Last Updated: Friday, 25 July 2014, 08:19 GMT

Czech Republic: Government efforts to integrate Roma in Czech society; situation of Roma in terms of employment, education, housing and health care (2009-2010)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Publication Date 10 March 2011
Citation / Document Symbol CZE103684.E
Related Document République tchèque : information sur les mesures prises par le gouvernement pour intégrer les Roms au sein de la société tchèque; la situation des Roms en matière d'emploi, d'éducation, de logement et de soins de santé (2009-mars 2011)
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Czech Republic: Government efforts to integrate Roma in Czech society; situation of Roma in terms of employment, education, housing and health care (2009-2010), 10 March 2011, CZE103684.E , available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4d9d6ed22.html [accessed 25 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Government Efforts to Improve the Situation of Roma

In the lead-up to becoming a European Union (EU) member country in May 2004, the Czech Republic, under pressure to "protect the human rights of the Roma and improve their condition within society," implemented a number of laws and policies to "address persistent systemic discrimination against the Roma" (Caparini Nov. 2010, 1-2, 8). However, a senior research fellow at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI), writing in a November 2010 publication for the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), questions the effectiveness of those measures, "especially at the local level" (ibid., 2).

Since the Czech Republic's accession into the EU, the government has continued to develop institutional and policy measures to address the situation of the Roma (ibid., 9). The Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights, reporting on the results of interviews with government authorities and representatives of civil society during his visit to the Czech Republic in November 2010, commends the Czech Republic for implementing Roma inclusion strategies "for many years now" (3 Mar. 2011, Para. 28) although he points out that the government needs to "monitor outcomes through the collection of adequate statistical data" (ibid., Summary Sec. 2) to determine their effectiveness "on the ground" (ibid., Para. 29).

These strategies or measures, what the NUPI senior research fellow calls the government's "important" developments, include establishing a minister for human rights and national minorities in January 2007 (Caparini Nov. 2010, 9) and, in 2008, the Agency for Social Inclusion (Caparini Nov. 2010, 9; Romea.cz 7 Feb. 2011; Council of Europe 3 Mar. 2011, Para. 31). The government also adopted reforms to its educational system following a 2007 European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruling (Caparini Nov. 2010, 9; Council of Europe 3 Mar. 2011, Para. 58), which found the Czech Republic was barring access of Roma children to education on the basis of race or ethnicity (AI 31 Dec. 2009; ERRC July 2010, 37; Caparini Nov. 2010, 10).

In 2010, the government released a report on the steps it is taking to improve the position of the Roma minority (Czech Republic Sept. 2010, 1). In addition to highlighting its efforts in the areas of employment, housing, and health, the report mentions that it has strengthened membership of the Government Council for Roma Minority Affairs to make easier implementation of its Roma Integration Concept for 2010-2013 (ibid.), which establishes "important priorities in key areas … and identifies specific tasks for each government administration to perform" (Council of Europe 3 Mar. 2011, Para. 28). The Council is chaired by the prime minister and includes ministers from the ministries of culture, regional development, education, and the interior as well as representatives from the Roma community (Czech Republic Sept. 2010, 1).

Agency for Social Inclusion

The Agency for Social Inclusion (also translated as Agency for Social Integration) is responsible for "coordinating and improving social integration efforts with respect to Roma" (Caparini Nov. 2010, 9). The Czech Republic reported that the Agency supports local authorities in integrating Roma residents "threatened with social exclusion" and in developing socially excluded localities within the town or village as a whole (Sept. 2010, 10). In 2009, the Agency "worked within local partnerships with 139 institutions from 13 pilot locations," and in March 2010, added another 10 locations (ibid., 11). As of August 2010, the Agency had "worked with 269 local partners on developing and implementing local strategies for social integration" (ibid.). The Council of Europe's Human Rights Commissioner similarly notes in his report that the Agency for Social Inclusion of Roma Localities has been working to promote partnerships between stakeholders at local level for the implementation of social inclusion projects… and is currently working in 23 localities and plans to start working in ten more localities in 2011. (Council of Europe 3 Mar. 2011, Para. 31)

The support provided by the Agency in the localities includes helping local partners implement projects through an analysis of the "needs of inhabitants in excluded localities" and an assessment of "the effectiveness of existing integration measures" (Czech Republic Sept. 2010, 11). As a result of the 72 projects implemented in 2009 throughout different areas, 17,889 people from socially excluded localities received support, 3,200 of which were from Šluknov, 2,950 from Most, and 2,900 from Prerov (ibid., 11-12). The Research Directorate did not encounter information detailing the exact nature of the Agency's projects or the outcome of the support provided.

However, in an article from the Czech Roma news source Romea.cz, the Agency Ddirector explains that the organization is leaving Brno, one of the pilot locations in which the Agency first started working, because it "has not been able to effectively intervene in the social inclusion process there or to guarantee the successful fulfilment of key measures'" (Romea.cz 7 Feb. 2011). Although the Agency will continue its work in six out of the thirteen pilot locations until June 2011, the Director noted that they do not receive enough support from town authorities to continue in the other seven locations (ibid. 3 Feb. 2011). An Agency news release, translated and published in Romea.cz, notes that the organization "managed to initiate successful collaborations in two-thirds of the localities where [they] are active" (ibid. 13 Jan. 2011). For his part, the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights reported being encouraged by news that "very good work" is being carried out for Roma inclusion by some local authorities (3 Mar. 2011, Para. 31). However, he also indicated that "many local authorities are at the origin of the worst practices … that keep Roma in a vicious circle of poverty, discrimination and exclusion" (Council of Europe 3 Mar. 2011, Para. 31).

