Posts Tagged ‘roma’

Dunja Mijatović calls on Bulgaria to counter hate speech and domestic violence

December 3, 2019

A Roma family who fled the village of Voyvodinovo, Bulgaria, during the anti-Roma protest in January 2019. ©Angelina Genova

A Roma family who fled the village of Voyvodinovo, Bulgaria, during the anti-Roma protest in January 2019. ©Angelina Genova

“The government should step up its efforts to fight the hate speech prevailing today in Bulgaria in particular against Roma, LGBTI people and other minority groups” said the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, on 2 December 2019 after a 5-day visit to the country.

Hate speech and hostility against Roma persist, with little if any response from the authorities to counter this long-standing phenomenon. “The lack of reaction to some very serious instances of hate speech by some high-level politicians, which systematically go unsanctioned, is worrying.” The Commissioner deplored the situation of Roma who had to leave their homes earlier this year following anti-Roma rallies in several villages, including in Voyvodinovo where around 200 individuals left in fear. “Such disastrous events illustrate the highly detrimental impact that hate speech can have on the lives of people and communities. I call on the authorities to urgently address the situation of the persons affected,” she added.

“There is a need for a political and cultural shift as regards the treatment and image of minority groups in Bulgaria. Recognising racist motivation as an aggravating circumstance for all offences and implementing the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights, including those on forced evictions and the registration of associations of persons identifying as a minority are among the immediate steps which the government should take.” In addition, the Commissioner is concerned about the demonstrations organised by extremist groups and calls on the authorities to strongly and publicly condemn such manifestations.

…….The Commissioner visited the only crisis shelter for women victims of domestic violence currently operating in Sofia. “As a matter of urgency, the authorities should increase the number of shelters and other social services available to victims of domestic violence.” The Commissioner is also concerned by the climate of increased hostility against human rights defenders, in particular women’s and LGBTI rights activists.

Moreover, Commissioner Mijatović is alarmed by the continuous deterioration of media freedom in Bulgaria. Non-transparent media ownership, threats and harassment of journalists, and the use of defamation suits are chronic problems. In addition, political influence over media outlets severely undermines the credibility of the press. “This must stop. Citizens need a free, investigative and independent press in order to be able to participate more actively in the democratic fabric of society. Journalists should be free to play their crucial role without interference.”

https://www.coe.int/en/web/commissioner/-/bulgaria-should-counter-harmful-narratives-endangering-human-rights-and-step-up-efforts-to-fight-hate-speech-and-domestic-violence

Greek government taking ‘positive discrimination’ a step too far?

April 5, 2019

On 4 April 2019, the head of the Greek National Commission for Human Rights (GNCHR), Giorgos Stavropoulos, resigned, accusing the (Syriza) government of attempting to alter the balance in the composition of the independent body’s committee.  In his resignation, Stavropoulos criticized the government’s decision to add five members from the LGBTQI community and two more members from the Roma community to the body’s plenary, saying the decision violates “any principle of equality” in relation to the other members of the GNCHR who only have one vote in the committee. Stavropoulos said the body has already made “a decisive contribution” in highlighting the problems of the Roma and LGBTQI community.

However, their excessively favorable treatment at the expense of all other defenders of human rights insults the latter, but also undermines the authority of the Commission itself, uncritically altering its composition and affecting its independence,” he added. GNCHR is an advisory body to the Greek State on matters pertaining to human rights protection.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/239220/article/ekathimerini/news/head-of-greek-human-rights-body-resigns-citing-government-disregard

OSCE Human Rights Monitoring and Security Training for Human rights defenders: apply soon

March 23, 2019

The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) is pleased to offer a five-day training event on human rights monitoring and safety and security for human rights defenders (HRDs) working in three thematic areas: 1) human rights of Roma and Sinti, 2) human rights of people of African descent, and 3) environmental protection issues.
The objective of the training event is to enable human rights defenders (HRDs) to independently carry out quality and objective human rights monitoring activities in a safe and secure manner and taking into account relevant gender considerations. The event will take place in Montenegro from 27 to 31 May 2019, and will cover the human rights monitoring cycle and principles; physical safety and security of human rights monitors; and digital security, including secure information management. The language of the event will be English. The training will be based on interactive learning methods and requires a high level of active participation by all participants. During group exercises, participants will be divided based on their field of work/interest and coached by a senior professional expert. ODIHR will select up to eight participants per group.

