NEWS - Archive February 2013

Headlines 22 February, 2013

Alarm at Attacks on Turkish Armenians

22/2/2013- A series of attacks on elderly Armenians in Istanbul has left human rights activists fearful of an upsurge of xenophobia in Turkey. The latest victim was Sultan Aykar, an 80-year-old who lost an eye when she was attacked. “If her neighbours hadn’t come to her aid, my grandmother would be dead now,” Aykar’s granddaughter Karin Etik said by phone from Istanbul. “She had blood in her mouth, and she was so scared that she couldn’t speak.” It was only the latest in a series of attacks targeting Armenians. At the end of December, an 85-year-old woman called Maritsa Küçük was murdered, in the same Istanbul neighbourhood, Samatya. Samatya where the attacks have taken place, has traditionally had a large community of Armenians, who have enjoyed good relations with Turkish and Kurdish residents over many decades.

The Turkish press initially ignored the assaults, but concerns began to grow in the international media and among human rights groups. A January 27 demonstration in Samatya was attended by Turkish and Kurdish members of parliament, as well as representatives of women’s rights organisations. Participants held up banners saying, “Don’t hurt my Armenian neighbour”. “They want to scare the Armenians, to remind them that they will not die of old age in their beds,” said Ayşe Günaysu, a member of anti-racism committee of the Human Rights Association of Turkey. “The fact that the police are describing these fascist assaults as robberies only helps to encourage fascism. They are attempting to ethnically cleanse Samatya. We mustn’t forget the fact that the Armenian genocide is still denied in this country, and these events are a result of this denial.”

Turkish police have treated the attacks as ordinary crimes, perhaps the work of drug addicts who share the common belief that Armenians tend to be wealthier than others. “We need to be prudent when we discuss these attacks. I would like to wait before speaking,” Mustafa Demir, mayor of Fatih district, which includes Samatya, told Hurriyet Daily News. “All these attacks have involved theft as well, so it seems there’s little chance that these are nationalist crimes, if you look into the details.” Others disagree, and suspect a more sinister motive. “I have no doubt that these events are hate crimes. They need to be looked at against the background of attacks on Greeks and other Christians,” Orhan Kemil Cengiz, a journalist for the Radikal and Today’s Zaman newspapers, said. “I think that by creating fear among Christians, someone is trying to recreate the chaotic atmosphere that dominated Turkey prior to the murder of Hrant Dink,”

Hrant Dink was an ethnic Armenian journalist murdered in 2007 by a young Turkish nationalist, apparently because of Dink’s comments criticising Ankara’s refusal to recognise the early 20th-century killings of Armenians as genocide . Public outrage at this murder led to a wave of dismissals from Turkey’s security services, but analysts say extreme nationalism is again spreading , encouraged by rogue elements within the state. “Such incidents are the result of deep-laid plans and have deep roots. The Turkish government must solve these crimes not only to save the lives of individual Armenians, but to strengthen its own authority,” Berat Bekir Özipek, a political analyst with the Liberal Thinking Association and a journalist for the Star newspaper, said.
© Institute for War & Peace Reporting

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Polish Jewish cemetery, Russian center vandalized

22/2/2013- "Kalisz without Jews" spray-painted on Jewish cemetery in Kalisz, according to news site; Holocaust memorial in Russia smashed. A Jewish cemetery in western Poland and a Holocaust memorial site in Russia were defaced in suspected anti-Semitic attacks. In Kalisz, near Wroclaw, a Star of David on a gallows and the inscription "Kalisz without Jews" (Kalisz bez Żydów) were spray-painted on a Jewish cemetery and discovered on Feb. 20, according to naszemiasto.pl, a news site. The same slogan appeared on a large banner that was placed at one of the city’s main streets in 1939 to greet the advancing Nazi forces. Local police were informed of the incident, the website reported.

