Czech Republic: Stronger efforts needed to end segregation of Roma

[21/02/2013 10:00] "Segregation of Roma children in education remains a serious human rights concern in the Czech Republic. Many of them are still taught as children with mild disabilities, in contravention of the 2007 D.H. judgment of the European Court of Human Rights which condemned the Czech Republic for this practice. Urgent action is needed to remedy this shortcoming", said today Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, releasing a report based on the findings of his visit to this country carried out on 12-15 November 2012, which focused on the human rights of Roma and persons with disabilities.

In spite of encouraging steps undertaken by the authorities, such as integration strategies, measures to counter hate speech and efforts to increase national minorities' representation in police forces, there is still much to be achieved in combating anti-Gypsyism. "The overall situation of Roma is marked by conditions of exclusion and marginalisation. Measures to redress this situation need to be enhanced, in particular as concerns access to quality education, decent housing and freedom from discrimination".

The Commissioner calls for a more human-rights compliant approach of local authorities in dealing with Roma, in particular in supporting the work of mediators, in providing social housing and services and refraining from evictions which lead to territorial segregation. He also notes with concern that Roma continue to be the main victims of racially motivated violence. "Measures taken so far to counter this phenomenon must continue, but have to be combined with a systematic prosecution of the perpetrators of these crimes and an unequivocal political message condemning such acts."

Commissioner Muižnieks deeply regrets that the pig farm built in the 1970s on the former concentration camp of Lety, where many Roma were killed during World War II, has not yet been removed by the authorities. "Budgetary considerations cannot prevail over the respect of human dignity. The pig farm should be removed and measures to honour those who died there should be considered."

As regards persons with disabilities, another focus of the visit, the Commissioner is concerned about the fact that around 60 000 of them live secluded in institutions, and that more than 30 000 are totally or partially deprived of legal capacity and placed under guardianship. "In January 2014 a new Civil Code will repeal the full deprivation of legal capacity and each individual situation will be reviewed. However, I am worried about the apparent lack of concrete preparation on the ground for this important task. The authorities should ensure that the implementation of the new legislation will not be delayed and should stop full deprivation of capacity even before the entry into force of the new Civil Code."

Lastly, the Commissioner urges the authorities to end the school segregation of children with disabilities and to ensure that these children benefit from adequate individual support, in an inclusive education system.
The comments of the authorities of the Czech Republic are available here.