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April 19, 2019
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UN: Slovakia must act to eliminate racism against Roma

19.3.2018 11:15
A Romani settlement in Slovakia. (Photo:  Romea.cz archive)
A Romani settlement in Slovakia. (Photo: Romea.cz archive)

In response to a submission made by the European Roma Rights Centre late last year of their concerns about pervasive racism in Slovakia, the UN has endorsed such concerns and has made recommendations to Slovakia as to how the country should progress towards being more accepting of the Roma, as well as of individuals who are Muslim or of African descent.

In December 2017 following UN meetings on the issue in November to early December, Stephan Ivanco, program coordinator of the Centre for Civil and Human Rights in Slovakia, told Slovakian news agency SITA “[the UN] requires the Slovak Government to adopt the measures necessary for eliminating all forms of discrimination against the Roma minority when providing health treatment and ensure that Roma patients, particularly women, are treated with respect.”

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), is concerned about reports of discrimination against Romani people trying to access healthcare, particularly women and girls. In Slovakia there are reports of verbal and physical violence against Roma women seeking sexual and reproductive health care, and it is difficult for victims of forced sterilization to obtain justice and be compensated.

According to Slovak news site The Spectator, the committee directly responded to a report called “Vakeras – Zorales: Speaking Out – Roma Women’s Experience with Health Care and Reproductive Health in Slovakia” which detailed the experiences of 38 Roma women who faced discrimination or abuse when trying to access reproductive and maternal health care.

The CERD has also expressed particular concerns about police brutality. On March 2 the European Roma Rights Centre reported that Slovak authorities have decided to drop the investigation into the infamous incident in the neighborhood of Zborov involving Slovak police officers beating Roma people with batons, which was caught on video without the individuals involved knowing it. In addition, Romani individuals who took the police to court to obtain justice following a police attack in Modalva nad Bodvu are now facing perjury charges.

The Slovak Government has already ignored the committee’s recommendations to construct an outside agency to hold the police force accountable, among other Government agencies. There is no guarantee that they will follow up on the CERD’s most recent recommendations.

Dorothy Carlos
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