The size of the entire group will be limited to 25 participants, selected according to the following criteria:
• Citizenship or residence in one of the OSCE participating States;
• Involvement as a human rights defender in one of the specified fields: environmental protection, human rights of Roma and Sinti, or human rights of people of African descent;
• Limited or no experience on human rights monitoring and reporting;
• No or limited previous training in safety and security (including digital security);
• Relevance of the training for future human rights activities in OSCE the region;
• Computer literacy;
• Fluency in English.

The OSCE/ODIHR recognizes as a human rights defender any person promoting and striving for the realization of human rights regardless of profession, age or other status. Human rights defenders carry out their human rights activities individually or jointly with others, as part of an informal group or as a non-governmental organization (NGO), and act in a voluntary capacity or professionally. ..The workshop is designed for activists with limited or no skills who can benefit fully from receiving the training. Accommodation and travel for the selected human rights defenders to attend the event will be covered by ODIHR.

Deadline for submission: 29th March 2019. If you have any questions about the content or the selection procedure of the training, please do not hesitate to contact David Mark david.mark@odihr.pl and Marine Constant at marine.constant@odihr.pl.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfQUm0t3S8vU3Kat8C46gbcRlxSaXQC6ZcMA7DwKmEyngknQA/viewform

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/02/28/human-rights-education-courses-also-exist-in-europe/

HRD Marija Mitrovic, Serbia, in the series of videos by European External Action Service

October 6, 2018

This video of Human Rights Defender Marija Mitrovic from Serbia, focusing on the right of Roma, is another of the profiles recently published by European External Action Service (EEAS) in the context of the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/10/04/chia-wei-chi-first-in-series-of-videos-by-european-external-action-service/].

Russian human rights defenders update: Tatiana Kotlyar and Elena Ryabinina

May 12, 2014

On 30 April 2014, an investigative officer in Russia ordered the psychiatric assessment of human rights defender Ms Tatiana Kotlyar in relation to an ongoing criminal investigation into the allegations that she falsely allowed dozens of migrants to illegally register her own apartment as their place of residence. [Tatiana Kotlyar is the deputy of Obninsk city council and is the chair of the Kaluga movement “For Human Rights”, which specialises in the protection of minority rights, including the rights of Roma and migrants. Since 2011, Tatiana Kotlyar has been allowing dozens of migrants to register her apartment as their place of residence for free. The Investigative Officer Zimin ordered the psychiatric examination, even though Tatiana Kotlyar has no history of psychiatric difficulties and has never received psychiatric treatment. Front Line believes that the decision may be linked to the fact that the human rights defender did not require payment for providing residence registration for more than a hundred people.]  For actions see: http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/25865/action

In the meantime Front Line Defenders informs us of the death of Elena Ryabinina, a much admired Russian human rights defender, on 4 May 2014 in Moscow, aged 59. Since 2002, Ryabinina had been fighting for the rights of refugees seeking asylum from Central Asian countries. She was renowned for the compassion, enthusiasm, and optimism with which she worked to achieve better rights for refugees and asylum seekers. She must have saved dozens of Uzbeks and Tajiks who sought asylum. Although she did not have formal legal training, Ryabinina developed an impressive knowledge of asylum laws, and consulted and defended people seeking political and religious asylum. She worked with the Civic Assistance Committee and the Memorial Human Rights Center and headed the Right to Asylum program at the Institute for Human Rights.


Kulaeva: The struggle for human rights in Russia won’t end with Sochi

February 15, 2014

(Stefania Kulaeva)

This is a long but excellent to piece to read over the weekend by Stefania Kulaeva of the remarkable NGO Memorial in Russia:

AT THE TIME of the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi it is important to remember the human rights abuse of minorities and their defenders in Russia. This is a question for gay people but also for Roma, immigrant workers and members of other ethnic communities. Read the rest of this entry »