Situation of Roma (2009 - 2011)

The Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights, noting that the Czech Roma "continue to be particularly vulnerable to discrimination and racism," cites as still relevant his predecessor's 2006 report in which it was said that "many members of this community … remain caught in a spiral of exclusion and marginalisation affecting practically all areas of life, from employment to housing, education and personal safety" (3 Mar. 2011, Para. 26). The NUPI senior research fellow also says that in spite of the "numerous changes" implemented by the government, the situation of the Czech Roma "remains perilous in many respects" (Caparini Nov. 2010, 11). She explains that "Czech Roma are still largely segregated in terms of housing and education" (ibid.). A shadow report by the European Network Against Racism (ENAR) on racism and discrimination in the Czech Republic between 1 January 2009 and 31 March 2010 similarly notes that "Roma still remain the primary target of racist violence and institutional racism" and that "discrimination and stratification of Roma" in areas such as education, health, employment and housing "remain significant" (ENAR n.d., 5, 6). As well, a 2009 report on the Roma that was based on the results of the EU Minorities and Discrimination Survey (EU-MIDIS) by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) notes that, compared to the other European countries surveyed (Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia), the Czech Republic had "the highest level of overall discrimination" reported by Roma, at 64 percent (EU 2009, 4). As the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights explains, "discrimination and anti-Gypsyism are a major aspect of the exclusion of Roma" and until society, from the highest levels on down, recognize that the entire society must "share the responsibility for Roma inclusion, no strategies aimed at the inclusion of Roma can be fully successful" (3 Mar. 2011, Para. 30).

Employment

According to the ENAR report, "Roma are most at risk of employment discrimination" (ENAR n.d., 9). In 2009, efforts by the Czech Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs to support unemployed Roma resulted in an estimated 3,000-plus Roma being placed in "active employment policy tools" and another 2,850 in "employment support programs," which are part of the European Social Fund's Human Resources and Employment Operational Programme (Czech Republic Sept. 2010, 5). As well, more than 26,000 Roma agreed to Individual Action Plans (IAP), which are offered to individuals with more than five months of recorded unemployment (ibid.). The government's figures also show that in 2009, of the 38,804 unemployed Roma who were involved in various employment support programs, 5,106 Roma were "successfully placed in the job market" (ibid.).

However, the EU-MIDIS-based report states that 32 percent of Czech Roma respondents, referring to the 12-month period prior to completion of the survey, reported that they had experienced discrimination when looking for or while at work (EU 2009, 5). The ENAR report also indicates that the high unemployment rates among the Roma are related to employment discrimination (ENAR n.d., 9). It identifies the fact that Roma are under qualified as the "primary cause" of their "high unemployment rate" and suggests that their "low qualifications" are largely due to the cumulative effect of such factors as "discriminatory access to education, discriminatory behaviour of employers, life in socially excluded locations located in the areas with high unemployment rate, high level of debts and bad health conditions" (ENAR n.d., 9).

Citing reports published in 2008 and 2009, ENAR places Roma unemployment at about 57 percent and adds that Roma unemployment in "socially excluded locations" is around 75 to 100 percent (ibid., 9-10). Amnesty International (AI) likewise reports "some sources" as estimating that one third of those who are registered as unemployed are Roma (8 Apr. 2009).

Education

In a report on efforts to improve the situation of the Czech Roma, the government states that, in 2009, the

Ministry of Education

implemented research studies on analysing the use of diagnostic tools in relation to Roma children and mapping the proportion of socially disadvantaged Roma children in schools [that] teach in accordance with the Framework Teaching Programme for the Elementary Education of Children with Slight Mental Disability. (Czech Republic Sept. 2010, 3)

The goal of the research was to set up a suitable model of inclusive education ... to permit the teaching of the largest possible proportion of children with special educational needs inside the educational mainstream, including Roma children from socio-culturally disadvantaged backgrounds. (ibid.)

The Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights notes that in March 2010, the Czech government adopted the National Action Plan of Inclusive Education (NAPIE), "which sets out measures aimed at creating the preconditions for educating Roma children in mainstream education" (3 Mar. 2011, Para. 59). The Commissioner also notes that "[f]or the moment, however, there appear to have been hardly any changes on the ground" (ibid., Para. 60). Statistics provided to the Commissioner by the Czech authorities indicate that "across the country Roma children are 12 times more likely than their non-Roma peers to attend 'practical schools' (which have since replaced the special schools…) … and [i]n certain areas, Roma children are up to 27 times more likely to attend these schools" (ibid.).

However, in an issue of Roma Rights, a journal of the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC), an ERRC lawyer and the Executive Director, writing an article on changes to the Czech Republic's education system since the ECtHR decision in November 2007, note that, "few changes have been brought to secure the abolishment of segregation within the Czech education system, in particular as it concerns Roma, and to promote the inclusive education of Romani children" (ERRC 26 July 2010, 37). The ENAR report also states that "no efficient measures were taken in order to combat discrimination of Roma children in education" (ENAR n.d., 16). The European Commissioner notes in his report that "there are measures in place assisting Roma children to attend and remain in integrated mainstream schools," for instance "those aimed at promoting participation of Roma children in pre-school education" (Council of Europe 3 Mar. 2011, Para. 62) and the "appointment of teaching assistants" (ibid., Para. 63).

