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Ministers’ Deputies

CM Documents

CM(2012)97 add2      12 June 20121



1149 Meeting, 12 September 2012

6 Social cohesion

6.5 Ad Hoc Committee of Experts on Roma Issues2 (CAHROM)

Thematic report by the experts of the CAHROM thematic group on the role of central, local and regional authorities in implementing national Roma inclusion policies following the CAHROM thematic visit to Chişinău, Republic of Moldova, 21-23 March 2012

Item to be prepared by the GR-SOC on 3 July 2012



Experts from the REPUBLIC OF MOLDOVA, requesting country:

Mr Nicolae Radiţa, CAHROM Expert and Chairman of the NGO “Roma National Centre”;
Ms Vera Petuhov, Deputy Director of the Governmental Bureau for Inter-Ethnic Relations.

Experts from FINLAND, ROMANIA and SLOVENIA, partner countries:

Finland: Ms Hannele Syrjä, Senior Officer- Advisory Board on Romani Affairs, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health;
Romania: Ms Mariana Buceanu, Expert at the National Agency for Roma, Government of Romania;
Slovenia: Mr Stanko Baluh, Director of the Office for National Minorities, Government of the Republic of Slovenia.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Page

I. INTRODUCTION 3

1.1 Background 3
1.2 Purpose of the request and expectations of the requesting country 3
1.3 Composition of the thematic group of experts 3
1.4 Agenda of the thematic visit 4

II. RELEVANT EUROPEAN AND INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS AND REFERENCE TEXTS 4

III. COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS (SITUATION, POLICIES, MEASURES) 5

3.1. Size and composition of the Roma groups 5
3.1.1 Republic of Moldova 5
3.1.2 Finland 5
3.1.3 Romania 6
3.1.4 Slovenia 6
3.2. Roma-related policy and legislation 6
3.2.1 Republic of Moldova 6
3.2.2 Finland 8
3.2.3 Romania 8
3.2.4 Slovenia 9

IV. SUMMARY OF BILATERAL AND ROUND TABLE DISCUSSIONS AND CHALLENGES IDENTIFIED 9

4.1 Meeting at the Bureau for Interethnic Relations (BRI) 9
4.2 Meeting at the Ministry of Labour, Social Protection and Family 10
4.3 Meeting at the Ministry of Health 11
4.4 Meeting at the Ministry of Internal Affairs 12
4.5 Meeting at the Ministry of Information Technology & Communication 12
4.6 Meeting at the Ministry of Education 13
4.7 Meeting at the Ministry of Culture 14
4.8 Round table discussion: the views of local & regional authorities 14
4.9 Round table discussion: the views of Roma NGOs 14
4.10 Round table discussion: the views of the Parliamentary Advocate 15
4.11 Round table discussion: experience shared by partner countries 15
4.11.1 Finland 15
4.11.2 Slovenia 16
4.11.4 Romania 17

V. LESSONS LEARNT AND GOOD PRACTICES IDENTIFIED 18

APPENDICES

Appendix 1: Formal invitation addressed to the CAHROM 20
Appendix 2: Agenda of the thematic visit 21
Programme of the Round Table 22
Appendix 3: List of participants of the thematic visit 24

I. INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background

The thematic group on the role of central, local and regional authorities in implementing national Roma inclusion policies was set up at the request of the Moldovan CAHROM member, Mr Nicolae Radiţa, following the request made by the Bureau for Inter Ethnic Relations of the Republic of Moldova.

Initial contacts with both Mr Nicolae Radiţa and Mrs Vera Petuhov, Vice Director of the Bureau for Inter Ethnic Relations of the Republic of Moldova (hereafter “BRI”), were followed by a written invitation received by the Secretariat on 12 March 2012 from Ms Elena Beleacova, Director General of BRI, who formally invited CAHROM experts and the Council of Europe Secretariat to visit the Republic of Moldova on 21-23 March 2012 (see Appendix 1).

With a view to preparing the thematic visit, each expert of the thematic group was asked to provide background information about the situation of Roma (including size and composition, legislative framework and policies towards Roma, the contribution of Roma and relevant administrative structures at all levels). This background information was circulated to the thematic group of experts prior to the visit, together with some advance questions to prepare bilateral discussion with respective ministries during the first day of the visit. These questions were the following:

- What is the relation between ministries and local administration?
- What are legal and financial links between state and local authorities?
- Is there a specific Ministry responsible for local administration which can "push" local authorities to prepare local action plans?
- Would local authorities be supposed to finance their local action plans by themselves or should they receive funding from the state?
- What is the role of BRI in this respect? Is it limited to a coordination role?
- Are there local representation of ministries in the regions which act as "relay"?
- Does the Republic of Moldova has a network of municipalities with Roma populations?
If not, would it be good to set up one to facilitate the implementation of the action plan?
- How Roma are involved in implementing national and possible local action plans?

Written background documents submitted by the requesting and partner countries and presentations made during the visit are available from the Secretariat.3

1.2 Purpose of the request and expectations of the requesting country

The Government of the Republic of Moldova has just adopted a new Action Plan for Roma (2011-2014)4. The Action Plan foresees that not only various ministries should implement a series of measures but that local authorities should develop their own action plan. The Republic of Moldova has recently started a decentralisation process. A visit of a CAHROM group of experts to share experience on strengthening the work of central, regional and local authorities in effectively implementing the Action Plan was therefore timely. Open for experience sharing, BRI indicated that it had benefited a lot from earlier field visits organised by the Council of Europe Roma Division and was looking for further bilateral exchange of experience.

1.3 Composition of the thematic group of experts

In addition to the Republic of Moldova as requesting country, the composition of this thematic group included as partner countries Finland, Romania and Slovenia which were countries that had manifested their interest in being part of this thematic group at the 2nd CAHROM meeting in Istanbul5.

All four countries have recently developed national action plans or strategies for the inclusion of Roma. In all four countries, Roma are considered as a national minority under the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.

Finland, the Republic of Moldova and Slovenia have a comparable size of Roma population according to official estimates (10,000-12,000, 12,000-22,000 and 7,000-10,000 respectively), although non official sources estimate the number of Roma present in the Republic of Moldova to be much higher. Romania’s population is by far the biggest one with an official 2011 census figure of 619,007 and estimates ranging from 1,200,000 to 2,500,000.

One of the main interests for Slovenia taking part in this group, apart from the fact that an exchange of experience between the two countries has already been discussed in 2010, was similarities between the Bureau for Ethnic Relations of the Republic of Moldova and the Governmental Office for National Minorities of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia. The two bodies are in charge of coordinating the implementation and monitoring of the Roma strategy/action plans. However, the Slovenian Office seemed more equipped to engage in this role and was ready to share its experience. In addition, Slovenia is also the only country in Europe which has adopted a specific Roma Community Act.

Finland’s contribution was considered particularly relevant following the presentation made at the 2nd meeting of the CAHROM in Istanbul, on the role of municipalities, Regional Advisory Boards on Romani Affairs and Local Roma Working Groups in the implementation of the Finnish policy on Roma adopted by Government Resolution in December 2010. In the Finnish system, Roma representatives are also actively involved in the drafting, implementation and monitoring processes, while in the Republic of Moldova, the Roma representatives have been so far essentially consulted during the preparation phase of Action Plans.

Partly due to historic and linguistic ties there has been already a long tradition of bilateral co-operation between Romania and the Republic of Moldova inter alia on Roma issues. This cooperation has even been reinforced recently following bilateral visits involving ministries of health of the two countries, the National Agency for Roma and the Bureau for Inter-Ethnic Relations of the Republic of Moldova.

Whilst Finland and Slovenia’s contribution to the thematic group was addressing the general topic of cooperation between central, regional, and local authorities in implementing national policies, Romania’s intervention addressed in particular the institutionalisation of community mediators, which appears as the top priority of the Moldovan Action Plan.

1.4 Agenda of the thematic visit

The agenda of the visit included a series of bilateral meetings during the first day of the visit (21 March) which allowed the CAHROM team of experts to have a better overview on the situation of Roma in the Republic of Moldova, as well to receive brief information about measures that relevant ministries and institutions have started implementing or intend to undertake in the near future. Each of these presentations were followed by a series of questions and answers between Moldovan interlocutors and partner countries’ experts. The second day of the visit was organised as round table between representatives of ministries, public institutions, local authorities, Roma organisations and representatives of international organisations (UN Delegation, UNICEF-Moldova, European Union Delegation, Council of Europe Office). The agenda included also presentations by the experts from partner countries. About 60 participants were present at the round table, which was followed by a debriefing meeting with Mr. Victor Lutenco, Adviser to the Prime Minister. A summary of the bilateral meetings and the round table follow. The morning of the 3rd day was devoted to a debriefing meeting between experts of the thematic group and the Secretariat. The agenda and the list of participants appear in Appendices 2 and 3 respectively.

