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Roma sterilizations practiced for decades

The Slovak Spectator (TSS): What do you think of the Constitutional Court's verdict?

Barbora Bukovská (BB):We welcome it. However, we've been trying for more than five years now to draw attention to the manipulative way that the investigation was carried out and the efforts that were made to threaten the victims and cover up serious violations [of rights]. We are therefore insisting on both a thorough investigation of the case and compensation, as well as an investigation into the decades-long practice of forced sterilization in Slovakia.

We are constantly calling on the Slovak government to set up a special commission to investigate forced sterilizations, one that would also include representatives of Roma communities and NGOs. The cabinet has to admit its responsibility for the forced sterilizations of Roma women and to compensate all the victims of this practice.

TSS: Why did only three women turn to the Constitutional Court? The allegations suggest that many more women were mutilated in this way.

BB: These three women are clients [of the Civil and Human Rights Centre]. There were many more women, but you would have to ask each of them personally why they did not turn to the court. I believe it was because of the attitude that the Slovak authorities took towards this matter at the beginning of the 1990s. A certain scepticism and pessimism among the now-infertile women remains - they may think that there's no use in complaining. However, many civil disputes are taking place in which some women are demanding compensation in court.

TSS: Does the Constitutional Court verdict prove that the investigation was biased?

BB: Ever since the investigation began, we have been pointing out its deficiencies, the grossest of which is the fact that investigators found cases of forced sterilizations, such as in case of the three given women, two of whom were under-age and sterilized without the consent of their legal guardians, and one without informed consent, and yet charges were never laid in these cases.

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