Roma Denied Entry to Czech Discotheque
01 February 2006
According to a report by the Dzeno Association, on July 18, 2005, a Czech Romani couple was denied entrance to two discotheques, Alfa and Arena, in the city of Plzen, reportedly on racially discriminatory grounds. The refusals came during a situational testing exercise conducted by the Romani couple and a non-Romani couple, sponsored by the Czech daily newspaper Mladá Frontá Dnes and the Romani journal Romano Vodi.
As reported by Dzeno, a hidden camera used by reporters from MFDnes and Romano Vodi captured the owner of a disco in Plzen allowing the non-Romani couple to enter the club without problem, while moments later the Romani couple was refused entrance to the club, told by a doorman that the disco was full.
The Romani couple reportedly refused to leave so the doorman asked for their identification cards and told them that the disco had "issues" with "dark-skins" before again refusing them entry. The only difference between the two couples was their ethnicity: they had dressed alike, had university education and possessed equivalent language skills. The Romani couple reported the incident to the police, who arrived at the disco soon thereafter. According to Dzeno, the police claimed that they could not do anything because the club was on private property. However, when the video recording was later handed over to the Plzen Police Department, an investigation was opened into both the actions of the discotheque and the police who initially responded. MFDnes is reported to have confronted a co-owner of one of the discos and was informed, "I do not know what the guards said, but they do not have such instructions from us at all."
Testing is a technique employed to gather evidence of discrimination, which has been successfully used in court cases to prove discrimination has taken place in Czech Republic and other countries. A detailed description of how to conduct testing is available on the ERRC's website at: http://www.errc.org.