Court awards over €16,000 in compensation for unlawful sterilisation

On May 26 a district court awarded financial compensation to an illegally sterilised Roma woman from a case going back to the 1990s. This is just the second case with such a decision.

Vanda DurbákováVanda Durbáková (Source: TASR)

The Spišská Nová Ves District Court awarded the woman the full required amount of compensation, which totaled over €16,000. This is just the second case in which Slovak courts have fully upheld the claim of a Roma woman concerning forced sterilisation, the Consultancy for Civil and Human Rights non-governmental organisation said in the TASR newswire. The verdict is not effective yet.

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“The Roma woman in question was sterilised in 1999 during the birth of her second child, which was carried out via Caesarean section,” Štefan Ivanco, programme coordinator of the NGO, said. “She wasn’t informed about the sterilisation by the hospital staff and did not give her consent to it. She learnt that she’d been sterilised only after the procedure.”

The woman turned to courts in 2005, filing a suit and demanding an apology on the part of the Košice-area Krompachy hospital where the procedure took place, which carried out the procedure, compensation of 500,000 Slovak crowns (approximately €16,600), and reimbursement of legal fees, Ivanco said.

A never-ending case

Spišská Nová Ves District Court dealt with the case several times, and its verdicts were overturned by an appeals court more than once, according to Ivanco. “Finally, in 2011, the court ruled that the woman’s rights had been violated by unlawful sterilisation and obliged the guilty party to apologise in written form.”

Consequently, the courts further decided on the amount of compensation for the Roma woman. In 2014, the court awarded compensation worth €500, a ruling which the woman appealed.

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The appellate court ordered the district court to consider with the decisions of Slovak courts and the European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg when stipulating the amount of compensation. Those courts had previously decided in favour of the sterilised women and delivered financial damage compensations between €25,000-€31,000.

Only on May 26, the district court decided to award the woman in this case full compensation worth over €16,000.

“I am happy that the court decided to award me financial compensation for the illegal sterilisation,” the woman said after the court ruling. “However, no money will ever compensate for what they did to me at the hospital.”

“The decision complies with national and international legal rules for the protection of human rights,” Vanda Durbáková, a lawyer working with the NGO, said in a press release. “It is alarming, though, that it took the courts such an unbelievably long time to recognize her rights and that the Spišská Nová Ves District Court managed to produce so many unjust decision during that period. I hope that this ruling will lead to better protection of human rights by Slovak courts in the future.”

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