UN Body Urges Czech Republic to Discontinue Discriminatory Practises against Roma

In its Concluding Observations adopted on 27 July 2007, the United Nations Human Rights Committee expressed a number of concerns about the situation of Roma in the Czech Republic. Recommendations by the Committee follow its examination of the Czech government's State Report under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Committee criticised "the Czech Republic's restrictive interpretation of, and its failure to fulfil its obligation under the Optional Protocol and the Covenant itself, and the difficulties it had in implementing the Committee's Views."

The Committee stated its regret on the persistent reports of police misconduct, particularly against Roma and the failure to establish an independent body to investigate such cases. It also noted with concern that women of Romani and other origins had been subjected to sterilization without their consent and regretted the latitude that had been given to doctors. The Committee is also concerned that no compensation mechanism has been established and the victims have not received any reparation. In light of these of observations, the Committee called the on Czech government to ensure fully informed consent in all proposed cases of sterilisation and take the necessary measures to prevent involuntary or coercive sterilization in the future, including written consent forms printed in the Romani language and explanation of the nature of the proposed medical procedure by a person competent in the patient's language.

Furthermore, the Committee regretted that no anti-discrimination bill had been adopted and that discrimination against Roma continued to persist despite implementation of relevant programmes including in the areas of labor, access to employment, health care and education. The Committee also expressed concern at discrimination faced by Roma in access to housing, as well as the persistence of discriminatory evictions and the continued existence of de facto ghettos. In order to combat discrimination, the Committee recommended that the Czech government should take effective measures to combat discrimination by, inter alia, providing additional training to Roma to equip them for suitable employment and to promote employment opportunities, preventing unjustified evictions and ending all segregation of Romani communities in housing and conducting public information campaigns to overcome prejudice against Roma.

With regards to segregation in education, whilst acknowledging the elimination of the category of "special schools", the Committee stated its concern about "disproportionately large number of Roma children attend classes with distinct curricula, which appears to lack sensitivity for the cultural identity of, and specific difficulties faced by, Roma children." The Committee called on the government to assess the "specific educational needs of the Roma, taking account of their cultural identity, and develop programs aimed at ending the segregation of Roma in schools." The Committee also expressed its concern at reports that a disproportionately high number of Romani children are removed from their families and placed in social care institutions and asked the Czech State to further ensure that Romani children are not deprived of their right to family life.

The full text of the Committee's Concluding Observations is available HERE.

(ERRC)

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