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Ban on segregation walls possible

SEGREGATION walls could be classified as illegal constructions, according to a draft of the Construction Act amendment proposed by the Ministry of Transport, Construction and Regional Development.

SEGREGATION walls could be classified as illegal constructions, according to a draft of the Construction Act amendment proposed by the Ministry of Transport, Construction and Regional Development.

“We agreed that it will be impossible to allow constructions with the purpose of segregation,” ministry spokesman Martin Kóňa said, as quoted by the Sme daily on October 8.

There are 14 such walls around Slovakia, mostly in the regions of Košice and Prešov, which are also home to the most poverty-stricken and segregated Roma settlements in the country. While Roma-rights advocates condemn the construction of these walls separating the Roma settlements from the majority population, the authority to build them falls under the jurisdiction of local self-governing bodies, which usually state some official reason for doing so.

In an interview with Sme, the Government Proxy for Roma Communities Peter Pollák said that for the first time in Slovak history, the Construction Act will use the term “segregation construction”.
The Transport Ministry, however, did not approve his claim.

“We are looking for all available legislative-technical possibilities how to do that,” Kóňa said, as quoted by Sme.

In mid-September, foreign activists again raised awareness about these walls. A group of Roma-rights activists from the Czech Republic, Austria, Sweden, Switzerland, Spain, and one from Slovakia demolished part of the wall separating the infamous Lunik IX housing estate in Slovakia’s second biggest city, Košice, from nearby neighbourhoods. “Stop segregation” was written next to the hole; however, the gap they created was promptly filled in by local authorities the next day.

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