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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 November 2006, 17:22 GMT
Slovenia chided over evicted Roma
Strojan family evicted from village
The Strojans' plight has put a spotlight on Roma rights
A leading European human rights expert has criticised Slovenia over what he called the "unacceptable" forced relocation of a Roma (Gypsy) family.

The Council of Europe's Human Rights Commissioner Thomas Hammarberg was commenting on the 30-strong Strojan family, threatened by a local mob.

He said it was "unacceptable" that they had had to leave "because the majority population in the area so required".

Roma form less than 1% of Slovenia's population of two million.

Last month, the Strojans were escorted by police out of their village, Ambrus, just outside the capital, Ljubljana, after residents threatened to expel them.

Later, the villagers, who accused the Strojans of stealing, organised protests against any move to let the family return home.

The Strojans are staying at a disused army barracks in Postojna, south of Ljubljana, awaiting relocation with government assistance.

Education Minister Milan Zver said the authorities had no option but to move them, Slovenia's STA news agency reported.

Protecting rights

Speaking at a news conference in Ljubljana on Thursday, Mr Hammarberg urged Slovenia's political and church leaders to spell out their opposition to racists and xenophobic behaviour.

Police guarding Strojans' home
Police are now guarding the Strojans' home in Ambrus
"They have a particular obligation to stand up for human rights and tell people that minorities also have rights and that mob activities against minorities cannot be tolerated," he said.

Separately, a report from Amnesty International criticised shortcomings in primary education in Slovenia, Bosnia-Hercegovina and Croatia which it said "deprive Romani children of the chance of fulfilling their true potential".

It called for "immediate action to confront discrimination against Roma in schools by ensuring that no Romani children are placed in special classes or groups simply because they are Roma, by monitoring the composition of classes and, where needed, the activities of teachers working with Roma".

Many Roma children had little or no command of the language spoken by the majority population, the report said, adding that the teaching of Roma culture and history was neglected.

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