Croatian Café Refuses to Serve Roma
13 November 2006
Documentation undertaken by the ERRC in May 2006 revealed discrimination against Roma in access to public places in the northern Croatian town of Čakovec. On the basis of information of discriminatory practices provided by Mr Zelko Balog, the Roma rights monitor contracted by the ERRC and the Zagreb-based Croatian Law Centre, ERRC representatives and Mr Balog conducted a situational test in the Café Omega owned by Mr Kristijan Lesjak.
Two groups of testers arrived at the café in separate cars. First a group of Romani testers – Mr Dzavit Berisa, Mr B.H. and Ms V. – arrived and sat on the café's terrace. Shortly thereafter, the non- Romani testers arrived and sat at the next table. Soon after both groups were seated, the waitress approached the table of the Romani tester and said, "I am very sorry but I have an order from the owner that Roma cannot get a drink here." Mr B.H. questioned the statements and the waitress again apologised stating it was an order from her employer. The waitress then went inside the building for a moment. When she came back outside, she took a drink order from the non-Romani testers and went inside to prepare the drinks. At this point Mr Berisa entered the café and asked the waitress why Roma are not served in the café. Again the waitress reiterated her employer's order. The three Romani men then left the café. After the non-Romani testers had finished their drinks, they also left.
ERRC monitor Mr Balog stated that, in the past, a sign was posted outside the café stating that Roma were not allowed. The sign was reportedly removed after negative articles in the press, however, the discriminatory practice continues. Following the incident, Mr Berisa, financialy supported by the ERRC and Croatian Law Centre within an EU CARDS project and represented by a local attorney, filed a complaint with the Čakovec Municipal Court.