MINELRES: European Roma Information Office - Newsletter - 20 September 2006

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Mon Sep 25 08:19:16 2006

Original sender: Valery Novoselsky <romale@zahav.net.il>


20 Septemer 2006   
The First Discrimination Case Decided in Slovakia Under the New
Antidiscrimination Law

On 31 August 2006, the first known court case on racial discrimination
under the new Slovak Antidiscrimination Law was decided in Slovakia. The
decision was issued by the District Court in Michalovce. The Court
decided the case initiated in 2005 by three Roma activists from local
NGO Nova Cesta based in Michalovce.

The case concerned an incident from April 2005 and involved a
discrimination in access to public accommodation. Romani activists
wanted to visit a popular cafe called IDEA in the center of Michalovce,
Eastern Slovakia. According to the activists, this cafe was well know to
be hostile towards Roma and Roma were not served in there. On previous
occassions, the Romani activists tried to enter the cafe and were
refused services. Thus, they asked human rights activists from the
Center for Civil and Human Rights (Poradna) based in Kosice, Slovakia,
to accompany them and witness potential discriminatory treatment.

On the given date, the Romani activists were indeed refused the services
and when trying to enter the premises, the cafe personnel claimed that
the cafe was a private  "club" and in order to enter, the Roma needed a
membership. However, few minutes later, white activists from Poradna
were allowed to enter without even being asked to prove a membership and
no other white customers had alleged membership either.

Romani activists subsequently decided to initiate the civil court
proceeding against the owner of the cafe under the Slovak
Antidiscrimination Law requesting the court to order the owner to issue
a written applogy as well as the payment of financial compensations.

Despite the fact that District Court in Michalovce partially decided in
favour of the applicants, its decision is quite confusing. On one hand
the Court ruled that the Roma faced discrimination in this case and
ordered the defendant to send them apology for discriminatory treatment.
On the other hand, the Court stated that the discriminatory treatment
against the applicants was not on the ground of their ethnic origin. The
Court did not specify on what ground the Applicants were discriminated
against, though.

Also, according to the Court the defendant, the cafe owner, successfully
proved in the proceeding that he serves Roma customers and that he does
not discriminate them in general. Therefore, the Court also rejected the
claim for a financial compensation reasoning that the Applicants knew
that they would nto be served in the given restaurant and were prepared
for discriminatory treatment.

Basically, the Court ruled that although the Roma were discriminated, it 
could not be based on their ethnic origin as other Roma at other times
are usually served. However, they knew that in the given place, Roma are
not served, thus, should have presumed a discriminatory treatment.  The
Court unfortunately did not clarify those inconsistences yet.

The decision is the first instance decision and the Applicants are
considering to file the appeal against it.

For more information of the case please contact Poradna or Nova Cesta

Poradna pre obcianske a ludske prava
Kriva 23
040 01 Kosice
Tel: + 421 55 68 06 181
E-mail: poradna@euroweb.sk

OZ Nova Cesta
Nam. Slobody 1
071 01 Michalovce
Tel: + 421 56 64 26 938
E-mail: ipcr@post.sk

Commission Communication on Education 
In a Communication adopted on 8 September, 2006, the European Commission
stresses the need for European education and training systems to be
both, efficient and equitable, if they are aimed to achieve the
necessary quality to create more growth, jobs and social cohesion. The
process of modernizing education and training systems in Member States
is largely driven by the search for greater efficiency and cost
effectiveness. Whilst efficient systems are obviously a pre-requisite
for success, the Commission argues that efficiency does not have to come
at the expense of equity, and proposes four main areas for action by the
Member States:
* Member States should invest more in the pre-primary education
* Member States should not separate pupils into educational 'tracks' at
too early age
* Contrary to what is often assumed, entirely state-funded, "free"
systems of higher education do not guarantee equitable access and
* Member States need to develop a 'culture of evaluation'
The Commission's analysis concludes that education and training policies
should aim to improve the knowledge, skills and competences of
individuals, especially the most disadvantaged, and of society as a
whole. They should increase efficiency by raising the average skill
level of the population and reduce inequality by improving the life
opportunities of those most in need and by narrowing the gap between the
best and worst qualified individuals. But these are not mutually
exclusive objectives. Achieving high quality does not necessarily mean
sacrificing equitable opportunities, access, treatment and outcomes for
individual Europeans.
For more information:
To download the Communication:

