My internship this summer brings me daily on a 30-minute walk to the Palata in Belgrade. Three of five State Union ministers, and the president of the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro (not to be confused with the president of Serbia or the president of Montenegro) have their staffs in this busy place of identical doors and long corridors. I work under Minister Rasim Ljajic, the minister for human and minority rights and the president for the Council on Hague Cooperation.
Thus far I have been working mainly in the Roma Policy division of the Ministry. Roma (gypsies) are a minority group found throughout Europe and are at the bottom of the social strata in all the countries they are present in. In Serbia and Montenegro, they live in run-down settlements, their children are diverted into "special schools" for the mentally challenged (for the few years the children actually attend school), and they recieve most of their income from garbage collection and re-sale. Half of the Roma population in Belgrade are internally displaced from Kosovo, or are returnees who were denied asylum in Western Europe.
I should be involved with Roma policy all summer, but as the tenth anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre comes closer, international pressure for extraditions to the Hague has increased. It looks as though I will be spending most of June and early July working for the legal group of the Council of Hague Cooperation.
Postcards from Abroad
- Tensions Rise Over Disengagement in Gaza, Grout Reports
- Grout Studies Prisoners' Rights in Ramallah
- Axford Reports from Rome
- Su Shares Experiences from Serbia