MINELRES: Strasbourg Court continues to enforce the prohibition of educational segregation of Roma children

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Sat Jun 7 18:58:04 2008

Original sender: Equal Rights Trust

European Court of Human Rights finds discrimination of Roma children in
Greek education system  
London, 6 June 2008  
On 5 June 2008, the European Court of Human Rights handed down the
judgement in the case of Sampanis and Others v. Greece (application no.
32526/05). Represented by the Greek Helsinki Monitor, 11 Greek nationals
of Roma origin claimed discrimination in violation of Article 14
(prohibition of discrimination) in conjunction with Article 2 of
Protocol No. 1 (right to education) and of Article 13 (right to an
effective remedy) in respect of the treatment of their children by the
educational authorities in Aspropyrgos, Greece. 

The applicants were refused permission to enrol their children in local
primary schools on 21 September 2004, which meant their children missed
the school year 2004 - 2005. Subsequently, from the first day of school
for the year 2005 – 2006, the applicants’ children faced protests,
requiring police intervention, from parents of the non-Roma children who
blockaded the school. From 31 October 2005, the local educational
authorities placed the Roma children in an annexe building, located five
kilometres from the primary school, especially established for the Roma
children to prepare them for integration into the primary school.       

Finding a violation of Article 14 in conjunction with Article 2 of
Protocol No. 1 and of Article 13, the Court applied the jurisprudence
established in D.H. and Others v. the Czech Republic at a number of
points in the judgment – for example, in regards to the presumption of
discrimination and the principle that a prima facie case of
discrimination is capable of triggering a shift of the burden of

The Court opined that the competent authorities had not adopted a
single, clear criterion in choosing which children to place in the
preparatory classes. Furthermore, the Government had not shown that any
suitable tests were ever given to the children concerned in order to
assess their capacities or potential learning difficulties. 

The judgement confirmed the Court’s position that the state duty, under
Article 2 of Protocol 1, to provide equal access to education, includes
an obligation to adequately assess the learning needs of all children,
including children belonging to disadvantaged ethnic minority
communities. This judgement also confirms that discriminatory treatment
of Roma children, namely their educational segregation on the basis of
assumed learning needs, is a pernicious phenomenon that cannot be

This judgment is an important step which strengthens Article 14
jurisprudence established in D.H. and Others v. the Czech Republic. The
judgement represents another victory for combating discriminatory
educational practices and affirms the equal rights of all to receive an
education on an equal basis with others. 

To see the ERT case summary, click here:

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