MINELRES: European Committee Rules Bulgaria is Violating the Right to Health Care for Roma People

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Sat Apr 25 09:49:41 2009

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

European Committee Rules Bulgaria is Violating the Right to Health Care
for Roma People 

Strasbourg, France, 18 April 2009: In a ruling released today, the
European Committee of Social Rights found that Bulgaria is in violation
of the European Social Charter by failing to meet its obligations to
ensure that Roma have adequate access to the health care system. The
ruling was issued in response to a collective complaint filed by the
European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) in 2007. The ruling was welcomed by
the ERRC and the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC), which cooperated
closely in the preparation of the complaint. 

In its decision, the Committee found that &#65533;significant cases of
discriminatory practices against Roma in provision of medical services
[&#65533;] taken together with all other evidence submitted by the complainant
serve to reinforce the Committee&#65533;s overall conclusion that Roma in
Bulgaria do not benefit from appropriate responses to their general and
specific health care needs.&#65533; 

Specifically, the Committee found the following violations: 

Lack of sufficient health care for vulnerable and socially excluded
persons such as Roma due to coverage gaps created through the linking of
medical insurance and social assistance, and subsequent restrictions on
the receipt of social assistance; 
Lack of systematic, long term government measures to promote health
awareness among Roma; 
Failure of the Bulgarian government to take positive measures to
reasonably address the specific problems experienced by Roma in
accessing health care such as social exclusion, marginalization, and the
environmentally hazardous conditions in which Roma live. 
In its conclusion, the Committee ruled that Bulgaria&#65533;s policy and
practice with regard to medical and social assistance to Roma violated
Article 11 (right to protection of health) in conjunction with Article E
(non-discrimination) and Article 13(1) (right to social and medical
assistance) of the Revised European Social Charter. 

Krassimir Kanev, Chair of the BHC, stated: &#65533;The decision of the ECSR
registered a double failure of successive Bulgarian governments: they
failed to establish a system of health care that addresses the needs of
the most vulnerable parts of the Bulgarian population and they failed to
protect one of Bulgaria&#65533;s largest ethnic minorities from discrimination
in the exercise of one of the most important human rights.&#65533; 

Welcoming the ruling, Robert Kushen, Managing Director of the ERRC,
stated, &#65533;This is a landmark ruling: the first time the ECSR has found a
violation of the Charter due to the failure of the state to provide
adequate access to health care for its citizens. The fact that this
decision concerns the Roma minority is no accident: in Bulgaria, as
throughout Europe, the Roma population is deprived of many basic rights
that the majority population takes for granted. With the economic
crisis, it is more important than ever that these important rights such
as equal access to health care are protected for the majority and
minorities alike.&#65533; 

The full text of the European Committee of Social Rights decision in
Collective Complaint 46/2007, European Roma Rights Centre v. Bulgaria,
is available on the ERRC website: www.errc.org. The Bulgarian government
must report on this issue to the Committee until the problems at issue
in the decision are resolved. 

For further information, please contact: 
Robert Kushen, ERRC Managing Director, rob.kushen@errc.org 
Krassimir Kanev, BHC Chairman, krassimir@bghelsinki.org 

Background information 

The European Committee of Social Rights supervises implementation of the
European Social Charter and the Revised European Social Charter. Further
information on the Committee and the Charters is available HERE. 

Brought by the ERRC, Complaint No. 46/2007 alleged violations of
Articles 11, 13 and E the Revised Social Charter. The ERRC claimed that
the Bulgarian health insurance legislation has a discriminatory impact
on Roma and other vulnerable groups, and that government policies do not
adequate address the specific health risks of Romani communities. The
full text of the complaint is available HERE. 

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. The
approach of the ERRC involves, in particular, strategic litigation,
international advocacy, research and policy development, and training of
Romani activists. This is the 4th collective complaint that the ERRC has
won under the Social Charter mechanism. More information about the ERRC
is available at: www.errc.org. 

The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC) is an independent
non-governmental organisation for the protection of human rights -
political, civil, cultural and social. The goal of the BHC is to promote
respect and protection for the human rights of every individual, to
lobby for legislative change to bring Bulgarian legislation in line with
international standards, to encourage public debate on human rights
issues, and to popularise and make widely human rights instruments. The
BHC is engaged in human rights monitoring, strategic litigation,
advocacy, research, and human rights education. More information about
the organisation and its publication are available online at:

The Open Society Institute&#65533;s Roma Health Project provided support for
research and development of the initial complaint.


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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