II. RELEVANT EUROPEAN AND INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS AND REFERENCE TEXTS

The crucial, including financial, role of local and regional authorities in the implementation of national integration policies for Roma has been recalled on various occasions. Particularly relevant for this thematic report are the following Council of Europe reference texts:

- the Recommendation CM/Rec(2008)5 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on policies for Roma and/or Travellers in Europe6;
- the Strasbourg Declaration on Roma adopted at the High Level Meeting on Roma (Strasbourg, 20 October 2010);
- the Declaration adopted at the Summit of Mayors on Roma (Strasbourg, 22 September 2011), which inter alia calls for the support of the ROMED programme and the setting-up of a European Alliance of Cities and Regions for Roma Inclusion;

- the Congress Recommendation 315 (2011) and Resolution 333 (2011) on the situation of Roma in Europe: a challenge for local and regional authorities7.

It may be worth also recalling that the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe adopted its most recent Recommendation on local and regional democracy in the Republic of Moldova8 the same week when the CAHROM thematic visit was organised. A recent exchange of letters between the Commissioner for Human Rights and Moldovan Prime Minister Vladimir Filat is also available online on the Commissioner’s website9.

For additional references to human and minority rights situation in the requesting and partner countries, one could refer to monitoring reports by the Commissioner for Human Rights, ECRI, the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, and where relevant, the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.

Other international guidelines exist in terms of policy making for Roma inclusion and put emphasis of the role of local and regional authorities and the active participation of Roma in the drafting, implementing and monitoring phases. In that respect, the 2003 Action Plan on Improving the Situation of Roma and Sinti within the OSCE Area, the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies up to 2020 and the Action Plans developed under the Decade for Roma Inclusion (2005-2015), as well as the work carried out by the FRA in the context of its Annual Dialogue with the EU Committee of the Regions on multi-level protection of fundamental rights can be valuable sources of inspiration. Wherever useful, reference was made in footnotes to relevant reports. (ECRI, FCNM, UNDP, UNICEF, Amnesty International, etc.).

III. COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS (SITUATION, POLICIES, MEASURES)

3.1. Size and composition of the Roma groups

There are no exact figures regarding the number of Roma living in the Republic of Moldova who are spread all over the country. The very low official figure from the census of 2004 – 12,271 – may be explained by the reluctance of Roma to identify themselves as such because of discrimination in society. A poll carried out by Roma communities in 2001, and a data collected by the Bureau of Interethnic relations suggest that the figure is closer to 20,000. Roma leaders claim that there could be up to 250,000 Roma living in the Republic of Moldova. A UNDP study in 2007 found that Roma faced a risk of poverty two times higher than the non-Roma – 59 per cent of Roma live in absolute poverty and 50% in extreme poverty compared to the national averages of 24 per cent and 19 per cent respectively10. They have little access to health care; they often cannot register for the state health insurance policy because they lack the necessary documents. A 2010 UNICEF survey shows that 35% of the Roma are children. Roma children often do not attend school because they are needed to work to support the family; 43 per cent of Roma children do not attend school, compared to six per cent of non Roma11.

The number of Roma in Finland is estimated at 10,000 – 12,000 (0.23% of the total population). It is also estimated that 3,000 of the Finnish Roma (Kaale) live in Sweden. There are no exact data available on the number, age structure or socio-economic status of Roma in Finland. This is mainly caused by the fact that the law prohibits registration of the population on ethnic grounds, and therefore there are no statistics available.

The Roma are a linguistic and cultural minority that has lived in the country since the 16th century. The Roma came to Finland via Sweden, the Baltic countries and Russia. Finland was, at the time, part of the Kingdom of Sweden. Since Finland gained independence in 1917 and the first Constitution was adopted in 1919, Roma have been Finnish citizens. Therefore, they have the same rights and obligations as other citizens of the country. Furthermore, since the year 2000, the Finnish constitution secures them the right to maintain and develop their own language and culture. The Roma are regarded as a national minority. The Roma have a strong cultural identity of their own but they also emphatically regard themselves as Finns.

The Roma are a quite homogenous minority group, although there are differences in their socio-economic situation or, for example, in following Romani customs. A major part of the Roma population is in a weak economic position because of their low educational status and consequent slow integration into the labour market. The socio-economic polarisation within the Roma population is estimated to be widening. The majority of Roma live in the cities of southern and western Finland, although there are Roma communities or families living throughout the country. In Finland, there are no separate Roma neighbourhoods or settlements. Finnish, and sometimes also Swedish, is the first language of the Roma in Finland. The Romani language spoken by the Finnish Roma is a northern dialect of Romani called Kaalo. The Romani language is in danger of disappearing; about 40% of Finnish Roma can speak Romani well. Most Roma speak a mixed language combining Romani words with Finnish.

The Roma in Finland do not have political organisations or a political party. So far, no Roma have been elected to Parliament, although there are some Roma representatives in town or municipal councils throughout the country. There are 5-6 nationwide non-governmental Roma organisations and several regional and local Roma associations.

In Romania, according to the Romanian National Census from 2011, only 619,007 persons declared themselves as being Roma (“Roma / Gypsy”, according to the census forms), i.e. 2.4 % of the total population (the number increased compared to the previous censuses from 2001 and 1992). A 2005 Study conducted by the National Agency for Roma and World Bank showed that in areas with a compact Roma population alone there might be up to one million Roma. Minority Rights Group estimate the total number of Roma to be up to 2.5 million. Roma. A majority of them are socially excluded.

In Slovenia, in the 2002 census, 3,246 inhabitants declared themselves as members of the Roma ethnic community and 3,834 persons stated that the Romani language was their mother tongue. The number of self-declared Roma increased by 28.2% in comparison with the 1991 census.

According to the data from 2003 provided by social work centres, there are supposedly 6,264 Roma living in Slovenia. According to the data from 2004 provided by the municipalities where Roma are historically settled, 6,448 members of Roma ethnic community are supposedly living in these municipalities.

The Government estimates that between 7,000 and 10,000 Roma actually live in the Republic of Slovenia, the majority of them in Prekmurje, Dolenjska, Posavje and Bela krajina.

3.2. Roma-related policy and legislation12

3.2.1 Republic of Moldova

The Moldovan Constitution and other laws consider Roma people as an ethnic group and provide for the enjoyment of rights on an equal level13. The government of the Republic of Moldova has adopted successive Action Plans to improve the situation of Roma,

The first governmental attention given to Roma was in 1993 when the first presidential decree no.53 was adopted. It referred essentially to measures aimed at ensuring the national cultural development of Roma.

The Government Decision no. 131 of February 16, 2001 on Some measures to support the Gypsies14 of Moldova became the first step in creating a system of state support for Roma as ethnic minority. This Decision aimed to “create the conditions necessary for the socio-cultural development of the Roma” contained more detailed actions in the fields of education, culture, health protection, employment and public order. This Action Plan encouraged several ministries, in particular Education, Health and Culture, but also local authorities, to develop their own programmes of actions and to support Roma civil society. The Ombudsman Office and the Parliamentary Commission of Human Rights were associated with the process.

As it was not provided with funding it had a purely declarative character. Due to criticism by both the Roma leaders and the international community, including the Council of Europe, relating to the lack of financial resources allocated for the implementation of the Action Plan, non-inclusion of Roma in the implementation process, as well as a lack of a clear monitoring and evaluation mechanism, negotiation started in 2003 to develop a new comprehensive programme with a more inclusive Action Plan on Roma15.

The next act which consolidated a number of state obligations towards Roma was the Government Decision no. 1453 of December 21, 2006. As for the previous Decision the Government received international expertise, particularly from the Council of Europe and OSCE-ODIHR, in the development of its policy. Despite an improvement on paper, the same drawbacks remained as for the previous programmes.

