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Passionate debate between Roma and Egyptian community and the Ministry of Education in Tirana

12 November 2015

Segregation of Roma and Egyptian children in Albania must end. The Deputy Minister, the Ombudsperson, the Commissioner and of course the NGO representatives all agreed that Roma and Egyptian children deserve the same chances as any other child during a roundtable discussion organised by the European Roma Rights Centre. But if concrete steps are not taken to desegregate schools, the ERRC is now ready to go to court.

“We are like a tribe here. Roma and Egyptians.” – says a young Roma boy interviewed by the ERRC. Roma and Egyptian children are very often segregated by the Albanian Education system. This hinders their chances on the job market and their chance for earning a decent living.


Does the Albanian education system provide equal opportunities to Roma and Egyptian students? What can the Ombudsman or the Commissioner for Protection from Discrimination do in combating segregation? These were the main questions on the panel discussion organised by the European Roma Rights Centre on Tuesday in Tirana. The list of speakers included Ombudsman Igli Totozani Ombudsman, Equality Commissioner Irma Baraku, Chairperson of the Embroidery Association (Korca) Etleva Tare, and Ms Nora Malaj, Deputy Minister of Education and Sport.

The ERRC has been providing support for local NGOs in the fight against segregation. Following ERRC’s recent interventions in two school segregation cases in Albania, Legal Director Adam Weiss made a commitment to keep up this support. “The cases of school segregation in Albania will be a success story for us. I don’t know how far we will have to go to get these schools desegregated but I know we will go to the end” he said in his opening speech at the event.

Segregation of Roma and Egyptian children takes many forms and sadly is present throughout Europe. This discussion has surely contributed to making clear that the goal of ending segregation in Albania is shared and created a platform for debate about possible solutions.

In his closing remarks after the passionate debate between the community and the Ministry representative, Adam Weiss concluded: “There can be no half measures when it comes to school segregation. I’m talking to you as a lawyer who might advise a client and I can see where we are heading. If no real measures are taken I will be back in a few years with a judgment from the European Court about this. And I must make clear here that the state has responsibilities; the people - and particularly Roma and Egyptian children - have rights. Maybe there are some things NGOs can do, maybe there are ways donors can support, but at the end of the day the state has the responsibility.”

The ERRC will publish the documentary screened at the event and the video of the discussion uncut.

For further information and interview opportunities contact:

Szelim Simándi
simandi.szelim@xkk.hu
+36202658562

Background:

The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) is an international public interest law organisation working to combat anti-Romani racism and human rights abuse of Roma through strategic litigation, research and policy development, advocacy and human rights education.

Since its establishment in 1996, the ERRC has endeavoured to provide Roma with the tools necessary to combat discrimination and achieve equal access to justice, education, housing, health care and public services.

The ERRC has consultative status with the Council of Europe, as well as with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. The ERRC has been the recipient of numerous awards for its efforts to advance human rights respect of Roma: in 2013, PL Foundation Freedom Prize; in 2012, Stockholm Human Rights Award; in 2010, the Silver Rose Award of SOLIDAR; in 2009, the Justice Prize of the Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation; in 2007, the Max van der Stoel award given by the High Commissioner on National Minorities and the Dutch Foreign Ministry; and in 2001, the Geuzenpenning award (the Geuzen medal of honour) by Her Royal Highness Princess Margriet of Netherlands.
 

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ERRC submission to UN HRC on Hungary (February 2018)

14 February 2018

Written Comments of the European Roma Rights Centre concerning Hungary to the UN Human Rights Committee for consideration at its 122nd session (12 Narch - 6 April 2018).

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The Fragility of Professional Competence: A Preliminary Account of Child Protection Practice with Romani and Traveller Children in England

24 January 2018

Romani and Traveller children in England are much more likely to be taken into state care than the majority population, and the numbers are rising. Between 2009 and 2016 the number of Irish Travellers in care has risen by 400% and the number of Romani children has risen 933%. The increases are not consistent with national trends, and when compared to population data, suggest that Romani and Traveller children living in the UK could be 3 times more likely be taken into public care than any other child. 

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Families Divided: Romani and Egyptian Children in Albanian Institutions

21 November 2017

There’s a high percentage of Romani and Egyptian children in children’s homes in Albania – a disproportionate number. These children are often put into institutions because of poverty, and then find it impossible ever to return to their families. Because of centuries of discrimination Roma and Egyptians in Albania are less likely to live in adequate housing, less likely to be employed and more likely to feel the effects of extreme poverty.

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