EC slams Slovakia for Roma discrimination in education

THE EUROPEAN Commission (EC) has adopted a tougher stance towards European Union-member states, including Slovakia, that discriminate against Roma communities, according to a document published on April 29.

Illustrative stock photoIllustrative stock photo (Source: Sme)

The EC’s initiative has been welcomed by Amnesty International, the European Network Against Racism, the European Roma Rights Centre and the Open Society Foundation in a joint press release.

It is shocking that Roma children in Slovakia are systematically segregated from non-Roma children and sent to special schools, Amnesty International office director for European institutions Iverna McGowan said.

“No child should ever be denied equal access to education. This is a basic human right,” said McGowan, as quoted by the TASR newswire.

Several international and national organisations active in human rights and protection of civil society have appealed to the Slovak government to tackle the widespread discriminatory practices used against Roma children in education.

The Slovak government allegedly refused to respond to these recommendations, arguing that all children in Slovakia are guaranteed equal treatment in education. Amnesty International claims that the situation in Slovak schools is a “different story”, however, and refers to a United Nations Development Programme survey from 2012. This states that more than 43 percent of Roma in schools are enrolled in ethnically segregated classes.

The EC launched legal proceedings against the Czech Republic in September 2014 for breaches of EU anti-discrimination law, referring to discrimination against Roma children in education.

Slovakia is only the second country, after the Czech Republic, against which such a proceeding has been opened, the SITA newswire wrote. The decision was announced on April 29, after a meeting of the senate of commissioners. The EC will send an official announcement to Slovak government, evaluating the situation and setting a date until when the latter’s reaction should be sent. The EC will then decide, according to SITA, whether Slovakia fails to fulfil its obligations; and if it finds so, it can proceed the case to the European Court of Justice.     

 

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