CAHROM thematic report on Roma mediation (excerpts), 2017

CAHROM THEMATIC VISIT ON ROMA MEDIATION (WITH A FOCUS ON SCHOOL MEDIATORS/ASSISTANTS) FOLLOWING THE THEMATIC VISIT TO VILNIUS AND PANĖŽEVIS, LITHUANIA, 25-27 APRIL 2017

FINAL THEMATIC REPORT

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III. ROMA MEDIATION LEGISLATIVE AND POLICY FRAMEWORK AND PRACTICES

3.1 Lithuania

Since 2000, three programmes for Roma integration have been implemented in Lithuania. The means of the Action Plan for Roma integration into the Lithuanian society for 2015–2020 are currently being implemented. However, the institute of Roma mediators is not institutionalized and highly depends on project-related funding.

Education mediators

In the framework of the Programme for Roma integration into the Lithuanian society for 2000-2004, The Public Institution Roma Community Centre has been built in Kirtimai settlement, Vilnius. Education mediators as teacher’s assistants have been working at the centre since 2001. Two teacher’s assistants (both members of Roma community in Kirtimai settlement) are helping the teachers to communicate with Roma children during the lessons by translating from Lithuanian language to Romani language and interacting with children. In 2012 this case of good practice was transferred to 2 mainstream schools in Vilnius. In the framework of the project “C.A.F.E. Changing Attitude Fostering Equality”, implemented by Equal Opportunities Ombudsman’s Office in Lithuania, two teacher’s assistants were assigned to Vilnius schools of Naujininkai and Saulėtekis for 1 year. After the project discussions were held with the Ministry of Education on creation of teacher’s assistant positions in those schools with a higher number of Roma pupils. As a consequence, seven applications to the Ministry of Education have been submitted by Lithuanian schools in order to employ teacher’s assistants. Nevertheless, this has not been taken into account.

Community mediators

According to the Action Plan for Roma integration into the Lithuanian society for 2015–2020 it is planned to employ Roma mediators trained in the framework of programme ROMED (Mediation for Roma). However, there is no funding allocated for implementation of this measure. Therefore, 5 trained Roma mediators were included into the activities of the project “Lithuanian Roma Platform – Going Local”, implemented by the Department of National minorities under the Government of the Republic of Lithuania.

On September 1, 2016, trained representatives of the Roma communities started working with five Lithuanian municipalities (Vilnius, Šalčininkai, Panevėžys, Šiauliai and Marijampolė); they are described as community mediators between local Roma communities and municipal institutions. The nature of the activity of the mediators depends on issues relevant to the Roma. The key areas of the mediators are social, economic, cultural issues and administrative help for the Roma. The mediators help the Roma to communicate with representatives of state institutions, assist them in dealings with public and private institutions, help solve other problems of everyday life, carry out education and prevention programs. Extra attention in the municipalities is paid to the cherishing of the Roma culture and raising public awareness.

The following tasks were carried out by Roma mediators in different municipalities:

  • Vilnius – accompaniment of Roma children from Kirtimai settlement to school;
  • Šiauliai – assistance in solving problems faced by Roma children at school, dealing with debt repayment procedures, assistance at municipality, health care centres, workplaces;
  • Panevėžys – accompaniment of Roma children to school, charity management, prevention and awareness raising;
  • Šalčininkai – administrative assistance, correspondence management, help to solve IT related problems;
  • Marijampolė – assistance in getting employment, accompaniment of Roma to the health care centres, administrative assistance.

Although the contracts of mediators are valid until May 1, 2017 it is planned to continue activities during the second part of the project with the focus on school mediation.

Labour mediators

Since 2004, three ESF projects were implemented that have helped disadvantaged and socially excluded Roma integrate into the labour market. Within the projects, models for Roma employment were developed and tested, training programs and methodical recommendations for recruitment specialists were prepared. Labour mediators were assisting Roma in every of those projects. Currently there is an on-going project “Let us work together with the Roma – new job opportunities and challenges”, where 7 labour mediators are working. The project will continue until 2020.

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IV. CONCLUSIONS, LESSONS LEARNED, GOOD PRACTICES IDENTIFIED AND ENVISAGED FOLLOW-UP

4.1. General conclusions on the topic of Roma mediation

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In rest of the countries the number of working mediators varies between: 1-10 (Austria, Ireland, Latvia, Republic of Moldova, Norway and Switzerland), 11-20 (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Lithuania and Turkey), 21-30 (Germany, Greece, Portugal, Slovenia and Ukraine), 41-50 (Croatia, Sweden and “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”), 51-60 (Finland). There are no mediators in Armenia, Estonia, and Luxembourg.

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4.3 Lessons learned by the experts

As regards Lithuania – the requesting country – it must be noticed that the situation of Roma still is a challenge. The mediation system should be implemented in a more systemic way and solutions that worked out in other European countries should be implemented or at least tested. The results achieved so far seem to be modest taking into consideration the small number of Roma in Lithuania – approx. 2,500 persons. Such a small number do not require a large amount of money – rather systemic, stable and holistic approach and administrative solutions. The field visits showed that the level of cooperation on local level is still a postulate. It seems that central level is much better recognised and familiar to Roma communities than local.

Many countries, including hosting Lithuania, made use of European Social Fund sources to finance the Roma mediators’ position. Apart from positive side of this practice it must be underlined that this solution is project-depending and do not reassure the sustainability of mediation.

As in few countries the mediation system does not exist in sufficient way – the regional cooperation is recommended, like Balkan countries, Central-East Europe, etc. In this regard using the systemic solutions related to Roma school mediators worked out in Poland are recommended to neighbouring countries, including Lithuania.

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4.4 Good practices identified

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The expert from “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” noticed that in Lithuania there are no Roma children in the street situation.

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Document data: CAHROM (2017)16 ; 20.11.2017 Link: https://rm.coe.int/09000016809681da

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