A constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to water for all must be fully implemented to benefit the lives of Slovenia's Roma communities denied access to water, said Amnesty International.
Whilst the amendment passed today recognises that everyone has the right to drinking water, some Romani communities are still forced to fetch water from polluted streams or public taps and do not have access to adequate toilets.
“Enshrining access to drinking water as a constitutional human right is an important legal step forward for Slovenia, but Roma communities need more than legal changes. Action is now needed to ensure the changes flow down to all those without water and sanitation,” said Fotis Filippou, Amnesty International's Deputy Europe Director.
“It is shocking that in a highly developed country like Slovenia, where almost 100 per cent of the population have access to safe water, some Roma communities struggle to collect even small amounts of water to drink, cook and bathe themselves and their families.”
Many Roma families in Slovenia live in informal settlements in inadequate and at times unsanitary housing conditions. Some do not have access to water close to their homes and have to travel long distances with jerry cans to get water from petrol stations, cemeteries or polluted streams. These conditions impact their lives and result in illnesses including water borne diseases.
In 2011 a government commission recommended that access to water should be provided to all Roma communities as matter of urgency, but no effective measures have so far been taken.
“The government must now ensure that the constitutional recognition that everyone has a right to drinking water leads to swift and concrete changes,” said Fotis Filippou.
“Failure to do so would not only be an abject dereliction of responsiblity by the government but could also prove costly since the new amendment will strengthen the case of anyone challenging their lack of access to water in domestic courts.”