Thursday, January 14, 2010



January 13, 2010
Report: Czechs Still Segregating Gypsy Kids
Filed at 2:02 p.m. ET

PRAGUE (AP) -- The Czech Republic is defying a European court ruling by continuing to place thousands of healthy Gypsy children in schools for the mentally disabled, Amnesty International said Wednesday.

Gypsies, or Roma, make up 80 percent of the students in schools for those with mild mental disabilities, the rights group said in a report Wednesday.

Roma are one of Europe's largest, poorest and fastest-growing minorities. An estimated 7 million to 9 million live in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania and other countries.

''Systematic discrimination against Romani children in education continues,'' said Amnesty's director for Europe and Central Asia, Nicola Duckworth. ''The Czech authorities must end the segregation of Roma children in schools and act to tackle the underlying causes of discrimination.''

Ruling on a suit filed by Roma youths, the European Court of Human Rights said in 2007 that the Czech Republic must stop herding Roma children into special schools. Failure to comply with the ruling could lead to a new court case and possible fines or sanctions.

The Czech Education Ministry, which has said it would take years to solve the problem, on Wednesday said studies of the situation had been carried out and some legal changes had been made.

Amnesty said the changes did not go far enough, and called on the government to freeze all placements of Roma children in such schools.

The Budapest-based Roma Rights Center said the Amnesty report was in line with its own findings.

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