Roma in Slovakia:
Slovakia has one of the largest Roma communities in Europe, estimated at around 400,000 people, or 8% of the overall population. Approximately 150,000 Roma in Slovakia live in extreme poverty and marginalisation, many in segregated rural settlements with missing infrastructure and missing or parallel low-quality public services.
Every few years since 1991, more or less each government has prepared yet another strategy addressing the situation of Roma in Slovakia based on their current philosophical outlook on the minority. In the early 1990s, while recognising Roma as a national minority, the drafters, however, largely influenced by the previous communist approach, believed that the minority was in need of some kind of “civilisation” and assimilation. In the early 2000s, the experts working in this area at the government office believed in integration, the principle of equal opportunities, and positive or affirmative action in framing the approach. But in 2008, the new government brought back the 1990s perspective with the vocabulary around “civilisation”.
The new 2020 EU Roma Strategic Framework helped Slovakia to firmly set the path towards Roma integration, at least in main policy documents. Relevant policy documents have abandoned the problematic framing of Roma as the object of “civilisation” attempts. These international and European efforts furthermore contributed to bringing data and measurable objectives into policymaking. Despite relatively slow progress overall, we can nevertheless trace palpable results, mostly through several active municipalities and through the projects of NGOs.
Still significant efforts must be invested into the actual implementation of plans into practice in all areas. The Roma population suffers from a high risk of poverty and social exclusion, with the poverty risk rate for Roma in Slovakia around 87% compared to 13% for the general population. It is the interconnection of poverty and social exclusion that is typical for marginalised Roma communities. Widespread and generally accpeted antigypsyism and discrimination, worsening educational attainment, difficult access to health care, substandard housing conditions, and high unemployment mean that people from marginalised Roma communities have only minimal chances of escaping poverty and integrating into the mainstream society. Moreover, in the area of non-discrimination, especially when it comes to maltreatment by police, residential segregation, and segregation in education (Slovakia faces EC’s infringement proceedings for segregation and discrimination of Romani pupils), there appear to be limits even in the state recognition of troubling practices as a precondition for any meaningful action.
Slovakia notoriously fails to duly implement the available EU funds to improve Roma’s life conditions, particularly relevant for infrastructural projects. This is likely caused by complex factors, the willingness of municipalities to apply for these funds being among the key ones. Second, and related, is that while the state offers funding and sometimes good practices to municipalities to address the situation of their deprived communities, in practice, it somewhat lacks effective means of enforcement in cases of their neglect. Third, especially in housing and education, we observe that, at best, there are efforts to improve living standards and education through housing and schools for Roma. Indeed, over several decades, Slovakia built parallel communities, and segregation in schools spread significantly.
Slovak Strategy of Equality, Inclusion and Participation of Roma until 2030 and Action Plans for 2022-2024 (Slovak Government’s Plenipotentiary for Roma Communities, in English)
RCM coalition members:
- Center for the research of ethnicity and culture (CVEK)
- In Minorita
- Community center of Miniorites
- Romano Kher – Roma House
- Informal group of Romani activists
- Union of Roma physical culture and sports, Humenne
- Spokojnost, Prievidza
- Saplinq, Kosice
- Quo Vadis
RCM 2 (2021-2025) reports:
Poster presenting main findings of the report (2022):
RCM 1 (2017-2020) reports:
Roma Civil Monitor (2017) Civil society monitoring report on implementation of the national Roma integration strategies in Slovakia: Focusing on structural and horizontal preconditions for successful implementation of the strategy. ENGLISH – SLOVAK
Roma Civil Monitor (2018) Civil society monitoring report on implementation of the national Roma integration strategy in Slovakia: Assessing the progress in four key policy areas of the strategy. ENGLISH – SLOVAK
Decade of Roma Inclusion (2005-2015) report:
Decade of Roma Inclusion (2013) Civil Society Monitoring Report on the Implementation of the National Roma Integration Strategy and Decade Action Plan in 2012 in Slovakia. ENGLISH