On 8 April 2010, the Bureau of Interethnic Relation together with the Roma National Centre organised a meeting during the International Roma Day, in which relevant ministries (education, health, labour and social protection, etc.), as well as representatives from local authorities (Soroca, Edineţ, Leova, Cahul, Nisporeni, etc.) made presentations about the implementation of the Action Plan on Roma. The Prime Minister who attended that event made a commitment to continue/extend the Action Plan and requested competent bodies to carry out actions/activities foreseen for the current year. In June 2010, the Government tasked the Bureau for Interethnic Relations to coordinate the work for the elaboration of a new action plan and its future implementation. Subsequently a working group composed of representatives from the Ministries of education, health, social protection and internal affairs as well as Roma representatives was set up. A first meeting of this working group took place at the end of August 2010, and the next meeting was set for the end of October. The Development of a new Action Plan for Roma was, however, postponed due to early parliamentary elections. The Moldovan Government was at that time already looking forward to learning from other countries and considering any successful experiences. A visit to Slovenia, with the assistance of the Council of Europe, was proposed during the 30th MG-S-ROM meeting16.

During a round table, organised on 7-8 April 2011 by the Bureau for Interethnic Relations with the support of the OSCE/ODIHR, a first draft of the Action Plan was widely discussed and subsequently completed in accordance with the general objectives and indicators for seven priority areas: 1) promoting services for social community mediators 2) education 3) work and economic welfare 4) health and social security 5) culture and media 6) public administration, public order and documentation 7) housing. An explicit, though not exclusive approach, was applied to identify solutions for Roma integration, thus, avoiding actions leading to the creation of positive discrimination or to unjustified advantages compared to other national minorities.

A first draft of the new Action Plan to support Roma ethnic group in the Republic of Moldova for 2011-2015 was adopted by Government Decision no. 494 on July 8, 2011. However, it received a cool welcome by international organisations as it did not include important measures discussed at the April meeting, such as Roma mediators. At the request of the Prime Minister this Action Plan was revised and a final version was adopted on January 3 201217. This new version has among its priority objectives the institutionalisation of Roma community mediators whose role is to facilitate communication between Roma communities on the one hand, and public local authorities on the other hand, to ensure a better access to available public services in the area of health, education, labour and social assistance. Each relevant ministry or public institution Roma-shall adopt targeted measures in its own annual planning. Local authorities are also requested to develop action plans at their level.

As stated by Mr Claude Cahn, Human Rights Adviser for the UN in the Republic of Moldova during the round table, the new Action Plan is of better quality and implementation perspectives more promising as it has the strong support from the Prime Minister’s Office. The commitment of the Government to rapidly start implementing the Action Plan was reiterated during the meeting by Mr Victor Lutenco, Adviser to the Prime Minister, held at the end of the visit.

A first meeting of the Inter-ministerial Commission took place in February 2012. Roma representatives did not attend this first meeting. However, BRI informed the CAHROM team of experts that it had proposed Roma representatives18 to attend future meetings. This proposal was supported by the Adviser to the Prime Minister.

3.2.2 Finland

Finnish policy concerning minorities started to change at the end of the 1970s, with the enactment of the first anti-discrimination legislation. The assimilation policy of the early part of the century was abandoned and special measures were introduced to improve the economic, educational and social position of the Roma (as well as the Sami).

Temporary special legislation was adopted by decree during 1976-1981 in order to improve the housing conditions of the Roma. It obliged municipalities to improve the living conditions of the Roma in their areas, and a special state financial system was created to subsidise this process.

The proposal for the National Policy on Roma was published in December 2009. The general aim of the Policy is to promote social inclusion and equal treatment of the Roma in different spheres of society and everyday life. The National Policy on Roma focuses on six key areas19 :

- Enhancing the participation in education of Roma children and youth;
- Enhancing the participation in education of the adult Roma population and promoting their access to the labour market;
- Promoting the equal treatment of Roma and their access to various services;
- Supporting the preservation and development of the Romani language and culture;
- Promoting the equal treatment of Roma and preventing discrimination against them;
- Developing the policy on Roma and enhancing their opportunities to participate in decision-making.

According to the Government Resolution on Guidelines for a Policy on Roma, adopted on 9 December 2010, the Ministries shall implement the measures that are assigned to them in the National Policy on Roma within their budgets. Furthermore the Government will initiate cross-sectoral measures: e.g. strengthen the inclusion of the Roma and co-operation structures at the local level, provide financial support to municipalities through the National Development Programme for Social Welfare and Health Care (KASTE) and entrust the Ministry for Social Affairs and Health to form a cross administrative monitoring group.

The implementation of the National Policy on Roma was confirmed by the new Government on 22 June 2011. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health appointed the working group for implementation and follow-up of the National Policy on Roma in March 2012. There will be 18 members and 7 permanent experts representing the relevant ministries, regional advisory boards, local authorities and other relevant stakeholders, as well as Roma NGOs.

3.2.3. Romania

In 2011, in response to the European Commission’s Communication of 2011, "An EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies up to 2020" and following the EU Council Decision, the Strategy of the Government of Romania for the inclusion of the Romanian citizens belonging to Roma minority for the period 2012-2020 was adopted.

The social inclusion policy of the Government of Romania is based on a proactive approach aimed at increasing the overall standard of living of the population and stimulating earnings from employment by facilitating employment and promoting inclusive policies with addressability to all vulnerable groups: Roma minority, disabled people, women, street children, 18 years old young people leaving state protection institutions, elderly people.

Application of social inclusion policy of the Roma minority requires a holistic approach, a process planned and a concerted action, followed by the adoption of specific strategies, programs and projects. The social policies regarding the Roma minority, focused on the concept of social inclusion, adopted by the Government are the National Anti-Poverty and Social Inclusion Promotion Plan (NAPSIPP), the Joint Social Inclusion Memorandum (JIM), the National Development Plan of Romania 2007-2013 (NDPR), the Governmental Programme for 2009-2012 and the National Reform Programme for 2011-2013.

In the case of Roma citizens, the approach of public policies has been focused on measures in the social field: education, employment, health, housing and small infrastructure, fields accompanied by measures for fighting against discrimination, fighting against poverty and promoting equality of chances. The main programming reference documents in the field are:

    - the Strategy of the Government of Romania for improving the condition of the Roma, adopted in 2001 (Government Decision no 430/2001, as subsequently amended and completed by Government Decision 522/2006) and

- the Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005-2015, which contains a political commitment of the Government of Romania at international level.

3.2.3 Slovenia

The legal basis for regulating the status of Roma community members in Slovenia is provided in:

- Article 65 of the Constitution of the Republic of Slovenia. Article 65 specifies that the status and special rights of the Roma community living in Slovenia are regulated by law;
- in 14 sectoral laws20;
- the umbrella law, namely the Roma Community Act, adopted in March 2007, which comprehensively regulates the status of the Roma community in Slovenia, defines the responsibilities of state bodies and local self-governing community bodies for the implementation of the special rights of the Roma community, and provides for the organisation of the Roma community at the national and local levels, as well as for financing;
- the Programme of Measures for Assistance to Roma, adopted in 1995, which includes measures to improve the status of the Roma community in key areas such as housing conditions, education, employment, family protection, social and health care, cultural development of the Roma community, provision of information and organising the Roma community;
- various Government decisions in which the Government has stated, inter alia, that within their competences all Ministries and Government Offices must devote special concern to Roma issues and include them in national programmes in their areas of activity;
- further governmental comprehensive programmes, such as the National Programme of Measures for Roma for 2010-2015, which was adopted in 201021.

Within six months following the adoption of the National Programme of Measures for Roma (the deadline was 11 September 2010), all implementing bodies, i.e. national authorities, authorities of self-governing local communities, Roma organisations, had to adopt detailed sectoral programmes and measures (action plans) and provide for the necessary funds earmarked in their financial plans, on the basis of a national programme.

IV. SUMMARY OF BILATERAL AND ROUND TABLE DISCUSSIONS22 AND CHALLENGES IDENTIFIED

4.1 Meeting at the Bureau for Interethnic Relations (BRI)

Ms Elena Beleacova, BRI Director General, made a general introduction to the situation of Roma in the Republic of Moldova. She also introduced the work of BRI in relation to Roma, as well as the new Action Plan for Roma.

BRI is a specialised body of the central public administration which develops the state policy concerning ethnic relations, the monitoring of the respect for minorities, the support of the Moldovan diaspora and the operation of languages spoken in the Republic of Moldova. It develops and adjusts national legislation to the international standards, and submits reports to monitoring bodies such as the Advisory Committee of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities23.

