NGOs Welcome Czech Republic Recommendation on Forced Sterilisations

06 March 2012

Ostrava, Budapest, 6 March 2012: The European Roma Rights Centre, the Group of Women Harmed by Forced Sterilization and Life Together sent a letter today to welcome the Czech Government’s Human Rights Council recommendation to compensate forcibly sterilised women.

The NGOs are calling on Czech authorities to grant compensation to all potential victims of unlawful sterilisation in the Czech Republic, irrespective of their age, ethnicity, nationality or the particular period when they were sterilised. A robust compensation mechanism from the Czech Republic could be a benchmark of good practice for other countries in the region, such as Hungary and Slovakia, which also have a history of carrying out forced sterilisations.

On 17 February 2012, the Council passed a decision urging the Czech Government to introduce a compensation mechanism for victims of involuntary sterilisation. It proposes that women who were subjected to forced sterilisations between January 1972 and May 1991 be entitled to compensation. Women who were sterilised illegally after 1991 would also be entitled to compensation if they were unable to sue in civil court before the three-year statute of limitations expired.

The ERRC first raised the issue of forced sterilisations, particularly of Roma women, in 2003. Since then, the Human Rights Council has discussed three motions on the issue. This is the first time it has made comprehensive and detailed recommendations to the government. The issue of forced sterilisation has not gone away in recent years: the ERRC has documented 27 cases which took place between 1989 and 2007.

The Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer officially expressed regret for involuntary sterilisation cases in 2009. However there was no further official response from the government. In November 2011, the ERRC and others - the Group of Women Harmed by Forced Sterilization, Life Together, and the League for Human Rights - expressed their concerned about the Czech government’s unwillingness to implement effective measures providing victims adequate compensation.  

The Council’s recommendation is a positive step, and the Czech government now has an opportunity to provide redress to women who were sterilised without consent. It should immediately take measures to address the issues. 

For more information:

Sinan Gökcen
Media and Communications Officer
European Roma Rights Centre

Elena Gorolová,
Group of Women Harmed by Forced Sterilization
+420 775 761 194 (Czech only)

Kumar Vishwanathan
Life Together
+420 777 70 191


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