1 April 2022 – 31 March, 2024
Slovenia, Slovakia, Hungary

Project PRESS, where EPEKA Slovenia is a partner, seeks to promote and protect the rights of Roma facing discrimination by raising societies and stakeholders’ awareness, enhancing implementation of non-discrimination legislation and empowering Roma to seek legal remedies in Slovakia and Slovenia.

Specifically, we aim to:

  • Enhance the knowledge on anti-discrimination legislation and access to justice among legal practitioners, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Roma mediators, activists and decision-maker
  •  Strengthen the capacity and willingness of legal practitioners to provide legal aid for Roma and challenge discrimination incidents
  • Strengthen the capacity of CSOs to support and represent Roma communities facing discrimination
  • Improve access to justice for Roma communities in both target countries

The Roma community comprises the European Union’s (EU) largest ethnic minority with a population of approximately six million. A considerable proportion of Roma in Slovakia and Slovenia live in marginalized conditions and face multiple disadvantages and structural inequalities in education, housing, employment and healthcare. In contrast to the prominent levels of discrimination, Roma communities face serious barriers in access to justice, especially in raising cases of discrimination and other human rights violations. In addition, there is a lack of systematic training among legal professionals on anti-discrimination law, meaning they cannot fully address the needs of Roma communities.

In Slovakia, Roma live in segregated communities and marginalized conditions. Despite official acknowledgement by the government of their situation, most continue to face multiple disadvantages and structural inequalities, particularly in education, housing, employment and healthcare but also through existent domestic legal provisions which arguably have a disproportionate impact on marginalized Roma and cause their indirect discrimination.

Similarly, in Slovenia, the key areas of discrimination against Roma are education, employment, housing and access to healthcare. There is also considerable underreporting of discrimination, which is a consequence of a wide range of socio-economic and legal reasons, including insufficient understanding of the law, access to information and finances, and specialized pro-bono legal support. Language barriers, illiteracy, distrust in public institutions and fear of consequences are also contributing factors.

What are we doing?

  • A baseline research study to understand the factors that contribute to Roma lack of engagement with justice mechanisms in response to discrimination, and to raise awareness about practical steps towards Roma integration, desegregation and best practices on equal access to justice.
  • Training for legal practitioners, CSOs and Roma activists on anti-discrimination law to strengthen their capacity to provide legal aid for Roma victims of discrimination and to assist them with litigation in discrimination cases.
  • Field work conducted by Roma mediators to identify discrimination cases and to support Roma community members to report such cases.
  • Legal aid for Roma who experience discrimination, followed by reporting these discrimination cases to the equality body to promote better protection and access to justice.
  • Roundtable for equality bodies to exchange experience about tackling discrimination and to share best practices with each other.
  • Advocacy to combat and raise awareness about discrimination against Roma communities in Slovakia, Slovenia and at the EU level, and to increase Roma mediators’, activists’ and community members’ skills in advocacy and participation in decision-making.
  • A report based on the outcomes of the project to contribute to a transnational cooperation between the two countries and to the sharing of best practices with other CSOs, both within those countries and more widely.

Who are the partners?

Minority Rights Group International (MRG) campaigns worldwide with around 150 partners in over 50 countries to ensure that disadvantaged minorities and indigenous peoples, often the poorest of the poor, can make their voices heard. Minorities that are of concern to MRG are defined as ‘disadvantaged ethnic, national, religious, linguistic or cultural groups which are fewer in number than the rest of the population and which may wish to maintain and develop their identity.

The Center for Civil and Human Rights (Poradna) is an NGO based in Slovakia focussed on the protection of human rights with particular emphasis on the rights of minorities and protection from discrimination. It has long worked on the issue of discrimination against Roma in various areas of public life.

The Association EPEKA, Soc. Ent., is an organization active in the field of EU citizenship, EU values and intercultural dialogue with branches in several European countries. It has a long history of working with underprivileged social groups with both youth and adults, promoting the human rights of Roma in Slovenia.

The programme is funded by the EU’s Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values Programme (CERV).

Association EPEKA, Soc. Ent., is supported by: