Roma from Ukraine and Hungary hang out near the main railway station and the Grand Hotel in Brno, June 2, 2022.
Strasbourg – Roma in the Czech Republic continue to face discrimination in almost all aspects of life, and efforts are needed on several fronts to fundamentally change this situation, said Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovičová today. Among other things, it draws attention to the different attitude towards the Ukrainian Roma compared to other refugees from the war-affected country.
The statements came in the wake of a five-day visit to the Czech Republic, which the commissioner completed last week with the aim of mapping the living conditions of the Roma minority and also the state of the rights of people with disabilities. During the visit, she met with representatives of Czech authorities and non-governmental organizations.
“The Czech Republic should do everything possible in an effort to confront the long-standing problem of discrimination and exclusion of Roma and people with disabilities,” appeals Mijatovičová in the press release of the Council of Europe. “Although there have been some positive developments, I am concerned about how many of the problems of discrimination and exclusion identified by all my predecessors persist,” she continued.
According to the commissioner, Roma are discriminated against in education, the housing market, the labor market and when contacting the police. In more detail, she focused primarily on education, where she sees the need for a “paradigm change” and a shift away from the emphasis on testing, which she considers a tool for the segregation of Roma children in lower-quality or special schools. Furthermore, Mijatovičová draws attention to the problems of Roma with access to compensation for forced sterilizations or the events surrounding Roma refugees from Ukraine. According to her, this highlighted “deeply rooted prejudices” in Czech society.
Czech authorities are aware of the observed problems and are working on strategies to mitigate them, but putting these plans into practice is difficult, adds Mijatovičová. “There are a lot of good ideas and intentions that could help Czech societies become more inclusive, but they require proper implementation and enforcement,” she said.