Czech Republic: Whether ethnic Slovaks who have Czech citizenship are discriminated against by any sector of Czech society
|Publisher||Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada|
|Author||Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada|
|Publication Date||1 March 1999|
|Citation / Document Symbol||CZE31228.E|
|Cite as||Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Czech Republic: Whether ethnic Slovaks who have Czech citizenship are discriminated against by any sector of Czech society, 1 March 1999, CZE31228.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aaef14.html [accessed 13 December 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This 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.|
Representatives of two Slovak organizations in the Czech Republic indicate that they are not aware of any discrimination against Slovaks in that country (Demokratická aliancia Slovákov 28 Feb. 1999; Klub slovenské kultúry 9 Mar. 1999).
A representative of Klub slovenské kultúry (Slovak Cultural Club) stated that "[w]ith regard to work, accommodation and civic rights there can be no talk of any discrimination" (9 Mar. 1999). He continued:
the Slovak minority is exceptional. [The] main problems of other ethnic minorities (Poles, Germans, Romanies and others), ie preservation of their native culture, traditions and language, do not really concern the Slovaks. Irrespective of that, their rights as an ethnic minority are fully respected by the Czech government. After the division of Czechoslovakia, several Slovak societies and groupings were founded, predominantly in Prague. Their activities, mainly of a cultural nature, are financed by the Czech ministry of culture. There were several attempts to open schools with Slovak as a main teaching language. These failed because parents showed no interest. Czech and Slovak languages are so similar that [at] a number of universities in Prague (Brno, and others) some of the lecturers give their lectures in Slovak and the Czech students have no problem understanding them (ibid.).
The Demokratická aliancia Slovákov (Democratic Alliance of Slovaks) representative concurred that there is little interest in the Slovak community for Slovak language schooling (28 Feb. 1999). He added that the country's minority do not live in a concentrated area and therefore are not able to provide enough students to meet the minimum requirement for setting up a special class (ibid.). One Slovak primary school was set up in the north east of the country, but it never had more than 500 pupils and has had trouble since the transition filling the classes; it has since been incorporated into another school in Karviná District (ibid.). There has never been a Slovak secondary school (ibid.). He is on a committee to set up a Slovak-language gymnasium in Prague 4, but there have been problems generating enough interest (ibid.).
The Demokratická aliancia Slovákov representative was unaware of any incidents of discrimination against Slovaks with respect to obtaining employment, relations with police, finding housing or accessing social services (28 Feb. 1999). When asked, he was unable to suggest any other areas of friction between the communities (ibid.). He added that the incidence of intermarriage between Slovaks and Czechs is high (ibid.). He added, anecdotally, that ethnicity might come up in certain situations, such as personal disputes or incidents in bars (ibid.).
There are 12 Slovak organizations in the Czech Republic (Klub slovenské kultúry 9 Mar. 1999), nine of which work under the umbrella Forum of Slovak Activities (ibid.).
According to the 1998 Country Report on Human Rights Practices:
Slovaks, of whom there are an estimated 300,000, are almost all "Czechoslovaks" who elected to live in the Czech Republic after the split. Many serve in high positions in the civil service. For the most part, these Slovaks define their interests in the context of Czech politics, not along ethnic lines ....
The Czech Helsinki Committee makes one reference to ethnic Slovaks, stating that they have been encouraging the government to no avail to pass a law specifically safeguarding the rights of national and ethnic minorities, including language and education rights, as stipulated in the country's Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms (1998).
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 to refugee status or asylum.
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1998. 1999. United States Department of State. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office. [Internet]
Czech Helsinki Committee (CHC). 1998. Report on the State of Human Rights in the Czech Republic 1997. Prague: CHC. [Internet]
Demokratická aliancia Slovákov. 28 February 1999. Telephone Interview with the Research Directorate.
Klub slovenské kultúry. 9 March 1999. Correspondence received by the Research Directorate.