The Slovenia Times

Raising awareness



Amnesty International Slovenia is focused mostly on the issues of the so-called erased and the access of Roma children to education; both these areas can be viewed as issues of discrimination. However, this does not imply there are no other human rights concerns: there is hate speech, related mostly to the erased, Roma or gays, violence against women, cases of alleged police violence, restrictive asylum procedures and violations of migrant workers' rights.

On the positive side, we should mention that after several years of our campaigning, the authorities at the end of 2008 finally decided to limit the free sale of electric stun-guns and stopped their introduction in the police force. Furthermore, after 17 years, the first effective steps were undertaken regarding the issue of the erased. And finally, in the 2008-09 school year, Roma teaching assistants were introduced in schools with Roma pupils; that is a very valuable first step in the process of aiding Roma pupils in education. Considering previous decades of segregation and discriminatory practices, the process is slowly going in the right direction.

It is difficult to evaluate how human rights in Slovenia range on the global scale. On the one hand, there are violations where authorities could and should have done more to effectively address them. On the other hand, in addressing some issues in the world, Slovenia is forward looking and leads the way with like minded countries - as it was the case with the establishment of International Criminal Court, actions against death penalty and for children's rights.

Considering the wider region, in some countries of ex-Yugoslavia, there are still issues of impunity, - reflected in the slow progress in prosecution of war crimes. Discrimination of Roma is also reported all over the region -mostly in connection to equal access to education. There are problems in Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia Czech Republic, Slovakia and Italy

The reasons for this situation are difficult to tell without the risk of generalizing. For example, when talking of Roma education, there's often a vicious cycle where many Roma parents are illiterate, vastly unemployed and live on the margins of the society in inappropriate living conditions. These are factors that need to be taken into account by the state when seeking solutions for better inclusion of Roma pupils in education in order for them to really work.

Thinking that "tomorrow is a new day" is wrong: we're talking of long-term processes and changes come slowly. In our view, awareness-raising and human rights education is very important in order to increase better understanding among people. Amnesty Slovenia carries out more than 100 workshops in primary and secondary schools annually and in this way reaches out to around 2,000 pupils yearly.

Slovenes are human rights aware to a certain extent and we hope that this is also partly thanks to our efforts. However, there are elements which also contribute to negative attitudes. We can't point out anyone in particular, but we are aware that there are many hostile posts on the internet. Sometimes, unfortunately some politicians also use hate speech, which is especially wrong considering their public exposure. The lack of top politicians' condemnation of hate speech and discriminatory practices is also problematic. In the recent case of an attack on Mitja Blažič, it was really welcome that the Minister of Interior and the President of the Parliament were quick to condemn the attack.


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