Roma rights organisation accuses Czech Republic of coercive sterilisation of Roma women|
The European Roma Rights Center, an international organisation monitoring
the situation of Romany minorities in Europe has expressed concern over
alleged abuse of human rights in the Czech Republic. It is calling on the
office of the Czech ombudsman to investigate alleged cases of coercive
sterilisation of Roma women carried out in the Czech Republic.
The European Roma Rights Center says it has evidence of several cases of
coercive sterilisation of Roma women, carried out in the 1990s - the most
recent one only three years ago.
The Budapest-based center says that last year its investigators got in
touch with women in North Bohemia who told them they had been sterilised
by doctors without giving their consent.
Jan Jarab is the Czech government's commissioner for human rights.
"The European Roma Rights Center has been making that claim for two
years, the claim being that the Czech Republic somehow tolerates
involuntary sterilisation in Roma women. Now that is not true. I cannot
say if there has or has not been an individual case of an involuntary
sterilisation in a Roma or non-Roma woman, because first there would have
to be an individual plaintiff and it would have to be investigated and
then if the authorities tried not to investigate them or cover them up,
then you could say that the Czech Republic tolerates such a
The Roma minority has a significantly higher birth rate than the rest of
the Czech Republic's population. In the communist era, between the years
1959 and 1990, some Roma women were sterilised as part of the state
programme of birth control. There is evidence of some 300 cases from that
period and some reports suggest that Roma women even received financial
rewards from the state for agreeing to sterilisation.
Currently, under Czech law, women can undergo sterilisation only if they
have four children (or three if the woman is over 35 years of age) or in a
case when a new pregnancy would be a threat to the woman's life. But in
all cases the operation will be carried out only if the woman makes an
At this stage, little information is available about the latest disturbing
allegations, and with the Czech ombudsman about to begin investigation,
neither the Roma Rights Center, nor the office of the ombudsman are
releasing further details.