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Czech Gov't reviewing bill to compensate illegally sterilized women

30.9.2015 19:46
Czech Deputy Human Rights Minister Martina Štěpánková (2015).
Czech Deputy Human Rights Minister Martina Štěpánková (2015).

Czech Human Rights Minister Jiří Dienstbier is submitting a bill to the cabinet that legislates an apology, CZK 300 000 (EUR 11 000) in compensation, and coverage of medical treatment for women who have been illegally sterilized. Czech Deputy Human Rights Minister Martina Štěpánková, who informed Czech Television of the legislation today, estimated that several hundred women might get the chance to receive compensation.  

Štěpánková acknowledged that the estimated the number of illegally sterilized women ranges from several dozen to several thousand. Illegal sterilizations were first systematically described in 2005 in a report by then-Czech ombud Otakar Motejl.

In 2009 the Government expressed its regret to illegally sterilized women in general and the current cabinet has decided to crown the process by adopting a law to compensate them. Should the law be approved it would take effect as of mid-2016 and women would be able to apply to the Czech Health Ministry with requests for compensation.

The Health Ministry would establish a commission to decide the individual cases. During the legislative commentary process, several ministries raised objections to the bill.  

The Czech Agriculture Ministry says the amount of compensation is disproportionately high compared to compensation paid to victims of the communist regime, who received CZK 100 000 (EUR 4 000). The Czech Finance Ministry is concerned that some cases will fail to meet the "burden of proof" and is also refusing to give the Health Ministry more money for the work of the commission.  

Some other ministries asked for a more precise estimate of the total costs, which for now are estimated at between CZK 79 million and CZK 2.5 billion (EUR 3 million and EUR 92 million). Štěpánková responded to those commentaries in an interview for Czech Television.

The Deputy Human Rights Minister said the amount of compensation is based on decisions by both the Czech courts and the European Court of Human Rights in such cases. She acknowledged that the "burden of proof" could be a problem because some of the cases happened decades ago.

As far as the budget goes, she explained that it cannot yet be made more precise because the actual number of illegally sterilized women will not be clarified until individual applicants come forward. For the time being only estimates are available.

mik, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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