Czech parliamentary committee overwhelmingly supports bill to compensate forcibly sterilized women
The Petition Committee of the Czech Chamber of Deputies has supported a bill that would make one-time payments of CZK 300 000 [EUR 11 500] to women who have been sterilized unlawfully. The bill covers a period of almost 46 years, the time during which the "People's Health Care Act" was in force before it was replaced by new legal norms covering such medical interventions.
If the bill is adopted, women who were sterilized without their free and informed consent between 1 July 1966 and 31 March 2012 would become eligible to apply for compensation. According to the bill, their decisions to undergo sterilization during that time may not have been made freely, but on the basis of their being incentivized or even threatened with having their existing children institutionalized or their welfare benefits stopped unless they underwent the procedure.
If the bill is adopted as currently worded, the victims of these abuses would have three years during which to apply for this compensation after the law takes effect. According to the bill that has been supported, which was sponsored by Czech MP JUDr. Helena Válková, the applications would be assessed by the Czech Health Ministry, not by the Office of the Government as was originally proposed by lawmakers.
Should an application be rejected, it will be possible to bring an appeal free of charge. The compensation will be tax-free and, according to the authors of the bill, could be applied for by as many as 400 people.
The state would disburse CZK 120 million [EUR 4.6 million] at the most, in that case. The suspicions that forced sterilizations were ongoing in the Czech Republic, above all of Romani women, were raised in 2004 by the European Roma Rights Centre.
Dozens of women then reported their situations to the Public Defender of Rights, while some also sued in court. The Czech Government Human Rights Council's Committee against Torture proposed introducing a compensation procedure for the victims of forced sterilizations in 2006.
In the year 2009, the cabinet expressed regret for the fact that such illegal interventions had happened. A similar bill to compensate the victims was drafted in 2015 during the previous administration by the then-Czech Human Rights Minister, Mgr. Jiří Dienstbier, but the Government chose not to adopt it at that time.
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