An AI call to end the segregation of Romani children in the Czech Republic corroborates these statements, reporting that, despite the November 2007 ECtHR decision, the Czech Republic was still not providing Romani children access to "mainstream quality education" and continuing to place them in special schools, in violation of their "human right…to education" (AI 15 Nov. 2010). AI also reported in December 2009 that the issue is not limited to the special schools, noting that "in mainstream elementary schools, many Romani children are placed in special classes for pupils with 'mild mental disabilities'" (ibid. 31 Dec. 2009).

The AI's December 2009 report also notes that because these special schools have lower standards, students' future in higher education and employment is impeded (AI 31 Dec. 2009). Similarly, ENAR says that [d]iscrimination of Roma children in primary education has a direct impact on the social situation of the Roma, therefore their chances to continue with higher education is thus significantly lower than in the case of non-Roma children. In turn their opportunity to obtain further qualifications and thus a good position on the job market is much lower. (ENAR n.d., 18)

According to the 2009 EU-MIDIS-based report, when asked about discrimination by school personnel, 11 percent of Czech Roma respondents reported experiencing discrimination by school personnel in the previous 12-month period (EU 2009, 5).

Number of Roma Children in Special Schools

In 2009, the Czech School Inspection (also Inspectorate) (CSI), a government body responsible for monitoring public and private education systems (Czech Republic n.d.a), reported that the number of Romani children attending special schools ranged from 30 to 50 percent compared with 2 percent of the general population (ENAR n.d., 17). In his comments on the CSI's findings, the Ombudsman of the Czech Republic stated that the overrepresentation of Roma children is indirectly discriminatory … [and] that the representation of almost one third of Roma children in such schools is discriminatory and it is necessary to qualify negative impacts of such unequal treatment, which has no legitimate justification. (ENAR n.d., 17)

AI reports higher numbers, saying that Romani children comprise over 80 percent of the students in these special schools, which the government renamed as "practical schools" (AI 15 Nov. 2010). In a report discussing measures taken to implement the ECtHR decision, the Czech government acknowledges that [w]hile 28% of Roma pupils receive education in the specialised schools under review, i.e., outside the educational mainstream, in the case of their non-Roma peers it is only 8%. The probability of being transferred to a specialised school is 3.5 times higher for Roma pupils than for other pupils. Ordinary mainstream primary schools are attended by 72% of Roma children (the figure is 92% for the other children), i.e., almost one third of Roma children attend schools outside the educational mainstream. (Czech Republic n.d.b, 6)

However, the Czech government also notes that "‘specialised schools'," which provide education for those with a "slight mental disability," contain "a significant percentage of socially disadvantaged pupils" and clarifies that "the set of the socially disadvantaged [pupils] and the set of the Roma overlap only partly" (ibid., 6-7). The government also indicates that [a] large majority of these schools note a proportion of at least 30% [socially disadvantaged pupils], and one fifth of the schools a proportion of more than 70%. The percentage of the Roma who receive education at the surveyed schools intended primarily for pupils with a slight mental disability is very high (in the sample under review, almost one half of the schools note a share of 50% and more, while one tenth of the schools are virtually homogeneous in ethnicity terms). (ibid., 7)

Erroneous placement in separate schools

AI states that even though the government and regional education authorities are "aware of the many erroneous placements that have taken place in the past few years, and that continue to take place," they have not engaged in a systematic process of identification of Romani children who have been wrongly placed in practical schools and classes for pupils with 'mild mental disabilities,' with the aim of reintegrating them into mainstream education. (AI 31 Dec. 2009)

A report by the CSI indicates that there are children who are mistakenly placed in special schools (Czech Republic Mar. 2010, 13). It surveyed 171 practical schools and found that 34 had pupils who had been mistakenly registered, which amounted to 110 "registered pupils without valid diagnosis" (ibid., 2, 13).

The European Commissioner also notes that "Roma children continue to be assigned to schools for children with mild mental disabilities without justification, as a result of either mis-diagnosis or direct enrolment in these schools not preceded by tests" (Council of Europe 3 Mar. 2011, Para. 61).

Housing

The Czech report on improving the situation of the Roma indicates that the Ministry of Regional Development's housing integration program (called the Integrated Operational Programme (IOP)) offers grants to cities for "the regeneration of buildings in deprived neighbourhoods populated in part by socially excluded Roma households to activities in the area of social inclusion, human resources and employment" (Czech Republic Sept. 2010, 7). Out of 41 applicant cities, 19 met the condition of containing a socially excluded Roma locality (ibid.). Details of the program were not encountered by the Research Directorate.

The 2009 EU-MIDIS-based report indicates that 13 percent of respondents experienced discrimination from a housing agency or a landlord over the previous 12 months (EU 2009, 5). The ENAR report similarly states that [d]iscrimination of Roma in housing is a serious problem in the [Czech Republic]. Roma belong to a group most likely to be in danger of housing discrimination, their position in the housing market is extremely marginalized. At the same time they are discriminated against by private owners, in the area of public (municipality or district) housing, by the property managing associations and including so-called social housing. (ENAR n.d., 13)

More specifically, the NUPI senior research fellow notes that in the Czech Republic, "[m]any Roma live in substandard, racially segregated low-income housing and neighbourhoods that have been termed 'socially excluded localities'" (Caparini Nov. 2010, 11). The ENAR report likewise notes that "Roma housing is characterized by an accumulation of problems," including poverty, an inability to pay rent, accessibility to "extremely low quality housing" only, and social exclusion, which leads to "the establishment of ghettos and excluded localities with totally inappropriate housing standards" (ENAR n.d., 13-14).

