ERRC and Slovak Civil Society Call for End to Anti-Roma Election Materials in Slovakia

Budapest, Bratislava, 15 February 2012: The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) and its partners from Slovakia: Rómsky inštitút, Ľudia proti rasizmu, Nadácia Milana Šimečku, CVEK, Iniciatíva Férové voľby 2012, PDCS o.z., MEMO 98, Združenie Jekhetane – Spolu sent a letter to Slovak authorities today expressing concern over the use of election materials that negatively target Roma.

The Slovak National Party have used campaign posters which talk about ‘cost’ of supporting Roma, and foster unhelpful prejudices against the Roma minority.

There have been at least 13 attacks against Roma in the last four years, according to ERRC monitoring. Romani communities in Slovakia already face many barriers in accessing education and employment. In this context it’s even more important that political parties don’t encourage harmful prejudices towards this minority.

The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) asked Slovak authorities to take account of its declaration on the use of racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic elements in political discourse in 2009. It noted that racist public discourse damages the cohesion of the whole society, and affects the opportunities for minorities to enjoy their basic human rights. It can also lead to racial discrimination and violence.

There is a large economic cost to the non-inclusion of the Roma in society. It is estimated that the inclusion of the Roma in Slovak society would bring an increase of seven to 11% of GDP per year. Political parties would be better served by encouraging inclusion efforts than by encouraging anti-Roma attitudes.

The ERRC is calling on political parties to refrain from negatively targeting Roma, or any minority in their election campaigns, which can create an atmosphere of hate and hostility.

The letter is available in English and Slovak.

For more information, contact:

Sinan Gokçen
ERRC Media and Communications Officer
sinan.gokcen@errc.org
+36.30.500.1324

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