UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination Reviews Slovakia

Following the end of its 65th Session, on August 24, 2004, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) made public an advanced copy of its Concluding Observations regarding Slovakia's compliance with the provisions of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD). The Committee's Concluding Observations were almost entirely devoted to discrimination against Roma in the country. The following is a non-exhaustive listing of the Committee's comments:

"8. While the Committee welcomes the extensive measures adopted by the State party in the field of education aimed at improving the situation of Roma children, including the "Roma assistants" project, it continues to express concern at de facto segregation of Roma children in special schools, including special remedial classes for mentally disabled children.

The Committee recommends that the State party prevent and avoid the segregation of Roma children, while keeping open the possibility of bilingual or mother-tongue tuition. The Committee further recommends that the State party intensify its efforts to raise the level of achievement in schools by Roma children, to recruit further school personnel from among members of Roma communities and to promote intercultural education.

9. While the Committee recognizes the efforts made in the field of employment - including the recent adoption of the amended Labour Code prohibiting discrimination in its Section 13 - it is alarmed by de facto discrimination against Roma as well as by the very high rate of unemployment among members of the Roma community.

The Committee recommends that the legislation prohibiting discrimination in employment and all discriminatory practices in the labour market be fully implemented in practice and that further measures be taken, particularly by focusing on professional training, to reduce unemployment among the Roma community.

10. While the Committee notes the "comprehensive Roma settlements development programme" as well as the "programme of support for the construction of communal rental housing of a different standard", it expresses concern about the isolation of the Roma community in ghetto-like neighbourhoods and their critical situation in respect of housing conditions, especially in the Eastern part of the country, where the Roma community is mostly concentrated.

In light of its recommendation 27, the Committee recommends that the State party effectively implement policies and projects aimed at avoiding segregation of Roma communities in housing and involve Roma communities and associations as partners in housing construction, rehabilitation and maintenance projects. […]

11. The Committee is alarmed by the critical health situation of some Roma communities, which is largely a consequence of their poor and inadequate living conditions.

The Committee recommends that the State party continue to implement programmes and projects in the field of health for Roma, bearing in mind their disadvantaged situation due to extreme poverty and low level of education; to this end, the Committee encourages the State party to take further measures to address the issues of drinking water supplies and sewage disposal systems in Roma settlements.

12. The Committee is concerned about reports of cases of sterilization of Roma women without their full and informed consent. In this respect, the Committee welcomes the assurances given by the delegation that a draft Law on healthcare that would address shortcomings in the system by specifying the requirement of free and informed consent for medical acts as well as by guaranteeing patient's access to medical files, has been approved by the Government and should be shortly adopted by the Parliament.

The Committee strongly recommends that the State party take all necessary measures to put an end to this regrettable practice, including the speedy adoption of the abovementioned draft Law on healthcare. The State party should also ensure that just and effective remedies, including compensation and apology, are granted to the victims."

The full text of the Committee’s Concluding Observations are available on the Internet at: http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/CERD.C.65.CO.7.En?Opendocument

ERRC comments on Slovakia’s compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, provided to the Committee in advance of its review, are available at: http://www.errc.org/cikk.php?cikk=1999.

(ERRC)

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