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Responding to racism in Slovakia

european network against racism eurpska sie proti rasizmu

OvERviEw Of RAciSm iN thE NAtiONAl cONtExt iN SlOvAkiA

According the last census in 2001, citizens of Hungarian, Roma, Russian,

Ukrainian, Czech, German, Polish, Croatian and Serbian origin live in Slovakia. The largest minorities are Hungarian and Roma. Besides these minorities there are foreigners and refugees living in the Slovak Republic who also face racism and discrimination.

There are a number of areas where we can talk about discrimination or racism in the national context: discrimination in education and housing, discrimination in legislation, in employment, and in racist violence and crimes. Discrimination in education predominantly affects the Roma population. with disabilities.

Discrimination in housing mostly affects the Roma population and people Discrimination in legislation mostly indirectly affects the Roma population, people with disability, women etc. Discriminatory provisions are decreasing slowly by amending the law. Discrimination in employment mostly affects the Roma minority, foreigners and disabled people. The new Law on Upbringing and Education was changes on issues related to racism and discrimination. adopted in 2005 and presents an opportunity for the incorporation of many Racist violence and crimes mostly concern the Roma population, foreignpolice activity towards the perpetrators of extremist violence.

ers, ethnic minorities and so-called alternative youth. There is an increase of

The main areas of incidental discrimination are social and health care, access to education and services. The most important activities of the state in the fight against racism and discrimination are the Anti-discrimination Act adopted in May 2004, the Act implementing the Racial Directives of EU (ES/43/2000 and ES/78/2000) and the National Action Plan concerning the fight against racism, discrimination, xenophobia and for Roma inclusion adopted by the Government of the Slovak Republic every year.

OvERviEw AND kEy ActivitiES Of thE NAtiONAl cOORDiNAtiON

The significance and activities of the National

Coordination were introduced during the meeting of European Network Against Racism (ENAR) The founding event of the National Coordination took place on 27th of January 2006 in Zilina. The National Coordination consists of Roma and and NGOs in Bratislava on December 2nd 2005.

OvERviEw Of ENAR EuropEan nEtwork AgAiNSt RAciSm

ENAR promotes the cause of anti-racism and nationals residing in the European Union.

non-Roma human rights NGOs dealing with the Racism organisation was elected as the main

racism and discrimination. The People Against representative of the Slovak National Coordina-

equal treatment for ethnic minorities and non-EU

tion and the organization Roma Intelligence of Slovakia was elected as the substitute of the representative of the Slovak National Coordination.

ENAR is a network of European NGOs workThe NGOs have formed National CoordinaENAR and include ethnic minorities, immigrants

ing to combat racism in all EU Member States. tions (NCs), which constitute the membership of associations, information centres, advocacy groups, trade unions, faith based organisations and many others. Democratically elected representatives of each NC attend the Networks meetings where they are consulted on policy and each NC should belong to an ethnic minority.

The National Coordination agreed on the main activities such as:

Protection of national minorities against


discrimination and racism through coopera-

Improved knowledge of society about

protection of minority rights

statutory issues. One of the representatives of

Enforcement of the law National Coordination.

A common media policy for the members of

ENAR is determined to fight racism, xenophoequality of treatment between EU citizens and third country nationals, and to link local/regional/ national initiatives with European initiatives.

bia, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, to promote

thE national situation: who is ExpEriEncing racism?

Ethnic groups residing in Slovakia are among the most frequent victims of racially motivated violence. These groups include Roma, as well as foreign nationals. There is also a phenomenon that can be tack non-Roma Slovak nationals.

dubbed reverse racism when ethnic groups or foreign nationals at-

The victims are affected as follows: 2. As victims of criminal acts

1. By discrimination in the private and public sector

1. Discrimination in the private and public sector

Ethnic groups and national minorities, as well as foreign nationals, are becoming victims of discrimination. This often takes the form of baretc. Moreover, the groups mentioned have a harder time accessing employment and other services, due to their ethnicity. 2. victims of criminal acts ring individuals from entering restaurants, shops, local discotheques,

The victims are exposed to verbal, as well as physical attacks perpetrated by the majority population. Some of the victims features, including skin color, race, belief, and religious denomination, are the basis for the attacks.

The victims are subject to the following criminal acts:

defamation of nationality, ethnicity, religious affiliation inciting national, racial and ethnic intolerance battery vandalism pre-meditated murder murder

political rEality: NAtiONAl lAwS AgAiNSt RAciSm

In May 2004, an Anti-discrimination law was passed in Slovakia (Law No. 365/2004 of the Legal Code on the Equal Treatment and on Protection from Discrimination, amending and updating some existing laws). The law prohibits discrimination of per-

sons in employee-employer relations and in legal relations on the basis of gender, reliorientation.

gious affiliation or faith, ethnic background, nationality, health condition, age or sexual

The Anti-Discrimination Law was adopted based on the EU Directives Nos 43/2000 following provisions:

and 78/2000. As well as other provisions, the Anti-Discriminatory Law contains the

The principle of equal treatment A definition of discriminatory practices and their forms (indirect and direct),
harassment, leading to and inciting discriminatory practice, as well as unjustified recourse toward employee(s).

