Crystal clear: EU must oblige Slovenia to uphold Roma right to water
(Brussels, 16 March 2011) Amnesty International has criticised Slovenia’s failure to observe its obligations to the country’s Romani people, citing the routine discrimination they currently suffer. It has appealed to the European Union to put pressure on the country’s government to protect their human rights, which Slovenia is failing to protect. A new report reveals that the community is routinely denied access to adequate housing, water and sanitation.
“Slovenia is only the latest EU country to come under scrutiny for abusing its Roma population. It’s clear we can’t rely on the Slovenian Government to provide this community with the dignity to which it is entitled”, said Nicolas Beger, Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office. “The EU must compel the Slovenian Government to curb the discrimination which condemns many Romani people to life without basic services. The EU must publicly express its concern over Slovenia’s negligence, keep a close eye on anti-Roma discrimination, and ensure the government complies with its obligations under European law.”
Some Romani families in Slovenia have less water than the minimum deemed necessary for people suffering a humanitarian emergency, Amnesty International reports in its publication, Parallel lives: Roma denied rights to housing and water in Slovenia. Many live in poorly-built, overcrowded shacks in isolated and segregated rural settlements, far away from health-care services, schools, employment and shops.
Roma people have lived in present-day Slovenia since the 14th century. They number between 7,000 and 12,000, some 0.5 per cent of the total population. Unemployment among Roma people exceeds 90 per cent in some areas. Some local authorities refuse to provide public services to Roma because their settlements are ‘irregular’, despite families having lived there for decades. Slovenia is a highly-developed country with a GDP per head above the EU average. While virtually the entire population has access to safe drinking water, many Romani people struggle to collect even small quantities of water to drink, cook, and bathe. Average daily water use is 150 litres, or up to 300 litres in towns. But 20-30 per cent of Romani settlements in south-east Slovenia have no access to water at all.
For interviews or further comment, please contact:-
Media & Communications Officer
European Institutions Office
Tel: +32 (0)2 548 2773