Weekly news

ERIO'S WEEKLY E-NEWS 26-06-2015

ERIO news and activities

* ERIO conference "Media: a key tool to fight hate speech and anti-Gypsyism”
On 23 June 2015, ERIO organized a conference “Media: a key tool to fight hate speech and anti-Gypsyism”. The event was held at the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels and was attended by officials from the European Commission, European Parliament, representatives of member states and civil society, journalists and Roma representatives. The conference provided a platform for discussion and exchange of information between the actors working at different levels.
 
The aim of the conference was to discuss the phenomenon of hate speech in media and possible ways how to use media to combat anti-Gypsyism. The conference also provided a forum to talk about the main reasons for occurrence of open racism in media and participants could share their views on potential amendments of this situation.
 
Lina Papamichalopoulou, (European Commission, DG Justice, Non-discrimination policies and Roma coordination Unit) expressed her regret about the recent developments in journalism – before, media were trying to find the truth, but nowadays their actions are more profit-motivated. Ronald Lucardie (President of ERIO Board) pointed out that media, by abiding by the iron law “good news is not news” create a negative bias and unbalanced reporting. Speakers also warned about the upcoming summer season, when the media tend to publish more articles about Roma, as there is nothing else to report about.
 
The first panel, dedicated to the historical and legal background of hate speech, was opened by Gabriella Nagy (Embassy of Hungary to Belgium and Luxembourg) who reminded of an often overlooked fact that Roma were also victims of the Holocaust and compared the current frequent use of hate speech to the situation before World War II. Christel Mercadé (European Commission, DG Justice, Fundamental rights and rights of the child Unit) provided a comprehensive overview of the EU legislation and other tools tackling hate speech. Multiple examples of hate speech in media were mentioned by Jörg Gebhard (Belgium Interfederal Centre for Equal Opportunities). The statistics based on media monitoring confirmed that the information offered by journalists is often imbalanced and supporting stereotypes.
 
The second panel covered the topic of approaches to tackle media hate speech. MEP Soraya Post considers hate speech to be a symptom of a greater disease, which is nowadays being more easily diffused through the Internet. On the other hand, the EU has put effort in combating it by adopting several legal instruments and by recognising the term anti-Gypsyism. Joël Le Déroff (ENAR) noted that anti-Roma sentiment and rhetoric is no longer used exclusively by far-right parties, but is spreading through the entire political spectrum. Orhan Galjus (Radio Patrin) stressed the need for better involvement of Roma, whose opinions are not presented often enough.
 
Speakers of the last panel, Damjan Gogovski and Martin Miloshevski (Sutel TV) and George Weiss (Radio La Benevolencija) offered examples of practices which can help to fight hate-speech. In conclusion, one of the most important steps to fight hate speech in media is to increase the participation of Roma in this sector and to raise awareness about racism and its negative consequences among journalists.

OTHER news

* Turkey’s Parliament Reshaped by Minority Deputies, Creating HopeFrench mayor in racism row after dead Roma baby refused cemetery place
By The Armenian Mirror-Spectator

Özcan Purçu, elected as an İzmir deputy for the CHP, is the first-ever deputy to represent the Roma community. The Roma community in Turkey, which is estimated as having a population of 300,000 according to a survey conducted in 2006 by the Konda research company, is strongly motivated to protect their traditions.
Chairman of Izmir Roma Community Social Cooperation and Solidarity Association Abdullah Cistir shared his opinions about the first-ever deputy to represent his community with Sunday’s Zaman. Cistir said: “I found this symbolic. Only one deputy is not enough for the Roma community [but] we will [surely] follow our deputy’s activities [in Parliament] and those who support such activities.” Cistir also mentioned the importance of increasing the number of Roma community representatives in local administrations where the community has a dense population.

Read more here
* EC sees some progress in Roma integration
By Kayla Zacharias

Annual report urges EU members to use available funds to implement policies
EU member states have made progress in Roma integration, but there is still plenty of work to be done, according to the annual European Commission report released June 18. The Roma people are Europe’s largest ethnic minority; about 6 million of them currently live in the EU.

