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June 21, 2021

 

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Slovak Ombudswoman and NGOs appeal to Government to compensate illegally sterilized people

9.6.2021 19:01
The Public Defender of Rights in Slovakia, Marie Patakyová (2021). (PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons)
The Public Defender of Rights in Slovakia, Marie Patakyová (2021). (PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons)

While the Czech Chamber of Deputies passed a bill at the beginning of June to compensate those who have been sterilized without their free and informed consent, nothing of the sort is being planned yet in Slovakia. "I believe that the current developments in the Czech Republic will inspire the responsible institutions in Slovakia to begin taking action on this question, finally," said attorney Vanda Durbáková, who has long dedicated herself to this subject through her work for the Center for Civil and Human Rights, in a press release on 8 June.

"The Justice Ministry should, as soon as possible, come forward with a bill to compensate women who have been harmed in this way," the attorney said. Slovak ombudswoman Mária Patakyová has also repeatedly pointed out the need to compensate the victims of illegal sterilizations in Slovakia. 

Slovak NGOs have also issued an appeal to the relevant authorities in association with the legislative success of the Czech compensation bill. "Thanks to [that bill] many Romani women in the Czech Republic could be financially compensated who were harmed by this practice in the past," notes the press release.

"It is alarming that the adoption of a similar law in Slovakia is nowhere on the horizon," the Center for Civil and Human Rights statement warned. Durbáková also recalled in the press release that the investigation of such cases of unlawful sterilizations and redress by Slovakia has been called for by international human rights bodies, and recommendations to that effect were also expressed by the UN Human Rights Committee in 2016. 

In Czechoslovakia, the state to which both the Czech Republic and Slovakia belonged prior to 1993, policy on such procedures was regulated in 1971 through the adoption of guidelines on the performance of sterilizations. When those guidelines were in effect, the systematic sterilization of women, mostly from the Romani community, without their full and informed consent, was undertaken as a means of limiting their birthrate.

When Czechoslovakia ceased to exist in 1993, different legislation regulating such procedures took effect in each country. According to one Romani woman to whom this happened, Elena Gorolová, who has become the face of the fight for compensation (and not just in the Czech Republic), forced sterilizations did not end when those legal regulations changed, but continued for several years after that, with the most recent case of a Romani woman being sterilized without her free and informed consent having occurred in 2007, as far as she is aware. 

bau, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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forced sterilization, law, odškodnění, Slovakia



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