Slovenia urged to provide housing and water for Roma

Discrimination against Roma in Slovenia

© Amnesty International

16 March 2011

Amnesty International has called on Slovenia's authorities to protect Romani communities from discrimination, following the release today of its report showing they are being denied proper access to adequate housing, water and sanitation.

Some Romani families in the country have less water available to them than the minimum deemed necessary for people suffering a humanitarian emergency, Amnesty International reports in its publication, Parallel lives: Roma denied rights to housing and water in Slovenia.

Many are living in poorly built, overcrowded shacks in isolated and segregated rural settlements, far away from health-care services, schools, employment and shops, it says.

"Continuing discrimination against the Romani people condemns many of them to live in housing without basic public services. Their whole existence - from their health to the education of their children and their chances of finding work - is affected," said Nicola Duckworth, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International.

"Some municipalities refuse to provide public services to Roma because their settlements are 'irregular' - despite the fact that families have been living there for decades - while the government has ignored the problem.

"The Slovenian government must act to end the discrimination Roma suffer and ensure their human rights are upheld and their basic needs are met."

Slovenia is a highly developed country and enjoys a GDP per capita above the average in the European Union.

Almost 100 per cent of the population have access to safe drinking water, while many Romani communities struggle to collect even small amounts of water to drink, cook, and bathe themselves and their families.

The average water use per person per day is 150 litres rising up to 300 litres per day in urban centres. But between 20 and 30 per cent of Romani settlements in the south-east of the country have no access to water, according to a survey conducted last year.

Amnesty International found Romani families who were only able to collect between 10 – 20 litres for each member to use for drinking, bathing and cooking, and which had been collected from distant sources and sometimes even polluted streams.

Romani people often find living in settlements is their only option due to discrimination they face when trying to buy or rent housing.

But, despite the state and municipalities being responsible for adequately housing Romani communities, many families find it difficult, if not impossible, to get social housing or permission to improve their current housing.

They also live in fear of forced evictions and are rarely consulted or informed about what choices are available to them.

Amnesty International has called on the Slovenian authorities to:

  • Improve the inadequate housing conditions in Romani settlements, allow for regularization where possible and make alternative housing options available.
  • Ensure security of tenure to all residents of informal settlements and offer alternative housing options, in consultation with the affected Romani communities, which do not lead to further segregation.
  • Immediately ensure a minimum essential level of safe water in all Romani settlements.

"The Slovenian government must also provide the Romani people with effective legal remedies to counter the discrimination they suffer," Nicola Duckworth said.

Amnesty International launches its global campaign for Roma in Slovenia as part of World Water Day on 22 March 2011.

This report is part of Amnesty International's Demand Dignity campaign which aims to end the human rights violations that drive and deepen global poverty. The campaign mobilizes people all over the world to demand that governments, corporations and others who have power listen to the voices of those living in poverty and recognise and protect their rights. For more information visit the Demand Dignity page

Slovenia: Parallel lives: Roma denied rights to housing and water in Slovenia

Index Number: EUR 68/005/2011
Date Published: 16 March 2011
Categories: Slovenia

Almost all of the population in Slovenia has access to safe drinking water, but some Romani communities have to fetch their water from polluted streams or public taps. The lack of access to water and sanitation, however, is only part of the grossly inadequate housing conditions for many Romani communities. The Slovenian government still falls short of fulfilling its human rights obligations. Slovenia has the expertise, experience and resources to ensure that Romani communities enjoy the same human rights as the rest of the Slovenian population.

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