The Council of Europe report by the Commissioner of Human Rights notes that "around one third of the Czech Roma population continues to live in some 300 segregated localities…around the country, in substandard housing conditions and excluded from mainstream society" (3 Mar. 2011, Para. 89). Furthermore, "it appears that the number of people living in these localities is growing, with a few dozen such localities reportedly turning into slums" (ibid.).

According to the NUPI senior research fellow, state policies are among the factors connected to the existence of these "ghettos" (Caparini Nov. 2010, 11). Examples given include the Citizenship Law of 1993, which prevented many Roma from claiming citizenship and therefore social assistance and the requirements imposed by municipal governments that those applying for social housing be fully employed and behave morally, which "in practice restrict the ability of Roma to qualify for social housing" (ibid.). The European Human Rights Commissioner adds that "with housing falling entirely within the competence of municipal authorities, many municipalities around the country … continue to implement policies that perpetuate and compound Roma segregation in inadequate housing," despite work done by the Agency for Social Inclusion, which has produced results in some localities (Council of Europe 3 Mar. 2011, Para. 90).

Health

The Czech government reports that in 2009 there were 317 users (96 men and 221 women) of the Health and Social Help programme for Roma, which is run by the Drom organization in 10 locations in 4 regions, with a total of 8 health/social workers as the staff (Czech Republic Sept. 2010, 9). It is reported that [p]rogramme users came most often to their health social assistants with problems relating to registering with doctors (GPs, paediatricians, dentists and other specialists); and also with requests for help with arranging social benefits, invalidity benefit, medical support devices and institutional care associated with poor health. Another area was replacing missing or damaged insurance cards and not least changes of health insurance company. (ibid.)

The ENAR report mentions a national report by the Czech Republic in 2009, which notes that the health situation in Roma communities is relatively favourable although the fundamental causes of bad health conditions are phenomena related to social exclusion such as poor accommodation, illegal work in medically harmful conditions and other socio-pathological issues related to social exclusion. (ENAR n.d., 21)

The EU-MIDIS survey reports that 18 percent of respondents experienced discrimination from health care personnel (EU 2009, 5).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References

Amnesty International (AI). 15 November 2010. "End Segregation of Romani Children in Czech Schools." [Accessed 1 Feb. 2011]

_____. 31 December 2009. Czech Republic: End Injustice: Elementary Schools Still Fail Romani Children in the Czech Republic. (EUR 71/004/2009) [Accessed 1 Feb. 2011]

_____. 8 April 2009. "Europe's Roma Community Still Facing Massive Discrimination." [Accessed 23 Feb. 2011]

Caparini, Marina. November 2010. "State Protection of the Czech Roma and the Canadian Refugee System." CEPS Liberty and Security in Europe. (Centre for European Policy Studies) [Accessed 1 Feb. 2011]

Council of Europe. 3 March 2011. Commissioner for Human Rights. Report by Thomas Hammarberg, Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, Following his Visit to the Czech Republic from 17 to 19 November 2010. [Accessed 7 Mar. 2011]

Czech Republic. September 2010. "Report on Steps Taken by Public Administration and Other Bodies to Improve the Position of the Roma Minority in the Czech Republic." Document sent by the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Ottawa on 18 January 2011.

_____. March 2010. Czech School Inspection. Compendium of Results from the Thematic Control Activity in Practical Elementary Schools. (Open Society Fund Prague) [Accessed 14 Feb. 2011]

_____. N.d.a. Czech School Inspectorate. "Who Are We?" [Accessed 23 Feb. 2011]

_____. N.d.b. "Report of the Government of the Czech Republic on the General Measures of Execution of the Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in Case No. 57325/00 - D.H. and Others v. the Czech Republic: Information About the Results of Surveys and the Initial Conclusions." Document sent by the Coordinator for Visa and Migration Issues between the Czech Republic and Canada, Office of the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, on 26 May 2010.

European Network Against Racism (ENAR). N.d. Selma Muhic Dizdarevic and František Valeš. "Racism and Discriminatory Practices in the Czech Republic, ENAR Shadow Report 2009-2010." Advance copy sent by Senior Policy Analyst, at Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), on 9 February 2011; Permission to use the report granted by the ENAR Communication and Press Officer on 15 February 2011.

European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC). 26 July 2010. Lydia Gall and Robert Kushen. "What Happened to the Promise of D.H.?" Roma Rights. No.1, 2010.

European Union (EU). 2009. Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA). European Union Minorities and Discrimination Survey (EU-MIDIS) Data in Focus Report: The Roma. [Accessed 7 Feb. 2011]

Romea.cz [Prague]. 7 February 2011. "Czech Social Inclusion Agency to Leave Brno in June." [Accessed 15 Feb. 2011]

_____. 3 February 2011. "Czech Inclusion Agency Stops Working in Town to Protest Segregation." [Accessed 15 Feb. 2011]

_____. 13 January 2011. "Czech Agency for Social Inclusion: Mayor of Nový Bydžov Is Exacerbating the Situation." [Accessed 15 Feb. 2011]

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources: Academics from the Department of Political Science at the University of Central Missouri and the University of Bristol, and from the Nationalism and Ethnicity Studies at the University of Glasgow, the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, the Director of the Ministry of Development in the Czech Republic, Representatives from the Roma non-governmental organizations Drom, romské stredisko; Obcanské sdružení; Obcanské sdružení RomPraha pomáhá pri príprave projektu; Romodrom; SLOVO 21; and a representative from the European Commission's Directorate General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion were unable to provide information within the time constraints of this Response. A Romani studies researcher at the University of Greenwich and a Roma studies professor at the University of Montreal were unable to provide information within the time constraints of this Response.

