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NGO accuses Supreme Court of legitimising Roma humiliation

According to the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Slovakia, the Supreme Court has justified hate and degrading speech against the Roma minority, thereby legitimising the view that Roma are inferior and that their dignity is of less importance than other citizens of this country.

According to the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Slovakia, the Supreme Court has justified hate and degrading speech against the Roma minority, thereby legitimising the view that Roma are inferior and that their dignity is of less importance than other citizens of this country.

The SITA newswire quoted the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Slovakia in its response to the decision of the Supreme Court regarding an appeal filed by former Justice Minister Lucia Žitňanská of the opposition Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ), by which it upheld the ruling of the Regional Court in Banská Bystrica.

According to the Supreme Court's opinion, the distribution of campaign leaflets with the text "With your trust, I can … do away with unfair favouritism for not only Gypsy parasites" does not amount to offense of defamation of nation, race and beliefs. These leaflets were distributed before regional elections in 2009 by leader of the far-right People’s Party – Our Slovakia Marian Kotleba when he ran as an independent candidate for head of the Banská Bystrica District. In the original verdict, the Regional Court concluded that the text of the leaflet was not directed against the Roma ethnic group. According to the court, Kotleba’s wording in the text was not targeting the Roma ethnic group as a whole, but only those who take advantage of the benefits offered by society and ultimately not only 'parasites' of this ethnic group, but also 'parasites' from the majority population, which is highlighted by the words "not only" in its text. At the initiative of the then Government Plenipotentiary for Roma Communities Miroslav Pollák, Žitňanská filed an appeal against the verdict of the Regional Court. The Supreme Court rejected the appeal in March.

The Sme daily also wrote that the Helsinki Committee was joined by People against Racism, the Centre for Research of Ethnicity, the Roma Institute and the Open Society Foundation, in condemning the verdict.

(Source: SITA, Sme)
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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