Statewatch News Online: Slovakia - Roma

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Slovakia: Commission representative advocates forceful assimilation of Roma

The European Roma Information Office (ERIO) strongly criticised statements made on 1 May 2004 by the head of the European Commission delegation in Slovakia. Mr. van der Linden reportedly suggested that taking Roma children away from their parents, and placing them in boarding schools, would be a possible solution for the "Roma problem". In these schools, they would be exposed to "the system of values which is dominant in our society", making them "fit better into the dominant society" and "able to truly contribute to the growth of the economy of the dominant society". Offering financial incentives was identified as a possible way to overcome the reluctance of Roma parents to give up their children. ERIO described the comments as expressing the idea of eradicating "Romani identity and culture through the brain-washing of their children and their alienation from their parents and community".

ERIO highlights that these statements run contrary to international human rights conventions, to principles of non-discrimination, and to the guidelines that the EU itself has been pressing on accession governments to "safeguard and respect the rights of their minorities". It called on the European Commission to give a clear sign that Mr. van der Linden's views are "not in line with the philosophy of the institution he represents", calling for him to be removed from his post.

European Roma Information Office:
Call for Mr. van der Linden's removal:

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