ERRC Welcomes Concluding Observations of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child on the Czech Republic

The European Roma Rights Center (ERRC), an international public interest law organisation which monitors the situation of Roma in Europe and provides legal defense in cases of human rights abuse, welcomes the Concluding Observations of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child on the Czech Republic' compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

In its Concluding Observations released at the end of its 32nd Session, the Committee expresses its regret that some of its recommendations in the previous concluding observations, including the "development of awareness raising campaigns aimed at reducing discriminatory practices against the Roma population", have been insufficiently addressed. In particular, the Committee reiterates concerns expressed by the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Human Rights Committee in noting that it "remains concerned at the persistence of de facto discrimination against minorities, in particular the Roma and other vulnerable groups". The Committee "recommends that the State party continue and strengthen its legislative efforts to fully integrate the right to non-discrimination (article 2 of the Convention) in all relevant legislation concerning children and that this right is effectively applied in all political, judicial and administrative decisions and in projects, programmes and services which have an impact on all children, including non-citizen children and children belonging to minority groups, such as the Roma."

As regards violence and abuse directed against children, the Committee is concerned that "certain groups of children, such as Roma, are specifically targeted, and that a very small portion of reported cases of suspicion of abuse and neglect are investigated", and recommends that the State party address these problems by "enacting legislation to adequately protect minorities from racially motivated attacks" and "ensuring that allegations of ill-treatment by the police and police misconduct are promptly, thoroughly and impartially investigated by an independent authority and that those responsible are identified and brought before a competent tribunal that will apply sanctions provided for by the law", as well as by "implementing training programs to promote respect for children belonging to minority groups, in particular Roma children".

As regards the right to education, the Committee is concerned that "Roma children continue to be over-represented in so-called 'special schools'" and that "the implementation of the reform of the education system remains insufficient". The Committee recommends that "good quality education" should be made available and accessible, to "all children in the State party, giving particular attention to children in rural communities, children from Roma and other minorities". Moreover, the Committee recommends that the State party "avoid as much as possible that children of Roma origin or other children belonging to disadvantaged groups" being assigned to "special schools". Finally, the Committee encourages the State party to "develop curriculum resources for all schools, including in relation to Roma history and culture, in order to promote understanding, tolerance and respect of Roma in Czech society."

The Committee is also concerned about "the negative attitudes and prejudices among the general public, media representations, incidents of police brutality, and discriminatory behaviours on the part of some persons working with and for children, including teachers and doctors." The Committee recommends that the State party "initiate campaigns - aimed at addressing negative attitudes towards Roma - in particular among authorities such as the police, and professionals providing health care, education and other social services", and also develop and implement "a strategy for the improvement of access to primary health care, education and social welfare services, in cooperation with Roma NGO partners, and targeting the whole Roma child population."

The full text of the Committee's Concluding Observations is available HERE

In preparation for the Committee's review of the Czech Republic's compliance with the Convention, on January 24, 2003, the ERRC submitted a letter of concern focusing on discrimination against Romani children and their de facto segregation in the so-called "special schools" for the mildly mentally disabled. The full text of the ERRC letter of concern is available at: ERRC: International Avocacy.

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