Family Allowance Cut in Slovakia Following Racist Statements Towards Roma

10 May 2003

On October 31, 2002, the Slovak government passed a bill, which limits family allowance benefits to 10,500 Slovak crowns (approximately 250 Euro) per month, according to a report by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) on November 20, 2002. The bill was reportedly passed in an effort by the state to save money. While the bill is prima facie neutral, in effect, it is discriminatory towards Roma who tend to have larger families than ethnic Slovaks. RFE/RL reported that the bill was passed following racist statements made by Mr Robert Fico, a member of Smer, an ultra-right wing party. Mr Fico reportedly stated that "The Roma found out it was profitable to have children due to family allowances. We cannot turn a blind eye to this. I would pay allowances only for up to three children. If we let it be as it is now, I can guarantee that in ten years we will have one million Roma here." Slovak public discourse frequently features similarly alarmist statements about the "threat" to Slovakia of increasing numbers of Roma.



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