Internet sites, including: Czech Republic - Agency for Social Integration (also Inclusion), Czech Republic - Ministry of Education, Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005-2015, European Roma Grassroots Organisations Network (ERGO), European Roma Information Office (ERIO), Factiva, Roma Virtual Network (RVN), United Nations (UN) Refworld, United States (US) Department of State.Government Efforts to Improve the Situation of Roma

In the lead-up to becoming a European Union (EU) member country in May 2004, the Czech Republic, under pressure to "protect the human rights of the Roma and improve their condition within society," implemented a number of laws and policies to "address persistent systemic discrimination against the Roma" (Caparini Nov. 2010, 1-2, 8). However, a senior research fellow at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI), writing in a November 2010 publication for the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), questions the effectiveness of those measures, "especially at the local level" (ibid., 2).

Since the Czech Republic's accession into the EU, the government has continued to develop institutional and policy measures to address the situation of the Roma (ibid., 9). The Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights, reporting on the results of interviews with government authorities and representatives of civil society during his visit to the Czech Republic in November 2010, commends the Czech Republic for implementing Roma inclusion strategies "for many years now" (3 Mar. 2011, Para. 28) although he points out that the government needs to "monitor outcomes through the collection of adequate statistical data" (ibid., Summary Sec. 2) to determine their effectiveness "on the ground" (ibid., Para. 29).

These strategies or measures, what the NUPI senior research fellow calls the government's "important" developments, include establishing a minister for human rights and national minorities in January 2007 (Caparini Nov. 2010, 9) and, in 2008, the Agency for Social Inclusion (Caparini Nov. 2010, 9; Romea.cz 7 Feb. 2011; Council of Europe 3 Mar. 2011, Para. 31). The government also adopted reforms to its educational system following a 2007 European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruling (Caparini Nov. 2010, 9; Council of Europe 3 Mar. 2011, Para. 58), which found the Czech Republic was barring access of Roma children to education on the basis of race or ethnicity (AI 31 Dec. 2009; ERRC July 2010, 37; Caparini Nov. 2010, 10).

In 2010, the government released a report on the steps it is taking to improve the position of the Roma minority (Czech Republic Sept. 2010, 1). In addition to highlighting its efforts in the areas of employment, housing, and health, the report mentions that it has strengthened membership of the Government Council for Roma Minority Affairs to make easier implementation of its Roma Integration Concept for 2010-2013 (ibid.), which establishes "important priorities in key areas … and identifies specific tasks for each government administration to perform" (Council of Europe 3 Mar. 2011, Para. 28). The Council is chaired by the prime minister and includes ministers from the ministries of culture, regional development, education, and the interior as well as representatives from the Roma community (Czech Republic Sept. 2010, 1).

Agency for Social Inclusion

The Agency for Social Inclusion (also translated as Agency for Social Integration) is responsible for "coordinating and improving social integration efforts with respect to Roma" (Caparini Nov. 2010, 9). The Czech Republic reported that the Agency supports local authorities in integrating Roma residents "threatened with social exclusion" and in developing socially excluded localities within the town or village as a whole (Sept. 2010, 10). In 2009, the Agency "worked within local partnerships with 139 institutions from 13 pilot locations," and in March 2010, added another 10 locations (ibid., 11). As of August 2010, the Agency had "worked with 269 local partners on developing and implementing local strategies for social integration" (ibid.). The Council of Europe's Human Rights Commissioner similarly notes in his report that the Agency for Social Inclusion of Roma Localities has been working to promote partnerships between stakeholders at local level for the implementation of social inclusion projects… and is currently working in 23 localities and plans to start working in ten more localities in 2011. (Council of Europe 3 Mar. 2011, Para. 31)

The support provided by the Agency in the localities includes helping local partners implement projects through an analysis of the "needs of inhabitants in excluded localities" and an assessment of "the effectiveness of existing integration measures" (Czech Republic Sept. 2010, 11). As a result of the 72 projects implemented in 2009 throughout different areas, 17,889 people from socially excluded localities received support, 3,200 of which were from Šluknov, 2,950 from Most, and 2,900 from Prerov (ibid., 11-12). The Research Directorate did not encounter information detailing the exact nature of the Agency's projects or the outcome of the support provided.

However, in an article from the Czech Roma news source Romea.cz, the Agency Ddirector explains that the organization is leaving Brno, one of the pilot locations in which the Agency first started working, because it "has not been able to effectively intervene in the social inclusion process there or to guarantee the successful fulfilment of key measures'" (Romea.cz 7 Feb. 2011). Although the Agency will continue its work in six out of the thirteen pilot locations until June 2011, the Director noted that they do not receive enough support from town authorities to continue in the other seven locations (ibid. 3 Feb. 2011). An Agency news release, translated and published in Romea.cz, notes that the organization "managed to initiate successful collaborations in two-thirds of the localities where [they] are active" (ibid. 13 Jan. 2011). For his part, the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights reported being encouraged by news that "very good work" is being carried out for Roma inclusion by some local authorities (3 Mar. 2011, Para. 31). However, he also indicated that "many local authorities are at the origin of the worst practices … that keep Roma in a vicious circle of poverty, discrimination and exclusion" (Council of Europe 3 Mar. 2011, Para. 31).