Separately, vandals smashed a Holocaust memorial outside the Ulyanovsk Jewish Community Center in Russia, near the city of Kazan, on February 18. The vandals smashed the memorial, a menorah inaugurated during the international 2011 festival of Jewish culture in Ulyanovsk, after they failed to enter the adjacent Jewish community center, according to a report by the Interfax news agency. Olga Bogatova, press officer for the Interior Ministry's Department for Ulyanovsk, told Interfax a criminal case “may be opened.” "This memorial is a national and religious symbol," Igor Devkerov, the leader of the Ulyanovsk Jewish community, said in a statement quoted by Interfax. Its desecration “hurts every Jew in our town,” he said.
© JTA News

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The constitutional court in Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity Republika Srpska ruled that Serb symbols used by the towns of Banja Luka and Nevesinje discriminated against Bosniaks and Croats

21/2/2013- Republika Srpska’s constitutional court ruled on Wednesday that the coats of arms and flags of Banja Luka and Nevesinje contain “symbols of the religious and national identity of the Bosnian Serb people alone” and are therefore unconstitutional. “Considering that the symbols of local communities must contain the traditions and cultural and historical heritage of all their citizens, the constitutional court found that these symbols put members of the other two constitutional peoples [Bosniaks and Croats] and members of other ethnic groups in an unequal position,” the verdict said. The towns’ coats of arms and flags feature four Cyrillic letters which represent a well-known Serbian slogan, ‘Only Unity Can Save the Serbs’. The court found that the symbols violate constitutional principles which guarantee human rights and freedoms for all citizens of Republika Srpska.

After the verdict, Banja Luka mayor Slobodan Gavranovic told local media that he was aware of the problem. “I will not comment on the court’s decision, but we are ready and willing to find a new solution,” said Gavranovic. The Republika Srpska ministry responsible for local government claimed on Wednesday that the decision means that the current symbols effectively no longer exist, and that new ones will have to be adopted. Mujo Hadziomerovic, the president of the Bosniak Club of Delegates at Republika Srpska’s people’s council, which appealed to the court against the town symbols, said the verdict was just. “We see there are problems with the symbols here. We have filed similar appeals for more than 35 municipalities. The current symbols usurp the rights of the other two constitutional peoples,” said Hadziomerovic.
© Balkan Insight

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Serb Paramilitaries Jailed for Mass Killings of Roma

A Belgrade court sentenced seven members of the ‘Sima’s Chetniks’ paramilitary unit to a total of 73 years in prison for murdering 28 civilians including children in Zvornik in Bosnia

22/2/2012- Belgrade’s special court on Friday sentenced Zoran Stojanovic and Zoran Djurdjevic to 20 years, Tomislav Gavric and Zoran Alic to 10 years, Djordje Sevic and Dragana Djekic to five years and Damir Bogdanovic to two years for the killings of 28 Roma civilians, the rape and torture of three Roma women and the demolition of a mosque in the village of Skocic. “By destroying [the mosque], they carried out a large-scale demolition of property. Immediately after this senseless act, they went to [the Roma district of] Skocic, where they continued committing crimes in which they demonstrated a lack of humanity,” said presiding judge Rastko Popovic.

Popovic said that in 1992, the defendants killed 27 Roma civilians in Skocic, threw them into a pit and then set off a hand grenade. The other civilian was killed in a village yard. The three Roma women were repeatedly raped while being held under house arrest in the nearby village of Malesic between June and December 1992. “They were raped daily, beaten on various body parts, forced into hard labour. All this was done because they were of a different ethnicity,” said Popovic. Serbia’s deputy war crimes prosecutor Bruno Vekaric said that despite the sentences, he could not say that he was satisfied that justice had been done. “When you hear what kind of crimes were committed, it is hard to express satisfaction, especially when you hear someone killed children aged from two to 12 years old, pregnant woman, and another 20 people,” Vekaric told journalists outside the court.

This is the fifth case to be launched by Serbia’s special prosecutor over attacks in Zvornik, where some of the most brutal crimes of the 1992-95 Bosnian war were committed. After Zvornik, a town on the River Drina close to the border with Serbia, was seized in May 1992, Arkan’s Tigers, another Serb paramilitary unit, expelled most of the non-Serb population. Arkan’s Tigers are alleged to have cooperated closely with the paramilitaries of Vojislav Seselj, the leader of the Serbian Radical Party who is facing trial for war crimes in The Hague. The two paramilitary groups went on to attack numerous towns in Bosnia and Croatia with the help of the Yugoslav Army. It remains unclear under whose command Sima’s Chetniks acted, since some of the trial witnesses claimed that they received orders from the headquarters of the Serbian Radical Party. Seselj, however, has denied that he had any control over units in Zvornik, accusing Arkan (Zeljko Raznatovic), who died in a gangland shooting in 2000, of having command responsibility.
© Balkan Insight

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For Italy's 'ultras,' nothing black and white about football and racism

