ERRC Executive Director Robert Kushen on Implementation of Judgments

ERRC Executive Director Robert Kushen on Implementation of Judgments

 

The morning after a court victory I am often left wondering what we, at the European Roma Rights Centre, have won. For the people we represent, court victories can be at best symbolic: they may receive a little bit of money, but this hardly begins to compensate them for the damage that they’ve actually suffered. Take the case of D.H. v The Czech Republic, which involved the illegal segregation of Romani children in special education. In that case, each of our clients was awarded about 4,000 EUR. But how does this compare to being labelled, falsely, with a disability, denied education and relegated to a lifetime of menial jobs, if indeed any jobs are available to them at all?

For the broader human rights agenda, court victories can also seem hollow. Almost 50% of the European Court judgments against Bulgaria in the area of police abuse have not been fully implemented. The governments of Greece and the Czech Republic have failed to desegregate their school systems, despite court orders to do so.

Given this poor track record, what can we as advocates do? To some extent, we can do more of the same: we can monitor State implementation; we can advocate before Europe institutions and friendly governments; and we can work with local NGOs to assist States in implementation. This is already happening in the Czech Republic, where the ERRC is working with a coalition called Together to School to press the Czech government to desegregate the school system.

The morning after a European Court judgment is when real work begins and it is groups on the ground with their local knowledge and persistence that can get the job done. We cannot do it alone.

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