Last Updated: Thursday, 31 July 2014, 17:47 GMT

U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1995 - Slovak Republic

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 30 January 1996
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1995 - Slovak Republic, 30 January 1996, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aa3cc.html [accessed 2 August 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.
SLOVAK REPUBLIC

 

The Slovak Republic became an independent state in 1993, following the dissolution of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic (CSFR). Its Constitution provides for a multiparty, multiethnic parliamentary democracy, including separation of powers and an independent judiciary. Slovakia chose to carry over the entire body of CSFR domestic legislation and international treaty obligations, which gradually are being renewed or updated.

The national police, which fall under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Interior, are the primary law enforcement agency. In addition to domestic law enforcement, the national police also have responsibility for border security. The Slovak Information Service (SIS), an independent organization subordinated directly to the Prime Minister, is responsible for all civilian security and intelligence activities. A five-member parliamentary commission, which includes only government coalition deputies, oversees the SIS. The civilian authorities maintain effective control of the security forces. At year's end, investigations were in progress regarding the violent abduction across the Austrian border of President Kovac's son in which involvement by SIS personnel has been alleged. Police have been used in what appeared to be politically motivated actions aimed at intimidation of government opponents.

Slovakia has made intermittent progress toward a market-based economy, with over 60 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) now generated by the private sector. However, the Government has been reluctant to relinquish control over certain sectors such as agriculture and those deemed "strategic" (transportation, telecommunications, energy). GDP growth in 1995 was strong at around 6 percent, inflation was under 8 percent and falling, and the National Bank of Slovakia, in concert with the Government, continued its adherence to a disciplined monetary and fiscal policy. The privatization process, while moving rapidly, lacked transparency and largely excluded foreign investors. The economy is industrially based, with just 7 percent of GDP derived from agricultural production. Major exports are machinery and transport equipment, chemicals and fuels, minerals, and metals. GDP per capita is approximately $2,400, providing most of the population with an adequate standard of living. Unemployment was high, though declining, at 13.5 percent, with some areas of the country reaching levels as high as 28 percent. A large number of unemployed are Roma.

While the Government generally respected most of the human rights of its citizens, disturbing trends away from democratic principles emerged. There were credible allegations of politically motivated dismissals of public officials, intimidation of opponents of government policy, police misuse of authority, and interference with the electronic media. Discrimination and violence against women are serious problems. Roma faced societal discrimination, and the police failed to provide adequate protection against continued attacks on them by skinheads.

Respect for Human Rights

Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:

a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

There were no reports of political or other extrajudicial killings.

b. Disappearance

There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

The Constitution prohibits such practices. The President's son was tortured during the course of his violent abduction to Austria in which SIS personnel are alleged to be implicated. The SIS initially refused to permit its personnel to be questioned and accused police investigators of wrongdoing. One lead police investigator resigned under pressure; another was removed from the case, as was their supervisor. An opposition journalist covering the case asserted that he had been under surveillance and was beaten. In September an opposition politician was beaten at his home after 2 days of surveillance. In all three cases some government representatives sought to discredit the victims' reports of their injuries, while others denied any government involvement.

Prison conditions meet minimum international standards, and the Government permits visits by human rights monitors.

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

The Constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest, detention, or exile, and the Government observes this prohibition.

A person accused or suspected of a crime must be given a hearing within 24 hours and either set free or remanded to the court. During this time, the detainee has the right to an attorney. If remanded to a court, the accused is entitled to a hearing within 24 hours, at which time the judge will set the accused free or issue a substantive written order placing the accused in custody. Investigative detention may last up to 2 months and may be extended. The total length of pretrial detention may not exceed 1 year, unless the Supreme Court extends it by determining that the person constitutes a serious danger to society. Pretrial detainees currently constitute roughly 25 percent of the total prison population. The average pretrial detention is 7.2 months. The law allows family visits and provides for a court-paid attorney if needed, although human rights monitors point out that this applies only to defendants whose alleged offenses are punishable by more than 5 years in prison. A system of bail exists.

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

The Constitution provides for courts that are independent, impartial, and separate from the other branches of government. Some critics allege, however, that the dependence of judges upon the Ministry of Justice for logistical support, the granting of leave requests, and other services undermines their independent status. Also, the Ministry of Justice can and did remove several Presidents and Vice Presidents of the courts. The stated reason was incompetence, but at least in one instance the judge in question had written a newspaper article critical of the Government. In April the independent Association of Slovak Judges (ASJ) revoked the ASJ membership of Chairman of the Senate of the Supreme Court Jozef Stefanko, after he publicly criticized a peaceful demonstration critical of the Government.