21/2/2013- Hardcore Italian football "ultra" Federico is a Lazio supporter who happily admits directing monkey chants at black players. It is "a means to distract opposition players" says Federico, a member of the Irriducibili ("The Unbeatables") group which follows the Rome-based team. "I am against anyone who calls me a Nazi," Federico told academic Alberto Testa, who spent time "embedded" with Lazio and Roma ultras for the book "Football, Fascism and Fandom: The UltraS of Italian Football," co-authored by Gary Armstrong. "What I do not like is people who come to my country and commit crimes; Albanians and Romanians are destroying Rome with their camps," Federico adds. "But I'm not a racist. One day, I was waiting in my car at the traffic lights and, as usual, there was a young female gypsy who was trying to clean the car windscreen and was asking for money. "Suddenly municipal police officers started to mistreat the girl. I jumped out of my car and almost kicked his arse. I hate injustice."

There is nothing black and white about Italian football. Days after his return to Serie A, following his move from Manchester City to AC Milan, Italy-born Mario Balotelli was referred to by his new club's vice president Paulo Berlusconi -- the younger brother of the team's owner and the former Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi -- as "the family's little black boy." That remark came after, in what appeared to be an innocuous friendly match against fourth tier Italian side Pro Patria last month, Milan midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng picked up the ball and kicked it into the stands before tearing off his black-and-red striped shirt and walking off in protest at the persistent monkey chanting to which he and three of his black teammates had been subjected. In the aftermath of Boateng's walkout, Italian interior minister Annamaria Cancellieri told Radio 24 that if only a small group of fans were involved in racist chanting, games should not be suspended, but if "a significant part of the fans take part" the game should be stopped "by those responsible for public order." As Italy grapples with how best to confront racism, it is worth remembering it's not the only country working out a solution as to how to deal with the problem.

Neo-Nazis and neo-Fascists
This season, matches across Europe have been punctuated by repeated racist outbursts, which have led to calls for world governing body FIFA and European counterpart UEFA to show greater leadership and impose harsher sanctions. Amid the monkey chants and racial stereotyping, there are no easy answers to the question of just how prevalent is the incidence of racist abuse in Italian football. According to the Italian Football Federation (FIGC), there have been 50 incidents in Italy of racist abuse over the last six years. Of those 50 cases, 48 relate to racist chanting, with two relating to abusive banners. "And the total of violent episodes diminished from 209 to 60 and the majority of them happened outside the football venues," FIGC spokesman Diego Antenozio told CNN. "The introduction of stewarding has also reduced the need of intervention by police officers inside the venues significantly."

However, talk to the head of Italy's Observatory on Racism and Anti-racism in Football, Mauro Valeri, who has been monitoring racism in Italian football for over a decade, and a different picture emerges. His organization estimates there have been over 660 racial incidents since 2000 and puts the number since 2007 at 282, nearly six times as much as the FIGC figure. In all, fines of $5 million have been handed out as punishment in those 660-plus cases, equating to a fine of $7,500 per incident. "The numbers I record relate to the decision that the judge takes in the sports court and lays down fines and any disqualifications. The FIGC figures concern the criminal law," said Valeri. "So in the Boateng case the sports court ruled that Pro Patria had to play the game ... 'behind closed doors' and were fined $6,689. "But the ordinary court -- the criminal law -- has instead decided that those songs were not racist. For me it's racism, for the Ministry of the Interior, no." Valeri added: "In Italy, no club has a real anti-racist strategy, because it believes the fight against racism is not a priority. 

"Since the early 1990s, many curves of the stadium have been occupied by neo-Nazi and neo-Fascist groups, but this problem has been addressed only as a problem of public order." That is a view that is supported by Italian football writer Charles Ducksbury, a fan of Verona, who added: "The ultra still, and always will hold all the power at clubs. They choose what is sung, what everyone does and how they do it. "Stewards and police hardly ever enter the curve as they would most likely get beaten up. Ultras say if the authorities stay out the curve, there won't be any problems. Almost all trouble happens outside the ground anyway, so that's where police tend to hang around."