Situation of Roma (2009 - 2011)

The Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights, noting that the Czech Roma "continue to be particularly vulnerable to discrimination and racism," cites as still relevant his predecessor's 2006 report in which it was said that "many members of this community … remain caught in a spiral of exclusion and marginalisation affecting practically all areas of life, from employment to housing, education and personal safety" (3 Mar. 2011, Para. 26). The NUPI senior research fellow also says that in spite of the "numerous changes" implemented by the government, the situation of the Czech Roma "remains perilous in many respects" (Caparini Nov. 2010, 11). She explains that "Czech Roma are still largely segregated in terms of housing and education" (ibid.). A shadow report by the European Network Against Racism (ENAR) on racism and discrimination in the Czech Republic between 1 January 2009 and 31 March 2010 similarly notes that "Roma still remain the primary target of racist violence and institutional racism" and that "discrimination and stratification of Roma" in areas such as education, health, employment and housing "remain significant" (ENAR n.d., 5, 6). As well, a 2009 report on the Roma that was based on the results of the EU Minorities and Discrimination Survey (EU-MIDIS) by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) notes that, compared to the other European countries surveyed (Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia), the Czech Republic had "the highest level of overall discrimination" reported by Roma, at 64 percent (EU 2009, 4). As the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights explains, "discrimination and anti-Gypsyism are a major aspect of the exclusion of Roma" and until society, from the highest levels on down, recognize that the entire society must "share the responsibility for Roma inclusion, no strategies aimed at the inclusion of Roma can be fully successful" (3 Mar. 2011, Para. 30).

Employment

According to the ENAR report, "Roma are most at risk of employment discrimination" (ENAR n.d., 9). In 2009, efforts by the Czech Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs to support unemployed Roma resulted in an estimated 3,000-plus Roma being placed in "active employment policy tools" and another 2,850 in "employment support programs," which are part of the European Social Fund's Human Resources and Employment Operational Programme (Czech Republic Sept. 2010, 5). As well, more than 26,000 Roma agreed to Individual Action Plans (IAP), which are offered to individuals with more than five months of recorded unemployment (ibid.). The government's figures also show that in 2009, of the 38,804 unemployed Roma who were involved in various employment support programs, 5,106 Roma were "successfully placed in the job market" (ibid.).

However, the EU-MIDIS-based report states that 32 percent of Czech Roma respondents, referring to the 12-month period prior to completion of the survey, reported that they had experienced discrimination when looking for or while at work (EU 2009, 5). The ENAR report also indicates that the high unemployment rates among the Roma are related to employment discrimination (ENAR n.d., 9). It identifies the fact that Roma are under qualified as the "primary cause" of their "high unemployment rate" and suggests that their "low qualifications" are largely due to the cumulative effect of such factors as "discriminatory access to education, discriminatory behaviour of employers, life in socially excluded locations located in the areas with high unemployment rate, high level of debts and bad health conditions" (ENAR n.d., 9).

Citing reports published in 2008 and 2009, ENAR places Roma unemployment at about 57 percent and adds that Roma unemployment in "socially excluded locations" is around 75 to 100 percent (ibid., 9-10). Amnesty International (AI) likewise reports "some sources" as estimating that one third of those who are registered as unemployed are Roma (8 Apr. 2009).

Education

In a report on efforts to improve the situation of the Czech Roma, the government states that, in 2009, the Ministry of Education implemented research studies on analysing the use of diagnostic tools in relation to Roma children and mapping the proportion of socially disadvantaged Roma children in schools [that] teach in accordance with the Framework Teaching Programme for the Elementary Education of Children with Slight Mental Disability. (Czech Republic Sept. 2010, 3)

The goal of the research was to set up a suitable model of inclusive education ... to permit the teaching of the largest possible proportion of children with special educational needs inside the educational mainstream, including Roma children from socio-culturally disadvantaged backgrounds. (ibid.)

The Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights notes that in March 2010, the Czech government adopted the National Action Plan of Inclusive Education (NAPIE), "which sets out measures aimed at creating the preconditions for educating Roma children in mainstream education" (3 Mar. 2011, Para. 59). The Commissioner also notes that "[f]or the moment, however, there appear to have been hardly any changes on the ground" (ibid., Para. 60). Statistics provided to the Commissioner by the Czech authorities indicate that "across the country Roma children are 12 times more likely than their non-Roma peers to attend 'practical schools' (which have since replaced the special schools…) … and [i]n certain areas, Roma children are up to 27 times more likely to attend these schools" (ibid.).

However, in an issue of Roma Rights, a journal of the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC), an ERRC lawyer and the Executive Director, writing an article on changes to the Czech Republic's education system since the ECtHR decision in November 2007, note that, "few changes have been brought to secure the abolishment of segregation within the Czech education system, in particular as it concerns Roma, and to promote the inclusive education of Romani children" (ERRC 26 July 2010, 37). The ENAR report also states that "no efficient measures were taken in order to combat discrimination of Roma children in education" (ENAR n.d., 16). The European Commissioner notes in his report that "there are measures in place assisting Roma children to attend and remain in integrated mainstream schools," for instance "those aimed at promoting participation of Roma children in pre-school education" (Council of Europe 3 Mar. 2011, Para. 62) and the "appointment of teaching assistants" (ibid., Para. 63).

An AI call to end the segregation of Romani children in the Czech Republic corroborates these statements, reporting that, despite the November 2007 ECtHR decision, the Czech Republic was still not providing Romani children access to "mainstream quality education" and continuing to place them in special schools, in violation of their "human right…to education" (AI 15 Nov. 2010). AI also reported in December 2009 that the issue is not limited to the special schools, noting that "in mainstream elementary schools, many Romani children are placed in special classes for pupils with 'mild mental disabilities'" (ibid. 31 Dec. 2009).