Application of the Section the law on the so-called temporary equalising measures Court which found it not to be in line with the Constitution of the Slovak Republic. public and include the following:

(affirmative action) was withheld based on the 18th October ruling of the Constitutional Racially motivated criminal acts are classified by the Criminal Code of the Slovak Re-

battery vandalism defamation of nation, ethnicity, belief. violence perpetrated against a group or an individual. support and propagation of movements aiming to suppress the rights and public manifestations of sympathy with fascist ideology or other similar movement. public denial, questioning, support or statements justifying crimes of fascism or
As of January 1st, 2006, the New Criminal Law has come into effect, increasing the punishment for individual racial criminal acts, while leaving some acts connected with the freedom of speech un-punishable. other, similar movement. freedoms of citizens.

importancE of thE civil sociEty infrastructurE

There is a broad network of non-governmental organisations in Slovakia active

in the area of protection of human rights. They are evenly distributed across tion with the possibility of assistance.

the country, providing the victims of racially motivated violence and discriminaNon-governmental organisations are in contact with victims of racially motiby taking a flexible approach to the issues they face. By their activities, the the population who cannot afford legal counsel.

vated violence and assist them by taking a role in philanthropic activities, and NGOs are creating a niche within the society for the disadvantaged groups of The non-governmental sector, active in the area of human rights, in Slovakia

can be classified into three categories. This includes monitoring organisations

acting as watchdogs; organisations offering care free-of-charge to victims of racism, discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance. The third group is made offering assistance to their victims. The non-governmental organisations are thus jointly pursuing some activities and exchange their experiences. up of organisations active in monitoring areas affected by natural disasters, by

Among the most important non-governmental organisations active locally or nation-wide we can include the following: Liga aktivistov pre udsk prva [League Of Activists For Human Rights]

Monitoring of the upholding of human rights Free legal advice and counsel
udia proti rasizmu [People Against Racism]

Monitoring of discriminatory practices and neo-Nazism Assistance to victims of discrimination and victims of racially-motivated
Oban a demokracia [Citizen And Democracy] groups criminal acts

Legal assistance to socially or otherwise disadvantaged individuals or Protection of human rights and rights of minorities
man Rights] Porada pre obianske a udsk prva [Counselling Service For Civic And Hu-

Monitoring and analysis of the level of respect of human and civic rights
with special focus on the Roma minority.

rEsponding to racism StRAtEgic litigAtiON

Many anti-racist NGOs have not traditionally engaged in legal

processes, often this is for the simple reason that there was little law for them to refer to. However the adoption of the EU Race Directive (see section EU and anti-racism) and the development of national law, means that now more than ever litigation has the potential to lead to real change for those who are vulnerable to racism and discrimination.

As anti-discrimination is a relatively new field of law, NGOs have a role

to play in raising awareness regarding its potential. Consequently the strategic litigation has come to the fore as a useful advocacy technique NGOs can both directly engage in strategic litigation and support others to do so by gathering data, assessing victims and engaging in advocacy.

Strategic or impact litigation uses the court system to attempt to create broad social change

The primary focus of strategic litigation is law or policy change rather

than redress for an individual, though these two objectives are not

mutually exclusive. Strategic litigation intends to reach beyond an for everyone who is vulnerable to discrimination. By changing law or setting precedents an individual case can have a ripple effect leading to change on a much broader level.

individual case or victim, to create a context of enhanced protection

The concept of strategic litigation encompasses the selection of cases, case planning and management, as well as ensuring that favourable outcomes are implemented.

Not every NGO has the mandate or skills to engage in litigation, nor will it is essential for all anti-racism actors to recognise the importance of strategic litigation as a tool for generating change.

litigation necessarily be the right strategy in many cases. Nonetheless,

SERvicES AvAilAblE fOR thE victimS Of RAciAl DiScRimiNAtiON

The victims of racially motivated crime can be divided into the following groups 1. Those discriminated against in the public or private sector, violence

2. Victims of racially-motivated criminal acts and racially-motivated

There are several possibilities for the victims of discrimination in public - through a counsel, non-governmental organisations or state 1. State institutions: institutions:

and private sector to redress their situation through legal proceedings

The Slovak National Center for Human Rights offers assistance The Public Defender of Rights offers assistance to individuals
of a body of public administration to victims of discrimination by providing a legal counsel whose rights were infringed due to the activities, actions or inaction

The Centre for Legal Assistance offers pro-bono legal assistance

Discrimination in the public and private sector 2. Non-governmental organisations unlike state institutions, NGOs ance, regarding its scope etc. However, the lack of financial resources could be a problem. to persons in material need.

do not have state-proscribed requirements for offering legal assist-

The victims of racially motivated criminal acts and racial violence can press charges against the perpetrators at the respective police department. They can do so as follows: 1. By themselves

2. Through a third party (the counsel, other person 18 years of age or 3. Turn to an NGO older, who can make legal decisions)

Racially motivated criminal acts and racial violence

why a EuropEan pErspEctivE is crucial Eu and anti-racism.