In the sphere of its activities the Bureau co-operates with and involves the local and central administration offices, representatives of civil society, non-governmental organisations, ethno-cultural associations of national minorities and other state institutions, such as the Parliamentary Advocate of the Centre for Human Rights (Ombudsman).

There are 87 ethno-cultural organisations of national minorities working at the national level and accredited to BRI, including 11 representing the Roma minority. The Co-ordinating Council of Ethno-Cultural Organisations of National Minorities is co-chaired by the Director General of BRI and an elected minority representative (at the moment the co-chair is a member of the Gagauz minority).

BRI is also working with local organisations of minorities, either through the national ethno-cultural associations of national minorities or directly with the local ethnic organisations. In total, there are 36 national and local Roma organisations registered in the Republic of Moldova.

Roma representatives are associated to the development of policies concerning them, e.g. the Action Plan to support Roma ethnic group in the Republic of Moldova for 2011-2015.

BRI also supports Roma ethnic cultural activities, such as theatre or music festivals. Roma always play an active role in the annual festival.

BRI underlined that despite the economic difficulties faced by the country, social protection is still very high in the Republic of Moldova. For instance, children aged between 1 and 4, including Roma children, receive meals free of charge from the state and local budget. Children aged between 1 and 18 are insured free of charge.

One of the main difficulties encountered by BRI is the lack of financial and human resources to implement the Action Plan for Roma at national and local levels. Moldovan authorities will have the financial means to cover only part of the measures included in the Action Plan. BRI is therefore looking at the possibility to attract funding from international donors or to sign partnership agreements with other countries. The same observation was made by Mr Lutenco, Adviser to the Prime Minister, who therefore considered that priority should be given to certain measures, the most urgent ones being the institutionalisation of community mediators by the end of 2012. Health and education will also be considered as priority areas.

BRI underlined that Roma need special attention and that it counts also on Roma organisations and community mediators to inform Roma communities about their rights.

The challenges identified at the meeting with BRI were the following:

- to identify the number of Roma living in the Republic of Moldova, starting with the comparison and mutual analysis of different figures given by various ministries, estimates and Roma-related studies conducted in the country;
- to finance the Action Plan(s) at national and local levels;
- to convince the local authorities to develop and implement local action plans for Roma integration on the basis of the national Action Plan;
- to create a sub-department of Roma affairs within the Bureau for Ethnic Relations to assist BRI in the co-ordination and implementation of the Action Plan;
- to increase the number of interministerial meetings (two per year does not seem sufficient, especially at the beginning of the implementation process);
- to ensure Roma participation in the implementation and monitoring process, through inter alia the involvement of Roma in the interministerial commission;
- to avoid that priority is given to the forthcoming programme for the integration of national minorities over the Action Plan for Roma.

4.2 Meeting at the Ministry of Labour, Social Protection and Family

Mr Sergiu Sainciuc, Deputy Minister of Labour informed the CAHROM team of experts that, in accordance with the newly adopted Action Plan, his Ministry has responsibility, in co-operation the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health, for creating by the end of 2012 a legal and institutional framework for the establishment of community mediators, as well as for promoting Roma community mediator services. The specific tasks of the Ministry will consist in:

- amending the existing legislation to establish a community mediator at national level;
- elaborating and approving the job description for the community mediator so that it could be included in the list of professions;
- developing a set of documents to organise the community mediator, including the reporting form;
- developing a methodological guide for the community mediator activity;
- identifying and employing Roma people interested in working as community mediators;
- educating and providing training for community mediators according to their job description;
- providing continuous training and capacity-building of Roma community mediators.

The main tasks of the Roma community mediators shall include assistance to Roma to access:

- health care, in particular children and mothers;
- pre-school, primary, secondary and higher education;
- employment;
- legal assistance;
- better living conditions;
- identity documents.

Under the Action Plan for Roma, the Ministry of Labour, Social Protection and Family is also entrusted with the task to increase by the end 2013 the number of Roma, particularly Roma women, engaged in the private economic sector by promoting entrepreneurship and employment..

The third set of actions of this Ministry concerns the increase of the employment rate of Roma, especially women, through information/vocational training, mediation and involvement in public works.

The challenges identified at the meeting with the Ministry of Labour, Social Protection and Family were the following:

- to obtain additional financial resources from the state or donors to implement measures;
- to increase staff resources (45 territorial employees, i.e. 6.4% less than in 2010);
- to convince employers to employ Roma;
- to keep the labour force inside the country (300,000 Moldovans have migrated abroad over recent years for economic reasons);
- to conclude an agreement with the Russian Federation concerning the employment of migrants for those who legally work;
- to find the right balance between providing social benefits and creating incentives to work;
- to make full use of ROMED training material, including ROMED mediators’ job description, when developing similar documents at national level;
- to give priority in the employment of 49 identified existing Roma mediators who have been trained under the ROMED programme (25) or through previous Council of Europe and other international organisations’ sponsored training programmes.

4.3 Meeting at the Ministry of Health

Under the Action Plan for Roma the main objectives of the Ministry of Health is to reduce the gap between life expectancy component of the Human Development Index of non-Roma and Roma and to increase by 40% the number of Roma, men and women, benefiting from social services.

The measures already undertaken in 2012 by the Ministry of Health include a qualitative and quantitative research on the health situation of Roma with data disaggregated by sex, as well as the setting up of mobile medical teams made of family and specialised doctors who provide health care services in regions populated by Roma.

The above mentioned research was conducted with the help of family doctors in 35 counties (raioni) and two cities (Chişinău and Balţi). On the basis of that study, the number of Roma is estimated by the Ministry at 22,200, which is almost twice bigger than the population census figure. The first results of the survey show that one out of three Roma families receives medical assistance. It confirms the need for strengthening the process of Roma insurance with reimbursed medicines (in particular for children and pregnant women), and for providing logistical and information support for the inclusion of Roma in the system of mandatory health insurance, which are both objectives of the Action Plan. The study shows that Roma insufficiently benefit from existing vaccination programmes and programmes targeting persons with disabilities, due to lack of information.

The Ministry of Health was very positive about the role of Roma community mediators. It has cooperated with Roma NGOs, such as Tarnă Rom or the Roma National Centre, in developing the first Roma health mediators, and was involved in past training programmes of health mediators supported by the Council of Europe and OSCE-ODIHR, as well as in the current ROMED training programme. The Ministry underlined that community mediators who play a crucial role in mapping the situation and facilitating Roma access to social services should work closely with mobile medical teams and mayors, especially in rural areas.

The challenges identified at the meeting with the Ministry of Health were the following:

- to make full use of existing trained mediators (those trained in the past and the 25 trained under ROMED), e.g. in the research conducted by the Ministry, without waiting for their official status to be recognised;
- to ensure that the amount of social benefits and other advantages do not discourage Roma families and other vulnerable groups to look for a job.

4.4 Meeting at the Ministry of Internal Affairs

Mr Marin Maxian, Chief at the General Directorate of Public Order Police of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, indicated that this Ministry was not responsible for the issuing of ID documents, which was the task of the Ministry of Information Technology and Communication. He recalled that ID documents in the Republic of Moldova do not mention ethnicity and that a current reform of legislation carried out by the Ministry of Justice will prohibit ethnic data collection.

One of the tasks of the Ministry of Internal Affairs under the Action Plan for Roma is to monitor and process cases of discrimination and abuse by police officers. It was impossible, however, for the Ministry to indicate any figures concerning criminality rate among Roma, nor an estimated number of Roma victims of discrimination or police abuse.

In accordance with the Action Plan for Roma, the Ministry shall pursue existing training of police officers in minority rights protection.

Among other measures to be carried out by this Ministry, it was mentioned the organisation of information and awareness-raising campaigns for Roma on the rights enshrined in the law, employment opportunities and recruitment in the police or at the Police Academy.

In that respect, the Ministry indicated that some Roma are already employed in the police in certain municipalities. A study will be conducted in 2012 to obtain more precise figures24.

The challenges identified at the meeting with the Ministry of Internal Affairs were the following:

- the difficulty to gain Roma community trust and to bring Roma closer to the police academy and to police forces in general;
- to ensure better transparency of the work of the police, e.g. through the proposed quarterly meetings of heads of units, sector officers and Roma representatives on the criminal situation in the locality;
- to inform the population about crimes without increasing stereotypes and prejudice;
- to combat the negative perception of Roma by the majority population.