The AI's December 2009 report also notes that because these special schools have lower standards, students' future in higher education and employment is impeded (AI 31 Dec. 2009). Similarly, ENAR says that [d]iscrimination of Roma children in primary education has a direct impact on the social situation of the Roma, therefore their chances to continue with higher education is thus significantly lower than in the case of non-Roma children. In turn their opportunity to obtain further qualifications and thus a good position on the job market is much lower. (ENAR n.d., 18)

According to the 2009 EU-MIDIS-based report, when asked about discrimination by school personnel, 11 percent of Czech Roma respondents reported experiencing discrimination by school personnel in the previous 12-month period (EU 2009, 5).

Number of Roma Children in Special Schools

In 2009, the Czech School Inspection (also Inspectorate) (CSI), a government body responsible for monitoring public and private education systems (Czech Republic n.d.a), reported that the number of Romani children attending special schools ranged from 30 to 50 percent compared with 2 percent of the general population (ENAR n.d., 17). In his comments on the CSI's findings, the Ombudsman of the Czech Republic stated that the overrepresentation of Roma children is indirectly discriminatory … [and] that the representation of almost one third of Roma children in such schools is discriminatory and it is necessary to qualify negative impacts of such unequal treatment, which has no legitimate justification. (ENAR n.d., 17)

AI reports higher numbers, saying that Romani children comprise over 80 percent of the students in these special schools, which the government renamed as "practical schools" (AI 15 Nov. 2010). In a report discussing measures taken to implement the ECtHR decision, the Czech government acknowledges that [w]hile 28% of Roma pupils receive education in the specialised schools under review, i.e., outside the educational mainstream, in the case of their non-Roma peers it is only 8%. The probability of being transferred to a specialised school is 3.5 times higher for Roma pupils than for other pupils. Ordinary mainstream primary schools are attended by 72% of Roma children (the figure is 92% for the other children), i.e., almost one third of Roma children attend schools outside the educational mainstream. (Czech Republic n.d.b, 6)

However, the Czech government also notes that "‘specialised schools'," which provide education for those with a "slight mental disability," contain "a significant percentage of socially disadvantaged pupils" and clarifies that "the set of the socially disadvantaged [pupils] and the set of the Roma overlap only partly" (ibid., 6-7). The government also indicates that [a] large majority of these schools note a proportion of at least 30% [socially disadvantaged pupils], and one fifth of the schools a proportion of more than 70%. The percentage of the Roma who receive education at the surveyed schools intended primarily for pupils with a slight mental disability is very high (in the sample under review, almost one half of the schools note a share of 50% and more, while one tenth of the schools are virtually homogeneous in ethnicity terms). (ibid., 7)

Erroneous placement in separate schools

AI states that even though the government and regional education authorities are "aware of the many erroneous placements that have taken place in the past few years, and that continue to take place," they have not engaged in a systematic process of identification of Romani children who have been wrongly placed in practical schools and classes for pupils with 'mild mental disabilities,' with the aim of reintegrating them into mainstream education. (AI 31 Dec. 2009)

A report by the CSI indicates that there are children who are mistakenly placed in special schools (Czech Republic Mar. 2010, 13). It surveyed 171 practical schools and found that 34 had pupils who had been mistakenly registered, which amounted to 110 "registered pupils without valid diagnosis" (ibid., 2, 13).

The European Commissioner also notes that "Roma children continue to be assigned to schools for children with mild mental disabilities without justification, as a result of either mis-diagnosis or direct enrolment in these schools not preceded by tests" (Council of Europe 3 Mar. 2011, Para. 61).

Housing

The Czech report on improving the situation of the Roma indicates that the Ministry of Regional Development's housing integration program (called the Integrated Operational Programme (IOP)) offers grants to cities for "the regeneration of buildings in deprived neighbourhoods populated in part by socially excluded Roma households to activities in the area of social inclusion, human resources and employment" (Czech Republic Sept. 2010, 7). Out of 41 applicant cities, 19 met the condition of containing a socially excluded Roma locality (ibid.). Details of the program were not encountered by the Research Directorate.

The 2009 EU-MIDIS-based report indicates that 13 percent of respondents experienced discrimination from a housing agency or a landlord over the previous 12 months (EU 2009, 5). The ENAR report similarly states that [d]iscrimination of Roma in housing is a serious problem in the [Czech Republic]. Roma belong to a group most likely to be in danger of housing discrimination, their position in the housing market is extremely marginalized. At the same time they are discriminated against by private owners, in the area of public (municipality or district) housing, by the property managing associations and including so-called social housing. (ENAR n.d., 13)

More specifically, the NUPI senior research fellow notes that in the Czech Republic, "[m]any Roma live in substandard, racially segregated low-income housing and neighbourhoods that have been termed 'socially excluded localities'" (Caparini Nov. 2010, 11). The ENAR report likewise notes that "Roma housing is characterized by an accumulation of problems," including poverty, an inability to pay rent, accessibility to "extremely low quality housing" only, and social exclusion, which leads to "the establishment of ghettos and excluded localities with totally inappropriate housing standards" (ENAR n.d., 13-14).

The Council of Europe report by the Commissioner of Human Rights notes that "around one third of the Czech Roma population continues to live in some 300 segregated localities…around the country, in substandard housing conditions and excluded from mainstream society" (3 Mar. 2011, Para. 89). Furthermore, "it appears that the number of people living in these localities is growing, with a few dozen such localities reportedly turning into slums" (ibid.).

