Joint Action by Human Rights Groups on Roma Rights in the Czech Republic

13 July 2007

Organisations Urge UN Human Rights Committee to Act on Human Rights Abuses of Czech Roma

Today the UN Human Rights Committee (UN HRC) hears from civil society organisations on the human rights situation of Roma in the Czech Republic. The UN HRC is reviewing the Czech Republic's compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

A group of organisations working directly on these issues – the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions, the European Roma Rights Centre, Life Together and the Peacework Development Fund -- today presented a joint submission and provided oral testimony to the UN HRC. In this submission the organisations urge the UN HRC to act firmly on ongoing, flagrant human rights abuses of Romani communities in the Czech Republic.

Issues raised include the coercive sterilisation of Romani women, an extreme form of harm under the ICCPR. Romani women have been subjected to coercive sterilisation in Czech hospitals for decades and as recently as 2004. To date there has been no adequate remedy provided to victims of this systemic practice.

Roma also face life-threatening violence in the Czech Republic. Anti-Romani hate speech is also a regular part of public discourse in the Czech Republic.

The major part of the material provided to the Committee involves racial discrimination against Roma. International law requires the Czech government to bring discrimination to an end. Despite this obligation, the Czech legislature has yet to adopt a comprehensive anti-discrimination law. Roma in the Czech Republic are subjected to systemic discrimination in education, employment, housing, and in social services linked to child protection, as well as in a number of other sectoral fields. There is near-total impunity for racial discrimination against Roma in the Czech Republic. Czech officials not only tolerate the extreme, systemic exclusion of the Roma from all areas of life, in some cases they actively promote it. The evidence indicates a system-wide failure in the Czech Republic to ensure equal rights for the Roma in administrative and judicial matters, and raises concerns as to whether all persons in the Czech Republic enjoy adequate recognition before the law.

The full text of the joint submission, as well as an Appendix of photographs related to the October 2006 collective expulsion of Roma from the municipality of Vsetin, is at:

The United Nations Human Rights Committee reviews States’ compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). During July 2007, the Human Rights Committee will review the Czech government’s second periodic report on implementation of the ICCPR in the Czech Republic. In the context of this review, civil society organisations have provided supplementary information for use by the Committee.

They are:

The Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE)
The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC)
The civic association Vzájemné Soužití (Life Together)
The Peacework Development Fund

Gwendolyn Albert (Peacework):, (420 ) 774 895 444
Claude Cahn (COHRE):, (41 76) 203 46 88
Ostalinda Maya Ovalle (ERRC):, (36 ) 141 322 00
Kumar Vishwanathan (Life Together):, (420 77) 776 01 91


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