4.5 Meeting at the Ministry of Information Technology and Communication

The CAHROM team of experts met with various representatives of the state-owned Enterprise “Centre for State Information Resources” known as “SIRC Registru”25,. SIRC Registru was established on September 19, 1995 with the task to set the production of new ID documents and lay down the foundation of the State Register of Population using new information technology. SIRC Registru is responsible for the administration of the state register of population, state registers of legal entities, state registers vehicles and drivers, as well as the state register of state information resources and systems. SIRC Registru collects information through its 96 local offices26.

According to information provided at this meeting, SIRC Registru claims that 99% of registered persons above 16 years old have been integrated in the system. Statistical information provided at the meeting indicate that 14,208 Roma from various localities have been entered in SIRC REGISTRU, 7,044 men and 7,164 women. 209 had left the territory and were living abroad.

With a view to improving the registration of the Roma population and providing them with ID documents, the Ministry of Information Technology and Communication uses mobile registration teams to reach Roma families in isolated rural areas and has granted Roma a three-month exemption of fees for services provided by registration offices (birth certificates, civil status, etc.).

The challenges identified at the meeting with the Ministry of Information Technology and Communication were the following:

- the compliance of SIRC “Registru” with international norms covering ethnic data collection (the CAHROM team of experts was informed that the Ministry of Justice is preparing new legislation forbidding ethnic data collection);
- the accuracy of figures concerning Roma having in mind that a lot of Roma do not possess any ID documents nor birth certificates (the number of Roma provided by SIRC “REGISTRU” is lower than the recent research conducted by the Ministry of Health and estimated figures per county distributed by the Ministry were not identical to those provided by local and regional authorities at the round table).

4.6 Meeting at the Ministry of Education

Ms Ala Nikitchenko, Roma coordinator at the Education of Minorities Department of the Ministry of Education, indicated that there were no statistics available regarding the number of Roma, and Roma children in particular27. Under the Action Plan, the Ministry shall find a mechanism to identify Roma children not attending school.

The education situation of Roma differs from regions/municipalities. In some regions, Roma are living in compact areas leading to de facto “Roma school segregation. In certain localities, like Vulcaneşti, the education of Roma children is rather good, whilst in Schinoasă there is no secondary school and transport should be provided enabling children to attend school. The Action Plan for Roma foresees the provision of free transportation for Roma children living in localities densely populated by Roma that are situated not less than 3 km away from the nearest educational establishment. Seasonal work of Roma adults is one of the reasons for school drop out and absenteeism or Roma children in the Republic of Moldova. Many Roma parents work outside the borders (in particular in Ukraine and Russia) between November and April. Therefore, Roma children are present in schools only part of the school year.

The Ministry of Education has already engaged itself in a series of measures, including the development of curricula for the subject “History, culture and traditions of Roma from Moldova” and its inclusion as an optional subject in the secondary education programmes.

To the question related to law enforcement of compulsory education (from 6 to 16), Ms Nikitchenko replied that sanctions are foreseen in the legislation; Article 63 of the Education Act envisages a fine of 300 Lei. However, in practice, it has almost never been implemented against Roma parents. The Action Plan foresees that the Ministry of Education in co-operation with local public administrations identify regular school-drop outs and impose liability warning on parents for neglecting compulsory education. This requires, however, that the local authorities play their role, provide information and develop territorial municipal plans. The Ministry has no power to force them to do so.

The challenges identified at the meeting with the Ministry of Education were the following:

- the difficulty to enforce the law governing compulsory education vis-à-vis Roma parents who refuse to send their children to school;
- lack of educated young Roma with at least secondary education to work as school mediators;
- seasonal work of Roma parents as a cause for school absenteeism;
- lack of pre-school education;
- the need for additional staff to collect data and to develop education plans in every district.

4.7 Meeting at the Ministry of Culture

This bilateral meeting was cancelled due to lack of time. However, a representative of the Ministry of Culture attended the round table and provided information about measures foreseen under the Action Plan with a view to promoting cultural identity of Roma, including the promotion of Roma authors and artists, the conduction of surveys and scientific researches in the field of Roma history, culture and language, the organisation or support of cultural events, legal assistance to establish a Roma Cultural Centre, grants or scholarships for cultural events, as well as awareness-raising campaigns to popularise the artistic heritage of Roma.

4.8 Round table on the role of central, local and regional authorities, and Roma in implementing national policies for Roma: the views of local and regional authorities

Further information provided by BRI and Moldovan authorities during the round table have been incorporated in the above summary of bilateral discussion. Other participants who intervened at the round table which focus was on the role of local authorities and Roma in the process of implementing national policies for Roma, including representatives of local authorities, the Parliamentary Advocate (Ombudsman), as well as Roma NGO representatives.

At the beginning of the round table, BRI Vice General Director reminded that the Action Plan adopted by the Government of the Republic of Moldova foresees that Moldovan local authorities should develop territorial action plans. Brief presentations were given by representatives of Călăraşi and Străşeni regional councils, as well as by Chişinău and Soroca municipalities.

Among the problems identified at their level, local authorities mentioned the following:

- health problems (tuberculosis, diabetes), lack of vaccination (in Călăraşi 29% of Roma children are vaccinated), access to hospitals;
- lack of education sometimes due to lack of public/school transport (Ursari and Schinoasă) or difficulties to attract children in school (Soroca);
- begging and drug addiction (in Chişinău);
- lack of unity among Roma leaders;
- lack of data (in some villages like Schinoasă and Ursari people recognised themselves as Roma, in others like Pârcani, they do not).

They all indicated their appreciation for the work of Roma community mediators. Some of the mayors have established longstanding relations with Roma community leaders.

Some concrete measures already undertaken at the local level were mentioned: local transportation for Roma children to attend school (Călăraşi and Străşeni), Roma community centre for which serves a pre-school (Schinoasă), Intercultural centre in Călăraşi (financed by UNICEF); they relate to infrastructure (sewage, access to water and electricity, building of an intercultural centre), public transport (school bus), education (paying teachers) and culture (Roma festivals in Călăraşi, concert for Roma children with disabilities in Chişinău).

Local authorities present, apart from Călăraşi region, were reluctant to engage in the drafting of local action plans. They saw their role as responding to the needs in a case by case basis and according to funds available. Their view was that local authorities do cooperate but that their action was limited by the lack of funds.

4.9 Round table on the role of central, local and regional authorities, and Roma in implementing national policies for Roma: the views of Roma representatives

In the discussion that followed Roma representatives28 highlighted the need for drafting action plans at the local level. Whilst welcoming the new Action Plan and considering this was a major improvement compared to previous Plans, Roma representatives considered that funding should be allocated at state level to make it effective since local financial resources are scarce. They welcomed the priority given to the institutionalisation of community mediators and considered that it would important for the Prime Minister’s Office to have a supervisory role in the interministerial commission. They also wished that BRI could have a stronger power for co-ordinating and monitoring the implementation of the Action Plan and that the Parliamentary Advocate29

could be closely associated to the whole process to ensure better respect for human rights and non-discrimination30. They also regretted the lack of involvement of some ministries (Construction, Finance). Roma women representatives called for stronger efforts to address double discrimination faced by Roma women in all spheres, including in the areas of education and employment. If Roma women were better educated, education of children would increase and improve. Early marriages of young Roma girls were also mentioned as an issue and recalled.

4.10 Round table on the role of central, local and regional authorities, and Roma in implementing national policies for Roma: the views of the ombudsman

Dr. Tudor Lazar, the Parliamentary Advocate working for the Centre of Human Rights, having the role of Ombudsman in the Republic of Moldova, that his institution had conducted research that showed e.g. misperception about the equality principle, non discrimination and processing of ethnic data. He quoted a few examples of discrimination (access denied to Roma in a bar of Soroca, lack of assistance to Roma at the Ungheni hospital)31 and difficulties faced by Roma in general (lack of services in Drochia, difficulties for Roma children from Schinoasă to access school). He called for the implementation of compulsory education legislation, efforts to provide long-term employment for Roma, as well as for additional efforts from all parties to help Roma children finishing secondary school and pursuing higher education.

4.11 Round table on the role of central, local and regional authorities, and Roma in implementing national policies for Roma: Experience shared by partner countries

The round table agenda gave the possibility for partner country experts from Finland, Slovenia and Romania to share their experience. Finland and Slovenia focused their presentations on the various coordination, implementation and monitoring structures existing at national, regional and local levels involving various actors. Romania shared its experience in the field of Roma health mediators highlighting the contribution from state and local authorities and Roma themselves.

