Czech Republic's Failure to Collect Data on Romani Children in State Care Ruled a Violation of European Social Charter

29 May 2024

Brussels, Prague 29 May 2024: The European Committee of Social Rights has issued a landmark ruling against the Czech Republic, acknowledging that the lack of sufficient data collection on the overrepresentation of Romani children in the country’s state care constitutes indirect discrimination. This binding ruling is the outcome of a complaint jointly filed by the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) and the Forum for Human Rights (FORUM) in early 2020. 

"The ruling sends a clear message – governments can no longer hide behind the excuse of not collecting ethnic data to conceal their discriminatory practices against Romani communities. The decision emphasises the crucial role of ethnic data in shaping impactful policies, echoing concerns raised by respected international bodies like ECRI, the Commissioner for Human Rights, and the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child" said ERRC Legal Director, Senada Sali.

“The European Committee's decision provides an opportunity to unify the practice of collecting ethnic data and to create a sensitive and transparent method for assessing exactly where and to what extent discrimination against Roma is occurring. This decision will make available data that can help reveal the structural nature of discrimination and antigypsyism” said Maroš Matiaško, Senior Legal Counsel at FORUM.

The complaint argued that the Czech Republic failed in its duty to ensure the implementation of effective policies, notably data collection and assessment that would mitigate the disproportionately high number of Romani children and infants being institutionalised. The argumentation of the complaint relates to breaches of Articles 16 (the right of the family to social, legal and economic protection) and Article 17 (the right of mothers and children to social and economic protection) of the 1961 Charter read alone and in the light of the non-discrimination principle contained in the preamble of the 1961 Charter.

The Committee found that the Czech Republic failed to address the overrepresentation of Roma children in state care effectively, lacking ethnic data and alternative assessment methods. This omission likely leads to indirect discrimination against Roma children. Consequently, the Committee identified violations of both Article 17 and Article 16 of the 1961 Charter, alongside the Charter's non-discrimination principle.

The ruling underscores the urgent need for the Czech Republic to rectify its failure to protect the rights of Romani children and families. As a signatory and ratifier of the European Social Charter and its Optional Protocol, the Czech Republic is bound to comply with this decision. The corrective measures are collective, focusing on policy-level changes rather than individual reparations. The Czech Republic must demonstrate that it has addressed its lack of ethnic data collection on children in state care by collecting such data or using alternative methods.

The Committee underscored that while states have some discretion in choosing methods to assess and address the issue, the collection and analysis of ethnic data is an "indispensable" tool for creating adequate policies.

This press release is also available in Czech.

For further information or to arrange an interview, contact:

Jonathan Lee (in English)
Advocacy & Communications Manager
European Roma Rights Centre 
 +32 49 288 7679

Maroš Matiaško (in Czech)
Senior Legal Counsel
Forum for Human Rights
+42 06 08 130 205



Challenge discrimination, promote equality


Receive our public announcements Receive our Roma Rights Journal


The latest Roma Rights news and content online

join us

Find out how you can join or support our activities