on the implementation of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities
(Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 4 July 2012
at the 1147th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies)
The Committee of Ministers, under the terms of Articles 24 to 26 of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (hereinafter referred to as “the Framework Convention”),
Having regard to Resolution Res(97)10 of 17 September 1997 setting out rules adopted by the Committee of Ministers on the monitoring arrangements under Articles 24 to 26 of the Framework Convention;
Having regard to the voting rule adopted in the context of adopting Resolution Res(97)10;1
Having regard to the instrument of ratification submitted by Slovenia on 25 March 1998;
Recalling that the Government of Slovenia transmitted its state report in respect of the third monitoring cycle under the Framework Convention on 28 April 2010;
Having examined the Advisory Committee’s third opinion on Slovenia, adopted on 31 March 2011, as well as the written comments of the Government of Slovenia received on 28 October 2011;
Having also taken note of comments by other governments,
1. Adopts the following conclusions in respect of Slovenia:
a) Positive developments
In 2007, Slovenia adopted the Act on the Roma Community in Slovenia, which provides a clearer definition of the specific rights granted to the Roma minority and clarifies the responsibilities of the various levels of authorities in charge of implementing these rights. Comprehensive programmes have also been launched to tackle the root causes of some of the main difficulties facing the Roma, in particular in the area of education and housing. Slovenia was the first country to join the Council of Europe campaign “Dosta” against prejudices towards Roma.
The adoption, in 2010, of a new act amending the Act Regulating the Legal Status of Citizens of Former Yugoslavia living in the Republic of Slovenia grants permanent residence status retroactively to those who were “erased” from the residence registers in February 1992. The adoption on 1 February 2011 by the National Assembly of a Declaration on the Policies of the Republic of Slovenia on New National Communities proves increased willingness to promote integration of persons belonging to these groups into Slovenian society, introduce a mechanism for their political participation and to set a more favourable social climate towards them.
The Ombudsman Office has continued to pay particular attention to the situation of persons belonging to minorities and to the protection of their rights. It is a major remedy for potential victims of discrimination.
The authorities have continued to provide substantial support to the media in the Hungarian and Italian languages, as well as to the cultural and educational institutions of these two minorities. Broadcasting in Romani and on the Roma on public national and local radio and television has developed and Roma have been trained as journalists.
The agreement on co-operation of the deputies of the Italian and Hungarian national communities with the Government of the Republic of Slovenia for its 2012-2015 term of office was signed in January 2012, emphasising the importance of preserving the national and cultural identity of Italian and Hungarian national communities. In order to provide for an appropriate socio-political and economic situation of the Italian and Hungarian national communities in Slovenia, the preservation of the existent protection measures of positive discrimination and their further development, the Government of the Republic of Slovenia will, according to the agreement, prepare a framework law on the protection of the Italian and Hungarian national communities.
A Roma Community Council was established in 2007 as a consultative body for the parliament, the government and other state authorities. Roma councillors have been elected in 20 local councils, in accordance with the law.
Cross border co-operation with neighbouring states on minority issues continues to be well-developed. It is supplemented by the implementation of important projects by minority organisations from either side of the borders with neighbouring countries.
b) Issues of concern
Despite some important steps forward, the socio-economic situation of many Roma remains a deep concern, especially in the region of Dolenjska. Many of them continue to live in substandard settlements, isolated from the majority population. While substantial efforts have been made since the second monitoring cycle, e.g. training and employment of Roma assistants, Roma pupils still encounter important difficulties in the area of education and the majority of them do not reach secondary education. Prejudice and hostile attitudes against the Roma persist and are sometimes fuelled by the media and politicians. Some local authorities do not abide by their duties in the field of minority protection and are reluctant to implement strategies developed at national level.
Hate speech continues to be expressed by certain politicians and to be disseminated through the media. It is on the rise on the Internet. As elsewhere in Europe, there is generally still a lack of awareness on the fact that hate speech is a crime and the prosecuting authorities are sometimes reluctant to identify and qualify hate speech as an offence.
Despite important steps taken by the authorities, prejudices and stereotypes against persons belonging to the “new national communities” and the German-speaking community persist and the support allocated to them is not sufficient to cover all their needs in the field of preservation of their languages and culture.
Uncertainties remain with regard to the scope of application of the new act amending the Act Regulating the Legal Status of Citizens of Former Yugoslavia living in the Republic of Slovenia, in particular with regard to those having spent more than ten years abroad as a result of their being “erased” in 1992.