Lithuania: views of a parliamentarian: Roma and drug selling

Lithuanian commercial TV station (LNK) broadcasted a direct program
(issue of 16 September, website only in Lithuanian at
http://www.lnk.lt/laidos/?id=132) about continuing drug selling in a
Roma district of Vilnius city, so called Taboras and inaction of local
A participant of this direct TV program - Ms. Ramune Visockyte,
Chairwoman of the parliamentary Drug Addiction Prevention Commission
commented this problem that police and officials do not act in this
badly famous place because they are afraid of international human rights
organisations; according to her, these organisations defend rights of
drug sellers rather than rights of potential victims of drug addiction. 
She presented demolitions of Roma homes (almost all built illegally
there, and mostly many years ago) as an effective way to fight drug
selling and drug addiction; her concrete example of such success was
demolition of Roma homes in the Kaliningrad area (Russian Federation),
organised allegedly by a new governor Georgy Boos. 
I would like to pay your attention that this Drug Addiction Prevention
besides its realtively young chairwoman from:Labour Party, includes aso
very experienced politicians, such as Mr. Alvydas Sadeckas (Social
Liberals group), Ms. Milda Petrauskiene (Social Democratic Party) - both
also in the Committee of national security, Mr. Vidmantas Ziemelis
(Conservatives), Ms. V.V. Margeviciene (Conservatives) and oth. 
I would like to remind you that Vilnius municipality (mayor - Mr.
Arturas Zuokas) demolished several inhabited Roma homes in the beginning
of December 2004, but further actions were stopped with support from the
part of civil society and Lithuanian Ombudsman (Ms. Salaseviciute). As
far as I know only one person who became homeless was granted a flat by
municipality later, though 5 or 6 families lost their homes. 
The lawyer who has helped Roma to write complaints to different
institutions during that time - Mr. Zilvinas Miseikis - is a lawyer of
Vilnius mayor Zuokas now, in cases between Mr. Zuokas and media (e.g.
mentioned in the article "A.Zuokas - prie? komentarus apie ja ra?aneius
internautus" (A.Zuokas - against internet users who write comments
against him) by Justinas Vanagas at
I personally find present statements of Ms. Visockyte incompetent,
because bad work of police and bad drug addiction prevention result in
multiple violations of Roma human rights: 
- Roma in such districts are more subjected to abuse from the part of
criminal groups, they can not rely on police support equally and are
victimised if complain; 
- they become a high risk group for drug addiction, hepatitis C, HIV and
other blood-borne infections; minority members from other regions are
affected subsequently too due to family relations, etc; 
- children rights are poorly protected - they grow in an area with flow
of sick drug addicted persons and criminals, with contaminated syringes
and needles around; if their family members are involved in criminal
business, children get bad socialisation, they are exploited often and
have poor access to education, other rights abuse is more likely to
Such misconception of the issue is dangerous, in my opinion, because:
- it present human rights and minority human rights as something
contradicting each other and build basis for discrimination;
- it targets minority in general (the whole Roma district) instead of
targeting concrete criminals and dealing with persons who need support; 
- it proposes inadequate or inappropriate measures (demolition of homes
of these people as prevention of criminal activities);
- it directs attention from bad law enforcement problem without any
proposals how to improve it;
- it tries to isolate this local situation from attention of
international human rights organisations blaming the last ones in
negative impact locally. 
The LNK reality show ALFA (www.alfa.lt) started a valuable series of
articles on problem of drug-addiction since the end of August with help
of famous BBC journalist Nicholas Jones and demonstrated strange
behaviour of police for all population of Lithuania using filmed
E.g. Mr. Jones with Ms. Ievute Zubaviciute, a young participant, bought
drugs in the evening 29 August, called the police to show that, but they
were arrested themselves and released only with help of Lithuanian
journalists and a lawyer, human right violations were noted; the police
(3rd Commissariat) did not look for drug sellers, did not ask to show
their photos in mobiles of journalists, nor narcotic substances were
found in syringes by forensic laboratory, the file was closed. This
story did not attain greater attention of higher officials too. 
Related articles are available in Internet only in Lithuanian,
unfortunately, together with comments:
- 2006-08-30: "Narkotiku byloje Vilniaus policija buvo sulaikiusi garsu
BBC zurnalista" (http://www.alfa.lt/straipsnis/44363) by Andrius
Vaitkevicius (Vilnius police had detained a famous BBC journalist in the
drug case) 
- 2006-08-31: "BBC zurnalisto advokatas: "Policija elgiasi negraziai"
(http://www.alfa.lt/straipsnis/45367) by Andrius Vaitkevicius (Lawyer of
BBC journalist: the police acts wrong) 
- 2006-08-31: Policija puola zurnalistus ir ignoruoja arodymus prie?
narkotiko prekeiva (http://www.alfa.lt/straipsnis/45364) by Ievute
Zubaviciute (Police attacks journalists but ignores evidence against
drug seller) 
- 2006-09-01: "Neissprendziamas vandeniniu narkotiku galvosukis"
(http://www.alfa.lt/straipsnis/46327) by Ievute Zubaviciute (Unsolved
puzzle of aqueous drugs) 
- 2006-09-06: "Taboro "kliento" ispazintis"
(http://www.alfa.lt/straipsnis/48990) by Ievute Zubaviciute (Confession
of Taboras' client) 
- 2006-09-15: "Tabore toliau klesti prekyba narkotikais"
by Augustas Balsys (Drug commerce thrives further in Taboras) 
Egle Kristina Kucinskaite 
Kranto al. 64-25, Kaunas, Lithuania. 
Mobile: +370 615 85402 

