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How to apply for compensation for illegally performed sterilization in the Czech Republic

21.12.2021 6:48
Ministry of Health, Czech Republic (PHOTO: Wikipedia)
Ministry of Health, Czech Republic (PHOTO: Wikipedia)

The Czech Health Ministry has published materials on how people who have been illegally sterilized can proceed when applying to the ministry to have their claims recognized for the provision of a one-time payment of financial compensation. The Czech Republic adopted compensation this year, bringing to a close decades of effort by many people and achieving one of the biggest human rights victories of 2021. 

Questions about the process can be sent to the Department of Legal Affairs at the Health Ministry at pro@mzcr.cz or by calling them at +420 224 972 173. According to materials published by the ministry, the victims of illegal sterilizations performed between July 1966 and the close of March 2012 can apply for this compensation between 1 January 2022 and 1 January 2025

Those who prove they are entitled to compensation will be awarded CZK 300 000 [EUR 12 000]. The victims have to demonstrate that the performance of the sterilization breached the law, i.e., that above all their consent to the sterilization was either never given, or was given under conditions that violated legal regulations.  

Such conditions mean, in particular, various coercions of, persuasions of or pressures on a person to undergo a medical procedure preventing their fertility. It is also considered a breach of the legal regulations if "the entitled person was never informed, in an intelligible manner and to a sufficient extent, about his/her state of health and about the purpose, nature, expected benefit, possible consequences and risks of the proposed medical procedure and other options for addressing his/her state of health and their appropriateness, benefits and risks." 

"A sterilization for which the entitled person was motivated by the payment of a social benefit according to the then-valid regulations on social security is also considered to be a sterilization performed in violation of the law," the Health Ministry states in its materials. According to the document, merely having been sterilized is not enough to entitle an applicant to payment of the lump sum.

The ministry considers medical records from the health care facility where the sterilization took place to typically be the kind of evidence that would be part of proving that an illegal sterilization happened. Evidence may also be provided by a document proving the applicant was paid the relevant social benefit, the provision of which was conditional on the person undergoing sterilization.

To expedite the processing of the applications, the Ministry recommends applicants send copies of such documents with the application, if the applicant has them available."The applicant may also submit other documentary evidence or suggest the  interrogations of witnesses to prove the sterilization took place in violation of the law," say the materials, which can also be downloaded from news server Romea.cz together with a sample application form.

The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) came forward in 2004 with its suspicions that illegal sterilizations were happening in the Czech Republic, especially of Romani women. Dozens of women applied to the Czech Public Defender of Rights for justice and some also turned to the courts

The Czech Government Committee against Torture proposed introducing compensation for these abuses in 2006. In 2009 the Government expressed regret for the fact that illegally-performed sterilizations had happened. 

The Czech Republic has been criticized for years for the fact that the state violated the human rights of those who were illegally sterilized without ever compensating them. Parliament adopted a law to compensate the victims earlier this year and it was signed by the President.

ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Document, forced sterilization, odškodnění, women



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