MPs draw attention to Roma issues

Ljubljana, 14 February - The parliamentary Commission for Petitions, Human Rights and Equal Opportunities heard on Tuesday that Roma-related issues are getting more and more serious and that the government has not yet drawn up legislative changes to improve the situation. Participants stressed the importance of concerted action in efforts to tackle these issues.

The commission members and other participants debated the security situation in municipalities that are home to Roma settlements at an emergency session that was requested by the Democrats (SDS).

The largest opposition party said that there were pressing issues particularly in some southeastern municipalities. Šentjernej Mayor Jože Simončič confirmed this, saying: "The trust between the Roma and other population in the municipality is at its lowest level."

He sees rising crime rates and violence, including school violence, as the reason for this situation. There is also the issue of many Roma children skipping school frequently. But not all Roma people are problematic, he stressed, just certain individuals.

The municipality would like to tackle these issues, but it does not have the right tools for this, he said, calling for legislative changes and concerted action.

He was joined by Krško Mayor Janez Kerin, who assessed the situation as no longer under control. To illustrate this he told MPs that workers of the local utility company no longer dared to enter the Roma settlement there unless they were accompanied by police.

If politicians were able to find common ground on the new nuclear reactor in Krško, then they should do the same when it comes to efforts to tackle Roma issues, he said.

Urban Kramar, deputy mayor of Novo Mesto, and some other participants called on the government to unveil the legislative changes it vowed to prepare by the end of 2023 to improve the situation.

Helga Dobrin, Interior Ministry state secretary and head of the interdepartmental task force dedicated to addressing Roma issues, agreed that certain changes are necessary, drawing attention to the low share of Roma children who finish primary school.

But some of the commission members and other participants believe that changes to the relevant law will not be enough, as root causes of the situation should be addressed as well, including marginalisation of the Roma.

At the end of the meeting the commission decided to call on the government to prepare a detailed report of the task force's work so far and inform the commission of its activities planned for 2024 within three months. The SDS believes that the task force is not doing its work as it should.

© STA, 2024