MINELRES: UN CERD Concerned about Discrimination against Roma in the Czech Republic

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Thu Mar 22 17:41:36 2007


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


The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination Urges the
Czech Republic to Give Effect to its Commitments to End Racial
Discrimination   

Budapest, Ostrava, March 20, 2007: The European Roma Rights Centre
(ERRC) and Life Together (Vzajemne Souziti) welcome the Concluding
Observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial
Discrimination (CERD) on the Czech Republic’s compliance with the
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial
Discrimination (ICERD). The Concluding Observations followed the review
of the Czech Republic’s sixth and seventh periodic reports under ICERD,
held on March 1-2, 2007. In the run-up to the Committee's review, the
ERRC and Life Together provided the Committee with detailed information
about patterns of discrimination against Roma in the Czech Republic. 

In its Concluding Observations, the CERD reiterated  concerns with
respect to the implementation of Czech government’s commitments under
the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
The Committee noted, among others,  that the Czech government has not
adopted a general anti-discrimination law to guarantee the right to
equal treatment and protection against discrimination; that confusion of
hate crime, genocide and class struggle in the Czech criminal
legislation "weakens the objective of fighting racial discirmination";
and that "action taken by the public authorities to prevent and
prosecute the organization of, and participation in, neo-Nazi concerts
is neither systematic nor sufficient".

The Committee expressed particular concern about the situation of Roma
in a number of areas: 

Coercive sterilisation: The Committee noted that "women, a high
proportion of whom being Roma women, have been subjected to coerced
sterilization" and that "sterilisations without the prior informed
consent of women are reported to have been carried out as late as 2004".
The Committee expressed concern at "the lack of sufficient and prompt
action of the Czech authorities to impede illegal performance of
coercive sterilisations after 1991 and to establish responsibilities and
provide reparation to the victims of coercive sterilisations". 
Segregation in Housing: The Committee reiterated its concern about
information according to which Roma people are particularly vulnerable
to evictions and segregation in housing. While noting the interest of
the State to support the construction of subsidised flats by
municipalities, the Committee expressed concern that "the autonomy of
municipalities under domestic law is described by the State as an
obstacle to the fulfilment of its obligation to ensure the enjoyment of
the right to housing by all without discrimination, in particular at the
local level." 

Segregation in Education: The Committee expressed concern that Roma
children suffer from racial segregation in the field of education.  It
stated that "special measures for the advancement of certain groups are
legitimate provided that they do not lead, in purpose or in practice, to
the segregation of communities". 
Institutional care: The Committee expressed deep concern that a
"disproportionately large number of Roma children are being removed from
their families and placed in State institutions or foster care". 

Furthermore, the Committee expressed concern with regard to
ill-treatment of Roma, and especially children, by police officers;
discrimination of Roma in employment; as well as prevailing negative
sentiments with respect to Roma. 

The CERD provided detailed recommendations for legislative and policy
measures to be undertaken by the Czech authorities to give effect to the
protection against discrimination and the principle of equal treatment,
especially with respect to Roma. In particular, the Committee urged the
Czech State:   

"…to adopt legislation providing for the prohibition of discrimination
based on colour, race, descent, national or ethnic origin, as defined in
article 1 of the Convention, as a general principle applicable in the
political, economic, social and cultural spheres or any other field of
public life";   

"…to ensure that a specific institution be mandated to promote and
monitor the right to equal treatment, to assist in bringing […] claims
including through legal aid, and to receive complaints of racial
discrimination in both the public and the private sectors";

"…to ensure that allegations of police ill-treatment and misconduct
towards persons belonging to minority groups, in particular the Roma,
are promptly and impartially investigated and prosecuted"; 

"..to ensure the rapid establishment of a new system or body independent
of the police and the Ministry of Interior";

"…to ensure that hate speech against the Roma, by public officials or
other persons, does not enjoy impunity";

"…to take strong action, without further delay, to acknowledge the harm
done to the victims [of coercive sterilisation], whether committed
before or after 1991, and recognize the particular situation of Roma
women in this regard" and "to take all necessary steps to facilitate
victims’ access to justice and reparation, including through the
establishment of criminal responsibilities and the creation of a fund to
assist victims in bringing their claims";

"…to adopt more effective strategies to promote the employment of Roma
in the public administration and institutions, as well as in private
companies, and to ensure that they are not discriminated against in the
enjoyment of their right to work";

"…to ensure that domestic legislation clearly prohibits racial
discrimination in the enjoyment of the right to housing, and protects
vulnerable persons, including Roma, from evictions… and that such
legislation should include measures providing the greatest possible
security for tenants and strictly enumerate the  circumstances under
which evictions may be carried out"; 

"…to assess the situation of the Roma in the field of education" and "to
develop effective programmes specifically aimed at putting an end to the
segregation of Roma in this area, and ensure that Roma children are not
deprived of their right to family life and to education of any type or
any level"; 

"…to review the methodological tools used to determine the cases in
which children are to be enrolled in special schools so as to avoid
indirect discrimination against Roma children on the basis of their
cultural identity".


The full report by the CERD can be viewed on the Internet at:
http://www.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cerd/docs/CERD.C.CZE.CO.7.pdf 

The full text of the ERRC/Life Together submission is available on the
ERRC's website in English: http://www.errc.org/cikk.php?cikk=2129 


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The European Roma Rights Centre is an international public interest law
organisation which monitors the rights of Roma and provides legal
defence in cases of human rights abuse. For more information about the
European Roma Rights Centre, visit the ERRC on the web at
http://www.errc.org 

European Roma Rights Centre
1386 Budapest 62
P.O. Box 906/93
Hungary
Tel: +36.1.413.2200
Fax:
+36.1.413.2201

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