The court system consists of local and regional courts with the Supreme Court as the highest court of appeal. In addition, there is a separate military court system, the decisions of which may be appealed to the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court. Under the Constitution, the President appoints and removes Constitutional Court judges. Parliament elects other judges, based on recommendations from the Ministry of Justice, and can remove them for misconduct.

Persons charged with criminal offenses are entitled to fair and open public trials. They have the right to be informed of the charges against them and of their legal rights, to retain and consult with counsel sufficiently in advance to prepare a defense, and to confront witnesses. There was a report that one lawyer withdrew from the defense of a government opponent after his wife was threatened with loss of her government job. Defendants enjoy a presumption of innocence and have the right to refuse to testify against themselves. They may appeal any judgment against them.

The "lustration" law of the former CSFR, barring from high public office persons who previously collaborated with the Communist-era secret police, is technically still in effect in Slovakia, though not enforced. Opponents of enforcement consider the law discriminatory and a violation of due process because decisions would be based on unverifiable secret police records, and no mechanism for legal appeal is available. The law's supporters cite the need to ban from public office those responsible for abuses of power and repression during the years of Communist rule.

With respect to the Romani minority, human rights monitors continued to charge that police appear reluctant to take the testimony of witnesses to skinhead attacks on Roma. Further, they reported that police used the device of countercharges to pressure Romani victims of police brutality to drop their complaints, that medical doctors and investigators cooperated with police by refusing to describe accurately the injuries involved, and that lawyers often were reluctant to represent Roma in such situations, for fear this would have a negative effect on their practice.

There were no reports of political prisoners.

f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence

The Criminal Code requires police to obtain a judicial search warrant in order to enter a home. The court may issue such a warrant only if there is a well-founded suspicion that important evidence or persons accused of criminal activity are present inside or if there is some other important reason. Police must present the warrant before conducting the house search or within 24 hours after the search. There were credible allegations that SIS conducted routine surveillance of all senior political figures and their spouses.

In July police with a legal warrant searched the diocesean headquarters of Bishop Rudolf Balaz, Chairman of the Conference of Bishops. The search occurred soon after Balaz had led the Conference in a statement of support for President Michal Kovac, who has been the target of criticism by supporters of Prime Minister Meciar. Police said that Balaz was involved in the illegal sale of art works listed in the register of national treasures. Denying this, Balaz's office director stated that the Government was intent on discrediting Balaz and that police had searched areas clearly inconsistent with their alleged mission.

The 1993 Police Law regulates wiretapping and mail surveillance for the purposes of criminal investigation, which may be conducted, on the order of a judge or prosecutor, only in cases of extraordinarily serious premeditated crimes or crimes involving international treaty obligations.

In September the President's son reported that police investigators, while questioning him in connection with his abduction, revealed knowledge of his private domestic conversations that could only have been obtained by electronic surveillance. There were no reports of mail tampering.

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

a. Freedom of Speech and Press

The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and the press, and the Government generally respects this right in practice. Though mostly dependent on state-owned printing and distribution companies, the print media are free and uncensored, and newspapers and magazines regularly publish a wide range of opinions and news articles. However, the politicization of state-owned broadcast media remains a significant problem.

A number of individuals reported that they no longer felt free to criticize the Government openly without fear of some form of reprisal. The use of police to investigate signatories of Democratic Union (DU) electoral petitions (see Section 3), the abduction of the President's son (see Section 1.c.), the beating of an opposition politician and journalist (see Section 1.c.), and widespread dismissals of public officials for political reasons contributed to an atmosphere of intimidation, as did public questioning of the patriotism of citizens and journalists who spoke critically of developments in Slovakia. An April proposal to amend the Criminal Code, which would make it a punishable offense to facilitate the spread of false information damaging to the interests of the Slovak Republic, added further to citizens' fear of speaking out freely. In September a prominent writer sued the Slovak Republic at the European Court of Human Rights, arguing that the Supreme Court had admitted that his charges against a prominent politician (in 1993) were true but had still found him guilty of defamation. In another case, human rights monitors noted continued police interrogation and investigation, based on a Criminal Code provision prohibiting defamation of the President, of a newspaper editor who published a letter of a reader (in 1994) which was indirectly critical of the President.

