Data on Slovak Romanies lacking-experts
Data on the Romany population in Slovakia are lacking, representatives of state and non-governmental organisations said at a seminar that was held today on the occasion of the International Roma Day celebrated on April 8.
The participants said it was not even known how many Romanies live in Slovakia and pointed out that precise data would help solve problems the Romany minority faces.
They added that new figures could only be obtained during the next national census.
"Unless we know how many people live here we will not know whom we should help and how much money should be allotted," Peter Pollak from the Institute of Romany Public Policy said.
In the latest census, 91,000 people in Slovakia declared themselves Romanies but according to unofficial estimates, some 360,000 to 600,000 Romanies live in the 5-million Slovakia.
The information on how many people live in unsuitable conditions or how many people have health problems is also lacking, Pollak said.
It is impossible to find out whether unemployment of Romanies has fallen as a result of the government reforms, he said.
Authorities have no information on how many Romany pupils attend Slovak schools and how successful they are.
School inspector Anna Dluhosova said that this information would help in the approval of projects and grants for schools.
The fact that Romanies themselves do not declare their belonging to the Romany community also poses a problem. Some Romanies do not distinguish between the notion of citizenship and nationality.
"However, there are also historic fears of minorities that the information could be abused," chairman of the Slovak parliament's human rights committee Laszlo Nagy said.
He added that the European Commission was also demanding such data from Slovakia.
The anti-discrimination law and the law on personal data protection that bans the procession of data on racial and ethnic origin also protects Romany personal data. However, there are also certain exceptions in the law according to which data could be collected with the consent of the persons in question or if the collection of the information is necessary to protect their vital interests.
Chairwoman of the Slovak Statistical office Ludmila Benkovicova said that the new census would bring a more precise picture of the Romany population.
"We will ask each citizen in this country, all have the right to declare their nationality and their mother tongue. We will also study the structure of households. These data can also be collected on the ethnic lines," Benkovicova told CTK.
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