Time warp
While Boateng walked off, former Netherlands international Edgar Davids, who played for both AC Milan and Inter Milan as well as Juventus, said he felt it was important to show that racist abuse did not affect him as a player during the many years of his career he spent in Italy. "You would have a problem in certain areas," Davids told CNN. "But you are a professional, you have an obligation to your team. My opinion was I'm a professional and the smartest way is to play so good that you make them even angrier. "It is also about ignorance, a fear of the unknown. If you are interested in different cultures, it's normal. "If you're not, you don't understand that concept. It is not only in Italy and it is not the whole of Italy. It was only certain teams you played, but 80-90% I didn't have a problem in Italy," added Davids, though Valeri's analysis suggests the problem is much more widespread. 

If football, race and politics make for a combustible mix in Italy, it is also arguable that the standard of the country's stadia is not helping. While English football was forced to grapple with extensive stadium renovation to improve facilities for fans due to recommendations made by Lord Justice Taylor after the deadly crowd disasters at Hillsborough and Heysel in the 1980s, Italian football was left in a time warp. "I really don't believe that Italian football has learned the lessons of Heysel and Hillsborough, or at least hasn't implemented any tangible changes at anything like the pace required," said another Italian football writer Adam Digby. "While the Taylor report and formation of the Premier League put English football at the forefront of fan safety and gave it ultra-modern stadia almost throughout the league, Serie A still plays host to a number of ancient, decrepit grounds. "Many are still those built for Italia '90 with places such as Verona's Bentegodi and the San Paolo in Naples particularly poor on both counts. "The problems extend to a lack of quality stewarding and lax ticket security while the ultras bring even greater problems to the situation."

Owen Neilson, who is writing a book about Italian football stadia -- "Stadio: The Life and Death of Italian Football" -- concurs that the lack of stadium redevelopment has held back Italian football. Of Serie A's big clubs, only Juventus has built a new stadium, he notes. "The modernity of the stadia is the central issue to declining attendances -- families do not want to sit in the cold, unfriendly surroundings," said Neilson. "In my opinion the league needs to harness to new stadiums to help maximize Serie A's re-emergence."

So what's the solution?
"The FIGC makes a relevant anti-racism activity both in the national and international domain according to the UEFA policy and guidelines, and is member of anti-discrimination organization Football against Racism in Europe," said the Italian Football Federation in its statement to CNN. "Specific guidelines are part of National License Club System's requirements, as are the anti-racism initiatives that are made through FIGC Youth & School Department to involve 860,000 young footballers." But as Italian historian John Foot, author of the authoritative book on Italian football "Calcio" points out: "The Italian authorities have been all over the place on racism for a long time."

Racist chants
Valeri, meanwhile, urged the FIGC to donate the racism fines it recoups from the clubs for initiatives against racism, as does UEFA in its work with FARE. "Any solution has to revolve around the football authorities," added Professor Clifford Stott, who has advised governments and police forces internationally on crowd management policy and practice. Stott calls on FIFA and UEFA to do more. "The FIGC, FIFA and UEFA must empower fan-based initiatives that are capable of creating a culture of self-regulation. The anti-racism agenda has come a long way in the last decades. "By walking off Kevin-Prince and his fellow players have forced the agenda. The high-level political support for his action now means this might happen again, but this time during a much higher profile game -- perhaps even in the Champions League. The authorities have to react to this potential." But Stott also warned against an indiscriminate reaction by the authorities.

"We have learned a great deal about crowd management since the Heysel disaster, and there must be recognition that it is not appropriate or constructive to sanction whole crowds," he said. "The approach to security must be capable of differentiating between those fans that are acting illegally and those fans that are not. Failure to recognize this and to react indiscriminately runs a very real danger of escalating not reducing the problems." This Sunday, AC Milan meet rivals Inter Milan at the San Siro in the city's derby. Given Inter were recently fined $20,000 after racist chants from their fans about Balotelli at a match against Chievo, Sunday's game will be closely watched to see if Italy's authorities and clubs are making any progress in the fight against racism.
© CNN

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Report: Budapest University student council lists Jews (Hungary)

20/2/2013- Members of the student council of the University of Budapest compiled lists of students’ presumed religion, ethnic background including Jewish origins, and political affiliation. The files were compiled annually on freshmen by the HOK student council, according to a report published Tuesday by the Hungarian television channel ATV, which received a copy of a full list from 2009. Another column contained the letters I/N --– Hungarian for Y/N, or “Yes/No” -- and is believed by some to be used to indicate whether the student is Jewish, ATV reported. An adjacent column lists in code the political party with which the student is presumed to be affiliated.

