MINELRES: Actions to Challenge Women's Rights Abuses in the Czech Republic

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Wed Aug 16 09:39:22 2006

Original sender: European Roma Rights Centre <errc@errc.org>

US Government, United Nations to Hear Testimony

Budapest, Brno, New York, Ostrava, Washington DC August 15, 2006. 
Three important human rights events will take place this week on the 
issue of coercive sterilization of Romani women:

* Today, expert testimony on problem of coercive sterilization of 
Romani women in the Czech Republic will be heard by the US Helsinki 
Commission, the US government's premiere human rights watchdog agency.
* During review of the Czech Republic's compliance with international 
human rights law, human rights experts and victims of extreme abuses, 
will testify before the United Nations women's rights committee 
(CEDAW) on 17 August.
* Also 17 August a public event will be held in Ostrava, Czech 
Republic, to protest the continuing failure by Czech authorities to 
provide due legal remedy to victims of coercive sterilization.

These events aim to draw attention to the continuing failure by Czech 
policy- and lawmakers to ensure that women in the Czech Republic are 
protected from extreme harms such as violence at the hands of family 
members and coercive sterilization.

In the run-up to these events, NGO partners have provided detailed 
documentation to the UN CEDAW Committee in the form of an NGO Shadow 
Report by the League of Human Rights, European Roma Rights Centre, 
and Gender Studies. The report addresses a number of categories of 
serious human rights abuses of women, including extreme forms of 
abuse such as domestic violence and coercive sterilization, as well 
as very problematic law, policy, and practice in a number of areas of 
relevance to the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of 
Discrimination Against Women. The NGO Shadow Report is available at:

* http://www.errc.org/cikk.php?cikk=2136 AND

The Shadow Report comes to the conclusion that "legal protection 
against discrimination remains insufficient in the Czech Republic" 
and notes that women in the Czech Republic remain vulnerable to 
extreme forms of human rights abuse. The relevant state bodies have 
failed to adequately address the issue of coercive sterilization by 
introducing a compensation mechanism for the victims. As a result, 
nearly all of the hundreds of victims of this practice have to date 
been denied due remedy.

Testifying at the CEDAW Committee session will be:
* Gwendolyn Albert, Director of the League of Human Rights and 
representing at the CEDAW session the League of Human Rights and the 
European Roma Rights Centre;
* Elena Gorolova of the victim initiative "Women Harmed by Coercive 
Sterilization" and herself a victim of these practices;
* Alena Kralikova of the Prague-based NGO Gender Studies.

Victims of coercive sterilizations have also organised a peaceful 
meeting to raise awareness about the issue in front of the Fifejdy 
hospital in the city of Ostrava on August 17, the same day the NGO 
Shadow Report will be presented to the United Nations.

Other issues detailed in the NGO shadow report include:
* The failure to date by Czech Parliament to adopt a comprehensive 
anti-discrimination law, to give domestic law effect to the rights 
guaranteed in the CEDAW Convention.
* The need to improve the justice system's response to domestic

Contact Information

For Romani womens rights issues in the Czech Republic:
* Gwendolyn Albert, Director, League of Human Rights
Tel in US: + 1 860 538 8137
Tel in Europe: + 420 777 621 227

* Ostalinda Maya Ovalle, Women's Rights Officer, European Roma Rights
Tels: +36 1 41 32 200, + 36 70 60 258 31

* Michaela Kopalova, League/ERRC lawyer representing sterilization
Tel: +420 545 210 446

* Madla Cechova, League domestic violence coordinator
Tel: + 420 545 245 996

For the meeting in Ostrava:
* Life Together, Lucie DiAndrea
Tel.: + 420 596 130 716, + 420 775 761 191

Note for editors

The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of 
Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW Convention) is the primary 
international law mechanism setting out states obligations to end 
discrimination against women. The CEDAW Convention can be downloaded 
here: http://www.ohchr.org/english/law/cedaw.htm

The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination 
Against Women (CEDAW Committee) is the premiere women's rights review 
body in the world, and the arbiter of matters under the CEDAW 
Convention. UN CEDAW Committee periodically reviews States' 
compliance with the CEDAW Convention. It will review the Czech 
Republic's compliance with the CEDAW Convention on August 17. 
Information on the UN CEDAW Committee is available at: 

The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as 
the U.S. Helsinki Commission, is an independent agency of the U.S. 
Government charged with monitoring compliance with the Helsinki Final 
Act and other commitments of the 56 participating States in the 
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). 

The League of Human Rights is a nongovernmental organisation 
providing legal aid to victims of human rights violations, 
particularly to those who are members of groups most at risk of such 
violations. More at www.llp.cz.

Life Together is a Czech Romani organisation fighting social 
exclusion and marginalisation in the Ostrava region of the Czech 
Republic, as well as strengthening Czech-Roma mutual confidence and 

The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) is an international public 
interest law organisation engaging in a range of activities aimed at 
combating anti-Romani racism and human rights abuse of Roma, in 
particular strategic litigation, international advocacy, research and 
policy development, and training of Romani activists. Information 
about the European Roma Rights Centre is available at www.errc.org.

Gender Studies (GS) is a non-governmental non-profit organisation 
performing the function of an information, consultation, and 
education centre on relations between women and men and their 
positions in society. The goal of the organisation is to gather, 
analyze, work with and disseminate further information related to 
gender-relevant issues. More at www.en.genderstudies.cz.

Useful links

1) NGO Shadow Report to CEDAW:
* http://www.errc.org/cikk.php?cikk=2136

2) Czech Ombudsman's report on sterilizations: 

3) Sterilization cases handled by the League of Human Rights: 

4) Further information on coercive sterilization of Romani women: 

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