The United Nations Committee for Elimination of Racial Discrimination (Committee) has issued its final recommendations that underline the prevailing deficiencies in suppressing racism and racial discrimination in Slovakia. The Committee has therefore called on the Slovak government to start dealing with the issues.
Here we provide you with a brief outline of some of the issues presented by the Center for Civil and Human Rights (Poradňa) and People in Need Slovak Republic, which submitted the written comments concerning the Slovak Republic for consideration by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (“the Committee”) at its 82nd session (11 February to 1 March 2013).
We have been closely following the efforts undertaken by the Slovak Government (“Government“) to comply with its obligations under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (“the Convention”), as detailed in ninth and tenth Periodic Reports of the Slovak Government to the Committee (“the Government report”).
Given the focus of our work and expertise, in this report we want to bring to the attention of the Committee failures of the Government to respect the rights of the Roma ethnic minority in Slovakia as for:
• Discrimination in access to education, including segregation of Roma children in schools;
• Police violence against Roma and ineffective investigation of such cases;
• Failure to properly implement existing anti-discrimination legislation;
• Update on the Government action on forced and coerced sterilizations of Roma women, including a failure of the Government to implement previous recommendations of the Committee on this matter.
Although we recognize the progress made by the Government in some areas, we highlight the following failures to comply with the Convention:
• Article 3 and Article 5 of the Convention: The Slovak Government has continued to be inefficient to guarantee equal rights of Roma minority and eliminate their discrimination in a number of areas, in particular, to effectively address the systemic discrimination of Roma children in public schools. De facto segregation of Roma children in educational system remains deep-rooted and widespread severely violating their right to equal access to education and undermining their human dignity. Racial segregation of Romani women in maternities in Eastern Slovakia is also persistent.
• Article 5 (b) of the Convention: the Slovak Government has failed to eliminate police ill-treatment against Roma as new abuses are continuously reported. Investigation into these incidents remains ineffective as perpetrators from police forces are not brought to justice. This indicates deep systemic flaws in handling such cases and must be addressed urgently.
• Article 6 of the Convention: The Slovak Government has failed to ensure effective access to justice to victims of racial discrimination including adequate reparation or satisfaction. Legal remedies against discrimination are poorly implemented in practice. The specialized state body, the Slovak National Centre for Human Rights tasked to provide legal assistance to the victims of racial discrimination has continued to fall short of effective implementation antidiscrimination legislation in a court practice in favour of victims of racial discrimination.
• Article 6 of the Convention: To this day, the Slovak Government has not undertaken effective, prompt and impartial investigation into the practice of forced and coercive sterilization of Roma women. Despite three major victories of the victims at the European Court and despite recommendations from many international bodies, the Government has not admitted its responsibility for the practice and has not compensated the victims at large. The Government keeps reducing the problem to occasional “individual failures” from the past, however, there has not been a single doctor who would be prosecuted for the practices. The amended legislation on informed consent to sterilization has not been fully and effectively implement. Too often, obtaining “informed consent” to sterilization and other medical interventions from Romani patients has been a mere formality and its proper application with regard to the full understanding of patient is not monitored.
We regret that all these shortcomings have been already recognized by the Committee in their 2010 Concluding observations. We strongly believe that it is a time for the Government to recognize their persisting failures in respective areas and adopt comprehensive polices and mechanisms to both prevent future violations and remedy the past ones. We also encourage the Slovak Government to put particular emphasis on proper implementation of all the policies and mechanisms being adopted with a view to achieving real tangible progress in guaranteeing equal rights of citizens of the Roma minority in Slovakia in their everyday lives. You can read the rest of the report here.