Amnesty International condemns Czech EdMin's response to its report on discrimination of Roma
On 24 April, Amnesty International (AI) sharply criticized the reaction of Czech Education Minister Marcel Chládek (Czech Social Democratic Party - ČSSD) to its recent report on discrimination against Roma in the Czech education system. AI says the minister's remarks that the report is not based on the true facts were counterproductive and prejudiced.
AI has called on Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (ČSSD) to begin correcting the problem and see to it that his ministers' positions on the issue are unified. AI spokesperson Martina Pařízková communicated that message to the Czech News Agency.
On 23 April, AI reported that the discrimination of Romani people persists in the Czech education system. In addition to a disproportionately high number of Romani pupils in the "practical primary schools", Romani people face discrimination in mainstream education as well.
Chládek objected to the report and claims the system does not discriminate. He also claimed that any instances of rights violations were individual failures.
The minister also said the report presents false information. He claims that AI staffers knew that their suspicions that a program had been incorrectly set up at a school in Ostrava had not been confirmed by the Czech School Inspectorate, but never informed the Secretary-General of AI, Salil Shetty, of that fact, and he accused the organization of manufacturing a scandal for financial gain.
AI says the minister's remarks were an expression of prejudice against Romani families and against Shetty himself. "These remarks are exactly the reason that the need has arisen to research the situation in the Czech Republic, and they decidedly are not fit to be made by anyone, much less the minister of a government in a civilized European country," the organization said.
Czech Human Rights Minister Jiří Dienstbier (ČSSD) acknowledges the existence of this problem and wants to solve it. Moreover, the European Commission has warned the Czech Republic that it is suspected of having violated EU anti-discrimination legislation.
"This organization, therefore, calls on the Prime Minister to unify the positions of the responsible ministers and to ensure the elimination of this illegal state of affairs," AI said. In their view, the minister has "cast doubt upon the relevance of one year's worth of careful, systematic research without providing a single figure of his own that might be backed up by evidence."
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