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Protection of national minorities: Council of Europe monitoring body publishes report on Slovenia

Strasbourg, 07 November 2011 – The Advisory Committee’s third Opinion on the implementation of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities by Slovenia was made public on 28 October 2011 together with the government Comments. The Opinion contains the findings of the Committee after a visit to Slovenia in November 2010 and directs recommendations at the government on how to improve measures aimed at the protection of persons belonging to national minorities.

The Advisory Committee commends several important initiatives aiming at tackling the root-causes of some of the main problems facing the Roma, particularly in the areas of education and housing. The adoption in 2007 of the Act on the Roma Community in Slovenia provides a more solid legal basis for the development of long-term action to improve the situation of the Roma. However, many Roma continue to live in substandard conditions, particularly in some regions in Slovenia, such as in Dolenjska. Moreover, the opportunities for Roma to take part effectively in public affairs remain insufficient both at local and at central level.

Expressions of hostility and racism against Roma continue to be reported. Moreover, there is a need to ensure that more effective remedies are available to potential victims of discrimination.

The amendment, in 2010, of the Act Regulating the Legal Status of Citizens of Former Yugoslavia living in the Republic of Slovenia puts an end to long-standing violations of the rights of many of the persons who were “erased” from permanent residents registers in 1992. This is a commendable development. It is now crucial that the authorities promote an inclusive interpretation of the new act so as to avoid discriminatory exclusions, notably of those living abroad for more than ten years as a result of them being “erased” in 1992.

Although Slovenia has continued to provide substantial support to the preservation and promotion of the culture and languages of the Hungarian and Italian minorities, budgetary cuts are foreseen for the years to come. It is essential to ensure that these cuts do not have a disproportionately negative impact on activities of persons belonging to national minorities. Additionally, there is a need for more fundamental, regular support and increased consultation of minority representatives in the allocation process of funds.

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The Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities provides for a monitoring system whereby the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers, assisted by the Advisory Committee, composed of independent experts, evaluates the implementation of the convention. For more information, http://www.coe.int/minorities.