Štefan Oláh: It's very important Roma identify themselves as such during the Czech census
"It's quite important that Romani people declare their nationality this year," says Štefan Oláh, a volunteer civil society member of the Czech Government Council for Roma Minority Affairs. The census in the Czech Republic will take place in March, April and May, both online and in paper form.
It will be possible for those participating to list two nationalities, for example, Czech and Romani. "The data you write into the form is protected by the law on confidentiality, so it is not possible that the name of the person and his or her statement of nationality might be abused," Oláh explains.
"Such concerns do exist among members of the Romani community. However, there is no need to be concerned, these data will just exist for the sake of generating general information," he continues.
"According to these data, the state will subsequently be able to proceed correctly with implementing its own Romani Integration Strategy. Who exactly declared which nationality will never be published, just the overall number of those declaring the nationalities they feel are their own," the civil society member of the advisory body to the Czech Government describes.
During the 2011 census, just 13 000 persons declared their Romani nationality, i.e., a mere fraction of the Romani people actually living in the Czech Republic at the time. "It is important to come forward with your Romani nationality because the integration of the Romani minority has not worked here for years," Oláh explains.
"The proposals of the Strategy are elaborated according to estimates of the number of Roma living on the territory of the Czech Republic. It's not possible to determine in such a way how many Romani people live where, and the financing intended for the integration of Romani people is being wasted," Oláh reports.
While it is not compulsory in the Czech census to commnicate one's nationality or sense of belonging to a nation or a national or ethnic minority, individuals can declare up to two nationalities. "If you feel Czech, then you choose the Czech nationality option," Oláh explains.
"If you feel you're a Czech, but in your heart you are also a Rom, you can choose both Czech and Romani nationality, and the order you list them in is up to you," he says. It is also possible to list two native languages, for example, both Czech and Romanes.
The census begins at midnight between 26 and 27 March and can be completed through the online form or using a smartphone application. People who are not added to the census online can take advantage of the paper form of the census, which will take place from 17 April to 11 May.
The forms will be available from census commissioners or at any contact point for the 2021 Census (Sčítání 2021). Census contact points will be available at selected branches of the Czech Post and at all regional administrations of the Czech Statistical Office.
Forms for the paper census that are acquired in some other way, for example, by making photocopies, cannot be used for the 2021 Census and will be considered invalid. The 2021 Census is compulsory for all who have either permanent or temporary residence lasting longer than 90 days on Czech territory at the determining moment, i.e., midnight between 26 and 27 March 2021.
Each such person must be added to the census irrespective of his or her actual place of residence, age, legal capacity and state of health. For those who are younger than 18 or who have been declared legally incompetent, their guardian, legal representative, or other person authorized to represent them will complete the census on their behalf.
All foreign nationals present in the Czech Republic at that particular moment must also complete the census form. All personal information is to be processed in accordance with the relevant legal regulations.
Those who come into contact with this data during its collection and processing will be legally bound to maintain confidentiality. That requirement does not just apply to the statisticians themselves, but also the census commissioners who come into personal contact with census participants and their data.
All handling of the data is thoroughly documented and personal data are completed anonymized, deleted, or destroyed. The findings published will just be summaries, and they will be published in such a way that it will be impossible to deduce any relationship between any data point and a specific individual.
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