MINELRES: NGOs advocate for implementation of European Social Charter judgments in Bulgaria

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Wed Mar 10 16:56:42 2010

Original sender: European Roma Rights Centre <errc@errc.org>

SOFIA, 5 MARCH 2010: At a workshop yesterday hosted by the European Roma
Rights Centre (ERRC), the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC) and the
Bulgarian Committee for the Protection Against Discrimination, activists
praised the efforts of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare to
expand coverage of social assistance and health insurance but insisted
that more needed to be done to protect the rights of Roma and all
Bulgarian citizens.
The workshop was convened to discuss the implementation of three
decisions of the Council of Europe Committee of Social Rights in the
areas of housing, health care and social assistance. In these decisions,
dating from 2006 - 2009, the Committee found Bulgaria in violation of
the European Social Charter for putting a time limit on the provision of
social benefits and for failing to protect Roma from discrimination. The
workshop was attended by numerous government officials, including
Minister of Labour and Social Welfare Totyu Mladenov, as well as
representatives of the Committee of Social Rights, human rights
activists and Romani activists.
Civil society representatives noted the Government’s efforts to end the
arbitrary time limit on social benefits and health insurance imposed in
2006, but expressed concern that a newly enacted law to restore benefits
would not take effect until 2011. In response, Minister Mladenov pledged
to provide targeted social assistance within the framework of other
existing programmes to those in need. 
Krassimir Kanev, Chairman of the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, said,
“The government has not achieved significant progress in two areas. The
first area is the access to medical insurance of socially vulnerable
groups and the second is the possibility for eviction of people from
their only home. In both areas there is a need for legislative change." 
Participants in the workshop expressed disappointment that no progress
had been made to address problems in the field of housing for Roma. They
called on the government to simplify legalisation of informal
settlements as a means to prevent eviction. 
Rob Kushen, Managing Director of the European Roma Rights Centre, said,
“As long as Romani families remain under the constant threat of
eviction, they will never become fully integrated into Bulgarian
society. The Committee of Social Rights identified numerous violations
in Bulgarian law and practice related to housing and evictions, and we
call on the Government to remedy these on an urgent basis.” 
The ERRC and the BHC called on the Bulgarian government to undertake all
the necessarily measures, including law reform, which will secure the
country’s full compliance with the European Social Charter. The ERRC and
the BHC will continue to monitor the situation of Roma in Bulgaria
especially in the fields of access to social assistance, health care and
For further information, please contact: 

Krassimir Kanev, BHC Chairman
krassimir@bghelsinki.org, +35 92 943 4876

Sinan Gokcen, ERRC Information Officer
sinan.gokcen@errc.org, +36 30 500 1324

© ERRC 2010. All rights reserved 

The European Roma Rights Centre is an international public interest law
organisation which monitors the human rights situation of Roma and
provides legal defence in cases of human rights abuse. For more
information about the European Roma Rights Centre, visit the ERRC on the
web at: http://www.errc.org
To support the ERRC, please visit this link:

European Roma Rights Centre
1016 Budapest
Naphegy ter 8
Tel: +36.1.413.2200 

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