THE SLOVAK government wants to avoid paying the damages ordered by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to Roma women who weren’t allowed to make photocopies of their health documentation in 2002 that might have shown that they were sterilised without their consent.
In April 2009, the ECHR ruled that Slovakia must pay €3,500 to each of the women in the case.
However, Slovakia appealed the decision and requested the ruling be examined by the Great Chamber of the Court, whose decision will be final, the Sme daily reported.
“We have based our appeal on the disagreement made by Slovak judge Ján Šikuta with the majority ruling,” Marica Pirošíková, the representative of Slovakia in the case told Sme. “We have cited cases in domestic judicial practice which demonstrate that previous complaints requesting damages filed with the Slovak courts without photocopies of the health documentation could be won.”
According to Barbora Bukovská, the legal representative of the Roma women, the appeal is illogical.
“[The government] claims it did not violate the rights of the women because a patient shouldn’t have access to the documentation in order not to misuse it,” she told Sme. “In the meantime however it has changed the law and allowed full access to the documentation.”
It is still not certain whether the case will be heard in the Great Chamber.
“The government’s request for passing the case to the Chamber must be evaluated by a five-member senate,” Pirošíková said, as quoted by Sme. If the senate refuses the request, the original ruling will stand.