In October Peter Toth, a journalist investigating the abduction of President Kovac's son, was physically attacked outside his apartment.

Slovak radio and television are supervised by three boards appointed by Parliament. The Slovak Television and Radio Councils establish broadcasting policy. The Slovak Radio and Television Council is responsible for issuing radio and television broadcast licenses. The Radio and Television Council has made significant progress in fostering the spread of privately owned broadcast media. Twenty-seven private radio stations have been issued licenses. Of these, only five are not yet on the air. State-owned Slovak television broadcasts on two channels. A private company has been granted a license to broadcast nationwide on a third channel. Four private companies and one local government have been granted licenses to broadcast regionally. One company broadcasts nationally via satellite. There are 73 cable television license holders, including private companies and municipalities.

The state-owned electronic media have become increasingly politicized since the new Parliament named new Television and Radio Councils, which hired new directors in November 1994. The diversity of views, political coverage, and objectivity of news and documentary programming on Slovak television have dropped sharply, which is a disturbing trend since an estimated 84 percent of the population watches television. Slovak radio's coverage of internal political developments, although severely cut back, remains more objective. Opposition views are given scant coverage in news programs. Slovak television also carries relatively little coverage of the activities of the President, who has been the target of repeated attacks by members of the governing coalition. In April it refused to broadcast a speech by the President, although it has carried others. In December an employee of Kosice television was forced to resign after protesting editorial refusal to cover President Kovac's trip to the region.

In January the new director of Slovak television refused to continue broadcasting three highly popular satirical programs which had as their main targets members of the new Government. Opposition leaders and the producers of the programs organized a petition campaign and mass public demonstrations in March, calling for the programs' restoration and charging that the cancellation violated freedom of speech. Although the Government did not interfere in the demonstrations, television coverage omitted a report of their content; it did broadcast a critical commentary by the Chairman of the Supreme Court. Several of the canceled programs are now being broadcast by private satellite television companies.

In August the Board for Radio and Television Broadcasting granted Radio Free Europe a 1 year license extension, rather than the requested 3 year extension. The license was conditioned on the "improvement" of the "anti-Slovak" editorial bias.

The law provides for academic freedom, which is generally respected.

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Constitution provides for these rights, and the Government respects them in practice.

c. Freedom of Religion

The Constitution provides for freedom of religious belief and faith, and the Government fully respects this provision. Under existing law, only registered churches and religious organizations have the explicit right to conduct public worship services and other activities, although no specific religions or practices are banned or discouraged by the authorities. The State provides financial subsidies only to registered churches and religious organizations, of which there are 15.

d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

The Constitution provides for these rights, and the Government respects them in practice. The Government cooperates with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and other humanitarian organizations in assisting refugees. There were no reports of forced expulsion of those having a valid claim to refugee status. However, some refugee claimants had difficulty in getting access to initial refugee processing. A law on refugees, passed by Parliament in November, limits the period for filing asylum claims to 24 hours from the time of arrival and contains no provisions for family reunification once refugee status has been granted.

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government

Citizens have the constitutional right to change their government through the periodic free election of national representatives. Citizens over the age of 18 are eligible to vote, and voting is by secret ballot. The Constitution reserves certain powers to the President as Chief of State (elected by the Parliament), but executive power rests with the Government. Legislative power is vested in the National Council of the Slovak Republic (Parliament).

A number of actions served to consolidate the Government's power in a manner, which, taken as a whole, gave rise to concern over the future course of pluralism, separation of powers, and democratic development overall. For example, in the absence of a civil service law, the Government replaced hundreds of national and local government officials with its supporters, apparently based largely on political loyalty. The government-controlled Parliament took away the President's right to name the Director of the intelligence service and the Chief of the General Staff, placing these institutions under government control. In September and again in December, Parliament refused to include any opposition representation on the body which oversees the Slovak Information Service; Parliament continued to allow only token opposition representation on other key committees and oversight bodies.

In December it approved a budget which radically reduced the President's budget for the second year in row, while sharply increasing funds for the Prime Minister and the intelligence services. Finally, the government coalition, in its handling of the privatization of large state enterprises, appeared to favor primarily its supporters.

