Slovak court compensates illegally sterilized Romani woman after 15 years
The Regional Court in Košice, Slovakia has upheld an award of compensation to a Romani woman who was illegally sterilized in the fully requested amount of more than EUR 16 000. In 1999, doctors at a hospital in Krompachy sterilized the woman without obtaining her informed consent to the procedure and it has taken her 15 years to achieve justice through the courts.
"It is positive that the domestic courts have finally awarded a woman who has been harmed in this way adequate compensation. However, the entire proceedings lasted an unbelievable 15 years, and the courts made many errors during that time. For that reason, I am convinced that in this case the courts did not manage to actually provide her effective access to justice," said the legal representative of the injured woman, Vanda Durbáková.
"At the same time, it must be emphasized that the courts do not have to be the only venue for providing redress and may not be the most effective one when there is the suspicion of such a serious, systemic violation of the human rights of minority members as the forced sterilizations of Romani women," Durbáková added. "Ultimate it is the Government that should take responsibility. It is on the Government's initiative that an independent commission should be set up to investigate the entire practice of such unlawful sterilizations and compensate the injured women effectively and quickly. Such a solution is also required by the UN Human Rights Committee. Unlike in the courts, such a commission could deal with the entirety of these practices more comprehensively and could better approximate what the overall nature and scope of them has been in our society."
The Romani woman is being compensated because she was sterilized during the delivery of her second child by caesarean section. She was not informed in advance about the sterilization by the hospital staff and did not give informed consent to it.
It was only after the procedure had been irreversibly performed that the woman learned she had been sterilized. Therefore, in 2005, she turned to a court to bring an action for the protection of her personality rights.
The defendant was the city of Krompachy, the legal successor to the hospital where the staff committed these actions, which had been closed in the interim. She asked that they be obliged to send her a letter of apology for the unlawful intervention and at the same time, sought compensation for moral damages amounting to 500 000 Slovak crowns and for the costs of bringing the proceeding (Slovakia later adopted the euro in 2009).
The District Court in Spišská Nová Ves repeatedly rejected her case, and its judgments were overturned by the appellate court several times. In 2011, the District Court finally ruled that her rights had been violated by the illegal sterilization and ordered the city of Krompachy to apologize in writing.
That court decision became final. Subsequently, the courts just had to decide on the amount of compensation for moral damages for the illegal sterilization.
In 2017, the District Court ordered the city of Krompachy to pay the victim financial compensation in full. The defendant appealed the amount of compensation and the appeal has now been decided by the Regional Court in Košice.
By this current decision, the Regional Court has upheld the verdict of the District Court, i.e., compensation for the injured woman in the full amount of over EUR 16 000. "This has been a very long journey for me. I'm delighted with the decision, but this money doesn't make up for what they did to me in that hospital, or for the fact that I can no longer conceive children," the injured woman said.
Since 2005, free legal assistance to the victim has been provided by the Center for Civil and Human Rights, an NGO. This is just the most recent case concerning the unlawful sterilization of a Romani woman to be dealt with by the courts in Slovakia.
In recent years, the Center for Civil and Human Rights has provided legal assistance to 12 illegally sterilized Romani women in proceedings seeking justice for what was done to them. Several of them did not receive justice until the cases were ruled on by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
The illegal sterilization cases were documented by the Center for Civil and Human Rights in cooperation with the US-based Center for Reproductive Rights in 2003 in the publication Body and Soul: Forced Sterilization and Other Assaults on Roma Reproductive Freedom. That report's conclusions were based on interviews with 230 Romani women from socially excluded communities in eastern Slovakia, most of whom reported that they had been sterilized without their prior informed consent.
In recent years, several international institutions that monitor compliance with international human rights treaties have urged the Slovak Government to take steps to effectively investigate this practice and to ensure that victims have access to justice. In 2016, the UN Human Rights Committee recommended that the government take responsibility and set up an independent body to investigate the practice.
In 2018, the Slovak Public Defender of Rights also issued an opinion on this issue, stating that the main responsibility for resolving it lies with the executive and legislative branches. According to her, access to justice for victims could be ensured by adopting special legislation.
