Slovakia Human Rights
In September, the UN Human Rights Council raised concerns under the Universal Periodic Review about the situation of the Romani minority in Slovakia, including the disproportionate enrolment of Romani children in special schools.
In May, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) recommended that data be collected to monitor the impact of public policies on minorities, including Roma. Due to lack of data disaggregated by ethnicity and gender, the government was unable to assess the composition of different types of schools.
Although discrimination and segregation are prohibited by legislation, effective legal and policy measures that would ensure implementation in practice were still not in place. Romani children continued to be segregated in schools and classes providing inferior education.
In May, ECRI urged Slovakia to take measures to remove Roma children who had no disabilities from special elementary schools and integrate them into mainstream education. It also urged that allegations of discriminatory practices against Roma in schools be investigated, and that policies be introduced to prevent placing children from minority groups in separate classes.
In September, the Roma Education Fund reported that the proportion of Romani children attending special schools was almost 60 per cent, and the proportion in special classes with substandard education in mainstream schools was 85.8 per cent. It called on the government to abolish special primary schools for children with mild mental disability.
The special school in Pavlovce nad Uhom underwent further inspections in 2009. In 2008, 99.5 per cent of the pupils were Roma, and were often transferred to the school without any assessment. An inspection carried out between April and May demonstrated that there were still many Romani children in the special school who had never been diagnosed with mental disability. The State School Inspectorate recommended that the school's director be dismissed; he resigned in November.
Forced sterilization of Romani women
In a response to the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review, Slovakia announced that it had adopted legislative measures, including requiring health workers to seek informed consent for sterilization and the definition of a new criminal offence of "illegal sterilization". However, according to the Centre for Civil and Human Rights ((Porad?a pre ob?ianske a ?udské práva), the Ministry of Health Care failed to issue any implementing guidelines on sterilizations and informed consent for health workers. In addition, the authorities were still failing to carry out thorough, impartial and effective investigations into all cases of alleged forced sterilizations.
In April, in the case of K.H. and others v. Slovakia, the European Court of Human Rights found Slovakia in violation of the right to private and family life and the right to access to court. The case involved eight Romani women who suspected that the reason for their infertility might be that a sterilization procedure was performed on them during their Caesarean delivery in hospitals in eastern Slovakia. The women were refused full access to the official documentation relating to their medical treatment. The Court ruled that the state must give access to files containing personal data, and must permit copies to be made. The government requested that the case be reviewed by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights.
In June, parliament adopted an Amendment to the Law on Health Care and Health Care Services, introducing a 48-hour waiting period for women seeking an abortion on request. This breaches WHO guidelines which state that waiting periods unnecessarily delay care and decrease safety. The Amendment also stipulated that personal data such as identity numbers should be collected to record the women seeking abortions.