Child Protection Concerns in Czech Republic

According to a news article in the Prague Daily Monitor of 21 June 2007, a 2-year-old Romani boy died of dehydration in a hospital shortly after he was removed from his family home along with five siblings. The six children were reportedly removed from a single room apartment in the North Bohemian town of Ústí nad Labem where they lived with their family in conditions described by social workers as appalling. Electricity had only recently been introduced to the flat, and the one toilet had to be "evacuated" for repairs and disinfection. Social workers had made five visits to the home in the previous month.

The five remaining children were placed in a children's institution immediately. The Ústí nad Labem city hall spokesperson said that it was presently "impossible to consider returning the children" to the family. In November 2006, In the case Wallova and Walla v. Czech Republic, the European Court of Human Rights found that the Czech government had violated Article 8 (right to family life) of the European Convention for Human Rights for assigning children to state institutions on the sole basis that the family could not care adequately for their children (large family size and inability to find adequate housing) after child protection authorities contented themselves with merely observing the family's efforts to overcome the difficulties they faced. Czech organizations working on Romani issues have noted serious concerns related to the institutionalization of Romani children under such conditions in the country.

(ERRC, Prague Daily Monitor)

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