The support allocated to the preservation and promotion of minority culture and languages, including through the media, is often allocated on a project or yearly basis and there is a lack of regular, baseline support to allow the development of activities on a long-term basis.
The legislation protecting the language rights of persons belonging to national minorities is not always effectively implemented in the “ethnically-mixed areas”.
Despite the positive framework, there is a lack of trained teachers to work in bilingual (Hungarian-Slovene) schools and Italian-language schools, especially for technical subjects. Opportunities to learn Romani or to be taught in Romani in the education system remain scarce.
Roma living in areas other than the 20 municipalities in which they are entitled to elect their local councillors lack adequate channels of participation in public affairs at the local level. The Roma Community Council appears not to be entirely representative of the diversity of the Roma community. Consultation of the representatives of the Hungarian and Italian minorities is not always sufficiently effective, especially when preparing new legislation of concern to them.
It is regrettable that the concerns of the part of persons belonging to the Italian minority seem not to have been sufficiently taken into account and that effective consultation of the latter was not carried out when preparing for the creation of a new municipality in Ankaran/Ancarano.
2. Adopts the following recommendations in respect of Slovenia:
In addition to the measures to be taken to implement the detailed recommendations contained in sections I and II of the Advisory Committee's opinion, the authorities are invited to take the following measures to improve further the implementation of the Framework Convention:
Issues for immediate action:2
- intensify measures to ensure that effective remedies are available to potential victims of discrimination; intensify actions to raise awareness of discrimination-related issues in society, including in the judiciary and law enforcement agencies;
- ensure that Roma representatives are able to take part in public affairs at local level in all the municipalities in which they live in substantial numbers; take further steps to provide elected Roma councillors with all the support they need to carry out their tasks effectively, including adequate training; ensure that the Roma Community Council adequately represents the diversity of groups within the Roma community;
- ensure effective involvement of national minority representatives in discussions on any administrative change that could have an impact on minority protection; in particular, take measures to guarantee that the protection of persons belonging to national minorities will not diminish as a result of the creation of the municipality of Ankaran/Ancarano.
- consolidate measures to improve the housing conditions of the Roma in accordance with National Programme for Roma 2010-2015. Continue efforts to overcome the difficulties faced by Roma pupils in the education system. Firmly condemn and sanction any form of discrimination against Roma in these areas;
- identify effective ways of improving the implementation of the existing legislative framework for the protection of the culture and languages of national minorities, in close consultation with minority representatives. Pay particular attention to securing sustainability of the activities aiming at preserving and promoting minority culture;
- promote an inclusive interpretation of the new Act Regulating the Legal Status of Citizens of Former Yugoslavia living in the Republic of Slovenia with a view to giving retroactive access to permanent residence to as many as possible of those who were “erased” in 1992 and are consequently living abroad;
- continue ensuring that no discrimination arises in practice for persons belonging to other national groups (e.g. “new national communities”, the German-speaking community) and that adequate resources are allocated for the preservation of the languages and culture of these persons;
- make further efforts to combat all forms of intolerance and hate speech targeting persons belonging to minorities and other groups, including in the political life and the media. Encourage public media to provide the general public with further, unbiased information on the history, culture and languages of the national minorities;
- continue support of the media broadcasting in Romani and on Roma issues, including through private media outlets at the local level; consider additional training of Roma to become journalists;
- provide teachers working in bilingual (Hungarian-Slovene) and Italian language institutions with improved training. Redouble efforts to develop the teaching of Romani and in Romani at school;
- guarantee a more effective and timely participation of national minority representatives in decision making on projects aiming at supporting minority culture and on laws having an impact on persons belonging to national minorities, so as to better cater for their needs.
3. Invites the Government of Slovenia, in accordance with Resolution Res(97)10:
a. to continue the dialogue in progress with the Advisory Committee;
b. to keep the Advisory Committee regularly informed of the measures it has taken in response to the conclusions and recommendations set out in sections 1 and 2 above.
1 In the context of adopting Resolution Res(97)10 on 17 September 1997, the Committee of Ministers also adopted the following rule: “Decisions pursuant to Articles 24.1 and 25.2 of the Framework Convention shall be considered to be adopted if two-thirds of the representatives of the Contracting Parties casting a vote, including a majority of the representatives of the Contracting Parties entitled to sit on the Committee of Ministers, vote in favour”.
2 The recommendations below are listed in the order of the corresponding articles of the Framework Convention.