We will therefore advocate for human rights to be an integral part of all government policies. That values such as freedom, equality, justice and protection of human dignity be a common denominator for all measures taken.
The implementation of human rights values will include the elimination of all forms of oppression and disadvantages caused by social origin, material shortage, health, age, gender, nationality or sexual orientation. Because only then Slovakia can be a truly cohesive country if human dignity does not become a privilege.
Effective promotion and protection of human rights in Slovakia is hindered by fragmented and often only symbolic management without the competence and ability to influence political decisions, legislation or public debate. Indeed, the fulfillment of tasks from the action plans aimed at promoting and protecting human rights is reduced to formal reporting, including in relation to deductions for the fulfillment of obligations under international conventions.
It is therefore essential to ensure central management of the human rights agenda at government level, which will be able to fulfill the role of cross-sectoral coordination of human rights policies. This will contribute to the actual fulfillment of individual commitments and objectives. A practical consequence will also be the creation of space for political leadership on human rights, which has long been at the margins of political interest.
1.1. Ministry of Human Rights, Civil Society and Defense of Democracy of the Slovak Republic
The key role of the Ministry will be the cross-sectoral coordination of policies, especially in cross-sectional areas that lack sufficient institutional background, or that none of the existing ministries are equipped with sufficient powers for.
In particular, these are the areas of integration and social status of Roma, civil society, defense of democracy and coordination of public policies in the area of social human rights (seniors, disabled, people at risk of poverty and others).
1.2. Competency audit
The aim of the audit of institutions working in the field of protection of rights will be to coordinate their activities and to provide citizens with a clear contact point for resolving their disputes with the state authority.
We will also audit activities and strengthen the expertise of specialized inspection bodies in order to increase the detection rate of discriminatory practices.
1.3. Stronger protection against discrimination
Based on the audit in relation to the Slovak National Center for Human Rights, we will promote the completion of its reconstruction in order to ensure legal assistance and representation of the victims in the proceedings on anti-discrimination disputes.
We will submit a proposal to amend the Anti-Discrimination Act to establish the entitlement to the financial compensation for non-material harm.
The Western world, including Slovakia, is struggling to maintain democracy. A populist anti-system revolt offered by extremist forces becomes its competitor. The disintegration of society, which combines the rapid and unpredictable process of technological and economic change with the feelings of anchoring and personal threat, is intensifying. Society is vulnerable and threatened by manipulations designed to destabilize the basic pillars of democracy.
Actors in the extremist and antisystemic scene fulfill this goal by undermining confidence in scientific authorities, state and non-state institutions and in the processes of critical verification of social and political events. The most commonly used tool is the targeted dissemination of misinformation. Our ambition is to create institutional, legislative and political conditions to build the resilience of society to threats that have the potential to undermine democratic establishment or reduce human rights standards.
2.1. Centre for Hybrid Threats and Misinformation
Given that this topic is currently not centrally coordinated or has no institutional background, it will be centrally managed by the newly established Ministry of Human Rights, Civil Society and Defense of Democracy of the Slovak Republic.
A section entitled “Hybrid Threats and Disinformation Center” will be set up under its responsibility (for more details see the chapter HYBRID THREATS AND DISINFORMATION).
Removing all forms of oppression and disadvantages caused by social status and material shortage is also a part of the promotion of human rights values. Especially if one of the reasons for social injustice is ethnic or nationality, health disadvantage or age.
We perceive the urgency of promoting social human rights for all citizens of Slovakia, whose material shortages, undignified working conditions, family or health conditions undermine the possibility of self-realization and negatively affect the perception of their dignity. We will fulfill this objective by specific measures contained in the program area aimed at promoting social rights (see the section EMPLOYMENT, HEALTH SLOVAKIA, REGION DEVELOPMENT, ENVIRONMENT).
In building a cohesive society, we must not forget the historically unfavourable social status of part of the Roma minority, hate speech against Roma in civil or political discourse, as well as the long-term distrurbed relationship between part of the majority and part of the Roma minority. Improving the living conditions of a part of the Roma minority living in marginalized excluded communities is essential in order to build a cohesive society.The measures will require concerted and coordinated action and the reduction of the competency gaps between the state and local governments in order to support municipalities in integration plans. At the same time, it should be noted that the measures mentioned above cannot be implemented satisfactorily within one parliamentary term – their long-term continuity is inevitable.
We want to strengthen the protection and respect of the majority against the cultural expressions of all national minorities, in particular to promote the relationship and dialogue of the majority and minorities, which will lead to lasting mutual communication and to strengthening social cohesion.
3.1. Policy management and coordination
Implementation of cross-section integration policies in individual areas will be coordinated by the Ministry of Human Rights, Civil Society and Defense of Democracy of the Slovak Republic.
We will consider establishing a mechanism for targeted support of self-governments in implementing inclusive policies, namely financial, methodical and content one.
