Czech ombud says human rights are being violated everywhere she looks
The weekly RESPEKT (12/2015) has published an interview with the Czech ombud, Anna Šabatová, in which she discusses discrimination against Romani people with author Marek Švehla. "Human rights violations occur wherever you look here," she says in the interview.
She gives the example of situations in which "a Romani person goes to lease an apartment and will probably encounter discrimination. Once the leasing agent finds out the person is Romani, he won't lease it. He won't even let them see the property."
Other questions concern discrimination committed by the state, and the example given there is the recommendation of high numbers of Romani children for enrollment into the "practical schools". Šabatová gives the reasons why she believes this "state discrimination" has not yet succeeded in being eliminated.
"The Education Ministry does not have the political courage to undertake radical change because the 'special schools' are exerting rather strong pressure for the system to be preserved. Moreover, some primary schools are refusing to enroll children who have previously attended 'practical schools'," she says.
Šabatová also admits that when it comes to interpreting the changes underway in the 'practical schools', her view differs from that of the Government. "They are paying attention to different numbers than we are. We are working with the proportion of Romani children in the 'practical schools'. The Government is working with the absolute number of how many children have stopped being educated in the program for children with mild mental disability. Some children who previously attended special education are being successfully integrated into mainstream schools, but it seems that this improvement concerns non-Romani children, i.e., non-Romani children with medical disabilities. The number of Romani children in special education is not changing, but non-Romani children with medical disabilities are being better-integrated into the mainstream. This means that while the absolute number of children in special education seems to have declined, there is nothing being said about where those children are now. We are of the opinion that Romani children are continuing to be educated in the same physical schools, they are just no longer being educated per the program for children with mild mental disability. We are, therefore, of the opinion that de facto, nothing has changed," she said.
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