Education & Training

Friday, 7 June 2013

Public Discussion for the Members of Roma Community Held in Subotica

As part of the Project “Equal Chance for Better Prospects, Strengthening Roma People in Combating Discrimination,” implemented by the Office of the Commissioner for Protection of Equality of the Republic of Serbia, in cooperation with Praxis a public discussion was held for members of the Roma community in Subotica. Organization of the discussion is a part of the information and education campaign of the Commissioner aimed at raising awareness and empowering the Roma to combat discrimination. The public discussion was held in the office of the organization Roma Education Centre and gathered 17 representatives of Roma non-governmental organizations and activists from the North Backa District. In addition, journalists of the Roma Department of Radio Television of Vojvodina were also present.

Representatives of the Office of the Commissioner for Protection of Equality acquainted the participants with this institution, its organization and competence. They then briefly presented the procedure upon a complaint and invited the participants to respond to discrimination by filing a complaint to the Commissioner, even in case they are not quite certain that it is discrimination. It was particularly emphasised that the procedure before the Commissioner was free of charge and that the complaint could be filed via mail. In addition to stating the violated rights, short description of what the violation entails and possibly the witnesses of the violation of rights, the representatives of the Commissioner emphasised that the compliant should additionally only be signed so that it can be proceeded upon. The present participants were given the form of the complaint translated into Romani language and the publications and promotional material of the Commissioner for Protection of Equality.

Praxis representative at the public discussion shared with the participants the experience related to discrimination and through several examples tried to encourage the present to file complaints to the Commissioner. As the arguments for filing a complaint Praxis representative stressed that it was free of charge, informal, time-limited and that it was important to file a complaint not only for protection in individual cases but also because, thus, it can influence the wider public and result in reduction of discrimination in the society.

Bearing in mind that these public discussions are interactive, the present participants inquired about the actual cases in which they believe there was discriminatory treatment and stated a problem in Subotica in accessing public services (there is no problem anymore since the premises in which they were prohibited entry was closed). In addition, participants of the discussion stated problems relating to forming civil guards that existed in some villages around Subotica. These guards were later disbanded thanks to a mediation method that was used, which is, as stated by the Roma Education Centre very successful and it comes down to forming a Council for interethnic relations at the level of municipalities, villages and local communities.

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Praxis means action
Praxis means action
Praxis means action
Praxis means action