the-way-out Coalition Government. It is enough to induce both rage and despair. 
Quite rightly, the report is written in the blandest, politically-correct language, in the hope that politicians may read its 85-pages without offence, and even take note. Nevertheless, the facts are all there and for those of us who have been evicted and deported many times over years the launch, which has been announced for Tuesday (22 October) at Westminster, will be a milestone event.

Read more here
* Slovakia: Candidate offering remuneration to Roma for sterilization
By ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert

Vladimír Gürtler, an attorney and the leader of the regional "Seven Brave Ones" (Sedm statečných) party who is running for a seat on the Košice City Council representing the Luník IX precinct, is behind a controversial election campaign now underway there. Many Romani people live at the Luník IX housing estate in the eastern Slovakian metropolis, which is often termed a "ghetto" by the media.
One of his campaign posters features Gürtler in a white shirt and white hat and a promise that he will give Romani people  plane tickets to Brussels, while on another he promises that Romani women be offered EUR 10 000 for undergoing sterilization. In his campaign video the attorney says human rights experts live off of money intended to aid Romani people  and alleges that the funds are being spent in Bratislava on various projects. Gürtler objects to being called a racist and claims to want to help the Romani residents of Luník IX. "If we don't help them,  then we, the majority population of Slovakia, will have serious problems in time," he said.
Police have begun investigating the campaign. Police spokesperson Alexander Szabó has said that a detective has initiated a criminal proceedings in the case.

Read more here
* Czech Government tells UN that law to compensate forced sterilization will be ready in one year
By ČTK, fk, translated by Gwendolyn Albert

The Czech Government is planning to submit a law to compensate the victims of illegal sterilizations by the end of 2015. It expects to have the outlines of the legislation ready by the end of this year.
The cabinet's statement was part of its response to complaints from the UN Human Rights Committee, which oversees implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Czech Government ministers are planning to discuss the text today.
The Committee criticizes the Czech Republic for discriminating against Romani people, for sending disproportionate numbers of Romani children to be educated as mentally disabled, for permitting the raising of pigs on the site of a former concentration camp at Lety by Písek, and for the use of cage beds in psychiatric treatment facilities. "The compensation law presumes there will be comprehensive compensation of the victims of illegal sterilizations and that their claims will be satisfied by the state. The victims will no longer have to bring civil lawsuits against the health care facilities where illegal sterilizations were performed," the Government writes in its response to the UN.

Read more here
* Deutsche Welle: Inside Europe’s slums
More than 30 million people live in Europe’s urban slums. They often have little or no access to water or electricity. Dwellers range from members of ethnic minorities to victims of the financial crisis.
Roma reality In our WhoAmI episode, we got an insight into the life of a young Roma woman living in a slum - right in the middle of rich Western Europe. We met Alina (in the back) who’s one of many Roma people living in this slum on the outskirts of Paris, France. Europe’s slums are home to many Roma people. One of the poorest communities in Europe, they often have little access to employment and education.

Read more here
* Czech Roma Under the Swastika
By Silvie Lauder
Only a tenth of Roma survived extermination during the Nazi protectorate. Some even thanks to ‘white people.’
Seventy years ago Czech and Slovak Roma embarked on a grim path to nearly complete annihilation. In the spring and summer of 1943, 4,500 Roma were shipped off to the so-called Gypsy camp in Auschwitz: one-third were from camps in Lety and Hodonin, in the south and southwest of the country, and two-thirds were taken from their homes. The fates of local Roma remain one of the least investigated chapters of the war, and one part of this story is completely unknown – that some Roma survived the Nazi attempt at extermination thanks to the help of “white people.”

Read more here
* MigRom project in Manchester
MigRom ("The immigration of Romanian Roma to Western Europe: Causes, effects, and future engagement strategies") is a research consortium funded by the European Commission's Seventh Framework Programme.
The MigRom project, in partnership with Manchester City Council and Sure Start (Longsight), operates weekly drop-in consultation sessions for Roma in Manchester. A first year report and statistical evaluation is now available.

