Romani Victims of Coercive Sterilisation Still Denied Justice in the Czech Republic
11 October 2010
Geneva/Budapest, 11 October 2010: Today the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) reminded the UN that the Czech Republic continues to deny compensation to Romani women who are victims of coercive sterilisation, and has failed to take adequate steps to prevent coercive sterilisations from occurring in the future. The ERRC submitted a report on coercive sterilisation to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women at the Committee’s 47th session in Geneva.
It was pointed out by the Charter 77 civic initiative in one of their documents from 1978 that Romani women were routinely sterilised without their consent as a matter of government policy in the former Czechoslovakia in the 1970s. Although the policy is no longer in place, Romani women continued to be sterilised without their consent in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, with cases as recent as 2007. The first official recognition of the Czech State’s role in the coercive sterilisation of Romani women occurred in December 2005 by the Public Defender of Rights (Ombudsman). In 2009, the Czech Prime Minister expressed regret for the practice. However the Czech Government has taken no significant steps to provide compensation to those affected.
In its written statement to the Committee, the ERRC raises concern about coercive sterilisation cases from between 1989 and 2007 which it has documented. Most victims of this practice lack an effective remedy as they discovered that they have been sterilised years after the fact and sought legal assistance at a time when any claim against the perpetrators or the State has become time barred. Moreover, the law on informed consent has not been changed to ensure that such situations do not occur in the future.
Robert Kushen, ERRC Executive Director, stated: “The Czech Government needs to overcome the existing barriers to accessing justice experienced by sterilised Romani women and establish a mechanism which would ensure that all women affected by this abhorrent practice are compensated. The Czech Government has the opportunity to provide much needed leadership to other countries where Romani women have been coercively sterilised”.
For more information, contact:
ERRC Media and Communications Officer