Czech Senate committee recommends compensation for the illegally sterilized, final word will rest with the Senate as a whole
People who have been illegally sterilized in the Czech Republic are one step closer to becoming entitled to compensation of CZK 300 000 [EUR 11 725] in the near future now that the Committee on Social Policy in the Czech Senate has recommended the upper chamber approve a bill to legislate such compensation. The Senate as a whole will decide on the bill next week.
The opportunity to apply for compensation will apply to people sterilized without their informed consent between 1 July 1966 and 31 March 2012, i.e., the time during which public health legislation did not include sufficient safeguards against such procedures being performed unlawfully. According to the justification for the bill, many women did not choose to be sterilized of their own free will but only acquiesced to the procedure after being persuaded to do so by third parties, including under the threat of their existing children being taken into state care or their welfare benefits being stopped.
If the bill becomes law, those interested in applying would have three years in which to do so. The applications for compensation would be assessed by the Czech Health Ministry.
If an application were to be rejected, it would be possible for the applicant to appeal the decision in court free of charge. Once awarded, the compensation would not be subject to taxation.
The authors of the bill as submitted to the lower house predict that as many as 400 people are likely to apply for compensation. If the bill becomes law then the Czech state could pay as much as CZK 120 million [EUR 4.7 million] in compensation.
Suspicions of forced sterilizations in the Czech Republic, above all among Romani women, were raised in 2004 by the European Roma Rights Centre. Dozens of Romani women then applied to the Czech Public Defender of Rights for relief and some also sued in court.
The Czech Government Committee against Torture proposed introducing compensation for forced sterilizations in 2006. In the year 2009, the Czech Government expressed regret for the fact that such procedures had been performed unlawfully.
A similar bill to compensate those who have been forcibly sterilized was drafted by Czech Human Rights Minister Jiří Dienstbier (Czech Social Democratic Party - ČSSD) during the previous administration. The Czech Government, however, decided not to put that particular version of the bill forward.
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