Read more here
* Breaking News No More: Life for Roma in Greece a Year after “Maria”
The story of Maria, a blonde Roma girl, made world news in 2013. A year later, what's life like for Roma in Greece?

Read more here
* Roma in Serbia: Building on Strength
Roma in Serbia registered thousands of voters in less than a month - leading to more democratic representation for the next several years.

Read more here
* Lessons from Wales on How to Value Diversity and Inclusion
Isaac Blake, director of the Romani Cultural and Arts Company, discusses the biggest challenges that Roma, Gypsy and Traveller communities face in the United Kingdom.

Read more here


ANNOUNCEMENT - For 2015 ERIO is seeking for an External Information and dissemination assistant
The External Information and dissemination Assistant will contribute to the implementation of ERIO’s information program with helping the team in Brussels office with taking the following tasks:
  • To monitor online and other media and collect articles and information related to Roma issues and more specifically to the EU Roma-related policies and events, other intergovernmental policy making and actions, governmental and NGO activities concerning Roma rights and integration. 
  • To contribute to, and update the content of ERIO website and other information tools such as newsroom, facebook and other information online pages.
  • To collect country specific information related to the Roma situation in the accession countries, candidate and potential candidate countries to the EU (Western Balkans and Turkey), develop information packages to be submitted by ERIO to DG Enlargement of the European Commission or other bodies and institutions interested in this information. 
The candidate should have the following knowledge and skills:
  • To speak English and preferably Romanes
  • To hold minimum high school degree
  • To have at least 3 years of experience in working with NGO
  • To have at least 3 years of experience in working in the field of Roma, human rights, minorities
  • To be aware of EU institutions and Roma related processes at EU level
  • To be able to work in team
  • To be able to take ad hoc tasks
  • To be able to conduct internet and field research.
To apply for the position candidates should send CV and letter of interest and offer to office@erionet.eu

The deadline for submission applications is November 11, 2014. The approved candidate will be approached by mid December 2014. Starting date 01 January 2015
ANNOUNCEMENT - For 2015 ERIO is seeking an External Advocacy Assistant
The External Advocacy Consultant will help ERIO’s Brussels based headquarters to run successfully their advocacy, and networking activities. To do that consultant will have the following tasks:
  • Communicate and advocacy with EU, National and Local authorities
  • Communicate and advocate  with ERIO Network members and other stakeholders
  • Communicate and advocate with media
  • Develop advocacy recommendations, statements and papers for EU, National and Local level
  • Conduct research of Roma related reports, policies and use it for advocacy actions.
  • Participate in ERIOs advocacy initiatives 
The applicant should have the following knowledge and skills:
  • To speak English and preferably Romanes
  • To hold a university degree in social sciences
  • To have good advocacy and communication skills
  • To be able to work in team
  • To be able to take multiple tasks
  • To be able to do internet research
  • To be familiar with EU Roma related policy
  • To have at least three years of experience in working in an NGO
  • To have at least three years of experience in the field of Roma, human and minority rights
  • To have previous experience in communication and cooperation with authorities.
Applicant should submit CV and Letter of interest and offer to office@erionet.eu
Deadline for submission of applications is November 30, 2014. The successful applicant will be informed by December 15th. Starting date January 01.2014
* European Roma Information Office (ERIO) high level Conference with Local authorities, November 27 in Brussels
* NET-KARD Project “Cooperation and Networking between Key Actors against Discrimination of Roma”, November 20 in Madrid
* Council of Europe 8th CAHROM meeting, October 28-31 in Sarajevo

* European Commission DG Justice “High Level Event on non-discrimination and Equality – Shaping the Future of equality policies in the EU”, November 6-7 in Rome, Italy

* European Commission DG Justice meeting for interactive and participatory discussion on Roma issues with civil society organizations, November 21 in Brussels
* Roma Festival, November 22-23 in Stockholm
*City of Gotenburg, Sweden European Office seminar on Roma inclusion, European Parliament – November 12 in Brussels
* Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005-2015 International Workshop “Inclusive Education without Discrimination”, November 17-18 in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
* Roma side event at the "4th Annual Convention of the European Platform against Poverty and Social Exclusion", European Commission, November 20 in Brussels
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