MINELRES: Coercive Sterilisation of Romani Women in the Czech Republic: Groundbreaking Document Recognises "Problem" and Calls for Far-Reaching Changes to Law, Policy and Society

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Wed Jan 11 10:50:45 2006

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

Groundbreaking Document Recognises "Problem" and Calls for Far-Reaching Changes 
to Law, Policy and Society

Brno, Prague, Budapest, Ostrava, 11 January 2006. Civil society organisations 
today welcomed a report published by the Czech Public Defender of Rights 
("Ombudsman") on investigations into allegations of the coercive sterilisation 
of Romani women in the Czech Republic.

The report is the result of more than a year of research by the Ombudsman and 
his staff, on the basis of complaints brought by 87 women. It followed 
discussions between the Ombudsman and the European Roma Rights Centre 
(Budapest), the League of Human Rights (Prague/Brno), Life Together (Ostrava) 
and the Group of Women Harmed by Sterilisation (Ostrava). The report was 
finalised on 23 December 2005, and has been made public this week.

The report concludes that "The Ombudsman is convinced that in the Czech 
Republic, the problem of sexual sterilization -- carried out either with 
unacceptable motivation or illegally -- exists, and that Czech society stands 
before the task of coming to grips with this reality." Measures undertaken by 
the Czech Ministry of Health are seen as to date grossly inadequate.

Three areas of recommendations are brought by the Ombudsman:
1) Changes to Czech domestic law to better anchor the principle of informed 
consent in these areas;
2) Supplementary measures to ensure a change of culture with regard to informed 
consent in the medical community, as well as among users;
3) A simplified procedure for compensation to victims, where social workers 
have been involved in implementing coercive sterilisation policy.

Pages 25-59 (i.e., approximately 1/3 of the report in total) 
concern "Sterilization and the Romani Community" and reach the conclusion of 
racial targeting. Case summaries included in the report highlight events in 
which, for example, the medical files reveal that social workers and doctors 
recommended caesarean section births in order to manufacture "indicators" 
through which sterilisation would appear legitimate and necessary.

The text of the report also includes detailed summaries of Czechoslovak state 
policies toward Roma in the 1970s and 1980s, in which social workers were 
enlisted in the task of controlling the Romani birth-rate -- regarded as too 
high by policy-makers -- and creating a culture of invasive control over Romani 
families which endures to today. The report also includes a separate section on 
the history of eugenics in Czechoslovakia, which the report's authors evidently 
regard as key for the policies and practices detailed in the report.

The report is not yet available in English, but the original Czech version can 
be downloaded at: http://www.ochrance.cz/documents/doc1135861291.pdf

Further information is available at: http://www.errc.org/cikk.php?cikk=2228

Michaela Tomisova (legal representative of the victims): ++ 420 73 795 13 23
Kumar Vishwanathan, (Life Together): ++ 420 77 77 60 191
Jiri Kopal (League of Human Rights): ++ 420 60 87 19 535
Claude Cahn (ERRC): ++ 36 20 98 36 445


The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) is an international public interest law 
organization 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. For more information about the European Roma Rights Centre, visit 
the ERRC website at http://www.errc.org.

European Roma Rights Centre
1386 Budapest 62
P.O. Box 906/93
Tel.: ++ (36 1) 413 2200
Fax: ++ (36 1) 413 2201
E-mail: office@errc.org

The League of Human Rights is a non-governmental organisation providing free 
legal and psychological assistance to victims of gross human rights violations, 
in particular to members of the Roma minority, victims of domestic violence and 
children. Its mission is to create a future in which the Czech state actively 
protects the human rights of its citizenry and respects both the spirit and the 
letter of the international human rights conventions to which it is signatory.

League of Human Rights
Bratislavska 31
602 00 Brno
Czech Republic
Tel.: + 420 545 210 446
Fax: + 420 545 240 012

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 co-operation.

Life Together
30. Dubna 3
Ostrava 70200
Czech Republic
Tel: ++ 420 77 77 60 191

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