National NGOs working on anti-racism are already seriously overburshould they also be concerned with what is going on in other European countries, and in the institutions of the European Union itself?

dened in their work to confront racism and discrimination. Why then

Developing an understanding of racism in Europe is essential for two key reasons. Firstly, to promote learning and knowledge about what tools across the European Union to combat racism. Experience over racism is and how to combat it and secondly to generate common the last ten years has demonstrated that national governments can be convinced to take action at a European level, where they may not have been prepared to move forward alone.

Racism has a distinctly European dynamic. Europes colonial history of racism; and the 20th century does not cast a positive light on the

underlines its role in fostering both historical and contemporary forms European legacy. Despite this long history Europe began to take racism seriously relatively recently. Europe has a responsibility both to leading role in promoting a vision of a world free from racism. the people living within its borders, as well as internationally to take a

In 1997, Article 13 of the Amsterdam Treaty gave the European Union a legal base on which to develop appropriate measures to combat discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief,

disability, age or sexual orientation. Using these powers the Eurolater that year the Employment Equality Directive).

pean Union adopted the Race Equality Directive in June 2000 (and

While the Race Directive was due to be fully implemented by July 2003, at the beginning of 2006 some Member States have failed to implement it. This reality raises questions about the continuing com-

mitment of EU Member States to combat racism and discrimination.

However the Directive does have direct effect, which means that individuals can assert it before national courts, even where it has not been implemented.

The Race Directive gives protection against discrimination in employment

and access to a range of good and services, including social protection, health, social security and education. It puts forward a number of imporand victimisation. Other significant aspects of the Directive are that it allows for positive action measures, the sharing of the burden of proof, and the establishment of equality bodies. tant definitions including: direct and indirect discrimination, harassment,

The principles enshrined in the Race Directive need to become core elements of anti-discrimination law and practice across the European Union. Strategic litigation is a tool to ensure that this happens. To this end, it behalf of victims.

expressly allows for NGOs to engage in proceedings in support of or on

While Article 13 of the Amsterdam Treaty provided the context for developments in the field of anti-discrimination, Article 29 of the Treaty on While the European Commission proposed a Framework Decision against European Union included reference to preventing and combating racism. racism and xenophobia (racism as a crime) in 2001, developments in this

policy area have been disappointing; the Council has failed to adopt the

Framework Decision. In addition the European Union has competence

in other policy areas that either directly or indirectly impact on the fight education.

against racism, including: social inclusion, migration and asylum, and

The European Union is also involved in a range of other activities, including awareness raising (through the For Diversity. Against Discrimination campaign) and funding of anti-racism projects. In 1997 the EU Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) was established. While the in 2007, it will continue to focus on the problem of racism in Europe. Centre is likely to be expanded to become a Fundamental Rights Agency

kEy links and sourcEs for furthEr iNfORmAtiON At thE NAtiONAl lEvEl
state bodies: The Slovak Republic Government office: www.vlada.gov.sk Slovak national center for human rights: www.snslp.sk Ministry of Justice of Slovak Republic: www.justice.gov.sk Constitutional Court of Slovak Republic: www.concourt.sk Section of human rights and minorities: www-8.mensiny.vlada.gov.sk non-governmental organisations: Public Affairs Institute: www.ivo.sk League of Human Rights Advocates: www.lhra-icpr.org People Against Racism: www.rasizmus.sk Milan Simecka Foundation: www.nadaciamilanasimecku.sk Citizens and Democracy: www.obcanademokracia.sk Center for Civil and Human Rights: www.poradna-prava.sk Roma press agency: www.rpa.sk

kEy links and sourcEs of furthEr information at EuropEan lEvEl

EU Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia: www.eumc.eu.int European Commission - anti-discrimination and relations with civil society: www.europa.eu.int/comm/employment_social/fundamental_rights/index_en.htm European Network Against Racism (ENAR): www.enar-eu.org European Roma Information Office: www.erionet.org European Union: www.europa.eu.int For Diversity. Against Discrimination: www.stop-discrimination.info Strategic Litigation of Race Discrimination in Europe: from Principles to Practice: www.migpolgroup.com/documents/2498.html Strategies on Litigation Tackling Discrimination in EU Countries: www.solid-eu.org

ENAR Slovakia

udia proti rasizmu P.O.Box 33, 820 04 Bratislava, Slovensk republika Tel.: +421-2-5296 2613 Fax: +421-2-5296 2613 Website: www.rasizmus.sk Email: info@rasizmus.sk
This leaflet was prepared on behalf of ENAR in Slovakia and by the ENAR European secretariat. Download this leaflet: http://www.enar-eu.org/en/publication/national_leaflets/


43, Rue de la Charit B-1210 Brussels Belgium Tel: +32 (0)2 229 3570 Fax: +32 (0)2 229 3575 E-mail: info@enar-eu.org Web: www.enar-eu.org

This leaflet is funded by the European Commission, DG Employment and Social Affairs.