Prešov will not build fence around Roma

A FENCE intended to segregate the Roma quarter of Stará tehelňa from the rest of the eastern Slovak city of Prešov will not be built after all. The Prešov city mayor, Milan Benč, apologized for what he called "confusing information" communicated by city spokesman Michal Kaliňák to the daily SME on September 27.

A FENCE intended to segregate the Roma quarter of Stará tehelňa from the rest of the eastern Slovak city of Prešov will not be built after all. The Prešov city mayor, Milan Benč, apologized for what he called "confusing information" communicated by city spokesman Michal Kaliňák to the daily SME on September 27.

However, following a meeting with city councillors on September 26, the mayor himself told news channel TA3 that the city was going to build the fence. Later, he said the councillors changed their minds.

"I was surprised myself. I was convinced that the fence had been approved but probably under the influence of the tumultuous discussion, I did not realize that [the petition to build the fence] had not been passed," said Benč.

Based on information provided by Kaliňák, the daily SME reported that Prešov councillors had approved the construction of a 400-metre-long fence that would border the Roma quarter of Stará tehelňa based on a petition submitted by non-Roma inhabitants of the adjacent streets.

The head of the petition committee, Oleg Tkáč, defended the fence saying he was "not a racist but a realist" and explained that the fence would protect the non-Roma inhabitants from thieves.

Slovakia's deputy prime minister for human rights, Pál Csáky, warned the Prešov councillors that any decision to put up a fence segregating the Roma community from the non-Roma community would be "unacceptable". The local Roma were outraged by the petition.


- Martina Jurinová

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