MINELRES: Bulgaria Violates its International Obligations Rejecting the Draft for Establishment of Fund for Educational Integration of Minority Children

MINELRES moderator minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Thu Oct 14 16:36:48 2004

Original sender: Emil Cohen <emilcohen@bnc.bg>

Human Rights Project*

Bulgaria Violates its International Obligations Rejecting the Draft for
Establishment of Fund for Educational Integration of Minority Children 

Sofia, October 13, 2004 -  On October 07, 2004 the Parliament of
Bulgaria rejected at first reading the Draft Law for Establishment of
Fund for Minority Children Educational Integration. (For more details
see the Press Release of HRP from Monday, October 11, 2004 that is
available at http://dev.eurac.edu:8085/mdinfo?serial=1097662868718 and
also at: http://www.bghelsinki.org/frames-press.html).

After HRP has examined closely the argumentation of the leftist
opposition that voted ‘against’ the Draft and by this rejected the Draft
HRP is obliged to declare the followed:

1. The main reason of the leftist opposition was that the Draft creates
‘preferences’ in favor of the Roma children and thus puts the Bulgarians
in an inferior state. According to the speakers of the Bulgarian
Socialist Party (BSP) there is not a problem of the equal access of the
minority children and especially of the access of the Roam children.
This problem ‘has been a general one for a big part of the Bulgarian
children and families’ said the main speaker on behalf on BSP Mrs.
Eugenia Jivkova (she is a daughter of the former communist dictator of
Bulgaria Todor Jivkov). She added also that Bulgaria should not divide
the children by ethnic origin. 

2. That kind of argumentation enters in strong contradiction with the
international obligations of Bulgaria and especially with the Framework
Convention for Protection of the National Minorities, that Bulgaria
ratified in the beginning of 1999. In Art. 4, par. 2 of the Framework
Convention for the Protection of National Minorities is written: ‘The
Parties undertake to adopt, where necessary, adequate measures in order
to promote, in all areas of economic, social, political and cultural
life, full and effective equality between persons belonging to a
national minority and those belonging to the majority. In this respect,
they shall take due account of the specific conditions of the persons
belonging to national minorities.’ And further is written in par. 3:
‘The measures adopted in accordance with paragraph 2 shall not be
considered to be an act of discrimination.’

Beside this Bulgaria has taken an obligation to pass such a Law at the
Budapest meeting of eight Prime Ministers that took place on June 30 and
July 01, 2003. 

3. It is absolutely clear for everyone that the Roma people are
subjected of all–round discrimination in Bulgaria. The very existence of
the segregated ‘Roma’ schools is a kind of discrimination. Because of it
the establishment of Fund for Minority Children Educational Integration
is a way for overcoming the educational discrimination. Thus the
affirmative measures in favor of the Roma children could not be
considered as granting of privilege to someone. 

4. Thus the argumentation of these MPs who voted ‘against’ the Draft for
Establishment of Fund for Minority Children Educational Integration did
most probably because of their strong nationalistic attitudes.
Furthermore it is obviously that by rejecting of the establisment of the
above mentioned Fund Bulgaria infringed its international obligations.
Our Parliament  should as soon as possible stop that infrigement by
passing of the rejected Draft.  

On behalf of HRP:

Emil Cohen

*Human Rights Project was established in the summer of 1992 as
anon-profit organization focusing on monitoring the human
rightssituation of the Roma in Bulgaria, and on legal defense in cases
of serious human rights abuses. The HRP monitors the human rights
situation of the Roma community in Bulgaria and reports on the cases
which it had investigated; works with Roma volunteers from all over the
country who report on the human rights observation in their region;
conduct independent extrajudicial investigation into allegations of
human rights violations against Roma; hire lawyers to take up selected
cases and monitors the process of legal defense; advocates legislative
and policy changes in favor of Roma.

Ivan Ivanov is Chair of the Board of HRP. 
Dimitrina Petrova, Dimitar Georgiev, Mitio Kemalov and Rumian Russinov
are members of the Board.
Emil Cohen emilcohen@bnc.bg is Executive Director.

Our address: 23 Solunska St., 6th floor, 1000 Sofia, Bulgaria
Tel./fax: (+359 2) 986 35 46 and (+359 2) 981 50 66;
E-mail: hrproject@bnc.bg and  hrp@bnc.bg

Emil Cohen
Human Rights Project
Executive Director
1000 Sofia, 23 Solunska Str.
Phone/fax: (+359 2) 98150 66; GSM: (+359) 0888335707