Madĕrová v Czech Republic (third party intervention, pending)
The applicant in the case is a Czech woman who was forcibly sterilised in 1982, during a caesarean section. In 2010, the applicant brought a civil case to claim damages for what she had suffered. She was unable to secure compensation for non-pecuniary damage, however, because she brought her case after the general three-year statute of limitations (which applies to all civil actions in the Czech Republic) had expired.
The ERRC’s Intervention
The ERRC was granted permission to submit a third-party intervention in the case.
The ERRC sought to demonstrate that the intersectional discrimination suffered by victims of forced sterilisation requires States to offer a specific remedy to compensate victims of this practice; treating forced sterilisation on an equal footing with other forms of ill-treatment, by requiring victims to use the ordinary legal remedies generally available to victims of ill-treatment, “would be turning a blind eye to the specific nature of acts that are particularly destructive of fundamental rights”. Šečić and others v Croatia (2007), § 67. The ERRC first provided an overview of the history of forced sterilisations of Romani women and others in Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic. The ERRC put a particular focus on the recent proposals for compensating victims of forced sterilisation which have been rejected by the Czech Government; the ERRC also provided details of the domestic case law and legislation which make it impossible for victims to claim compensation after the general three-year statute of limitations that applies to all civil cases has expired. The ERRC provided an overview of the special remedies that have been put in place in Austria, Germany, Sweden, and the United States (North Carolina and Virginia) to compensate victims of forced sterilisation; the ERRC also described the recent introduction of a decree in Peru providing comprehensive support, including free legal aid, to victims of forced sterilisation there. The ERRC saw these developments as evidence of an emerging international recognition of the need to provide victims of forced sterilisation with special remedies and support for claiming compensation. Finally, the ERRC provided an overview of the international materials demonstrating that forced sterilisation violates the rights protected under Articles 3 and 8 of the Convention and is a particularly serious form of discrimination. The ERRC concluded by describing forced sterilisation as a form of intersectional discrimination against women. The ERRC urged the Court to apply the notion of intersectional discrimination under Article 14 of the Convention and recognise the particular vulnerability of victims of forced sterilisation and their need for a separate remedy apart from the ordinary legal procedures open generally to victims of ill-treatment.
The statement of facts in the case (in French) can be found here.
The ERRC’s third-party intervention can be found here.