MINELRES: ERT Court Watch: Grand Chamber of the ECHR rules that Roma-only classes violate Article 14

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Wed Mar 24 19:49:35 2010

OriginaL SENDER: Equal Rights Trust <equalrightstrust1@response.pure360.com>

Segregation of Roma School Children in Croatia Found Discriminatory Due
to Failure to Address Special Needs  
Thursday, 18 March 2010  
On 16 March 2010, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human
Rights (the Court), in the case of Orsus and Others v. Croatia
(Application no.15766/03), ruled that Croatia discriminated against 15
Roma children who were segregated into separate school classes. 

The case concerned 15 primary school children who had been segregated
into Roma-only classes as a result of alleged failures to adequately
acquire command of the Croatian language. The applicants, represented by
the European Roma Rights Centre, the Croatian Helsinki Committee and
Croatian attorney Lovorka Kusan, argued that they had not been provided
with satisfactory measures to address their language difficulties and
that their segregation was the result of racial discrimination. 

The Court held that there had been a clear differentiation in treatment
of Roma children and that this had not been satisfactorily justified by
the state, thereby violating Article 14 taken in conjunction with
Article 2 of Protocol No. 1 (the right to education). The Court noted
that “as a result of their history, the Roma have become a specific type
of disadvantaged and vulnerable minority. They therefore require special
protection.” The Court found that no adequate measures had been put in
place to ensure sufficient care for the children’s special needs as
members of a disadvantaged group. Furthermore, responding to the claim
that the applicants’ parents had not used all available opportunities to
complain, it held that there could be no waiver to the right not to be
subjected to racial discrimination as this would be counter to the
public interest. 

The Court awarded each of the applicants 4,500 Euros and jointly 10,000
Euros for costs and expenses. 

Speaking about the recent decision, ERT’s Executive Director Dimitrina
Petrova said: 

“By recognising the vulnerability of the Roma community and asserting
that positive action must be taken to facilitate their integration into
society, the Court has made it clear that governments cannot flout their
legal obligations by putting in place sub-standard and meaningless

“The European Court of Human Rights is steadily building a rich body of
jurisprudence on Article 14 and the significance of this particular case
is that it adds to the understanding of racial segregation as a form of
discrimination. While the Roma are the obvious beneficiaries of this
decision, it has implications for other disadvantaged minorities across
Europe in the realisation of their equal rights in the area of

To read the ERT case summary, click here: 

To read the full case, click here: 
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