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ERRC Hopes that EU’s Proceedings Against the Czech Republic Sends a Strong Signal to all Member States that Discrimination will not be Tolerated

26 September 2014

Budapest, 26 September 2014: The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) welcomes today’s decision of the European Commission (EC) to initiate infringement proceedings against the Czech Republic for breaching the European Union’s anti-discrimination laws – the Racial Equality Directive in particular - due to ongoing discrimination of Romani children in education. The ERRC, together with other organisations, has been calling on the EC for almost two years to use its power and resolutely engage with the Czech Republic to tackle the ongoing scandal of the segregation of Romani children in Czech schools.  This segregation was highlighted by the court case brought by the ERRC to the European Court of Human Rights, D.H. and Others v. Czech Republic.

It is now almost seven years after the landmark decision in that case that found discrimination in the Czech education system, but the Czech Republic continues to violate European law with a school system that segregates Romani children and children with disabilities. 

In a Letter of Concern sent to the Czech Ministry of Education recently, the ERRC noted that recently proposed legal amendments would in fact further increase discrimination. 

“Launching the infringement proceedings sends a very clear signal that the EU will not tolerate discrimination of Romani children in education. This is an especially significant step in light of these new legal initiatives that would mean a huge step back in fighting discrimination” – said Rob Kushen, the Chair of the Board of the ERRC. “The Commission recognises that segregation is an issue of regional concern, and a violation of EU and international law.” 

Education is a key vehicle to enable the successful social inclusion of Roma communities across Europe. Yet Romani children are far too often segregated in mainstream or special schools, forced to learn from a lower quality curriculum, or sometimes refused enrolment because of their ethnicity. Without access to quality and inclusive education, Romani children are robbed of their futures as productive European citizens. 

For more information, contact:

Sinan Gökçen
Media and Communications Officer
European Roma Rights Centre 
Tel. +36.30.500.1324 
sinan.gokcen@errc.org  

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