Eleven mayors seek legislative changes to tackle Roma issues

Novo Mesto, 24 October - The mayors of eleven municipalities in the south-east of the country propose the National Assembly amend five laws to tackle Roma-related issues. Novo Mesto Mayor Gregor Macedoni says they would mainly like to protect Roma children and give them better prospects.

Novo Mesto
Eleven mayors from SE Slovenia propose legislative changes that they say are aimed at protecting Roma children and giving them better prospects.
Photo: Rasto Božič/STA
File photo

The initiative, which enjoys cross-partisan support, was presented in Novo Mesto on Monday with the speakers underscoring that the situation deteriorated dramatically this summer and local communities had exhausted all other options, thus a systemic approach at the national level was needed.

In one of the five legislative changes, they propose amending the parental protection and family benefits act to reduce child benefit by a third for parents of children aged 15 and more who are no longer involved in schooling.

They also propose amending the social benefits act so that parents who own debt to public institutions and their children fail to attend school should get benefits paid in kind.

"The point is that if you get welfare payments and don't have assets and you have committed an offence, you get no fine because it's impossible to collect fine from welfare payments," said Macedoni.

Amendments to the labour market act are aimed at encouraging the unemployed to get work by simplifying referral to a job and strip the beneficiary of the right to unemployment benefit when they decline to take the job.

State subsidised community service for vulnerable groups of unemployed should be extended from two to four years.

"We had a case when Roma were involved in community service but they didn't get employed. It's regretful that when someone is willing to work they wouldn't continue to work for a while longer in community service," said Macedoni.

The mayors also propose amending the protection of public order act to stiffen sanctions for shooting outside shooting-designated areas, and amending the drivers act to make nine-year enrolment in primary school and completed 7th grade of primary school mandatory for taking a driving test.

Macedoni said the proposals were not new and had been examined for compliance with the EU law, but had so far not been passed due to a lack of political will.

Unless deputy factions at the National Assembly adopt the initiative and table it, the mayors are willing to collect voter signatures.

At the presentation the proposals were hailed and indirectly endorsed by the three MPs present, one each from the Freedom Movement, Social Democrats and New Slovenia.

© STA, 2022