Roma Rights 1, 2008: Roma Education: The Promise of D.H.

03 November 2008

On 13 November 2007, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights made a landmark decision advancing anti-discrimination jurisprudence in Europe, ruling that the segregation of Romani students in special remedial schools is a form of unlawful discrimination. This momentous decision for Roma across Europe was made in the case D.H. and Others v. the Czech Republic (also known as the "Ostrava Case").

The Court ruled that the disproportionate placement of Romani children in special remedial schools breaches Article 14 of the European Convention (prohibition of discrimination), taken together with Article 2 of Protocol No. 1 (right to education). The case was launched in 1998 by the European Roma Rights Centre on behalf of 18 Romani children from the industrial Czech city of Ostrava, the Czech Republic.

After nearly 10 years of legal struggle the European Court issued its judgment, which may potentially alter the lives of not just Roma, but all groups facing discrimination in Europe and beyond. This issue of Roma Rights , "Roma Education: The Promise of D.H.," outlines the immediate follow up advocacy on the implementation of the judgment and examines the anticipated impacts of this judgment. Furthermore, this edition aims to spark debate on how the D.H. case can be used to fuel the development of the Roma rights discourse and struggle in Europe.

This issue includes an address by Louise Arbour, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, on the importance of the judgment in consolidating international human rights legal standards on non-discrimination, followed by an NGO Communication to the Council of Europe's Committee on Ministers on implementation of the judgment. Thirdly, Katerina Hruba explores developments in the Czech government's response to the issue of segregated schooling of Romani children.

The future impact of this case is explored through a series of analytical articles. David Strupek provides a legal assessment of the judgment's potential impact on anti-discrimination law and litigation in the Czech Republic. Next, Lilla Farkas explores the short term impact of the judgment on strategic litigation in Europe. Finally, Larry Olomoofe writes about the social and political impacts of the judgment.


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