Slovenia – When the justice system ignores you

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'How do you think our children feel when they make fun of them in school because they smell?’
Marjan Hudorovič, a resident of the Roma settlement of Goriča vas in Ribnica municipality, Slovenia

 

While nearly 100 per cent of the Slovenian population enjoy access to adequate water and sanitation to meet all their needs, this is not the case for many Romani communities.

The informal Roma settlement of Goriča vas in Ribnica is home to approximately 70 people, around 22 of them children of school age. They have no water supply, no electricity, no toilets, sewerage or drainage.

To get water they have to walk or drive to the nearest water spring, petrol station, cemetery or other location with a water source where they collect the water in jerry cans to haul back to their homes. As a result, they are unable to access sufficient quantities of water for personal and domestic use as required under international law.

Many Romani children do not go to school because they are ashamed of not being able to wash themselves and are teased by the other school children about their smell.

 

‘If you want to bathe, you have to find a suitable river, where we have huge problems. As soon as you show up, the police are on your back, you get fined. It is very hard.…I don't, the Roma don't need hotels or riches, but we need this wanted pipe for children to bathe and (to drink) when you're thirsty in summer.’ Branko Hudorovič lives with his partner and four children in the Goriča vas settlement.

 

Amnesty International is concerned that the Slovenian government has failed to put in place mechanisms to provide security of tenure on communities who lack it and to ensure that all persons have access, at the very least, to minimum essential levels of water and sanitation.

Amnesty International has also documented the failure of the government to put in place mechanisms and provide effective remedies for acts of discrimination by private and public actors. Discrimination by these actors persists as persons affected are not able to challenge the discriminatory practises against them. Without access to an effective remedy, Roma and other vulnerable groups continue to live in conditions of poverty and remain marginalized in education, employment and housing. The residents of the Roma settlement of Goriča vas have repeatedly asked the authorities to provide them with a water connection near to their settlement.

 

“We are not asking that they bring us water to the settlement. They can set the pipe a few metres away on municipal land if they can’t do it elsewhere. We just ask for one pipe, nothing more. I can see that the cattle on the meadows here have water. And what are we? Are we worse than cattle? For my whole life I have had to steal water. I would really like to start paying for it.” Marjan Hudorovič

 

Despite numerous demonstrations by the Roma community, and a call from the President of the Republic of Slovenia to provide water to their settlement, the mayor of Ribnica stated that he would not provide the Roma settlement with piped water since there was no legal basis to do so. Over two and half years later, in July 2012, the community still had no access to water.

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