Archive for the ‘Children & Child Labor’ Category

Amnesty International has been documenting cases of segregation of Roma in Slovak schools since 2006

© Amnesty International

“This landmark judgment is a signal to the authorities, including the Ministry of Education, that segregation of Romani pupils on the basis of ethnicity violates the right to equality and Slovakia’s international obligations to end discrimination.”
–Marek Marczyński, Deputy Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International

A historic Slovak court ruling that the segregation of Roma in schools is unlawful sends a strong signal to the authorities that separate education based on the ethnicity of the pupils is unacceptable, said Amnesty International.

The Regional Court in Prešov, eastern Slovakia on Tuesday ruled that by segregating Romani pupils in separate classes, the elementary school in the village of Šarišské Michaľany had violated the law.The decision is final.

The complaint against the school was submitted by the NGO, Centre for Civil and Human Rights (Poradňa pre občianske a ľudské práva) in 2010.

“This landmark judgment is a signal to the authorities, including the Ministry of Education, that segregation of Romani pupils on the basis of ethnicity violates the right to equality and Slovakia’s international obligations to end discrimination,” said Marek Marczyński, Deputy Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International..

Amnesty International has been documenting cases of segregation of Roma in schools since 2006 and showing that the practice affects thousands of pupils throughout Slovakia.

The segregation takes various forms. In some cases, such as in Šarišské Michaľany, Romani children are placed in separate classes. In others, Romani pupils are segregated in special schools or classes which provide inferior education.

The case of Šarišské Michaľany is not unique in Slovakia. Amnesty International, along with Romani parents, has been campaigning against segregation of pupils in Roma-only classes in the elementary school on Francisciho Street in the town of Levoča, also in the eastern region of Prešov.

Succumbing to pressure from non-Roma parents, the school had placed Romani first graders into separate classes.

Although a small number of pupils were transferred to the mixed classes in the current school year, the school continues to run Roma-only classes.

I have just gotten off the phone with Jaclyn Lesch who is the Department Head of the Student Mobilization Team within IJM (International Justice Missions). She started her career at the Department of Justice where she was a spokesperson for the criminal division. While working there, she began to hear reporters talk a lot about the work being done with children around the world. This shocked her, interested her, and made her want to help. She has now been working for IJM since December of 2008 (4 years) and has put the number of college chapters at an all-time high of 150.

Lesch’s main job is to engage college students in the movement to end slavery, mainly in third-world, or developing, countries. She does this by raising awareness and going to college campuses to hold speaking events. She states, “It all starts with awareness, then financial support, support through advocacy & prayer, and finally, wanting the public to speak out and let elected individuals know that it is something the public is concerned about.” So, when Lesch goes to college campuses, she tends to leave students with something tangible that they can do – having each person sign a car to the senator saying they care and want the human trafficking law passed.

IJM as a whole is based more on the casework that they conduct in their field offices. Just this past year (2011), they were able to bring relief and rescue to 2,473 people & make 120 convictions. Within a period of 3 years, their office in Cebu (Philippines) saw an 80% of reduction in the minor’s commercial sex trade. The organization’s goal for the next few years is to open more field offices, to reach more people, and to mobilize those people. Their long-term goal, or overall goal, is “To rescue thousands, protect millions, and prove that justice for the poor is possible.”