The experience of the Provincial Protector of Citizens – Ombudsman in minority rights protection being perceived as a crucial resource as related to Roma issues in Vojvodina, the Work in Progress civil society organization (CSO), a project partner within the team of the multi-national European Mediation for the Roma project, has signed a Memorandum of Collaboration with the institution. The participation of the Provincial Ombudsman in this pioneering project was perceived as invaluable for its implementation and dissemination.
As part of the process of promoting and recognizing the profession and role of the Roma mediators, as well as that of facilitating their work in Serbia, Eva Vukašinović, Deputy Provincial Ombudsman, and the representatives of the Work in Progress CSO participated at the end of June at Roma Coordinators’ training in Zlatibor, Serbia, organized by the Roma Inclusion Office of the Government of the AP of Vojvodina.
The first part of the training dealt with knowledge and skills on how Roma Coordinators could mediate between the members of the Roma community and the state institutions, facilitating thus their human rights exercise, protection and development in the field of healthcare, education, housing and employment. A major part of this session concerned the opportunities offered by the Mediation for the Roma project: its aim, expected results, applicability and ways in which Roma Coordinators could use it to gain social recognition. Roma Coordinators were invited to participate in the Mediation for the Roma project training as well, since it will be a modern and skills-focused training course developed by an international project consortium and certified by the relevant state authorities.
The objective of the second part of the training was to demonstrate how mediation is to be put into practice by presenting real-life situations faced by the members of the Roma community. These situations were a basis for exercises in problem solving mediation processes.
This training is a significant impetus for another joint activity of the Provincial Ombudsman and the Work in Progress CSO in September 2014. The project representatives will visit all Roma Coordinators in Vojvodina and formalize project collaboration with them. Additionally, local self-governments where no Roma Coordinators have been hired will be encouraged to engage people trained within the framework of the Mediation for the Roma project.