Kalman Szalai, managing director of the Action and Protection Foundation -- a new Jewish watchdog on anti-Semitism in Hungary -- told JTA his organization has requested that police investigate the case, since the registration of such personal information is forbidden under Hungarian law. In a statement, the foundation said the governing board of the student body was “closely linked with the extreme rightist Jobbik party.” A Jewish student from the university approached the foundation requesting that it “initiate all possible legal actions to clarify the case,” the statement read. “If the information is correct, then this is a grave breach of the constitution and those who contributed in compiling it committed several crimes,” the foundation said in a statement issued Tuesday.

A representative of the student council is quoted as saying that his organization is nonpartisan and the file was a forgery based on an original list that did not contain personal details. Gyorgy Fabri, a University of Budapest spokesman, said the institution has launched an investigation into the case.
© JTA News

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19/2/2013- The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) today published its fourth report on Liechtenstein. ECRI’s Chair, Ms Eva Smith, said that, while there are positive developments, some issues of concern remain, including the legislation on Foreigners and the absence of a comprehensive civil and administrative legal framework aimed at combating racial discrimination in all fields of life. Several racially motivated offences, including violent acts, have been swiftly prosecuted by the judicial authorities. There are plans to set up an independent Ombudsman’s Office. Measures have been adopted to strengthen equal opportunities in access to education.

However, there are worries that the administrative reform plan providing for the disbanding of the Equal Opportunities Office will greatly compromise the effective handling of complaints and the provision of advice in an independent manner. There are consistent reports of discrimination in employment and in access to housing, particularly against women of Muslim faith wearing a headscarf. The Law on Foreigners has clear discriminatory implications with respect to non EU-nationals’ access to public services.

In its report, ECRI has made a number of recommendations to the authorities, among which the following three require priority implementation and will be revisited by ECRI in two years’ time:
The responsibilities of the new Office for Social Affairs and of the Ombudsman’s Office should be specified. The latter should be designated as the national specialised body for combating racism and racial discrimination;
A number of provisions of the Law on Foreigners should be abrogated, notably: Article 49; Article 69 (2) (e); and Article 27 (3) and (4). These have discriminatory implications and run counter to one of the stated aims of the Government’s 2007 integration policy concerning equal access to social welfare;
Issues relating to the integration of non-nationals should be addressed by the social agencies, with a clear allocation of responsibility.

The report is available here. It was prepared following ECRI’s contact visit to Liechtenstein in February 2012 [Press Release – 23.02. 2012] and takes account of developments up to 20 June 2012.
© The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance

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19/2/2013- The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) today published its fourth report on Ireland. ECRI’s Chair, Ms Eva Smith, welcomed positive developments, but regretted that a number of concerns persisted. For example, a single protection determination procedure for persons in need of a protection status has not been adopted in Ireland and asylum seekers may not engage in paid employment.

Ireland has a good system for registering racist criminal offences. In 2007 the Office of the Press Ombudsman and the Press Council were established to provide a new system of independent regulation for the printed media; a new voluntary Code of Practice for Newspapers and Magazines, prohibiting inter alia the publication of material intended or likely to cause grave offence or stir up hatred on the basis of race, religion, nationality, colour, ethnic origin, and similar grounds, was adopted; the National Employment Rights Authority (NERA), was established to monitor and enforce respect of employment rights.

However, the legislation does not proscribe racial profiling by the Garda Siochána (Police) and other law enforcement agencies, although the High Court in 2011 struck down as unconstitutional legislation requiring non-Irish nationals to produce identity documents upon demand of law enforcement personnel, which had a discriminatory effect on the basis of individuals’ colour. Moreover, the National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism (NCCRI) was closed down in December 2008 and the unique reporting system about racist incidents was lost.

In its report, ECRI has made a number of recommendations to the authorities, among which the following three require priority implementation and will be revisited by ECRI in two years’ time:
Draft and adopt as soon as possible the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill so as to put in place one procedure for dealing with applications for asylum and subsidiary protection, introduce a long-term residence status and procedures for registration of non-national minors under 16;
Rationalise the various procedures for dealing with complaints concerning employment and ensure that there is a non-judicial independent authority competent to deal with cases of discrimination in the provision of goods and services;
Ensure foreseeability in the application of the habitual residence requirement by setting out clear rules and publishing, in addition to the Guidelines, the decisions of the authorities on appeals against negative decisions.

