MINELRES: Actions to Challenge Women's Rights Abuses in the Czech Republic
Wed Aug 16 09:39:22 2006
Original sender: European Roma Rights Centre <firstname.lastname@example.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
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
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.
1) NGO Shadow Report to CEDAW:
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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