Roma districts demolished during Urban Transformation Projects 

Cincin district of Romans in Ankara demolished 

Gultepe (Cincin) district of Ankara Ald?ndag Municipality is where
majority of dwellers are Romans. Alt?ndag Municipality will construct a
total of 776 flats within the scope of Cincin Mass Housing Project on
48.173 m? of land composed of four blocks. The municipality demolished
the houses of around 170 Romans within the scope of the project and a
further destruction of 400 houses is planned. The Municipality has
finalized talks with the Mass Housing Administration for the project
according to which 14 storey apartments will be built and the protocol
has been signed.(August 2006)

Houses of Romans to be demolished in Istanbul Kustepe 

Mass Housing Administration (TOKI) launches a slum transformation
Project in Kustepe where Romans live, within the scope of a protocol
signed with Sisli Municipality and Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality.
228 flats will be built on a 12 thousand m? of land which is identified
as pilot region. Romans dwellers of Kustepe who live there for 30 years
are now worried. Dwellers of Kustepe state that they have no idea what
kind of flats TOKI will built and say; "If it will be for our good then
it should be done however they should not put us in a difficult
position. We were born here, they should not send us anywhere else."
(August 2006)

The houses of the Roma people in Blacksea Eregli were demolished

In line with the resolution of the Municipal Council, a two-storey
building in the Filtepe street of the Muftu Quarter in Zonguldak
Blacksea / Eregli, in which 45 people form 6 different Roma families
were living, was demolished by the Municipality. Citizens had nervous
breakdowns while the municipal teams arrived for the process. They
resisted the teams which tried to handcuff the citizens. As backup,
rapid force from Zonguldak was called, and the resistance of the
citizens were broken. Then the municipal teams took out the properties
from the apartments, and demolished the building. (26 July 2005)

The houses of the Roma people in Bursa Kamberler were expropriated and

Within the scope of "History and Culture Park" project of Osmangazi
Municipality of Bursa Province, a pull down process has been launched in
the Kamberler Quarter, where Roma citizens are residing. While on one
hand, a project has been launched for the re-planning of the district,
on the other, expropriation and demolishing processes continue as well.
A further 22 expropriated buildings were pulled down by the municipal
teams. Rapid Force teams accompanied the pull down process, where 106
houses were demolished. So far, more than 150 buildings have been
expropriated by Osmangazi Municipality. The municipality has stated that
an area of about 17 thousand square meters have been acquired by way of
pull downs, and added that around 13 trillion Liras for expropriation
has been spent so far to put the project into practice in the district.
Under the Kamberler History and Culture Park Project, Osmangazi
Municipality foresees an urban transformation on a land of around 70
thousand square meters. In the first stage of the two-step project, a
land of 40 thousand square meters will be expropriated and turned in to
green area. (21 July 2006)

120 houses of the Romans were demolished in Istanbul Kucukbakkalkoy 

Within the framework of Urban Transformation Project of Istanbul
Metropolitan Municipality, 120 houses where Roman people were living in
Kad?koy Kucukbakkalkoy were pulled down by the teams of the Istanbul
Metropolitan Municipality. Romans reluctant to evacuate their houses got
into a stampede with the police teams. Relatives of the 10 detainees
fainted, and the women were carried away carelessly. Two months ago, a
pull down order was issued and a notification was sent to the Romans
living in those 120 houses in Kucukbakkalkoy. Teams of the Metropolitan
Municipality, hundreds of municipal police officers, Kad?koy police
teams as well as Rapid Force teams accompanied the pull down process.
(July 2006)

20 houses were destroyed in Istanbul Gaziosmanpasa district 

Teams attached to Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality arrived at the
barracks in the Cebeci Quarter in Gaziosmanpasa, and pulled down 20
houses where Roma people were living.  Roma people and their children
went up the roofs and demonstrated against the teams. Romans pursuing  
the demonstrations were detained by the police, and the little children
and elderly in the barracks were carried out by the municipal teams.
After that, 20 barracks were pulled down by the municipal teams. In the
meantime, teams from public order department of the police, rapid force
and special team conducted searches in the pulled-down barracks as well
as the surrounding houses.  During the practice, around 30 people were
detained for not having ID cards. (13 June 2006) 

Houses of Romans demolished in Istanbul Kag?thane 

11 houses where Romans stayed in Gultepe Yahya Kemal district in
Istanbul Kag?thane have been demolished by the Kag?thane Municipality
teams. Romans resisted the teams in order to prevent the destruction of
their houses. Owners of the houses, who set their houses on fire to
prevent the destruction, have been drawn away by the rapid force. Some
of the dwellers stepped into their houses during the fire in order to
rescue some of their belongings. House owners, who will be paid by the
Municipality 2-7 thousand YTL for the cost of debris, dug the first
spade. (May 2006) 

Ivan Ivanov, Executive Director, ERIO.

Valery Novoselsky, Consultant, ERIO information program. 
The European Roma Information Office (ERIO) is an international advocacy
organization, which  promotes political and public discussion on Roma
issues by providing factual and in-dept information on a range of policy
issues to the European Union institutions, Roma civil organizations,
governmental authorities and intergovernmental bodies. The ERIO
cooperates with a network of a large number of organizations  and acts
to combat racial discrimination and social exclusion through awareness
raising, lobbying and policy development. 
Ave. Edouard Lacomble 17 
Brussels 1040 
Tel: 0032(0)27333462

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