DG Justice seminar series on improving media coverage of Romani people comes to the Czech Republic
A two-day international media seminar began at the "Impact Hub Brno" yesterday, attended by representatives of the Czech Government Inter-ministerial Commission for Roma Community Affairs, nonprofit organizations, the Romani community, and domestic and international journalists. Organizers say the aim of the seminar is to develop closer communication between journalists, municipalities, local authorities and organizations in order to support more balanced, precise coverage of Romani issues in both alternative and mainstream media throughout Europe.
"Discrimination is driven by ignorance and lack of understanding. Facilitating connnections between journalists and Romani communities at local level can make a significant difference to how they perceive each other and eventually to how the wider population view Roma," says Salla Saastamoinen, Director of Equality at the Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers of the European Commission, which is convening the seminar together with the IQ Roma servis (IQRS) organization in the Czech Republic.
"I believe in the intellectual emancipation of Romani people, in education. I believe Romani people have what it takes and that this is the way they can begin to be self-sufficient. That is the direction in which our organization is doing its best to head," IQRS director Katarina Klamková said yesterday during the seminar.
Karel Holomek, a longtime columnist and political commentator for one of the Czech Republic's leading dailies who is also the chair of the Society of Roma in Moravia, also contributed to the discussion yesterday. He responded to a statement made by a representative of the Office of the Czech Government that the political will to address the issue of Romani people has only just now arisen, expressing disagreement with that claim.
According to Holomek, Czech Minister for Human Rights, Equal Opportunities and Legislation Jiří Dienstbier has limited political power in this area because many of the other cabinet members are opponents of social inclusion. Holomek noted that the current Czech President is leading the way when it comes to a lack of political will in this regard.
Holomek also named Czech Education Minister Valachová as somebody who is willing to address these issues but is limited in what she can do by the other cabinet members. The media seminar is part of a larger European Commission initiative called "for Roma, with Roma"
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