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Czech Senate committee objects to EU recommendations on Roma integration

Prague, 23.10.2013 23:20, (ROMEA)

The Czech Senate is refusing to introduce any social measures based on ethnicity into Czech law, claiming that neither the constitutional order nor the Czech Republic's international obligations make it possible for the state to define the recipients of social assistance according to their ethnic affiliation. That refusal is part of recommendations recently agreed to by the Senate EU Affairs Committee, which has just reviewed recommendations from the Council of the EU regarding effective Roma integration measures.

The Senate will vote on the committee's proposal at a future session. In the draft recommendation to the plenary, the committee has also rejected as unsubstantiated the charges that the Czech Republic discriminates in its education system against some citizens according to ethnic criteria.   

According to the European Commission, Romani children continue to be segregated in the schools of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia. The Council has therefore recommended eliminating segregation and has expressly stated that the inappropriate placement of Romani pupils into "special schools" must end.

According to the Czech Senate committee, what determines the assignment of any individual into the various branches of the education system is primarily whether that individual qualifies for that particular program and has the "appropriate social tendencies" required to participate. The committee is chaired by Senator Miroslav Krejča, who has previously published anti-Romani opinions on his blog and who has also recently disseminated a quote falsely attributed to  15th-century Czech religious reformer Jan Hus that is offensive to Roma.  

The vice-chair of the Senate committee is another anti-Romani senator, Jaroslav Doubrava. According to the committee's recommendations, there is also no discrimination against minorities in their access to health care in the Czech Republic because everyone who purchases health insurance can access it to the extent established by law. 

In its draft resolution, the committee also maintains that inclusion of the Romani minority will only succeed if representatives of the Romani community are involved in seeking solutions and in implementing them. The Council of the EU has recommended that the Member States support first-time work experience, professional preparation, and lifelong learning when it comes to the area of employment and Roma. 

The EU has also recommended supporting Romani business owners and self-employment. In the area of education, the EU recommends introducing Romani mediators to help involve Romani families and parents in the schools.

The director of the Department for EU Policy Coordination at the Office of the Czech Government, Jan Král, told members of the Senate committee that the Czech state is of the opinion that the EU recommendations need not be transformed into a legally binding, enforceable act. The government, according to Král, is also promoting softening the EU recommendations so the Member States have the opportunity to take their own specific conditions into consideration, because its aim is to make sure the EU recommendations do not lead to the creation of a pattern which the Czech domestic strategy for Romani integration must follow.

Nils Muižnieks, Human Rights Commissioner at the Council of Europe, expressed his uneasiness today over the ongoing hate campaign against Romani people in the Czech Republic, which he sees as manifesting itself in regular anti-Romani marches and in other manifestations of racism intended to increase racists' political capital in the run-up to this weekend's elections to the lower house. The commissioner said the Czech authorities must send out a forceful signal that they will not tolerate any hate crimes or manifestations of hatred.

An estimated 10 to 12 million Romani people live in the EU, which has a total population of 500 million. Members of this minority are mostly concentrated in Bulgaria, where they comprise 10 % of the population, and in Slovakia, where they comprise 9 % of the population; there are said to be between 150 000 and 250 000 Romani people living in the Czech Republic.


ČTK, Zdeněk Ryšavý, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Senát, Commissioner, Council of Europe, Czech republic, Education, EU, European Commission, news, Racism, Roma, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria



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