There was another disturbing instance of apparent abuse of government authority for political reasons in May, when police began questioning nearly 15,000 individuals who signed Democratic Union Party petitions, to verify that they had signed their names for the DU, an opposition party, to run in the fall 1994 parliamentary elections. In some cases, police also allegedly questioned these citizens on their political views and threatened them with reprisals, such as loss of their pensions, if they confirmed their signatures as genuine. The Government claimed the action was a legitimate investigation of charges that the DU signatures were fraudulent; opposition leaders strongly disagreed, saying the Government was using the police to intimidate their supporters, and pointed out that the Slovak election commission had certified the DU as eligible to run in the 1994 elections. In a further violation of privacy, unknown persons used the state printing press to publish a book containing the names of all who had signed the DU petitions.

Women are underrepresented in government. They hold only 2 of 15 ministerial portfolios: Labor/Social Affairs and Education. One of three Deputy Prime Ministers is a woman. Women hold 22 seats in the 150-member Parliament, a reduction from 26 in the previous Parliament.

The large ethnic Hungarian minority, whose coalition gained 17 seats in the 1994 elections, is well represented in Parliament and in local government but not in the central Government. Roma are not represented in Parliament and hold no senior government positions.

Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights

A number of human rights groups operate without government restriction, investigating and publishing their findings on human rights cases. Nonetheless, on occasion government officials responded aggressively toward nongovernmental organizations (NGO's). In May, for example, following criticism of the Government by international philanthropist George Soros, who funds a number of human rights NGO's in Slovakia, the head of the Slovak National Party (SNS) filed a petition asking the General Prosecutor to investigate Soros-funded NGO's. The General Prosecutor agreed to conduct the investigation, which appears based purely on politics.

Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social Status

The law prohibits discrimination and provides for the equality of all citizens. Health care, education, retirement benefits, and other social services are provided regardless of race, sex, religion, disability, language, or social status.

Women

Violence, particularly sexual violence against women, remains a serious and underreported problem. Experts say that in 1993, the latest year studied, there were 47,000 acts of violence or intolerance (defined as physical, sexual, emotional, and economic) against women. Physical and sexual violence accounted for almost half of all reported cases. These experts conclude that most of the unreported cases, estimated to be as high as half of all cases, involve sexual violence. They note that although police (in 1993) reported a drop of 19 percent in officially reported cases of sexual violence, counseling centers registered a 60 percent increase in such cases. Police estimate that two-thirds of female rape victims fail to report the cases for personal reasons. Police deal with spousal abuse, child abuse, and other violence against women in the same way as other criminal offenses; specific sections in the Criminal Code deal with rape, sexual abuse, trade in women, pandering, and illicit abortions.

As a result of amendments to the Criminal Code which took effect in 1994, prostitution is not an illegal act. However, the Code prohibits activities related to prostitution, such as renting apartments for conducting prostitution, spreading contagious diseases, or trafficking in women for the purpose of prostitution.

Women are equal under the law. They enjoy the same property, inheritance, and other legal rights as men. Women are well represented in the judicial and administrative professions but are underrepresented in other public service areas. Labor law prohibits women from engaging in certain types of work considered dangerous to their health.

Despite the lack of overt discrimination, women face large wage discrepancies in the workplace. Women receive 25 to 30 percent less pay than men for the same work. A February report prepared by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in advance of the U.N. Conference on Women stated that for the period 1988-1993, "gross earnings of men are 71 percent higher than those of women." The report concluded that "since there is little difference in the level of education achieved by men and women, and since a significantly greater number of women are graduates of technical universities as well as universities, the discrepancy in wages is caused by factors other than educational achievement."

The Democratic Union of Women of Slovakia (DUZS) monitors observance of the rights of women and their families in light of internationally accepted documents and the Constitution, especially as they affect the social and family spheres. A May DUZS poll found that the number one problem facing women was insufficient resources to provide for everyday family needs. Other major problems included women's health and the health of their family members. In a June meeting, the DUZS pushed to establish a parliamentary committee on women and the family and to obtain quick passage of a law on the family. Regarding the latter, the DUZS was particularly interested in more day care and preschool programs. The DUZS also complained about growing discrimination against middle-aged and older women in employment.

