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UN Committee Urges Compensation for Coercive Sterilisations in the Czech Republic

8 November 2010

GENEVA/BUDAPEST, 8 NOVEMBER 2010: The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) welcomes the UN Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women’s (the Committee) call for the Czech government to compensate Romani women who were subject to coercive sterilisation and to take adequate steps to prevent coercive sterilisation from occurring in the future.

Following a submission from the ERRC concerning the lack of progress in the Czech Republic, the Committee reminded the Czech Government that both the Committee's recommendations in 2006 and the Czech Ombudsman's recommendations in 2005 aimed to ensure that Romani women who are victims of coercive sterilisations can access justice. The Committee urged the Czech Republic to adopt legislative changes to prevent future coercive sterilisations and to address the coercive sterilisations that have already occurred, specifically by reviewing and extending the three-year statute of limitations for bringing compensation claims in cases of coercive sterilisations and ensuring that any time limit starts from the time of discovery of the consequences of the sterilisation by the victim rather than the time of injury. Furthermore, the Committee recommended that the Czech Republic consider establishing an ex-gratia compensation procedure for victims of coercive sterilisation whose claims have lapsed.

Elena Gorolova, spokesperson for the Group of Women Harmed by Sterilisation, explained: "The Czech government said it will not compensate us, but never discussed why. Since we know other countries have compensated women who were sterilised without their consent, why won't the Czech Republic compensate us? The government gave no explanation, just a very clear 'no' to the idea of compensation."

Robert Kushen, ERRC Executive Director, stated: “The UN specifically asked the Czech Government to report back on implementation of its recommendations related to sterilisations within two years instead of the usual five. This clearly indicates how seriously the lack of justice for Romani women is being taken by the United Nations.”

The Committee was concerned about other issues facing Romani women and girls, including their vulnerability to become victims of trafficking, especially for purposes of forced prostitution and forced labour; and the disproportionately high number of Romani girls who drop out of or fail to attend school, especially in socially excluded areas, as well as the segregation of many Romani girls in schools for pupils with mild mental disabilities. In order to implement adequate policies to overcome the numerous barriers that Romani women face, the Committee called on the Czech Republic to collect disaggregated data on the situation of women facing multiple forms of discrimination such as Romani women.

The Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women are available here. The ERRC submissions are available here.

For more information, contact:
Sinan Gokcen, ERRC Media and Communications Officer, sinan.gokcen@errc.org, +36.30.500.1324

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