Education & Training

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Public Discussion for the Members of Roma Community Held in Nis

As part of the Project “Equal Opportunity for Better Perspectives, Strengthening Roma People to Combat 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 Nis on 2 April 2013. The public discussion is a part of information and education campaign of the Commissioner for Protection of Equality aimed at raising awareness of and empowering this socially vulnerable group to combat discrimination. The public discussion was attended by the representatives of organizations whose activities are directed at protection and assistance to marginalized and socially excluded communities, primarily members of Roma community.

Representatives of the Office of the Commissioner for Protection of Equality presented the organization and competence of this institution, as well as the procedure upon filing the complaint. Stating the individual cases they had been working on, the representatives of the Commissioner tended to better acquaint the participants with differences in behaviour or actions that are discriminatory from those that are not. They further called on the participants to respond to violation of the right to equality by filing a complaint to the Commissioner, even when they are not quite certain that it is discrimination. Specifically, a great number of complaints that the Commissioner received in 2012 did not refer to discrimination but to some other forms of violation of rights. In such situation, the staff of the Office of the Commissioner refer the complainant to the competent body that they should address for protection of rights. It was particularly emphasised that the procedure before the Commissioner was free of charge and that the complaint could be sent via post. In addition to stating the violation of right, short description of the violation and potential witnesses of the violation, it is only necessary to sign the complaint so that the Commissioner can proceed upon it.

During 2012 the number of complaints filed by persons of Roma nationality or the number of complaints filed by someone else on behalf of the Roma was somewhat higher than in the previous year. However, this number is worryingly small taken into consideration that the Roma are one of the most vulnerable social groups in Serbia and that they are discriminated against on a daily basis. Also, the number of complaints filed by civil society organization on behalf of the Roma is much higher than that filed by the Roma themselves.

Praxis representative strived to acquaint the participants with the notion and contents of the basic human rights, as well as the mechanisms for their protection. She also presented to the participants the most common problems and obstacles in practice, drawing particular attention to bad systemic solutions or shortcomings of the practice of bodies in the procedures for exercise of rights by the vulnerable social groups, especially the Roma.

Taking into consideration that the discussion was interactive, through their active participation those present underlined difficult and often impossible access to basic human rights. Basically, they believe that they are socially excluded and deprived of rights and that they are often victims of discrimination on the grounds of belonging to Roma minority. However, the awareness of the right to equal treatment is very low among the members of Roma population and the occurrence of discrimination is often minimized and presented as a socially acceptable behaviour. The reason behind this is most often the fear of retaliation against the one who complains for violation of rights.

Read 6709 times
Praxis means action
Praxis means action
Praxis means action
Praxis means action