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US State Department criticises Slovak courts and Roma discrimination

IN ITS latest Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013 the US Department of State criticised Slovakia for weaknesses in operation of the country’s justice system and the prevailing discrimination of Roma. The Slovak Justice Ministry responded that the results show the country needs reforms.

IN ITS latest Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013 the US Department of State criticised Slovakia for weaknesses in operation of the country’s justice system and the prevailing discrimination of Roma. The Slovak Justice Ministry responded that the results show the country needs reforms.

“Authorities maintained effective control over security forces,” reads the report. “Security forces remained committed to curbing human rights abuses.”

According to the report, notable human rights problems during the year included abuse of power by judicial figures, a continued lack of checks and balances within the judicial system, low public trust in the judiciary, and continued societal discrimination and violence against Roma.

The report mentions the reports from activists and members of Roma community over the prevailing trend of bad behaviour of police officers to detained Roma, racially-motivated violent attacks and meetings of far-right groups aimed on intimidating the minorities.

Anti-Roma moods still prevail in public and political discussion in Slovakia, and Roma are still discriminated in the area of employment, education, health care, housing and access to commercial services, the report said. It also points to information from non-governmental institutions that point to abusing Roma children, mostly by their families or other Roma.

Other human rights problems included prison overcrowding and targeting of the press for civil defamation suits by members of the political and judicial elite, the report reads.

The government investigated reports of abuses by members of the security forces and other government institutions, though there are some questions about the thoroughness of these investigations. Some officials engaged in corrupt practices with impunity.

According to Justice Ministry spokeswoman Alexandra Donevová, the country’s judiciary needs reform. In this respect she mentioned the package of changes proposed by the ministry in cooperation with Prime Minister Robert Fico. The ministry also continues in implementing crucial systemic measures in the area of law enforcement and modernisation of judiciary she told the TASR newswire.

Source: US Department of State, TASR

Compiled by Radka Minarechová from press reports

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