Mrs Hannele Syrjä, Senior Officer at the Advisory Board on Romani Affairs under the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, informed participants about the administrative structures of the Roma policy in Finland. The Advisory Board on Gypsy Affairs in Finland was founded in 1956 and was reorganised in 1969. The government has appointed the Advisory Board on Romani Affairs since 1989. The Act on Advisory Boards on Romani Affairs was stated in 2004; in addition to the National Board on Romani Affairs, four Regional Advisory Boards on Romani Affairs were established. The advisory boards on Romani affairs constitute the main administrative structures for Roma policies.

The Advisory Board on Romani Affairs is linked to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, and it is appointed for three years at a time. The Advisory Board consists of representatives of both Roma NGOs and the ministries and authorities relevant to handling Roma affairs. The Advisory Board has a full-time secretary, who is a civil servant employed by the Ministry. The task of the Advisory Board on Romani Affairs is, for example, to monitor the development of the situation of the Roma population, promote their socio-economic status and the development of Romani culture, take initiatives, issue statements and opinions, and act as an expert on issues regarding the Roma population. Its tasks also include co-operation with different authorities and partners at national level, as well as international cooperation.

At regional level, there are four Regional Advisory Boards on Romani Affairs in conjunction with the regional state administrative offices, with activities covering the whole of the country. Their role is to market and promote the Policy, take initiatives and give support to regional and local authorities in their regions. Half of the members of each board are Roma. Each board has a full-time planning officer. The regional advisory boards work in close contact with the municipalities in their regions.

The 15 Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment are important stakeholders represented in Regional Advisory Boards: they contribute to the development of labour force, employment, training and entrepreneurship in the regions and manage funding and implementation of EU/ESF-programmes and projects.

The 6 Regional State Administrative Agencies, which are also represented in the Advisory Boards, foster the implementation of basic rights, access to basic public services, and public safety.

The Finnish National Board of Education under the Ministry of Education and Culture has a Unit for Roma Education, established in 1994 with the task of enhancing, in particular, the participation of the Roma in education (general education and vocational education and training) and promoting the teaching of the Romani language. The Board of Education is represented on the Advisory Board for Romani Affairs.

A Romani Language Board was established within the Research Institute for the Languages of Finland since 1999. The task of the Board is to develop and promote the maintenance of the Romani language in Finland. Research on the Romani language was transferred to the University of Helsinki in 2012.

The Local Roma Working Groups, established at the initiative of Regional Advisory Boards and local Roma, raise awareness and promote the implementation of National Policy on Roma at the local level. They serve as a useful a forum for dialogue and co-operation at the local level. There exists a Roma Working Group in about 20 municipalities. Roma Working Groups are composed of municipal authorities like social welfare services, educational and cultural units, youth services, schools, local authorities like public labour offices, police, educational institutions, parishes and local Roma representatives. The enhancement and development of Local Roma Working Groups is one of the aims of the National Policy on Roma

The role of municipalities and local authorities is also very important as the equality and inclusion of the Roma manifest itself in every day life at local level. Municipalities are in charge for organising social welfare and health services, primary and secondary education, cultural services etc. Their funds are coming from local taxation and governmental transfers.

Some of the challenges faced by Finland include the high independence of municipalities (self-governments), the need for constant political will at all levels to take measures for the inclusion of Roma (there is a strong political commitment at state level but municipalities are not always very active at their level), the lack of financial and human resources for the management and implementation of activities, especially in municipalities facing economic difficulties.

Mr Stanko Baluh, Director of the Office for National Minorities of Slovenia The Government Commission for the Protection of Roma Community has been set up to prepare the National Programme of Measures for Roma for 2010-2015, and also to monitor its implementation and carry out evaluation. Each specific measure, defined in a programme has its own indicators, which help measuring success of its implementation. Eight representatives of national authorities (including state secretaries), four representatives of Roma Community Council of the Republic of Slovenia and four representatives of local municipalities, where Roma live, are members of this government body.

Pursuant to Article 4 of the Roma Community Act, the implementation of statutory obligations concerning the Roma community, including National Programme and spending and allocation of funds, is yearly monitored. If necessary, modifications and amendments to the document are proposed. The Government Commission has to present once a year a report to the National Assembly on the implementation of the Programme of Measures. In October 2010 the Government adopted a first evaluation report on the implementation of the Roma Community Act regarding the situation of the Roma Community in Slovenia. The report was sent to the Slovene National Assembly for further assessment. In 2012, the Government will submit its second report.

At the local level, special working bodies for monitoring the status of the Roma community have been established in municipalities where representatives of the Roma community are elected to the city and/or municipal council (In Slovenia, Roma and other minorities benefit from double voting rights). Such working bodies have been established in all 20 municipalities specified by the Local Self-Government Act.

Article 20 of the Financing of Municipalities Act regulates the state budget provision for the funding of bilingualism and the exercise of constitutional rights of the Italian and Hungarian national communities or the exercise of statutory rights of the Roma community.

An Expert Group for the Resolution of the Spatial Issues of Roma Settlements was established in December 2006 at the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning. It conducted, in a short period of time (one year), an analysis of housing condition in Slovenia’s Roma settlements from various perspectives and drafted elements for a comprehensive consideration and resolution of specific problems faced by Roma settlements. A proactive approach and the dialogue between Roma and municipalities resulted in major changes.

Ms Mariana Buceanu, expert at the National Agency for Roma of the Government of Romania, and trainer for the ROMED programme “Intercultural mediation for Roma communities”32, shared her twelve years experience in the field of health mediators.

There are today more than 800 mediators active in Romania. The Intercultural mediators and, health mediators in particular, were initiated in Romania by the Roma NGO, Roma Center for Social Intervention and Studies-Roma CRISS, through a pilot project in 1997 at the time of the health reform to facilitate access of Roma to new ID documents and health insurance since many of the Roma families had not been properly and timely informed of these changes. In 2001, Romani CRISS concluded a partnership agreement with the Ministry of Health and OSCE/ODIHR-Contact Point for Roma and Sinti Issues (renewed in 2005).

An assessment research of the mediators’ role was conducted involving relevant ministries and municipalities. Following this positive assessment it was decided to create Terms of Reference (job description) for these health mediators. In August 2002, the Ministry of Family and Health passed an ordinance33 making Roma Health Mediator – for the first time in Europe - an official profession within the Romanian public health system. According to the Ministry’s ordinance, health mediators received eight attributions and twelve responsibilities. All mediators had to be trained and certified by Romani CRISS. The programme was based on the following main principles:

- commitment and involvement of the Roma representatives (in the planning, implementation, and evaluation phases, at both central and local levels);
- formal responsibility of the partners;
- declared respect for the Roma culture and tradition;
- a clear but flexible legal framework34.

Roma health mediators programme in Romania provides a good example of public-private partnership and Roma involvement. Apart from its primary function to improve the health status of Roma communities and to build bridges between public institutions, health care staff and Roma, it contributes to reinforcing social participation and gender dimension, to the fight against discrimination and social exclusion and to the defence and promotion of human rights.

Initially the Ministry for Health covered the costs of Roma health mediators (health mediators are essentially women in Romania) but due to the decentralisation process this attribution was transferred to municipalities35. This had some negative impact on the health mediators since not all municipalities had the political will or the necessary budget to cover the mediators. In addition, there were given additional tasks which were not in their Terms of Reference.

As regards the more general theme of the round table, the Romanian expert recalled Principle no. 4 “subsidiary and decentralized execution” of the Strategy of the Government of Romania for the inclusion of the Romanian citizens belonging to Roma minority for the period 2012-2020. This Principle states that “the Government Strategy for Roma minority inclusion will be made according to the distribution of competencies specific to institutions and local and central public authorities and will ensure decision-making closer to citizens. In order to achieve the strategy objectives, local authorities may in turn involve the civil society represented at local level and other public and / or private partners.”

She further indicated that Chapter XII of the Romanian Strategy for Roma inclusion provides detailed information as regards the responsibilities at central, regional and local levels. In that respect it is worth mentioning the regional, county and local levels:

- The Regional Offices of the National Agency for Roma36 which are regional branches of the National Agency for Roma;
- the County Offices for Roma which are functional structures organised at county level within prefectures composed of 3-4 experts among which one has to be a Roma ethnic;
- the Local experts for Roma are active at city hall level. They are subordinated, on a technical level, to the county offices for Roma and, on an administrative level, to the Mayor. Local experts represent the main interface between public authorities and Roma communities.

