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US Commission hails decision on Romani sterilisation victims

In a statement released on April 29, the Commissioners of the US Helsinki Commission welcomed news that the European Court on Human Rights issued a decision on April 28 awarding damages to eight Romani women who had sued the Slovak Government in connection with their sterilization without informed consent.

In a statement released on April 29, the Commissioners of the US Helsinki Commission welcomed news that the European Court on Human Rights issued a decision on April 28 awarding damages to eight Romani women who had sued the Slovak Government in connection with their sterilization without informed consent.

Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, Chairman of the Helsinki Commission, formally known as the United States Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, remarked on the decision:

“I have personally expressed my concern to both Czech and Slovak officials regarding the sterilization without informed consent of Romani women. Neither government has done enough to acknowledge this past practice or to provide victims with remedies, so I am particularly pleased that these women have persevered and prevailed.”

The Commission’s statement noted that in the past the Czechoslovak communist state had targeted Romani women for sterilisation and that although the sterilisation policy ended with the fall of communism, the practice continued sporadically in both the Czech and Slovak Republics.

The statement reports that on December 13, 2006, Slovakia’s highest court ruled that the regional prosecution’s investigation in the cases of three Romani women alleging wrongful sterilisation had been so faulty that it violated both the Slovak Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Commissioners wrote: “In the 'Case of K.H. and Others v. Slovakia', announced yesterday, the European Court on Human Rights found a violation of article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (right to a hearing regarding civil rights and obligations) and article 8 (right to family life).”

The Commission is an independent agency of the US Federal Government charged with monitoring compliance with the Helsinki Accords and advancing comprehensive security through promotion of human rights, democracy, and economic, environmental and military cooperation in 56 countries. www.csce.gov

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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