MINELRES: ERRC Welcomes European Court Judgment on Segregated Education of Roma in Greece

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Fri Jun 6 15:57:41 2008

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

ERRC Welcomes European Court Judgment on Segregated Education of Roma in

ECHR Confirms that Segregated Education of Roma is Illegal

5 June 2008, Budapest: The ERRC welcomes a judgment issued today by the
European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in the case of Sampanis and
Others v. Greece (application no. 32526/05). The applicants, of Romani
ethnic origin and residing in a settlement located in the “Psari” area
of Aspropyrgos, Attica, were represented by Greek Helsinki Monitor
(GHM), an Athens-based NGO. Their claims concerned the refusal of
education authorities to enroll their children in the local primary
school during the school year 2004-2005 and their subsequent placement
in an annex to the local primary school, attended only by Roma, located
five kilometres from the primary school. 

This judgment, adopted unanimously, comes in the wake of the D.H. and
Others v. The Czech Republic judgment by the Grand Chamber, a case
brought by the ERRC, and draws further attention to the issue of the
education afforded to Romani children. Today’s judgment constitutes the
most conclusive proof of the Court’s statement in the D.H. and Others
judgment that “[…] the Czech Republic is not alone in having encountered
difficulties in providing schooling for Roma children: other European
States have had similar difficulties” (paragraph 205). 

The Court found a violation of Article 14 (prohibition of
discrimination) of the European Convention on Human Rights, in
conjunction with Article 2 (right to education) of Protocol 1, regarding
the applicants’ claims that their children were placed in a segregated
school following a short period of time when they attended classes at
the local primary school, due to the reaction of local non-Romani
parents who did not want their children to attend the same school with
Romani children and had in fact staged numerous protests, including
preventing their children from attending school. The Court held that it
was necessary to take into account these “incidents of a racist
character” that had taken place and concluded that these events had an
impact on the authorities’ decision to send the Romani children to the
segregated annex school housed in prefabricated containers. 

Considering domestic legislation and the vulnerable position of Roma in
Greece which may require special measures to ensure the full enjoyment
of their rights, the Court held that the failure of the state
authorities to enroll the Romani children during the school year
2004-2005 was attributed to them and hence their responsibility was

Regarding the segregated school environment, the Court emphasised that
the placement of the Romani pupils in the annex school was not the
result of special and adequate testing; it emphasised the need to put in
place an adequate system of assessment for children facing educational
challenges which ensures the avoidance of ethnic minority children being
placed in special preparatory classes based on discriminatory criteria. 

Lastly, the Court reiterated principles espoused in the D.H and Others
judgment regarding un-informed consent, and noted that one of the
applicants had explicitly stated that he had effectively to choose
between sending his children to the local primary school and
jeopardising their physical integrity at the hands of “indignant”
non-Romani persons and sending them to the “ghetto school”. 

The ERRC welcomes this judgment, which reinforces the position stemming
from the D.H. and Others case that the segregation of Romani children in
inferior schools and classes is illegal and that European governments
must take responsibility for this. 

The full text of the judgment is available in French on the Court’s
website at: 


Information on D.H. and Others v The Czech Republic is available on the
ERRC website at: http://www.errc.org/cikk.php?cikk=2945.

The European Roma Rights Centre is an international public interest law
organisation which monitors the human rights situation 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 

To support the ERRC, please visit this link:

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

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