Nils Muižnieks: Slovenia should do more for Roma, migrants and those in poverty

Migrants, Roma communities and the impoverished need more help from Slovenia’s authorities to prevent them from being left behind.

That is the view of the Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks, following his 20 to 23 March visit to the country.

The Commissioner visited the former Rog bicycle factory in Ljubljana, a local community centre that helps migrants and asylum seekers learn Slovenian and meet local Slovenian people. “Slovenia is no longer merely a transit country, and some of the asylum seekers and refugees are here to stay. The authorities should increase their capacity to handle this new reality and give them a chance to integrate and contribute to Slovenian society,” the commissioner said.

“For this to succeed, refugees themselves should be involved in the development of integration programmes, and more outreach needs to be done to local communities to overcome prejudices and hostility.”

Muižnieks also visited the Dobruška vas settlement in the Škocjan municipality, where Roma people live in insalubrious conditions, with a number of families deprived of access to running water, electricity or sanitation.

As a result, the inhabitants of the settlement have to draw water from a polluted stream, which has a detrimental effect on their health and the access of their children to school. A case concerning this settlement is pending at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

According to the commissioner, Roma remain the group most affected by high school dropout rates, poverty and marginalisation in Slovenia, and further efforts are required to combat hate speech and prejudices that undermine their chances at better education, employment and regular housing solutions.

“The Slovenian authorities have invested efforts over the past 10 years to improve the situation of Roma, notably in the field of education and employment. Now is the time to go the extra mile and to ensure once and for all that no Roma in Slovenia experience severe deprivation,” Muižnieks added.

“The government should also devote further attention to social intervention with Roma families and ensure that the local municipalities take the necessary steps to solve housing issues.”

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