3.2. Social work in communities
Social work is a key form of social intervention and support in marginalized Roma communities. However, it requires transparency of projects with several types of assistance professions, mapping of duplicate performances, specialization with emphasis on synergies. Pilot-proven programs need to be standardised and financially standardised and stabilised.
Social work in this environment should have specific standards and defined performances especially for community work, daily social intervention in communities, for childcare assistance and parental cooperation with the educational establishment, for the labor market, housing, home security and prevention, for working with drug addicts and health assistants.
3.3. Early childhood education
We will develop an early childcare plan, such as programs to support parental competences and incentives for the home environment.
We will propose to abolish the zero year and introduce guaranteed pre-school education, gradually for the child at the age of three, together with the capacity building of kindergartens and the eligibility of specific teaching staff and assistants.
We will strive to support the desegregation of Roma children in education at the level of towns and micro-regions so that their share does not exceed 20 percent at schools and in classrooms.
We will propose changes in school regulations (redefinition of socially disadvantaged environment, exclusion of IQ tests as a diagnostic tool, review of increased normative for special schools).
We will provide comprehensive social scholarships from secondary education. The implementation of this measure should be accompanied by a reform of education, including secondary vocational and dual education (see the chapter on EDUCATION).
3.4. Out-of-school support
We will support mentoring and tutoring programs and the development of leisure activities. We will support second chance and employment programs for people who are neither employed nor learners, nor in supportive training programs (NEETs), especially girls with social support, travel, flexible allowances to move for work.
We will support programs for the emancipation of Roma girls and women (for example, Your Tale readers’ clubs, the involvement of Roma women and men in education at schools and kindergartens, employment programs targeted at women).
3.5. Decent housing
We will support land settlement programs and the preparation of infrastructure for municipalities and social rental housing construction projects (for more information, see the chapter on TRANSPORT, section rental housing).
We will create a program to legalize the existing technically compliant dwellings in the environment of marginalized Roma communities.
We will continue with pilot programs (temprary housing, micro-loans for individual self-help with housing construction) with the support of public resources.
We will propose increased legislative protection against forced evictions.
We will create conditions for housing crisis interventions in the event of natural or other health and life threats.
3.6. Health protection
We will implement programs to introduce waste management in the environment of marginalized Roma communities, access to drinking water and wastewater treatment.
We will start systematising and stabilising health education programs through field workers, including their continuous education.
We will increase the access to healthcare through the mobile ambulance programme. We will create an educational programme for selected medical professions focused on working in an environment of marginalized Roma communities.
3.7. Better employment services
We will consider the system of non-public employment services, at the same time reviewing the competences of labour offices in relation to disadvantaged groups of citizens also in the context of the planned introduction of community services (see the chapter on EMPLOYMENT).
We will propose the creation of a specialized assistance profession within the framework of social work with the aim of including persons from the marginalized Roma communities into the labour market (preparation for job interview, assistance in socialization and training at the workplace, targeted upgrading with a perspective to use and acquire further skills).
We will support the employment of the long-term unemployed through the so-called inclusive market (see the chapter on EMPLOYMENT).
3.8. Against discrimination at work
We will implement anti-discrimination measures on the labour market (the duty of inspection to find out employment conditions at regular intervals, specifically in relation to Roma women and girls).
We will advocate the application of temporary compensatory measures to the deficit professions in the state and public administration. We will support temporary balancing measures in access to education or skills upgrading through targeted preparatory programmes for public administration (medical staff, ambulance drivers, firefighters, police officers, soldiers, environmental workers, etc.)).
3.9. We will improve social policies
We will submit a proposal to amend the Act on Assistance in Material Need so that the eligibility of the basic benefit in material need corresponds to the constitutionally guaranteed obligations of the state on the protection of human dignity and the right to life.
In the area of material need, we will shift the focus to activation that truly helps employment and social inclusion of the beneficiary In addition to community-based services based on motivation and volunteering, we want to support especially the educational activities of the beneficiary (improving qualification or parental training, completion of basic education, language course, etc.).
We will promote increased availability and sustainability of personal bankruptcy in the environment of marginalized Roma communities, linked to measures to increase financial literacy.
We will support the development of the social economy as an innovative tool to support regional and local employment, and the development of incubators for start-up social enterprises.
3.10. Fighting antagonism and hatred against Roma
We will put forward a proposal to strengthen the work of the inspection bodies to check compliance with the principle of equality (building professional capacities in inspectorates, including mandatory ex-offo tests).
We will support the advocacy activities of the non-profit sector in public interest claims for violations of the principle of equality.
We will promote the maintenance and support of the specialized structure of law enforcement and of the court with jurisdiction over extremism crimes (preservation of the National Counter Terrorism and Extremism Unit).
We will support the fight against police violence, especially in the form of an independent position of inspection of the Ministry of the Interior (more in the chapter INTERNAL SECURITY).
3.11. Against misinformation, for better education
Through the Hybrid Threats and Disinformation Centre, we will ensure the development of educational and communication modules to increase resilience to disinformation narratives that encourage the hatred and stigmatisation of Roma.
