Legal Action at the European Court of Human Rights Challenges Racial Segregation in Primary Schools

21 July 2005

On December 15, 2004, The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) and the Croatian Helsinki Committee (CHC) jointly filed an application against Croatia with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg seeking justice on behalf of fifteen Romani children who have been subjected to racially segregated education in Croatia.

On April 19, 2002, the applicants filed a complaint against this practice with the Municipal Court in Čakovec. On September 26, 2002, however, the Court rejected the complaint. The decision was appealed but was again rejected. The applicants then filed a complaint with the Croatian Constitutional Court dated December 19, 2002, but no action was taken. In view of this situation and the absence of any effective remedy to date, the children have decided to seek justice from the European Court. They contend that:

1. their placement into separate classes for the Roma only constitutes "degrading treatment" in violation of Article 3 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (the Convention);
2. they have been denied right to education, in breach of Article 2 of Protocol 1 to the Convention;
3. they have suffered racial discrimination in the enjoyment of the right to education, in violation of Article 14 of the Convention;
4. the civil procedure they have initiated was fundamentally flawed and consequently they were denied fair trial as provided for in Article 6 of the Convention;
5. they have been denied an effective domestic remedy, in violation of Article 13.

In addition, the applicants have requested just compensation in accordance with Article 41 of the Convention. For more information regarding this case please visit the ERRC's website online at



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