Annual Report: Slovakia 2010

Report
May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Slovakia 2010

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Head of state Ivan Ga?parovi?
Head of government Robert Fico
Death penalty abolitionist for all crimes
Population 5.4 million
Life expectancy 74.6 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f) 9/8 per 1,000

Roma continued to face discrimination and violence at the hands of both state authorities and private individuals, and were still largely denied equal access to education, housing and health.

Background

Despite assuming the Presidency of the Decade for Roma Inclusion 2005-2015 in June, Slovakia failed to acknowledge serious structural deficiencies in the country's educational system which continued to segregate many Roma children into an inferior system.

In April, Slovakia ratified the Revised European Social Charter with the exception of Article 31 on the right to housing. The amendment to the penal law that introduced the concept of crimes of extremism entered into force in September. The amendment was criticized by Slovakian NGOs, who argued that the definition of extremism is vague and that the amendment does not address the structural causes of the problem. The law was adopted in June despite a veto by the President.

Citing grounds of procedural deficiencies, in July the Supreme Court annulled the November 2008 decision of the Ministry of Interior to ban a right-wing group known as the Slovak Brotherhood (Slovenská Pospolitos?). The Ministry had declared the group unconstitutional and illegal in spreading national, racial, religious and political hatred. The Ministry announced it would issue a new ban.

The Slovak Brotherhood organized a series of rallies between August and December conveying anti- Roma messages. One of the group's leaders, Marián Kotleba, was charged on 22 August with defaming nationality, race and belief.

Discrimination - Roma

Education

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.