We will promote value-oriented education as part of the reform of educational content, focusing on personalizing human rights issues, understanding democratic citizenship and building resilience to disinformation (more in the chapter on EDUCATION).
The right to equal treatment and equal opportunities is not strictly respected in practice and its violation is seldom subject to legal proceedings. Unequal treatment makes it impossible for people to find themselves in various social areas – from the labour market, education to access to housing.
We perceive women as particularly vulnerable. Especially if they suffer multiple disadvantages. A symbol of prejudice against women is the persisting pay gap for equal work, which is 9 percent in Slovakia. Women often lose economic independence due to family care. They are becoming more vulnerable to poverty, especially in old age. We will therefore seek to achieve genuine and practical equality in the exercise of economic rights, increased representation in public life and political functions, and the fulfillment of the commitment to protect their dignity and physical integrity. The basic starting point will be the requirement that the equalisation of the gender pay gap should become a part of the public finance debate.
4.1. Equality in economic rights
We will contribute to reducing the gender pay gap – private companies over 50 employees, but also public institutions, public authorities, budgetary and contributory organizations and state enterprises will be obliged to disclose the pay gap between men and women in the same position or job.
Temporary compensation measures will be used to fill executive, representative, diplomatic and party positions. With the same quality of candidates, we will prefer women until the gender gap is equalized.
For companies applying for large public contracts, we will be obliged to submit a gender audit, including equality in remuneration (according to the Swiss or Icelanding model).
We will specifically support projects aimed at increasing the representation of women and men in non-traditional fields of study and occupations, as well as in scientific institutions.
4.2. Protecting the dignity and physical integrity of women
We will promote the ratification of the Istanbul Convention as a tool for effectively combating violence against women and children.
We will prepare a draft law on reproductive health and rights that will take into account a modern approach to the package of reproductive rights and services, including promoting the availability of all types of services and resources for women (or men) in social need.
We consider abortion as a last resort. However, we will defend a woman’s right to physical integrity and privacy by maintaining current legislation. At the same time, we will support and expand the assistance and counseling services for women who have been exposed to material, health or other threats as a result of an unplanned pregnancy in order to facilitate their coping with pregnancy and parenthood.
We will protect women’s rights before, during and after birth: so-called mother-friendly hospital standards.
We will improve the collection of maternity hospital data so that we can better assess their quality.
4.3. Life partnerships
We will propose a law on life partnerships that regulates the rights and obligations of persons who do not live in marriage but declare by law the will to live in life partnerships.
The proposal will include a requirement that the institute of life partnerships be accessible to couples regardless of whether they are of the same or opposite sex.
The legislative concept of life partnerships will be based on a different adjustment than the marriage, especially in the establishment and termination of life partnerships. It will also allow the choice of alternative forms of acquisition of ownership during the life partnership.
A healthy civil society is an integral part of the democratic system. Together with free elections and open public administration, it ensures that citizens represented in the form of civic institutions participate in shaping public policies.
A prerequisite for a committed society is the creation of an institutional and legislative space for citizens, so that they can promote common interests and values and participate in decision-making processes, in addition to the possibilities presented by political parties.
The current environment created to involve NGOs does not meet these objectives in the long term – due to the formalized and non-binding nature of resolutions, the practical operation and activity is reduced to declaratory proclamations with negligible influence on public opinion and action of key actors. For this reason, we will promote the support of civil society through the established Ministry of Human Rights, Civil Society and Defense of Democracy of the Slovak Republic.
5.1. We will strengthen cooperation
We will strengthen the impact and position of platforms ensuring cooperation between the civil sector and the state by means of a competent transfer of the Government Council for NGOs and the Civil Society Plenipotentiary to the new Ministry of Human Rights, Civil Society and Defense of Democracy of the Slovak Repu.
We will work to develop participatory processes and eliminate formalism in public policy-making with public participation.
5.2. We will improve the conditions for civil society
In cooperation with the non-governmental sector, we will analyze the legislation following the constitutional guarantee of freedom of association. On this basis, we will present proposals to remedy the shortcomings.
We will present a proposal to amend the Law on Petitions in order to reduce the quorum for petitions from today’s 100,000 to 50,000.
We will propose that the Rules of Procedure of the National Council of the Slovak Republic regulate more precisely the manner in which petitions will be presented and justified in committees and in Parliament’s plenary (see the chapter on PUBLIC REPORT).
5.3. Financial sustainability
We will present a proposal for the creation of a Central Subsidy System – a portal that would provide a comprehensive overview of the grants to be applied for in the financial year.
Under the auspices of the Ministry of Human Rights, Civil Society and Defense of Democracy of the Slovak Republic, we will establish a new subsidy mechanism, covered by the Democracy Support Fund. The resources from the Fund will be designed to support a wide range of activities in the field of democracy development and human rights protection and will be accessible to several non-state actors. The aim of this measure is to ensure a more flexible and bureaucratic mechanism in the framework of the grant competition and the drawing of grants, not the creation of an entity with separate legal personality.