USA criticizes Czech Republic, Slovakia over Roma in human rights report
The Czech Republic continues to discriminate against the Romani minority in many areas, and political representatives of the country have been contributing to this recently to an increasing degree. Those are the results of the report published today by the U.S. State Department evaluating the approach toward human rights that has been taken by various countries during 2014.
US diplomats are similarly critical of Slovakia with respect to Romani people. Of all the human rights topics, access to the Romani minority is the most extensive chapter in the section dedicated to the Czech Republic.
"According to NGOs, during 2014 the degree of hate speech by politicians grew during 2014, including local politicians, MPs and Senators from across the political spectrum," says the report, which has charged the Czech Republic with approaching Romani people unequally in the past. The report specifically mentions the case of former MP Otto Chaloupka, who last year was sentenced to a six month suspended sentence for perpetrating hate speech about Romani people on social networking sites.
Chaloupka's lawsuit appealing for restoration of his parliamentary immunity has not succeeded. The report also mentions last year's scandal around Tomio Okamura, who said the WWII-era "Gypsy camp" at Lety was not intended for minorities, but for persons avoiding work.
Several cabinet members and nonprofit organizations called on him to resign over this denial of the Romani Holocaust, including, for example, ROMEA, which filed a criminal complaint against Okamura, but police did not pursue the case. The State Department report also describes the activities of Czech neo-Nazis who are creating lists of their enemies and posting them online.
Hacker attacks against human rights and pro-Romani organizations are also mentioned, as are the death threats made against the director of the ROMEA organization. The report also mentioned that approximately one-third of Romani people were living in ghettos in the Czech Republic last year, the number of which the report states as being 400.
Discrimination is, according to the USA, still visible in the Czech Republic, especially in education. The proportion of Romani children attending "special schools" is not comparable to the proportion of children from the majority population attending such schools, according to the report.
Romani people are subjected to difficulties in everday life, for example, because their access to bank accounts is not sufficiently facilitated, making them easily exploitable by predatory loan companies. There is also a problem with the media, which the Americans say continue to report incomparably more about crimes and violence committed by Romani people than about the same kinds of acts committed by the majority population or other minorities.
Slovakia, too, was criticized by the Americans for anti-Romani assemblies and marches organized by the ultra-right in the summer of 2014. The report says that not only are Romani children targeted for discrimination in the Slovak school system, but also Romani mothers in some maternity wards in eastern Slovakia are assigned to separate departments and not permitted to share toilets with majority-population mothers, for example.
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