MINELRES: Fwd: Albanian Helsinki Committee Monitors Minority Participation in Local Decision Making

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Sun Mar 16 21:05:00 2008


Original sender: Roma Virtual Network <romale@zahav.net.il>


Elbasan, March 4, 2008

ALBANIAN HELSINKI COMMITTEE MONITORS MINORITY PARTICIPATION IN LOCAL
DECISION MAKING 

In the context of its contribution to better respect for minority and
community rights at the local level and to increasing their
participation in local decision making, the Albanian Helsinki Committee
(AHC) conducted a survey of citizens, local government employees, and
Elbasan Municipal Council members, regarding access of minority
representatives to services offered by the Municipality. 

Upon conclusion of the survey of citizens and self-assessment of the
Elbasan Municipality, it resulted that:

In general, in the Elbasan Municipality there is peaceful coexistence
and tolerance between minorities and communities living there.
Nevertheless, in their opinion, there are displays of discrimination
toward the Roma minority. Citizensí sensitivity toward this problem is
high. 

In spite of citizensí positive assessment, the Elbasan Municipality does
not yet enjoy a satisfying level of citizensí trust with regard to its
guaranteeing of protection for minority and community rights living
under the jurisdiction of this Municipality. 

Municipality citizens and employees have little knowledge on the
treatment of minority issues in general and the role that the
Municipality and other bodies should play in respecting minority rights.
Based on the study, it emerges that numerous misunderstandings regarding
the position of minorities and their rights are the result of lack of
information.

The situation appears disturbing regarding the situation of minorities
and communities in terms of employment, education, participation in
decision making, housing, health care, and care for special society
groups. In this context, the surveyed recommend the undertaking of
multi-level measures at the local level toward these aspects.  

Education is assessed as one of the directions necessitating measures
although some of the surveyed are of the opinion that the principle of
equality should be primary in the society. The differences in positions
points to the need for informing and training the public administration
regarding minority rights in a society. 

Employment, housing, and education are the areas in which the Elbasan
Municipality needs to show particular care. In spite of positive results
highlighted during the study, one of the priorities of the local
government should be to avoid discriminating phenomena toward
minorities, particularly toward the Roma minority and the Egyptian
community. Those surveyed recommend the undertaking of measures such as:
information, social measures, or the drafting of specific legislation
against discrimination. 

Surveyed citizens praise the measures undertaken on the basis of the
real situation of minorities. 

Citizens request that quick and efficacious forms be found for
exchanging information between the Municipality and communities in the
Elbasan Municipality.

In order to improve local level representation, the surveyed assess the
need for improving special employment and education policies for
minorities, establishing special sectors for minority issues,
establishing advisory committees that include minority members. 

Positive measures are seen as a need to enable minorities to enjoy
satisfying levels of economic, social, educational rights and their real
representation in local government bodies. Reserved seats representation
in the Municipal Council is generally accepted as another mechanism that
could improve minority representation. 

Based on the mission of local government bodies to ensure governance
that is as close as possible to citizens, it is necessary that the
Elbasan Municipality increase contact with citizens. 

The surveyed individuals appreciate the print and broadcast media as an
important factor for social coexistence. In their view, the media should
be more attentive toward violations of minority rights and in increasing
contact with minorities residing in the Municipality of
Elbasan.

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