V. LESSONS LEARNT AND GOOD PRACTICES IDENTIFIED

The national experts that took part in this thematic group have shared the following conclusions, based on information received prior and during the thematic visit. Some of these conclusions have been shared with Mr Victor Lutenco, Adviser to the Prime Minister, on the occasion of a debriefing meeting organised at his request at the end of the round table.

The following positive elements and good practices have been identified by partner countries in the Republic of Moldova:

- Strong commitment from the Office of the Prime Minister and BRI for the implementation of the Action Plan;
- Support from Roma NGOs for the Action Plan;
- the mobile registration teams and the three-month fees exemption for registration;
- the registration system “REGISTRU” (with, however, some necessary safeguards on the issue ethnic data collection);
- the enrolment and training of Roma in the police;
- mobile medical teams.
- introduction of culture and history in school curricula.

The following good practices have been identified by the Moldovan authorities from the partner countries:

- efforts engaged in pre-school education in Slovenia;
- Roma (health) mediators/school assistants in Romania and Finland;
- inclusive practices and services (regional advisory boards for Romani affairs and local Roma working groups at the municipal level) in Finland;
- normative act to regulate implementation and to ensure sustainability in Slovenia;
- funding earmarked by respective ministries, and in some cases by municipalities, within their annual budget to avoid over-dependence on international funds;
- using both mainstreaming and targeting measures and funding;
- participation of Roma in decision-making process, implementation and monitoring of the Roma-related programmes in Finland, Romania and Slovenia.

Reflections from experts from partner countries regarding points to be possibly taken into consideration in the Republic of Moldova include the following:

- financial resources allocations and evaluation of costs are missing in the Action Plan;
- need for a stronger coordination role of BRI;
- need for inclusion of Roma in state institutions, either through a Roma sub-department within BRI that would assist the Bureau in its coordination and monitoring role of the Roma Action Plan, or through the recruitment of Roma in key ministries;
- need for stronger cooperation between various ministries (e.g. on sharing statistical information) to come up with closer analysis. Two meetings per year of the interministerial commission are not enough. Monthly meetings should be envisaged at the beginning, also at local level each time in another region to meet social workers, mediators, visit projects and even more important involve respective local authorities and institutions as is the case in Slovenia;

- need for capacity building (training) of state authorities (BRI, ministries), local authorities and Roma NGOs (e.g. through EU programmes);
- priority given to certain sectors and objectives (education, health, mediators) but need for other ministries to get involved to ensure a full integrated approach (e.g. the ministry responsible for infrastructure who has not appointed a Roma coordinator at the Interministerial commission);
- ensure Roma participation in the interministerial commission (at least 2 or 3 Roma representatives) and include representatives of local authorities in the commission (the example of Croatia was mentioned during the discussion);
- Interministerial commission could be chaired by the PM or his adviser to ensure stronger political commitment (the example of Croatia was mentioned during the discussion);
- establish a network of Roma municipalities having a Roma population under the existing network of Moldovan municipalities and encourage pro-active Moldovan municipalities to join the European Alliance of Cities and Regions for Roma Inclusion to be set up by the Council of Europe in September/October 2012 (proposal supported by the Adviser to the Prime Minister);
- need for raising awareness about the situation of Roma and within Roma communities on how to access public services. Further cooperation with the Ombudsman would be suitable;
- stronger pressure on local authorities to draw up local action plans (the message has not gone through yet).

As general conclusions, the Moldovan state and local authorities, Moldovan Roma NGOs and the experts of the thematic group came to a mutual understanding about the importance of community mediators and the need for institutionalising their use where this is not yet the case. They also agreed that further discussion on measures to enforce the involvement of local and regional authorities in the implementation of national Roma inclusion policies is needed, e.g. in the framework of the forthcoming CAHROM plenary meeting and within the future European Alliance of Cities and Regions for Roma Inclusion.

Appendix 1:

Formal invitation letter from the Director General of the Bureau for Interethnic Relations of the Government of the Republic of Moldova

Appendix 2:

Programme of the thematic visit to Chişinău, Republic of Moldova, 21-23 March 2012

AGENDA
21 March 2012

CAHROM expert group’s visit to the Republic of Moldova

“Exchange of experience on increasing the role of central and local authorities in the implementation of national Roma integration strategies/action plans and strengthening their capacity in developing national action plans in cooperation with state authorities and Roma representatives”

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

8.30 - 9.40

Meeting with leaders of the Bureau of Interethnic Relations,
Address: 109/1, A. Mateevici str, Conference Hall, et. II

10.00 - 11.00

Meeting with the representatives of the Ministry of Labour, Social Protection and Family

11.15 - 12.00

Meeting with the representatives of the Ministry of Health

12.00 – 13.00

Luncheon

13.15 – 14.00

Meeting with the representatives of the Ministry of Education

14.15 – 15.00

Meeting with the representatives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs

15.15 – 16.00

Meeting with the representatives of the Ministry of Information Technology and Communication

16.15 – 17.00

Meeting with the representatives of the Ministry of Culture

Thursday, 22 March 2012: Round table

See separate agenda for the round table on “Exchange of experience on increasing the role of central and local authorities in implementation of national Roma integration strategies/action plans and strengthening their capacity in developing national action plans in cooperation with state authorities and Roma representatives”.

Place: Bureau for Interethnic Relations, Street. A. Mateevici, 109/1, Conference Hall, Second Floor.
Registration of participants of the round table: 8.30 – 9.00.

PROGRAMME

Round Table

“Exchange of experience on increasing the role of central and local authorities in the implementation of national Roma integration strategies/action plans and strengthening their capacity in developing national action plans in cooperation with state authorities and Roma representatives”
22 March 2012

Bureau for Interethnic Relations
109/1, A. Mateevici str, Conference Hall, et. II

8.30-9.00 Registration

9.00 – 9.30 Welcome speech
Moderator: Ms Vera Petuhov, Deputy General Director of the Bureau for Interethnic Relations

Mr. Mihai MOLDOVANU, Vice Prime Minister, Government of the Republic of Moldova
Mr. Sixto MOLINA, Head of the Support Team of the Special Representative of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe for Roma Issues
Ms. Elena BELEACOVA, General Director of the Bureau for Interethnic Relations/

Session I
9.30 -12.30
Moderator: Ms Vera Petuhov, Deputy General Director of the Bureau for Interethnic Relations

Exchange of experience on collaboration of central administrative authorities with the subordinate regional institutions and local administrative authorities in implementing national Roma integration strategies

9.30 -10.30
Interventions (15 minutes each):

        1. Ms. Evelina Zubco, Ministry of Labour, Social Protection and Family
        2. Mr. Valentin Crudu, Head of Directorate preschool, primary and secondary education, Ministry of Education
        3. Representatives of a regional/local authority
        4. Representative of a regional/local authority

10.30 -10.50 Coffee break

10h50-11h30
Interventions (20 minutes each):

        5. Ms. Hannele Syrjä, Senior Adviser, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Finland
        6. Mr. Stanko Baluh M.A., Director, Office for National Minorities, Government of the Republic of Slovenia

11h30-12h30
General discussion, questions and comments from participants

12.30 -13.30 Lunch

Session II
13.30 -16.30
Moderator: Mr. Nicolae Radiţa, President of the National Roma Centre, CAHROM expert on behalf of the Republic of Moldova

Exchange of experience on forms of co-operation between central authorities, subordinate regional institutions and local administrative authorities and Roma NGOs and other partners in implementing national Roma integration strategies

13h30-15h00
Interventions (10 minutes each):

      1. Mr. Gheorghe Ţurcan, Vice Minister, Ministry of Health
      2. Ms. Mariana Buceanu, National Agency for Roma, Romania
      3. Mr. Marin Alla, President of the Republican Ethno – Cultural Organisation “ Târna Rom”
      4. Mr. Tudor Lazăr, Parliamentary Advocate, Director, Centre for Human Rights
      5. Mr. Claude Cahn, Human Rights Adviser, UN in the Republic of Moldova
      6. Mr. Robert Cerari, President of Ethno Cultural Association “ Bare Rom”, Soroca

General discussion, questions and comments from participants

Session III
15.00 -16.00
Moderator: Ms Vera Petuhov, Deputy General Director of the Bureau for Interethnic Relations

Lessons learnt and main conclusions on “increasing the role of central and local authorities in the implementation of national Roma integration strategies/action plans and strengthening their capacity in developing national action plans in cooperation with state authorities and Roma representatives”

Mains conclusions from participants regarding lessons learnt.

