MINELRES: ERRC on Orsus judgment
Wed Mar 24 19:48:41 2010
Original sender: European Roma Rights Centre <email@example.com>
EUROPE'S HIGHEST COURT RULES ROMA SCHOOL SEGREGATION BY LANGUAGE ILLEGAL
BUDAPEST/NEW YORK/STRASBOURG/ZAGREB 16 MARCH 2010: The Grand Chamber of
the European Court of Human Rights held today in the case Orsus and
Others v. Croatia that the segregation of Romani children into separate
classes based on language is unlawful discrimination, violating the
European Convention on Human Rights.
The Orsus case involved 14 children attending mainstream primary schools
in three different Croatian villages who were placed in segregated
Roma-only classes due to alleged language difficulties. The applicants
argued that actually, placement in these Roma-only classes stemmed from
blatant discrimination based on ethnicity. The schools’ policies were
reinforced by the local majority population’s anti-Romani sentiments.
Represented by the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC), the Croatian
Helsinki Committee and local attorney Lovorka Kusan, the case went to
the European Court in 2004. After a negative judgement in 2008, it
reached the Grand Chamber upon appeal.
“The Grand Chamber’s decision is of great importance to the applicants
and other Romani children in Croatia, as it acknowledges that they have
suffered unlawful discrimination,” said Ms Kusan. “It is now up to the
government to ensure that these illegal practices stop and that remedies
are offered to affected Romani children.”
The Court awarded the applicants 4,500 Euros each in non-pecuniary
damages, plus a total of 10,000 Euros for costs and expenses.
“Today’s judgment rounds out the European Court’s jurisprudence
concerning the most common grounds of segregation experienced by Romani
children in education across Europe,” said ERRC Managing Director Robert
Kushen. “National governments must now take decisive action to end
segregated education in all its forms and truly integrate their school
The Grand Chamber decision builds on the Court’s groundbreaking
judgments in D.H. and Others v. the Czech Republic and Sampanis v
Greece, which rejected the segregation of Romani students into special
schools for children with mental disabilities or within mainstream
schools on the basis of ethnicity.
“Orsus makes clear that language deficiency cannot serve as a pretext
for racial segregation,” said ERRC board member and Open Society Justice
Initiative Executive Director James A. Goldston, who helped argue the
case. “Segregation remains all too common in Europe, and it is time to
end this deeply degrading practice.”
The positive judgment by the Grand Chamber marks great progress for the
advancement of Roma rights in general, as well as the right to quality
education on equal terms for Roma and other marginalised groups.
The full text of the decision is available HERE: