UN Presses Czech Republic on Coercive Sterilisation of Romani Women
4 September 2006
Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women Recommends Urgent Government Action to End Coercive Sterilisation, Including Changes to Law and Remedy to Victims
Budapest, Prague, 1 September 2006. The organisations European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC), League of Human Rights, and Life Together today welcomed the Concluding Comments of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) on the Czech Republic's compliance with international law in the area of banning discrimination against women, issued on 25 August 2006. The comments followed the Committee's review of the Czech Republic at its 36th session, held in August.
In its Comments, the Committee commended the Czech government for several aspects of its work to combat discrimination against women. However, it expressed serious concerns in a number of areas, including on the problem of coercive sterilisation of Romani women by Czech doctors.
On these matters, the Committee stated: "The Committee is particularly concerned about the report, of December 2005, by the Ombudsman (Public Defender) regarding uninformed and involuntary sterilization of Roma women and the lack of urgent Government action to implement the recommendations contained in the Ombudsman's report and to adopt legislative changes on informed consent to sterilization as well as to provide justice for victims of such acts undertaken without consent."
The Committee urged the Czech government to "take urgent action to implement the recommendations of the Ombudsman/Public Defender with regard to involuntary or coercive sterilization, and adopt without delay legislative changes with regard to sterilization."
The Committee further told the government that it should "provide ongoing and mandatory training of medical professionals and social workers on patients' rights" and "elaborate measures of compensation to victims of involuntary or coercive sterilization" and "provide redress to Roma women victims of involuntary or coercive sterilization and prevent further involuntary or coercive sterilizations."
Finally, the Committee requested that the Czech government "report on the situation of Roma women pertaining to issue of coercive or involuntary sterilization, in its next periodic report, including a detailed assessment of the impact of measures taken and results achieved".
The Committee also commented at length on the problems of multiple discrimination against Romani women in various sectoral fields, as well as on the inadequacy of Czech law banning discrimination. The Committee also issued a number of recommendations in these and other areas.
In the run-up to the CEDAW review, NGO partners provided detailed documentation to the UN CEDAW Committee in the form of an NGO Shadow Report by the League of Human Rights, European Roma Rights Centre, and Gender Studies. The report addresses a number of categories of serious human rights abuses of women, including extreme forms of abuse such as domestic violence and coercive sterilization, as well as very problematic law, policy, and practice in a number of areas of relevance to the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. The NGO Shadow Report is available at:
The Czech Ombudsman's report on the coercive sterilization of Romani women is available at: http://www.ochrance.cz/en/dokumenty/dokument.php?doc=400
Gwendolyn Albert, Director, League of Human Rights, firstname.lastname@example.org, + 420 777 621 227
Ostalinda Maya Ovalle, Women's Rights Officer, European Roma Rights Centre, email@example.com, +36 1 41 32 200, + 36 70 60 258 31
Kumar Vishwanathan, Director, Life Together, firstname.lastname@example.org, +420 77 77 601 91
The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) is an international public interest law organization engaging in a range of activities aimed at combating anti-Romani racism and human rights abuse of Roma, in particular strategic litigation, international advocacy, research and policy development, and training of Romani activists. For more information about the European Roma Rights Centre, visit the ERRC website at http://www.errc.org.
European Roma Rights Centre
1386 Budapest 62
P.O. Box 906/93
Tel.: ++ (36 1) 413 2200
Fax: ++ (36 1) 413 2201
The League of Human Rights is a non-governmental organisation providing free legal and psychological assistance to victims of gross human rights violations, in particular to members of the Roma minority, victims of domestic violence and children. Its mission is to create a future in which the Czech state actively protects the human rights of its citizenry and respects both the spirit and the letter of the international human rights conventions to which it is signatory.
League of Human Rights
Na Rybníčku 16
120 00, Praha 2
tel: +420 224 816 765
fax +420 224 941 092
Life Together is a Czech Romani organisation fighting social exclusion and marginalisation in the Ostrava region of the Czech Republic, as well as strengthening Czech-Roma mutual confidence and co-operation.
30. Dubna 3
Tel: ++ 420 77 77 60 191