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Czech census commissioners allegedly not cooperating with Roma assistants

Ostrava, 23.3.2011 19:23, (ROMEA)

The Census of People, Houses and Apartments in the Moravian-Silesian region of the Czech Republic has become complicated. Census commissioners working for the Czech Post Office allegedly are not cooperating with the Roma assistants who were supposed to facilitate their communications with members of the Roma minority. The Czech Statistical Bureau (Český statistický úřad - ČSÚ) has already registered the problem, according to Czech Television (ČT24).

According to the Czech Post Office, however, everything is in order. Everyone should complete their census forms by the end of this week. The "moment of truth" for the census will be midnight between 25 and 26 March, but it will be possible to deliver completed forms to the census by as late as 14 April.

Roman Gregor and 19 other Roma people were supposed to have assisted the census commissioners in Ostrava with outreach to Roma minority clients, but the collaboration is not working. "I asked the census commissioner why I had not been contacted or called in to work, but she had no information and was completely unaware that an assistant was supposed to be working with her," Gregor said. Many Roma assistants have had a similar experience. According to several experts, there is a risk that the majority of the Roma community will not be counted.

"The assistants are having to track down their census commissioners in order to work with them. This really seems like the height of incompetence to me and I am completely disgusted by it. I would really like to know the opinion of the Post Office, whether they think everything is in order," says Lýdia Poláčková, Roma Minority Coordinator for the Ostrava Town Hall. "I assume that about 60 - 70 % of the Roma clients won't even start completing the forms for fear of doing it wrong," says Gregor.

"Of course the census commissioners know about making use of the Roma assistants. I consider this case to be one of 'he said-she said'," stated Marta Selicharová, spokesperson for the Czech Post Office.

The complete ČT24 article on this issue is available in Czech at: http://www.ct24.cz/regionalni/118884-scitaci-komisari-pry-nespolupracuji-s-romskymi-asistenty/

Gwendolyn Albert, ČT24, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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