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Romani children harassed by classmates in Yugoslav schools

5 December 2000

The Belgrade-based non-governmental organisation Humanitarian Law Centre (HLC), in cooperation with the European Roma Rights Center, has documented numerous cases of Romani children being systematically harassed and verbally and physically abused by their non-Romani classmates in Yugoslav schools. Teachers are reportedly reluctant to take action to guarantee safety for Romani pupils. As a result, many Romani children are afraid to attend school, and drop out at an early age. Zaim Beriša, a thirteen-year-old fourth-grade student in Zaga Malivuk primary school in Belgrade, reported that his non-Romani classmates frequently call him names and sometimes hit and kick him. In September 1999, five non-Romani boys reportedly attacked Zaim in the schoolyard, hitting him in the stomach and face. The school janitor reportedly put an end to the attack and informed the school principal of the incident. Zaim's mother, Ms Ljubica Stanković, confirmed that he came home that day with bruises on his face and a swollen nose, and that she had to take him to the doctor. She complained to the school principal, who promised to speak to the boys and to prevent any further attacks. Nevertheless, a few days later, the same group of boys attacked Zaim and his fifteen-year-old brother, Safet, at the train station as they were returning home from school. This time, one of the boys had a knife. Zaim managed to run away but the attackers beat his brother until a neighbour intervened. Since this time, both boys have been afraid to attend school.

Zoran Miladinović, a nine-year-old second-grade Romani student at Ćirilo i Metodije school in Belgrade, stated that the non-Romani children slap him and call him names almost every day. Zoran complained to his teacher, who reportedly told him it was best to ignore the other children when they called him names. In September, two boys attacked Zoran in the schoolyard, one of them holding him, while the other punched him in the head. Both of them shouted racist insults. Ms Radmila Miladinović, Zoran's mother, stated that on that day her son came home from school with a bleeding mouth, complaining that he had been beaten by the other children.

Kristina Stanojević, an eleven-year-old fifth grade student at Banović Strahinja school in Belgrade, stated that when she was in the fourth grade her classmates frequently taunted her and her two Romani classmates, calling them names such as "filthy Gypsy", and pushed, slapped and kicked her. Kristina complained to her teacher who reportedly spoke to the class about equality. However, the children did not change their behaviour. Kristina reported that this year, the children do not insult her or the other Romani pupils, but very few of the non-Romani children will associate with the Roma.

(HLC, ERRC)

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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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