Czech Govt Human Rights Council recommends redress for illegally sterilized women
The Czech Government Human Rights Council has approved a resolution recommending the government provide ex gratia compensation to all women who have been illegally sterilized there. The Council recommended that the decision-making process take into account the work of the (Czechoslovak) social services sector from 1972 - 1991, when regulations from the Labor and Social Affairs Ministry were in effect that made it possible for citizens who underwent this medical intervention "in the interests of a healthy population" to be given a one-time monetary payment or other material reward. Because of the current three-year statute of limitations on filing lawsuits in such cases for protection of personality rights, the Council has also recommended compensating women who have not reasonably had any option for seeking redress for these violations through the courts.
The Council has also proposed the government undertake the following tasks related to the compensation:
1. The Health Ministry, in collaboration with the Labor and Social Affairs Ministry, the Justice Ministry, the Finance Ministry and the Czech Government Human Rights Commissioner, should submit draft legislation on the compensation mechanism to the Government by 31 December 2013, based on the results of an analysis by the Justice Ministry of the options for compensation and its review of the three-year statute of limitations;
2. The Health Ministry should, by 30 June 2012, ensure that the medical records of patients related to the performance of sterilizations since 1971 be preserved;
3. The Health Ministry should, by 30 September 2012, draft recommendations for procedures with respect to the performance of sterilizations, including indications for sterilization, and should publish them in the Health Ministry Bulletin (Věstník Ministerstva zdravotnictví);
4. By 31 December 2012, the Justice Minister should, in collaboration with the Human Rights Commissioner, create and publish an analysis of the options for the women affected to access free legal aid.
At its session on Friday, the Council also opened the issue of the position of children in court proceedings. A motion from the Council's Committee for the Rights of the Child was discussed to have the opinions of children and their parents taken more into account during the court procedures involved to issue preliminary injunctions for the removal of children from their families. The motion said such procedures should not take an unreasonable length of time and that children's cases in general should be ruled on by the courts as quickly as possible, within the minimum time frame for making such decisions, in order to protect children's privacy to the greatest possible extent during the court proceedings and to make the execution of verdicts involving children take place as economically as possible. It should also be mandatory for children to represented by their own attorneys during court proceedings. The Council opened up discussion of these weighty questions but ran out of time to fully discuss all aspects of the issue.
The Council was also informed of the procedure of the Universal Periodic Review, to which the Czech Republic will be subjected this year. This UPR is an all-around review of the human rights protection situation in the Czech Republic. The Human Rights Commissioner has been entrusted with producing the national report for this review, which she wants to broadly consult with representatives of civil society and government. The draft report was distributed to members of the Council for their feedback.
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