Thursday

8th Dec 2016

Roma ruling highlights segregation problem in Central Europe

The Strasbourg-based European human rights court has ruled against the Czech Republic in a case involving Roma students who had been placed in special schools, with possible implications for other central European countries accused of similar segregation practices.

In a verdict delivered on Tuesday (13 November), the grand chamber of the European Court of Human Rights confirmed Prague had violated the non-discrimination principles by sending 18 persons to special schools for pupils with learning difficulties due to their Roma origin.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

In the explanation of its decision - adopted by judges by 13 to 4 votes - the court said that "the Czech authorities had accepted that in 1999 Roma pupils made up between 80 percent and 90 percent of the total number of pupils in some special schools and that in 2004 'large numbers' of Roma children were still being placed in special schools."

It added that the statistical evidence "could be regarded as sufficiently reliable and significant to give rise to a strong presumption of indirect discrimination," as well as "concerns" over the segregation that the Czech system caused.

"In view of the fundamental importance of the prohibition of racial discrimination, the Grand Chamber considered that no waiver of the right not to be subjected to racial discrimination could be accepted, as it would be counter to an important public interest."

The judges asked the Czech Republic to pay each Roma applicant €4,000 for moral damage plus €10,000 jointly for eight-year-long court proceedings costs, while openly pointing out that Prague is not alone in showing "difficulties" with the problem among European countries.

NGOs welcomed the court's decision, pointing out that the practice of racial segregation in education is widespread in Central and Eastern Europe.

"The court has made clear that racial discrimination has no place in 21st century Europe," said James A. Goldston, executive director of the Open Society Justice Initiative.

Focus

Anti-HIV measures failing in EU, says WHO

Rates of infection have stayed constant for a decade in the EU, though there has been a massive surge in Russia apparently caused by drug users sharing needles.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFSchool “as Vital as Food and Medicine” for Children Caught up in Conflict
  2. European Jewish CongressEJC President Breathes Sigh of Relief Over Result of Austrian Presidential Election
  3. CESICongress Re-elects Klaus Heeger & Romain Wolff as Secretary General & President
  4. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAustrian Association for Betting and Gambling Joins EGBA
  5. ACCAWomen of Europe Awards: Celebrating the Women who are Building Europe
  6. European Heart NetworkWhat About our Kids? Protect Children From Unhealthy Food and Drink Marketing
  7. ECR GroupRestoring Trust and Confidence in the European Parliament
  8. UNICEFChild Rights Agencies Call on EU to put Refugee and Migrant Children First
  9. MIRAIA New Vision on Clean Tech: Balancing Energy Efficiency, Climate Change and Costs
  10. World VisionChildren Cannot Wait! 7 Priority Actions to Protect all Refugee and Migrant Children
  11. ANCI LazioRegio-Mob Project Delivers Analysis of Transport and Mobility in Rome
  12. SDG Watch EuropeCivil Society Disappointed by the Commission's Plans for Sustainable Development Goals