16.00 -16.30 Closing remarks

Mr Sixto MOLINA, Head of the Support Team of the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Roma Issues
Mr. Nicolae RADIŢA, President of the National Roma Centre, and CAHROM expert on behalf of the Republic of Moldova
Ms. Elena BELEACOVA, General Director of the Bureau for Interethnic Relations

16h30 End of the round table.

16.30-17.30 Meeting between Mr Victor Lutenco, Adviser to the Prime Minister and the Council of Europe delegation

Appendix 3

List of participants of the thematic visit to Chişinău, Republic of Moldova, 21-23 March 2012

Ad hoc Committee of Experts on Roma Issues (CAHROM)
Thematic group of experts on how to increase the capacity building and role of local authorities in implementing national strategies for Roma
Chişinău, 21-23 March 2012

LIST OF PARTICIPANTS

Ms Hannele Syrjä
Senior Adviser
Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
Advisory Board on Romani Affairs

Ms Mariana Buceanu
National Agency for Roma

Mr Stanko Baluh M.A.
Director
Office for national minorities
Government of the Republic of Slovenia

Mr Sixto MOLINA
Head of the Support Team of the Special Representative
of the Secretary General for Roma issues
Council of Europe

Mr Michaël GUET
Secretary of the CAHROM
Support Team of the Special Representative
of the Secretary General for Roma issues
Council of Europe

1 This document has been classified restricted at the date of issue; it will be declassified in accordance with Resolution Res(2001)6 on access to Council of Europe documents.

2 The term “Roma” used at the Council of Europe refers to Roma, Sinti, Kale and related groups in Europe, including Travellers and the Eastern groups (Dom and Lom), and covers the wide diversity of the groups concerned, including persons who identify themselves as Gypsies.

3 cf. document CAHROM(2012)7 add, available from the CAHROM Secretariat.

4 Initially adopted by Government Decision no. 494 on July 8, 2011, the Action Plan was, however, revised and a new version was adopted on 3 January 2012.

5 The Latvian CAHROM member who had proposed his country for this thematic group indicated to the Secretariat that Latvia would rather opt for a future thematic group, having in mind that this group would finally not specifically focus on the role of local authorities in using school assistants of Roma origin.

6 See in particular specific recommendation 3. ii. “States should involve regional and local authorities from the earliest stages of developing the strategy, and ensure their commitment to its effective implementation. Regional and local authorities should develop action plans to implement national strategies at local and regional level.”

7 All these documents are electronically available at http://www.coe.int/web/coe-portal/roma_reference-texts

8 https://wcd.coe.int/ViewDoc.jsp?Ref=REC322(2012)&Language=lanEnglish&Ver=original&Site=COE&BackColorInternet=DBDCF2&BackColorIntranet=FDC864&BackColorLogged=FDC864

9 http://www.coe.int/t/commissioner/WCD/Search_en.asp

10 UNDP, Roma in the Republic of Moldova, 2007, p.127

11 UNICEF, The Situation of Roma Children in Moldova, 2010: 23. (Data for 2005-2006).

12 Information delivered by experts from partner countries concerning specific structures of cooperation between central, regional and local authorities, as well as Roma participation, is summarized under report item 3.11 below.

13 See the Addendum to this report (cf. footnote No. 3) for relevant articles of the Moldovan Constitution and legislation regulating national minorities’ rights, including those of Roma.

14 The term « Gypsies » was initially not considered as derogatory by Moldovan Roma as it is in many other countries. However, over time the term « Roma » has imposed itself.

15 An overview of past action plans on Roma adopted in the Republic of Moldova over the period 2001-2010 presented by Mr Nicolae Radiţa, MG-S-ROM member on behalf of the Republic of Moldova, report of the 30th MG-S-ROM meeting in Wrocław, Poland on
20-21 October 2010.

16 Ibid.

17 See the full Action Plan and its introductory note in the Addendum to this report (cf. footnote No. 3).

18 The three Roma representatives proposed by BRI are Ioan Dumenica, Marin Alla and Nicolae Radiţa.

19 See information provided in the Addendum to this report for further details (cf. footnote No. 3).

20 See information provided in the Addendum to this report for further details about the Programme specific objectives (cf. footnote No. 3).

21 A more detailed reflection of the discussions can be found in the Addendum to this report (cf. footnote No. 3).

22 A more detailed reflection of the discussions can be found in the Addendum to this report (cf. footnote No. 3).

23 See the last state report submitted to the Advisory Committee of the FCNM at http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/monitoring/minorities/3_FCNMdocs/PDF_3rd_SR_Moldova_en.pdf; as well as the Opinion of the Advisory Committee of the Framework Convention adopted on 26 June 2009 http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/monitoring/minorities/3_FCNMdocs/PDF_3rd_OP_Moldova_en.pdf and BRI comments http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/monitoring/minorities/3_FCNMdocs/PDF_3rd_Com_Moldova_en.pdf.

24 There are only two Roma police officers in Slovenia; working in judiciary police, whilst in Finland there was one but he is not active any longer.

25 Mr Vasile Ciornii, deputy Director General for Operations, Mr Vladimir Magola, Director of the Documentation Department , Mr Veaceslav Sturzu, deputy Head of the Section of Inter-action with territorial sub-divisions and diplomatic representations and Ms Angela Chicu from the Press Centre.

26 Further details about « SIRC Registru » can be found in the Addendum to the report (cf. footnote No. 3).

27 See however the Information Note on the Action Plan to support the Roma ethnic group in the Republic of Moldova, available in the Addendum to this report (cf. footnote No. 3), which provides some statistical information.

28 The Roma representatives who intervened in the discussion were Marin Alla from Tarnă Roma, Nicolae Radiţa from Roma National Congress, Artur Cerari from Bare Drom-Soroca, Caterina Drosy from Juvlia Romani and Alunica Lepadatu from Petalo Romano.

29 See recommendations 43 and 44 of the 3rd ECRI report on Moldova adopted on 14 December 2007 regarding the status and role of the Parliamentary Advocate.

30 See by comparison the situation in Finland. The post of Ombudsman for Minorities was created in 2002, which is an important institution to protect the rights of the Roma. The Non-discrimination Act (21/2004) prohibits discrimination on the basis of ethnic or national origin, citizenship, language, religion or conviction, opinion, disability, health, sexual orientation or any other personal trait. It also includes the possibility for affirmative action (positive discrimination). According to this Act, the authorities have a duty to foster equality purposefully and methodically in all they do, and alter any circumstances that prevent the realisation of equality. To fulfil this duty, they must draw up an equality plan.
In addition there is a separate Act on Equality between women and men in Finland (since 1987, renewed 2005). This legislation is monitored by the Ombudsman for Equality.

31 See also 3rd ECRI report on Moldova adopted on 14 December 2007, as well as the Amnesty International forthcoming report on discrimination in the Republic of Moldova, to be published in June 2012.

32 For further information on the ROMED programme implemented since 2011 as a joint action of the Council of Europe and the European Union, please consult: http://www.coe-romed.org/.

33 Order No. 619/14.08.2002 of the Ministry of Health and Family of Romania.

34 For further information on the Roma health mediators system in Romania, please consult a presentation on this topic by the National Agency for Roma at: http://www.anr.gov.ro/docs/programe/Roma%20in/Document%207-%20Health%20Mediators%20Programme%20in%20Romania.pdf.

35 Starting from November 2008 and in accordance with the Government Emergency Ordinance no 162/2008 on the transfer of the overall attributions and competencies exercised by the Ministry of Health to the local public administration authorities, the local public authorities have been responsible for covering with community medical assistance services and social/medical assistance the population from their areas, especially as regards the disadvantaged communities. Often, health workers fail to work together with the community worker, in the context of decentralization [extract from the Strategy of the Government of Romania for the inclusion of the Romanian citizens belonging to Roma minority for the period 2012-2020].

36 Established under Government Decision No 1703/2004 on the organisation and functioning of the National Agency for Roma, as subsequently amended and supplemented, and Government Decision No 430/2001 approving the Government of Romania’s Strategy for improving the situation of Roma ethnics, as subsequently amended and supplemented.



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