MDAC and ERRC call on UN to address multiple discrimination, Czech Republic

During August, many States will see their laws, policies and practices reviewed by the UN Committee against Racial Discrimination. One of the States to be reviewed is the Czech Republic, a country where MDAC has worked for many years. MDAC and our partners at the European Roma Rights Centre and the Platform for Social Housing have sent detailed written comments to the Committee, calling for them to address widespread human rights violations in the country, including the denial of inclusive education, historic policies of forced sterilisation, poor housing and living conditions, and ill-treatment.

Roma children and children with disabilities continue to be segregated in Czech education system. Photo: Jiri Dolezel

The collaboration is particularly important because it provides an insight into the human rights violations faced by Roma communities in the Czech Republic, as well as raising specific problems faced by Roma people with disabilities. In this submission, we explain how the forms of discrimination they experience are multifaceted, relating to deep rooted prejudices and stereotypes on the basis of ethnicity and disability, resulting in acute forms of social isolation. The submission notes that other grounds such as gender and age also play a role.

A clear example is the way in which the country continues to maintain a two-track system of education: 'special schools', in which Roma children and children with disabilities are frequently segregated; and 'mainstream schools', which provide for everyone else. Children from Roma communities are regularly subjected to racially-biased diagnostic tools resulting in them being labelled with a disability, which allows the State to place them in special schools. Further, the very existence of such special schools - ostensibly to provide for children with disabilities - violate international standards on inclusive education for all children (Article 24, CRPD). As a result, Roma children wrongly labelled with a disability end up wrongly segregated, children with actual or perceived impairments end up wrongly segregated, Roma children with disabilities face multiple forms of discrimination, and very few of these children are supported to access mainstream schools - as is their right. Such separation in early years often results in substantially lower educational outcomes, unemployment, lifelong social segregation, and long-term institutionalisation.

MDAC sees this submission as an important step towards raising the concerns of people with disabilities more widely across the UN's human rights mechanisms. It therefore calls on the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to integrate a disability perspective in the way in which it reviews the Czech Republic's compliance with Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and develop its jurisprudence in a manner which addresses the particular violations faced by people as a result of intersectional discrimination.

Read or download the submission here


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