The report is available here It was prepared following ECRI’s contact visit to Ireland in February 2012 and takes account of developments up to 5 December 2012.
© The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance

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Human rights body urges ban on garda profiling (Ireland)

A key European human rights body has said the Government should consider banning any form of racial profiling by gardaí.

19/2/2013- The European Commission on Racism and Intolerance has published a report which also says Travellers still face significant challenges in accessing accommodation in Ireland. It says local authorities should face binding requirements to provide them with adequate accommodation. It is the fourth assessment by the Strasbourg-based commission, which is part of the Council of Europe. The ECRI is a 47-member organisation which promotes human rights and democracy. The report praises a range of measures via the Equality Tribunal and Equality Authority, which protect employees against discrimination in the work place, and moves to prevent the spread of intolerance and hatred via the media.

However, the report also raises a number of concerns. It says gardaí still engage in racial profiling, despite the fact, it contends, that the High Court declared as unconstitutional rules requiring non-nationals to show identity papers on demand. The report also criticises the closure of the National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism five years ago, saying its expertise helped the authorities compile information about racist incidents. It also regrets that the National Action Plan Against Racism was not renewed when it expired in 2008. While the report praises the creation of multi-denominational primary schools it notes that new immigrants still find it hard to access the school system.

CEO of the Integration Centre Killian Forde said Ireland's education system needs to reflect the demographic. "Not only is 10-12% of school children from an immigrant background but a growing number of the native Irish population are not from a religious background". Mr Forde said the Centre has begun a campaign to call for a change to legislation that allows schools to legally turn children away on the basis of their religion. "This practice would be seen to be completely discriminatory were it not enshrined into Irish law." Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council Denis Charlton said the report was an important input into the debate on racism in Ireland. She said: "While the recommendations are wide-ranging in general they highlight complacency around racism, which is unacceptable and leaves people vulnerable".

Pavee Point welcomed the report’s focus on the health and accommodation needs of Traveller. Health Worker Missy Collins said she was “bitterly disappointed” that the Government has not published an action plan to address health issues among Travellers. Pavee Point Co-Director Martin Collins said: "We have recently witnessed a regression to times past with the burning of the house allocated for a Traveller family in Ballyshannon last week”. He said there is an urgent need for a National Action Plan Against Racism.
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Czech Republic criticised for situation of Roma

21/2/2013- The Council of Europe (CoE) Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks, released on 21 February his report on the situation of Roma in the Czech Republic, finding that it poses “some of the most serious and urgent human rights challenges that the Czech authorities are called on to deal with.” The report was based on Muižnieks’ visit to the country in November last year. In particular, the commissioner expressed his concern about the segregation of the Roma population, which was estimated to represent between 1.4 and 2.8% of the total population in the country (around 150 000-300 000). According to the findings of the report, Roma children remained segregated in the education system, while a significant number of them were still provided less demanding education in schools intended for children with “mild mental disabilities” or in Roma-only schools or classes.

In addition, Muižnieks is worried about the increasing territorial segregation of Roma in marginalised communities. More specifically, the human rights commissioner emphasised that “the local authorities’ autonomy in housing matters cannot justify the territorial segregation of Roma or their discrimination in the allocation of social housing.” Apart from segregation of Roma in the country, the CoE commissioner expressed concern also about the fact that Roma remained particularly vulnerable to racism and discrimination and find themselves in a situation of exclusion and marginalisation that affected practically all areas of their life. The results of a recent study showed that 32% of Roma respondents in the Czech Republic considered that they had been victims of ‘racist’ in-person crime.

According to Muižnieks’ report, blogs and social media in the country were used for the dissemination of anti-Roma materials as well as for mobilising support for the public events organised by these groups. In that respect, he urged the Czech authorities to strengthen their initiatives aimed at ensuring that the media do not promote anti-Gypsyism (including enforcement of penalties against those media who incite to discrimination, hatred and violence against the Roma). The report recommended that the authorities also encourage the professional bodies of the media to offer journalists specific training on questions relating to Roma and anti-Gypsyism.

In addition, the commissioner noted that that a pig farm built in the 1970s on the site of the former Lety (South Bohemia) concentration camp for Romani people has not as yet been removed by the authorities, reportedly because of the costs involved. In that respect, Muižnieks called upon the Czech Republic to remove the pig farm on the site where many Roma lost their lives during World War II.
© New Europe

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