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Czech Rep/Slovakia, Amnesty says Romanies discriminated against

29 Maggio 2007 Commenti chiusi


Romanies in the Czech Republic and Slovakia were seriously discriminated against in access to education, health care, housing and work in 2006, the Amnesty International (AI) human rights organisation says in its annual report released today.

It says that Romanies and other endangered groups in the Czech Republic were also subject of police mistreatment and racist attacks. AI bases its information, among others, on a report by the Council of Europe human rights commissioner, according to which Romany children in the Czech Republic and Slovakia were unjustifiably placed in special schools for children with mental troubles.

AI, however, recalls last year’s European Human Rights Court’s verdict rejecting the complaint by 18 young Romanies from the Ostrava region, north Moravia, about their alleged discrimination in education. The court conceded that the complaint was based on certain serious arguments but it concluded that the rules for Czech children’s admission to special schools have no racial subtext.

Referring to U.N. documents, AI also says that almost 75 percent Slovak Romany households depend on support from the state, municipalities and charity organisations. AI also recalls the Czech government’s decision of May that criticises the Czech ombudsman’s recommendation in 2005 that a bill be passed to secure compensation for the women who had been sterilised without giving consent to it.

The AI report also mentions the Czech police attack on official Katerina Jacques, who has become a deputy for the Greens (SZ) in the meantime, when she protested against a May Day demonstration of neo-Nazis in Prague.

© Prague Daily Monitor

Slovakia, stop singling out Roma for birth control, ERTF says

31 Marzo 2007 Commenti chiusi


On the occasion of the organisation by the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) of an international conference called ?Sharing best practices and tools in addressing the sexual and reproductive rights of the Roma? in Bratislava, the president of the European Roma and Travellers Forum, Rudko Kawczynski expressed concerns about the Federation?s plans and motives.

?I am utmost disgusted that IPPF had to choose Slovakia for the implementation of one of their pilot projects and as a place for today?s venue,? Rudko Kawczynski said reminding that Slovakia had just been under attacks over alleged forced sterilisations of Romani women and that the cases have still not been sufficiently clarified.

?Choosing Slovakia as a place for this conference and not even mentioning the irremediable damage done to Romani women and communities comes as an implicit approval of these policies,? Kawczynski said. While specifying that he was not opposed to sexual education and family planning the president of the European Roma and Travellers Forum said that this should take place in the context of mainstreaming such as information about contraceptives being provided at schools.

?The racist character of this initiative becomes immediately apparent if you replace the word ?Roma? by ?Jews? or any other group. A programme aimed towards improving the access to contraceptives for the Hungarian minority in Slovakia would immediately provoke an outcry. If the same is done for Romani people almost everyone agrees that something needs to be done about their ?uncontrolled? growth,? Kawczynski said.

The aim of the conference was described by the organisers as ?to define mechanisms, share experiences and best practices from different initiatives which could provide a basis for policymakers and civil society to address the needs and to promote the rights of Roma people.?

More specifically, the organisers wanted to share the experiences of two pilot projects carried out in Slovakia and Hungary in the context of IPPF ?Roma project? aimed ?at providing accessible and high quality sexual and reproductive health services and sexuality education for Roma and other marginalized groups.?

The projects seem to receive funding from the European Commission. The International Planned Parenthood Federation has been criticised for its close ties with the international eugenic movement. In 1939, the founder of the organisation, Margaret Sanger launched two ?demonstration programs? in America?s south aimed to promote family planning among the black population.

Sanger described the aims of the ?Negro project? as follows: ?We believe birth control knowledge brought to this group, is the most direct, constructive aid that can be given them to improve their immediate situation.? (Margaret Sanger, July 1939)

Spoloènos pre plánované rodièovstvo, the Slovak partner of IPPF and implementing agency of the project, describes its rational as follows: ?The so-called Roma problem in Slovakia has a historical, cultural and social background extending beyond territorial boundaries of Slovakia. ? According to the analyses made at the meetings mentioned above, the high natality is one of the reasons why the existing situation is deteriorated.

The high birthrate and multiparity result in children not being provided with health care, not obtaining adequate education and later in their lives, they are not able to acquit themselves well on the increasingly demanding labour market. A vicious circle arises, which continues to expand and brings about growing tension in the society.? In the same way as the ?Negro project?, IPPF?s Roma projects rely on the active support of so-called community leaders.

Kawcynski called on the EU Commission not to finance projects which single out Roma for birth control. ?It is an irony that at a time where everyone is concerned about Europe?s declining population, Roma are singled out for programmes of population control. Instead of eliminating poverty these programmes seek to eliminate the poor, in particular, Roma.?

?Common wisdom teaches us that there is a close link between the material situation of a family and the number of children they have. If people increase their material well-being they tend to have fewer children. Roma are not any different from this,? the president of the European Roma and Travellers Forum said urging policy-makers to take resolute action to improve the living conditions of Roma.

The European Roma and Travellers Forum is the international Romani interest representation which gathers Europe?s main international Roma organisations and more than 1,500 member organisations from most of the Council of Europe member states. In December 2004, the Forum signed a partnership agreement with the Council of Europe which provides for special relations between both organisations.

© European Roma and Travellers Forum

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