Children

The Government demonstrates its commitment to children's rights and welfare through its system of public education and medical care. The Ministry of Labor oversees implementation of the Government's programs for children. The Constitution, the law on education, the Labor Code, and the system of child welfare payments to families with children each provide in part for children's rights.

While there is no evidence of a pattern of societal abuse of children, some problems remain. In June workers at orphanage homes, as well as representatives of foundations and local government, founded the SOS group to protest the standard of living of orphans. The group stated that this standard had fallen below the minimum and complained that the Government had not fulfilled its financial responsibilities. They advocated establishing orphanages as legal entities to make the Government more responsive. Recognizing the lack of statistics on children's welfare, the head of the Slovak U.N. Children's Fund committee said in April that his most important task is to produce an analytical work on the state of children in Slovakia.

People with Disabilities

The Constitution and implementing legislation provide for health protection and special working conditions for mentally and physically disabled persons, including special protection in employment relations and special assistance in training. An October 1994 decree provides incentives to employers who create a "sheltered" workplace, that is, a certain percentage of jobs set aside for disabled persons. The law also prohibits discrimination against physically disabled individuals in employment, education, and the provision of other state services. Nevertheless, experts report discrimination in such areas as accessibility of premises and access to education (especially higher education). Although not specifically required by law, a September 1994 government decree mandates the provision of accessibility for the disabled with regard to new building construction. The decree provides for sanctions, but lacks a mechanism to enforce them.

The Government in February created a coordinating committee for issues concerning disabled citizens, chaired by Labor/Social Affairs Minister Keltosova. The committee is made up of representatives of various central government ministries, local government, advocacy organizations, and other groups.

Religious Minorities

Isolated incidents of verbal harassment of Jews by skinheads and others continued during the year. Despite Jewish community protests over commemoration of the wartime Slovak Fascist state, Matica Slovenska, the nationwide Slovak cultural organization, sponsored an exhibit in April extolling wartime President Josef Tiso. The exhibit, which Education Minister Slavkoska attended on opening day, depicted Tiso as the savior of the Slovak nation during World War II and a martyr for Slovak independence. In August vandals desecrated a Jewish cemetery in Stupava, near Bratislava. Local police are investigating the incident. Also in August, Premier Meciar presented a journalism award to a weekly which had printed anti-Semitic cartoons and targeted international philanthropist George Soros for being a Jew.

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

The Constitution provides minorities with the right to develop their own culture, receive information and education in their mother tongue, and participate in decisionmaking in matters affecting them. The Government continued to provide funding for cultural, educational, broadcasting, and publishing activities for the major ethnic minorities but at greatly reduced levels. In March the Government signed a bilateral treaty with Hungary, which deals extensively with treatment of ethnic minorities. Parliament, however, had not ratified the treaty by year's end. In June Parliament ratified the Council of Europe framework Convention on Ethnic Minorities.

The politically active ethnic Hungarian minority, which is the most numerous, is concentrated primarily in southern Slovakia, with a population registered at 570,000 (many of whom are also Roma). Most ethnic Hungarians and ethnic Slovaks living in mixed areas coexist peacefully, but there were occasional outbreaks of anti-Hungarian feeling, mostly in areas where the two do not coexist. In May, after a soccer match in northern Slovakia, several ethnic Hungarian fans were thrown from a train; one remained in a coma at year's end. Ethnic Hungarian leaders complained about large cuts in government subsidies to Hungarian cultural organizations, as well as a number of government initiatives which they said sought to reverse gains made in previous years. Most importantly, the leaders criticized the Ministry of Education's "alternative education" plan, which seeks to introduce the use of the Slovak language for certain subjects in schools where Hungarian is the language of instruction. They claimed that the Government had as its ultimate goal the assimilation of ethnic Hungarians. The Ministry denied this charge, noting that the initiative was entirely voluntary, was being implemented only in the few schools where parents had requested it, and was intended only to improve the Slovak language ability of ethnic Hungarian school children.

Ethnic Hungarians also expressed great concern over the State Language Law enacted in November saying that it violated constitutional minority language rights as well as the Council of Europe Convention on Minority Rights. Government leaders have denied these accusations, declaring publicly that minority rights will not change as a result of the law. These leaders have also committed the Government to passing a separate law on the use of minority languages, particularly with regard to official communications. The OSCE High Commissioner on Minorities has expressed concern with the law and stated that he would evaluate the State Language Law after the enactment of the promised new law on minority languages.