“Roma inclusion is a key political priority for the EU. Roma continue to be discriminated against and marginalized from society. This year’s report shows that member states are starting to move in the right direction. However, we need more concrete results — especially at local level,” Czech politician Věra Jourová, the European commissioner for justice, consumers and gender equality, said in a press release. “Member states have to fight discrimination of Roma more actively and focus on elimination of hate crime and harmful stereotypes. We want to see Roma being treated equally, in schools, at their workplace, in housing and healthcare, just like other EU citizens,” she added.

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* UN Commissioner about Hungary’s announcement to build fence on its border
By agw , politics.hu, press release of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights ROMEA

On 19 June, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Cécile Pouilly issued a statement saying that her office is "deeply concerned" about Hungary's announcement that it is preparing to build a fence on its border with Serbia.

Pouilly said the measure could prevent asylum seekers in need of international protection from reaching Hungarian territory.
"Such harsh border enforcement measures may also force migrants to adopt more risky routes and modes of transport, putting them at greater risk of abuse by traffickers and smugglers," Pouilly said. "We have noted in the past the need for European governments to display leadership and compassion in their migration policies."

The spokesperson also expressed concern that the Hungarian Government is officially disseminating anti-migrant, xenophobic rhetoric through a billboard campaign supposedly targeting immigrants and warning them not to take jobs away from Hungarians. "Such assertions contradict the evidence, which is that migrants – particularly low-skilled migrants - are needed in European labor markets, doing the difficult jobs that no one else wants to do. On 22 May, we publicly criticized a questionnaire on immigration sent by the Government to its citizens in which unfounded links were sought... between migration and terrorism," Pouilly said.

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* Czech police file is labeled "GYPSIES + DRUG ADDICTS", but no one will be held responsible
By jal, translated by Gwendolyn Albert, ROMEA

The online Czech daily ECHO24.cz has reported on the case of a police inspector who had a file labeled "GYPSIES + DRUG ADDICTS" on the shelf among others he was working on. The label was noticed by a person who came to the Prague II District Police Directorate in mid-April to be deposed.
"I was shocked. The last people to lead special police groups on different nationalities here were the Nazis," Jan Vučka, an attorney and specialist in criminal law, told ECHO24.cz on behalf of the person who complained.

"The worst thing is that these officers don't see anything wrong with this, because otherwise they would not leave the files out for visitors to see," he added. His client, who has requested anonymity, immediately filed a complaint with the head of that office, Zdeňka Brotánková, who told ECHO24.cz last week that she was determined to get to the bottom of the case: "I will see what the complaint involves, it's too soon to draw any conclusions. However, I would not rule out the possibility that disciplinary action might have to be taken, but I repeat, I must first see the complaint."

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* Switzerland Provides CHF 8 M for Roma Integration in Bulgaria
By Novinite

Swiss Ambassador to Bulgaria Denis Knobel and Bulgarian Social Minister Ivaylo Kalfin signed agreements with the municipalities of Burgas, Ruse and Sliven that will be aimed at stimulating the social inclusion of Roma and other vulnerable ethnic groups.
"All of the people living in Bulgaria need to be included in the social life, education, professional training and work activities, regardless of their ethnic group,'' Kalfin stated at a news conference Tuesday. He commented on the recent ethnic turmoil across Bulgaria, when people were injured and even admitted to hospital following ethnic fights.
On his part, Swiss ambassador Knobel stated that ''this type of engagement to the minorities is very important and that's why we are focusing on the Roma community in Bulgaria.''
In his words, the minority suffers several forms of social exclusion connected with improper education, poverty and poor healthcare. He added that this time concrete results will be demanded through the Swiss-sponsored program.

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* First national Roma survey released
By The Portugal News

The Portuguese Roma Gypsies have little formal education, marry young, mainly work in fairs, many are unemployed and get basic social security benefits, a study published this week has revealed.
The data is in the first national study of the community ordered by the High Commissioner of Migrations, which interviewed almost 1,600 Gypsies throughout Portugal last year.
The study coordinator told Lusa News Agency that there were basically three large groups. One group is composed of youths under 34 with different levels of schooling, many of them have never worked and many live with their families. A second group is 45 or older “living in very deficient conditions with greater vulnerability”. The last group is made up of people of an active age with families or in a stable situation, with ages of between 24 and 35 many of them have had four years of school. This group has a larger number of workers, mainly people who travel from fair to fair as employees. “They are more open and have non-Roma friends, their networks are less closed”.
On the other hand, Roma schooling “is generally very short, particularly for girls”, they get married very young (between 13 and 15) and many are evangelists. The National Gypsy People Day is 24 June.

