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Romani Human Rights Focus of Helsinki Commission Hearing

WASHINGTON – The United States Helsinki Commission will hold a hearing on Romani human rights issues.

Romani Human Rights: Old Problems, New Possibilities

OSCE Activities; Barriers to Romani Education; Recent Experiences in Bulgaria

Tuesday, April 9, 2002

10:00 AM – 12:00 Noon

2200 Rayburn House Office Building

Witnesses:

Nicolae Gheorghe, Section Head, Contact Point on Roma and Sinti Issues, OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights

H.E. Elena Borislavova Poptodorova, Ambassador of Bulgaria to the United States of America

Dimitrina Petrova, Executive Director, European Roma Rights Center

Rumyan Russinov, Director, Roma Participation Project

There are an estimated 10 million Roma around the world, with most concentrated in Central and Southern Europe. In 1999, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) appointed Nicolae Gheorghe to head its section dealing with Romani human rights issues. In 2000, the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities issued a “Report on the Situation of Roma and Sinti in the OSCE Area.” Government representatives and human rights activists alike argue that increasing Romani access to and participation in education is key to cutting the Gordian knot of problems they face.

Mr. Gheorghe will discuss the on-going work of the OSCE with respect to Romani human rights issues. Ms. Petrova will discuss the barriers to Romani education in the region in general. Mr. Russinov will discuss the particular experience of Bulgaria. Ambassador Poptodorova will discuss her country’s approach to these issues.

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