According to the NUPI senior research fellow, state policies are among the factors connected to the existence of these "ghettos" (Caparini Nov. 2010, 11). Examples given include the Citizenship Law of 1993, which prevented many Roma from claiming citizenship and therefore social assistance and the requirements imposed by municipal governments that those applying for social housing be fully employed and behave morally, which "in practice restrict the ability of Roma to qualify for social housing" (ibid.). The European Human Rights Commissioner adds that "with housing falling entirely within the competence of municipal authorities, many municipalities around the country … continue to implement policies that perpetuate and compound Roma segregation in inadequate housing," despite work done by the Agency for Social Inclusion, which has produced results in some localities (Council of Europe 3 Mar. 2011, Para. 90).

Health

The Czech government reports that in 2009 there were 317 users (96 men and 221 women) of the Health and Social Help programme for Roma, which is run by the Drom organization in 10 locations in 4 regions, with a total of 8 health/social workers as the staff (Czech Republic Sept. 2010, 9). It is reported that [p]rogramme users came most often to their health social assistants with problems relating to registering with doctors (GPs, paediatricians, dentists and other specialists); and also with requests for help with arranging social benefits, invalidity benefit, medical support devices and institutional care associated with poor health. Another area was replacing missing or damaged insurance cards and not least changes of health insurance company. (ibid.)

The ENAR report mentions a national report by the Czech Republic in 2009, which notes that the health situation in Roma communities is relatively favourable although the fundamental causes of bad health conditions are phenomena related to social exclusion such as poor accommodation, illegal work in medically harmful conditions and other socio-pathological issues related to social exclusion. (ENAR n.d., 21)

The EU-MIDIS survey reports that 18 percent of respondents experienced discrimination from health care personnel (EU 2009, 5).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References

Amnesty International (AI). 15 November 2010. "End Segregation of Romani Children in Czech Schools." [Accessed 1 Feb. 2011]

_____. 31 December 2009. Czech Republic: End Injustice: Elementary Schools Still Fail Romani Children in the Czech Republic. (EUR 71/004/2009) [Accessed 1 Feb. 2011]

_____. 8 April 2009. "Europe's Roma Community Still Facing Massive Discrimination." [Accessed 23 Feb. 2011]

Caparini, Marina. November 2010. "State Protection of the Czech Roma and the Canadian Refugee System." CEPS Liberty and Security in Europe. (Centre for European Policy Studies) [Accessed 1 Feb. 2011]

Council of Europe. 3 March 2011. Commissioner for Human Rights. Report by Thomas Hammarberg, Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, Following his Visit to the Czech Republic from 17 to 19 November 2010. [Accessed 7 Mar. 2011]

Czech Republic. September 2010. "Report on Steps Taken by Public Administration and Other Bodies to Improve the Position of the Roma Minority in the Czech Republic." Document sent by the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Ottawa on 18 January 2011.

_____. March 2010. Czech School Inspection. Compendium of Results from the Thematic Control Activity in Practical Elementary Schools. (Open Society Fund Prague) [Accessed 14 Feb. 2011]

_____. N.d.a. Czech School Inspectorate. "Who Are We?" [Accessed 23 Feb. 2011]

_____. N.d.b. "Report of the Government of the Czech Republic on the General Measures of Execution of the Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in Case No. 57325/00 - D.H. and Others v. the Czech Republic: Information About the Results of Surveys and the Initial Conclusions." Document sent by the Coordinator for Visa and Migration Issues between the Czech Republic and Canada, Office of the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, on 26 May 2010.

European Network Against Racism (ENAR). N.d. Selma Muhic Dizdarevic and František Valeš. "Racism and Discriminatory Practices in the Czech Republic, ENAR Shadow Report 2009-2010." Advance copy sent by Senior Policy Analyst, at Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), on 9 February 2011; Permission to use the report granted by the ENAR Communication and Press Officer on 15 February 2011.

European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC). 26 July 2010. Lydia Gall and Robert Kushen. "What Happened to the Promise of D.H.?" Roma Rights. No.1, 2010.

European Union (EU). 2009. Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA). European Union Minorities and Discrimination Survey (EU-MIDIS) Data in Focus Report: The Roma. [Accessed 7 Feb. 2011]

Romea.cz [Prague]. 7 February 2011. "Czech Social Inclusion Agency to Leave Brno in June." [Accessed 15 Feb. 2011]

_____. 3 February 2011. "Czech Inclusion Agency Stops Working in Town to Protest Segregation." [Accessed 15 Feb. 2011]

_____. 13 January 2011. "Czech Agency for Social Inclusion: Mayor of Nový Bydžov Is Exacerbating the Situation." [Accessed 15 Feb. 2011]

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources: Academics from the Department of Political Science at the University of Central Missouri and the University of Bristol, and from the Nationalism and Ethnicity Studies at the University of Glasgow, the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, the Director of the Ministry of Development in the Czech Republic, Representatives from the Roma non-governmental organizations Drom, romské stredisko; Obcanské sdružení; Obcanské sdružení RomPraha pomáhá pri príprave projektu; Romodrom; SLOVO 21; and a representative from the European Commission's Directorate General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion were unable to provide information within the time constraints of this Response. A Romani studies researcher at the University of Greenwich and a Roma studies professor at the University of Montreal were unable to provide information within the time constraints of this Response.

Internet sites, including: Czech Republic - Agency for Social Integration (also Inclusion), Czech Republic - Ministry of Education, Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005-2015, European Roma Grassroots Organisations Network (ERGO), European Roma Information Office (ERIO), Factiva, Roma Virtual Network (RVN), United Nations (UN) Refworld, United States (US) Department of State.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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