Roma constitute the second largest ethnic minority and suffer disproportionately from high levels of poverty and unemployment. Credible reports by human rights monitors indicated that Roma continued to suffer from discrimination in employment, housing, and administration of state services. Skinhead violence against Roma was a serious and growing problem, and human rights monitors reported that police remain reluctant to take action. In July skinheads attacked a number of Roma in Ziar Nad Hronom, central Slovakia, injuring many. One Rom, Mario Goral, whom the skinheads set afire with a flammable liquid, died of his injuries. Ten days after the incident, the Government issued a statement condemning racial intolerance, offering Goral's family monetary compensation and proposing the establishment of a government plenipotentiary to deal with problems of "disadvantaged citizens." Romani groups welcomed the establishment of the plenipotentiary but asked that the office deal solely with Romani affairs, or, at the very least, that a Rom occupy the position. In September the Government affirmed the general nature of the office and named a non-Rom as plenipotentiary.

Persons of color also suffered occasionally from attacks or discrimination. In March a Sierra Leone native working for a Western consulting firm was called derogatory names and then beaten unconscious at a local bar in Bratislava; he sustained serious head injuries. Despite the lodging of a complaint, police charged no one in the incident. In October skinheads severely beat an Asian medical graduate student on a public bus; also in October, skinheads beat an African tourist, breaking his nose, while he was waiting with his family at a bus stop.

Section 6 Worker Rights

a. The Right of Association

The Constitution provides for the right to form and join unions, except in the armed forces. According to one reliable independent estimate, approximately 50 percent of the work force is organized. Official sources state that the figure is closer to 75 percent. Unions are independent of the Government and political parties. There are no restrictions on the right to strike, but there were no reports of strikes during the year. However, four demonstrations were organized during the months of August and September by the trade union confederation to protest increased public transportation costs and social and economic conditions. All were carried out peacefully with no government interference.

There were no reported instances of retribution against strikers or labor leaders, but the law and regulations do not explicitly prohibit such retribution. There were no reports of human rights abuses targeted against unions or workers.

Unions are free to form or join federations or confederations and to affiliate with and participate in international bodies.

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The law provides for collective bargaining, which is freely practiced throughout the country. Employers and unions set wages in free negotiations. The Law on Citizens' Associations prohibits discrimination by employers against union members and organizers. Complaints may be resolved either in collective negotiations or in court. If found guilty of antiunion discrimination, employers are required to reinstate workers fired for union activities.

The Customs Act of 1992 regulates duty-free stores and free customs zones. Firms operating in several such zones must comply with the Labor Code; to date there have been no reports of special involvement by the trade unions. Slovakia has no special legislation governing labor relations in free trade zones.

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

Both the Constitution and the Employment Act prohibit forced or compulsory labor. There were no reports of violations. The

Ministry of Labor, as well as district and local labor offices, have responsibility for enforcement.

d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The law sets the minimum employment age at 15. Children must remain in school for 9 years or until age 15. Workers under age 16 may not work more than 33 hours per week; may not be compensated on a piecework basis; may not work overtime or night shifts; and may not work underground or in other specified conditions deemed dangerous to their health or safety. Special conditions and protections, though somewhat less stringent, apply to young workers ages 16 to 18. The Ministry of Labor enforces this legislation. There were no reports of violations.

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

The current minimum wage, effective since October 1993, is $82 (2,450 crowns) per month. Even when combined with special allowances paid to families with children, it does not provide an adequate standard of living for workers and their families. The Ministry of Labor is responsible for enforcing the minimum wage. No violations were reported. The standard workweek mandated by the Labor Code is 42.5 hours, although collective bargaining agreements have achieved reductions in some cases (most often to 40 hours). The law requires overtime payment up to a maximum of 8 hours per week, and 150 hours per year, and provides 3 weeks of annual leave (though the norm is most often 4 weeks). There is no specifically mandated 24-hour rest period during the workweek. The trade unions, the Ministry of Labor, and local employment offices monitor observance of these laws, and the authorities effectively enforce them.

The Labor Code establishes health and safety standards which the Office of Labor Safety effectively enforces. For hazardous employment, workers undergo medical screening under the supervision of a physician. They have the right to refuse to work in situations which endanger their health and safety and may file complaints against employers in such situations.

Search Refworld

Countries