Read more here
* European Court for Human Rights says internet portal operators responsible for insulting online posts
By ROMEA

Today the European Court of Human Rights confirmed that the operators of internet portals are responsible for insulting commentaries posted online by their users. The judgment
in the case of a large Estonian online news server could impact the operation of such portals in all the member states of the Council of Europe, which includes the Czech Republic.
The court decided today on the case of a dispute over abusive, threatening comments posted on the Delfi portal, one of the most-visited news servers in Estonia. In 2006, anonymous users of the portal insulted the operator of a ferry service to local islands who had used an icebreaker in the winter to continue his service.
By using the icebreaker, the ferry operator prevented the creation of cheaper, less time-consuming routes to the islands for cars driving directly on the ice. The transport company running the ferries sued the portal for publishing the anonymous insults.
The Estonian courts agreed with the ferry operator and in 2008 fined the Delfi portal 5 000 Estonian crowns (about EUR 300). Legal representatives for the news server defended

Read more here
* Integrating Roma Into Europe's Future: Change Must Come From Within
By The Huffington Post

06As the European Union is intensifying its efforts to promote dialogue with member states on the necessity to fight discrimination and marginalization of Roma minorities in Europe as part of the Decade of Roma Inclusion (2005-2015) and the EU's Europe 2020 strategy, a recent proposition set forth by a French union has sparked outrage after it suggested the creation of a separate bus service for Roma people in the Southern French city of Montpellier.
Sadly enough, the French case is not isolated. A similar controversial apartheid-like project was also discussed last year in Italy and many cases of discrimination have been reported in member states with large Roma populations.
In this context, a large majority of the estimated 10-12 million Roma living in Europe, six million of them in the EU and the majority in Bulgaria, Czech Republic, and Romania, continue to face social-economic prejudice, exclusion from mainstream education and healthcare, intolerance, xenophobia and stigmatisation. Referred to as Europe's most marginalized minority, they continue to live, for the most part, in very poor social-economic conditions with limited prospects for the future.
While difficulties Roma face were recognized by the Council of Europe in 1969, problems persist at the national level where governments fail to successfully implement anti-discrimination legislations towards Roma that would eventually bring about real progress.

Read more here

ANNOUNCEMENTS and events

* Bulgaria Interior Ministry to Launch Roma Employment Program

Bulgarian Interior Minister Rumyana Bachvarova has said her ministry is starting a program to hire more employees of ethnic Roma origin. This comes after weeks of tensions between Bulgarian and Roma residents of the village of Garmen, in the country's southwest, and more recently in the Orlandovtsi neighborhood of the capital Sofia.

Bachvarova, who over the last days had shunned media attention despite days-long protests in Orlandovtsi, added the project was currently under way, but would require some time to be carried out. Initially it will involve 10 municipalities across the country, Bachvarova told public broadcaster BNT on Thursday. She added police would retain presence in both Garmen (and its Kremikovtsi neighborhood mostly populated by Roma people) and Orlandovtsi to prevent any major escalation.

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* National Roma Contact Points meet at FRA

FRA will host a National Roma Contact Points (NRCP) Workshop on Roma Integration Indicator and reporting template on 10-11 June in Vienna.
It will bring together 22 Member States' National Roma Contact Points, the European Commission and representatives from national statistical offices. The aim of the workshop is to assist Member States with the practical application of the framework and in particular, to discuss the various approaches to data collection that might be applicable in specific contexts in individual Member States.

The workshop will also discuss how the indicators framework could be applied in countries with limited possibilities of generating or using data disaggregated by ethnicity. This includes looking at alternative data collection methods. FRA and the NRCPs will explore ways of cooperating and will identify the areas of future support the Member States might need in filling out the Structure-Process-Outcome Indicators template developed by the Roma Working Party.

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