Saturday, March 6, 2010


UN says Roma in the Czech Republic and Slovakia suffer discrimination
Geneva, 5.3.2010, 12:12, (ROMEA)


Today UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said Roma in the Czech Republic, Italy and Slovakia suffer from discrimination and the situation seems to be deteriorating. Her remarks were reported by AFP. Czech Human Rights and Minorities Minister Michael Kocáb told the Czech Press Agency that in his view the claim that the situation is worsening for the Roma in the Czech Republic does not correspond to reality.

Pillay presented her annual human rights report to the UN Human Rights Council today in Geneva. “While the EU and several European governments have done their best to improve the situation of the Roma, in many other countries, including the Czech Republic and Slovakia, their position is noticeably deteriorating,” she said.

Pillay also said the Roma continue to face unconcealed racism and racist attacks in many European countries. “I will be discussing the issue of discrimination against the Roma and attacks on them as well as attacks on immigrants with the authorities in Italy next week, and I will continue these discussions wherever advisable,” Pillay said. She did not mention the Czech Republic, Slovakia, or any other country in this context.

Kocáb says there is no proof of the alleged deterioration of the position of the Roma in the Czech Republic. “I do not understand how the situation can be considered worse when we have not had reports of any serious racially motivated attacks since the one in Vítkov,” he said.

Last April three Roma were injured during an arson attack in Vítkov; one, a little girl named Natálka who was not yet two years old, suffered burns over 80 % of her body. Police have charged four members of the extreme right with committing the attack.

A representative of the Office of the Government of Slovakia said the government is endeavoring to eliminate racial discrimination. “Slovakia proceeds in accordance with international agreements and international law, and through the use of our own national policies we are intensively involved in resolving the problems of our inhabitants in all areas, including eliminating all forms of racial discrimination,” said Kristina Lempochnerová of the press department of the Government Rapporteur for the Roma Community.

The text of the UN report, which is dated at the end of January and has been published on the web pages of the UN in Geneva on the occasion of today’s UN Human Rights Council meeting does not mention the Czech Republic or Slovakia specifically. In the report, the Commissioner generally criticizes discrimination against the Roma in Europe. However, she believes human rights are mainly being violated outside of Europe and that women are the most discriminated people in the world.

Pillay included passages on the Czech Republic and Slovakia in a cursory overview of the situation in several parts of the world. In addition, she expressed “deep uneasiness” over the deterioration of the human rights situation in Iran and over death penalty verdicts in Sudan, as well as “uneasiness” over attacks on human rights defenders, a context in which she mentioned Russia.

Pillay said “a certain amount of progress” had been made toward closing the controversial prison at the US military base on Guantanamo in Cuba, as well as in banning some interrogation methods there. In her view, the USA should now thoroughly investigate the alleged torture at its bases in Bagram, Afghanistan and Guantánamo and bring those responsible to justice.

Pillay also referred to ongoing serious violations of freedom of assembly and speech in some Central Asian countries. She called on Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to increase their cooperation with the UN Human Rights Council.

ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert

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