The constitution and law provide special rights and protections to indigenous Italian and Hungarian minorities, including the right to use their own national symbols and to have access to bilingual education. Each of these minorities has the right to representation as a community in parliament. The Romani community also benefits from protections under the constitution and law, which ensure Romani representation in 20 municipalities around the country but no designated seats in parliament. A 2014 European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) report on the country stated that the government should review the Law Implementing the Principle of Equal Treatment to verify that it functions effectively as comprehensive antidiscrimination legislation. A 2015 Amnesty International report stated that the majority of Roma continued to experience discrimination and some faced eviction from their settlements due to municipal plans to develop the land on which they resided.
There were an estimated 8,000 to 12,000 Roma in the country, approximately 0.5 percent of the entire population. Discrimination against socially marginalized Roma persisted. Organizations monitoring conditions in the Romani community noted that the exclusion of Roma from the housing market remained a problem. Many Roma lived apart from other communities in illegal settlements lacking basic utilities, such as electricity, running water, sanitation, and access to transportation.
Government officials emphasized that the illegality of settlements remained the biggest obstacle to providing Roma access to adequate housing, water, and sanitation. Under the law only owners or persons with another legal claim to land, such as legal tenants, may obtain public services and infrastructure, such as water, electricity, and sanitation. Lacking alternatives for resettlement, Roma were also vulnerable to forced evictions and discrimination. The government resolved such cases through dialogue with the Romani community. In September the government allocated 30,000 euros ($33,000) to provide drinking water (via cisterns) to three Romani settlements, providing a temporary solution to a systemic problem. A government-established commission to safeguard Roma continued to function. The commission included representatives from the Romani community, municipalities, and the government.
Police conducted annual training for both officers and civilians to sensitize them to the problems of working in a multicultural environment. Representatives of the Romani community participated in the program, which improved communication between police and individual Roma. The police force trained several officers in the Romani language and continued preparing a Slovenian-Romani dictionary.
Official statistics on Romani unemployment and illiteracy were not available. Organizations monitoring conditions in the Romani community and officials employed in schools with large Romani student populations unofficially reported that high unemployment and illiteracy rates among Roma remained a problem. The government supported a project that trained 12 Romani health coordinators who engaged with Roma about public health issues and access to the health-care system. The project also established a Regional Council for the Health of Roma and included representatives from community health and social centers, municipalities, the Romano Veseli Association, and the National Institute for Public Health.
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 educational programs. The Ministry of Education, Science, and Sport financed a variety of programs to support Romani families and their children. The government supported a financial literacy project to help equip Roma with improved financial management skills and provide increased awareness of consumer services.
Although segregated classrooms are illegal, 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 educators confirmed that in some cases these groups consisted almost entirely of Romani students and pointed to the practice as de facto segregation. The European Social Fund, working in conjunction with the Ministry of Education, Science, and Sport, funded 22 Romani educators to work with teachers and parents. According to the ministry, these educators had a positive effect on helping Romani children stay in school.
The government concluded the final year of a five-year national action plan of measures to improve educational opportunities, employment, and housing for Roma and started developing a new five-year national action plan. NGOs and community group representatives reported some prejudice, ignorance, and false stereotypes of Roma persisted within society, propagated largely through public discourse.