Slovenia has been struggling with crime in its partially neglected Roma villages with authorities starting to implement intensive controls, with the help of horseback units and Roma police officers.
Residents and businessmen from the industrial area Dobruška Vas near Škocjan have urged the police to restore order.
The village’s mayor, Jože Kapler, has repeatedly urged the government to take action.
“The Roma are damaging other people’s property, slashing tyres, stealing from the crop fields, making open fires and there is a lot of noise disturbance in the Roma settlements,” Kapler told Euronews.
“In fact, it is difficult for Roma to get jobs, but if the state created some social enterprise for them to join, there would be visible progress,” he went on.
Human rights group Amnesty International estimates that 11,000 Roma people live in Slovenia, most of them in isolated settlements or slums.
Seven years ago, a Roma family from the Dobruška Vas settlement complained to the European Court of Human Rights about the lack of access to water.
Now, the settlement has access to water, but this is not enough, according to resident Vesna Brajdič.
“The mayor of the municipality has provided us with water. But we also need electricity,” she said.
According to Dobruška Vas authorities, few Roma girls attend high school and teenage pregnancy levels are high. Half of Roma children and youngsters are not educated across Europe.
To convince Roma parents of the value of education, Slovenia’s Interior Ministry plans to cut social benefits for those who do not comply with mandatory schooling.
“We want to change the law to ensure that parents lose this money if their children do not go to school,” said Franc Kangler, state secretary at the Slovenian Interior Ministry.
Roma adolescents have also become easy targets for those who induce them to commit crimes, according to an EU report.