The law provides special rights and protections to indigenous Italian and Hungarian minorities, including the right to use their own national symbols and access to bilingual education. Each of these minorities has the right to representation as a community in parliament. Other minorities, including native Roma, lacked comparable special rights and protections.
The government considered ethnic Serbs, Croats, Bosnians, Kosovo Albanians, and Roma from Kosovo and Albania to be “new” minorities, and the special constitutional provisions for indigenous minorities did not apply to them. The new minorities faced varying degrees of governmental and societal discrimination with respect to employment, housing, and education.
An investigation concerning the slogan “Gypsies Raus” (Gypsies Get Out), which appeared as graffiti in the town of Lendava in July 2011, continued.
Many Roma lived apart from other communities in settlements that lacked such basic utilities as electricity, running water, sanitation, and access to transportation. According to Roma Association officials, 68 percent of Romani settlements were illegal. Organizations monitoring conditions in the Romani community noted the exclusion of Roma from the housing market remained a problem. The UN special rapporteur for human rights declared in August 2011 that the country had failed to fulfill the basic human rights of its minority population, specifically failing to provide adequate water and housing to Roma.
Under the law only citizens may obtain access to services and infrastructure such as water, transportation, and transport facilities if they own or hold legal claims over the land on which they live. The most recent Amnesty International report on the Romani situation in 2011 documented violations of the right to adequate housing including the inability to access water and sanitation, denial of access to alternatives for resettlement, and failure to provide both protection from enforced evictions and remedies for acts of discrimination and segregation.
The police reported that during the year they held training sessions for police officers and civilians to sensitize them to problems relevant to working in a multicultural environment. Representatives of the Romani community participated in the training, which served to establish dialog between police and individual Roma. The police trained several officers in the Romani language and prepared a Slovenian-Romani dictionary. During the year police handled several successful mediations in disputes within the Romani community and between Roma and the majority population.
Official statistics on Romani unemployment and illiteracy were not available. However, organizations monitoring conditions in the Romani community and officials employed in schools with large Romani student populations unofficially reported that unemployment among Roma remained at approximately 98 percent and that illiteracy rates among Roma remained at approximately 85 percent. Government officials emphasized that illegality of settlements remained the biggest obstacle to implementing the rights of Roma to adequate housing, water, and sanitation. The ombudsman recommended to the government that it act on an emergency basis to legalize Romani settlements.
While education for children is compulsory through grade nine, school attendance and completion rates by Romani children remained low. Poverty, discrimination, lack of parental and familial permission or support, and language differences continued to be the main barriers to the participation of Romani children in education programs. Official literacy rates were not available, but social services officials suggested unofficially that Romani literacy was approximately 15 percent. Amnesty International reported that in some representative communities 13 of 22 children failed to advance from first to second grade. In Novo Mesto the Development Education Center offered classes to approximately 100 Romani adults who had not finished primary school, linking their attendance to their receipt of social welfare benefits.
Segregated classrooms are illegal, but a number of Roma reported to NGOs that their children attended segregated classes and that school authorities selected them disproportionately to attend classes for students with special needs. A few communities offered additional educational training for students with special needs, creating separate groups to help students experiencing scholastic difficulties, with the goal of eventually returning them to the mainstream. Educators admitted that most of these separated groups consisted almost entirely of Romani students and sometimes criticized this model for continuing de facto segregation. The European Social Fund, working in conjunction with the Ministry of Education, continued funding 26 Romani educators to work with teachers and parents. According to the ministry, these educators had a positive effect in helping Romani children to stay in school.
The government continued the second year of a five-year national action plan of measures to improve educational opportunities, employment, and housing for the Roma. NGOs and community group representatives reported some prejudice, ignorance, and false stereotypes of Roma propagated within society, largely through public discourse. Amnesty International reported that the government provided no funding to implement the plan.