- Czech Government adopts neutral position on bill to compensate women who were illegally sterilized
- Czech MPs draft bill to compensate women who have been forcibly sterilized
- Czech state may finally compensate forced sterilization victims
- Elena Gorolová: Some of the forced sterilization victims have died, but we are still fighting for compensation
- Elena Gorolová, who campaigns for compensation for forced sterilization, featured on Czech talk show
- Commentary: Czech Republic, Slovakia must compensate the victims of forced sterilization while they are still alive
- ROMEA to Czech President: Romani life in communist Czechoslovakia included forced assimilation, forced sterilization of women, segregated education
- Czech PM meets with forced sterilization victims and their representatives about compensation
- Czech Republic: Forced sterilization will be focus of academic and public discussions
- Czech and Slovak Victims of Coercive Sterilization Await Justice
- Illegally sterilized Romani women from Slovakia and the Czech Republic launch online petition as part of their fight for justice
- UN tells Czech Republic to improve Romani integration, compensate illegally sterilized women
- UN Human Rights Regional Office for Europe welcomes Czech Govt genocide site buyout, calls for illegally sterilized women to be compensated
- Czech researcher at Romani genocide commemoration: Compensate the victims of illegal sterilizations
- Czech NGOs report to UN that Government refuses to compensate women sterilized without informed consent
- Report on the coerced sterilization of Romani women in the Czech Republic describes last 50 years through testimony
- UN Human Rights Committee asks Slovak Government for independent body to investigate the forced sterilizations of Romani women
- Czech Govt Roma Council reviews Romani Holocaust sites, victim database, and compensation for involuntary sterilizations
- Analysis: Swiss Parliament approves law on "solidarity aid" to victims of forced sterilization
- Elena Gorolová on forced sterilizations: We seek compensation, nobody will ever restore our motherhood
- Czech Republic: Romani women forced to undergo sterilization tell their stories through theater
- OSCE/ODIHR Event to Focus on Justice and Redress to Roma Victims of Forced Sterilization in the Czech Republic
- Slovak court rules forcibly sterilized Romani woman to receive compensation, hospital appeals
- Slovak opposition wants to subsidize sterilizations of the poor
- Czech Constitutional Court rejects higher compensation for forcibly sterilized woman
- Slovakia loses another forced sterilization case in Strasbourg
- As many as 1 000 women could be compensated for wrongful sterilizations in Czech Republic
- Elena Gorolová welcomes Czech Govt review of compensation for forcibly sterilized women
- Most Czech Govt ministers agree wrongfully sterilized women should be compensated
- Czech Govt Human Rights Council recommends redress for illegally sterilized women
- Czech hospital compensates Romani woman forcibly sterilized 14 years ago
- European Court for Human Rights condemns Slovakia for forced sterilization of Romani woman
- Leading international ob-gyn organization issues new ethical guidelines on sterilization
- Czech Supreme Court - new hope for forcibly sterilized Romani women
- Slovak television drama features plot line on the sterilization of Romani women
- Roma activists discuss Czech Police, forced sterilization with US Embassy representatives
- Roma women harmed by forced sterilization in Czech Republic welcome Council of Europe approach to the issue
- CEDAW: Czechs must report progress on forced sterilizations in two years
- Sterilization victims still denied justice in the Czech Republic
- Czech court awards two women compensation for illegal sterilizations
- Czech government expression of regret over forced sterilization of Roma women is historic but insufficient
- Czech government expresses regret for illegal sterilizations of Romani women
- Czech Constitutional Court refuses compensation to Romani woman sterilized against her will
- Kocáb draws attention to the forced sterilization of Romani women; most recent incident allegedly took place in 2007
- Czech coercive sterilization survivors go to Sweden
- Historic verdict: Court awards compensation to a Romani woman for sterilization for the first time
- Hospital apologizes for involuntary sterilization
- Slovak Government apologizes for anti-Jewish measures during WWII
- Romanian town must finally compensate some members of a forcibly evicted Romani community
- LIVE AT 16:00 CET: Pope Francis meets Romani people at Košice's Luník IX housing estate in Slovakia
- Czech Deputy Public Defender of Rights discusses compensation procedure for forced sterilizations in interview for ROMEA TV
- Czech court sentences social media user to two years in prison, suspended for two years, for promoting terrorism
- Romani runner in Slovakia whose junior career has been so hopeful confirms she is pregnant
- Czech court upholds conviction for making dangerous threats after neighbor threatens to kill three Romani women and their children with an ax
- Czech President signs law to compensate the victims of illegal sterilizations
- Slovakia: Drunken, knife-wielding man threatens to kill Romani children for being in a park and is now in custody
- Czech Senate approves compensation for the victims of illegal sterilizations
- Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe calls on the Czech Senate to approve compensation for illegal sterilizations, final vote tomorrow
- Romani-inhabited housing estate Luník IX in Slovakia sees start of local vaccinations against COVID-19