Varuh ДЌlovekovih pravic


This was followed by a seminar on discrimination against the Roma, the purpose of which was, on the one hand, to draw attention to the structural or institutional discrimination that the Roma in Slovenia have been experiencing for decades if not centuries, and on the other hand to show that there exists a not insignificant number of cases of good practice that are a beacon in the fight against discrimination and can indicate a path for the future.
The ombudsman, Matjaž Hanžek, began by saying that it is high time that the state did more in this area and stopped leaving the resolution of the problem to local communities. Miran Komac of the Institute for Ethnic Studies explained that 15 years after the adoption of the Constitution, the Roma bill envisaged by the Constitution is finally ready. The text of this bill, however, does not contain provisions on positive measures. No-one has tested the proposed solutions in practice and the last draft was not coordinated with the Roma community. The Roma community has to become the subject of its own development, while the state should do more to ensure the literacy of Roma councillors.
Vera Klopčič of the Institute for Ethnic Studies talked about selected cases from judicial practice relating to members of the Roma community. She also warned that the controversial term indigenousness, over which policy has frequently stumbled, is not suitable for the protection of minorities. In her opinion special rights should be granted on the basis of two criteria: traditional settlement and settlement in an area in significant number.
Jožek Horvat, the president of the Union of Roma of Slovenia, warned that discrimination against the Roma is increasing, and that this is particularly evident at the local level. Discrimination is also occurring within the Roma community itself.
The seminar continued with a presentation of examples of good practice. We listened to a presentation of good practice in the area of including the Roma in the educational process at the Janko Padežnik Primary School in Maribor, where head teacher Sonja Filipič stressed that the essence of educational work with Roma children lies in the constant search for appropriate methods, continuous assessment, respecting the tradition of the Roma way of life and culture, and constant cooperation with parents. Dejan Peklar gave a presentation of individual lessons with Roma children.  

University student Samanta Baranja talked about the development of the inclusion of the Roma in the education system, while also mentioning the difficulties she encountered – and that other Roma children are still encountering – during schooling. She explained that there are ten Roma university students in Slovenia, which has given her the idea of founding a Roma academic club to bring these students together, motivate and encourage them, and organise meetings in order to compare experiences, exchange ideas, and so on. She drew attention to the need to guarantee a certain number of beds in halls of residence (these are currently only reserved for the two national minorities).

Nada Žagar of the Institute for Education and Culture (ZIK) in Črnomelj presented a project entitled “Careers Information and Advice for the Roma”, which was based on the assumption that we do not know about the career and educational interests of the Roma, therefore making it difficult to advise and motivate them for education. Within the framework of the project, the ZIK and its project partners carried out research into the educational and vocational interests of the Roma and introduced a new professional profile, that of a Roma coordinator.

Nataša Brajdič and Branko Novak then presented an example of good practice in cooperation between the Roma and the police, and emphasised the importance both of educating police officers with regard to Roma customs and familiarising the Roma with the work of the police. They also presented a Roma language learning programme for police officers.

Brankica Petkoviæ of the Peace Institute talked about the right of the Roma to information and taking part in the media process, pointing out that this is a responsibility both of the state and of the industry itself. Neva Nahtigal talked about a successful project called “Training the Roma for Radio Journalism”, a direct effect of which has been the launch of Roma radio production and a broadcast by the Roma Information Centre (ROMIC) Listen to the Roma, presented at the seminar by editor Monika Sandreli and journalist Romeo Horvat (“Popo”).  
Through the presentation of these examples of good practice, we also attempted to reflect on possible improvements and strategies in the fight against discrimination, and to show how important it is to cooperate with the Roma in planning similar strategies.