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Discriminatory Practices Against Minorities

Discriminatory Practices Against Minorities

Discriminatory practices were primarily applied to members of the Roma minority. Roma population in the Czech Republic is 250 to 300 thousand people, which is about 3% of the population. They are one of the poorest ethnic groups who live in large quantities in places of compact settlement, mainly in the north (the region with one of the highest unemployment rates).

In 2014, Czech Trade Inspection uncovered 8 cases of Roma discrimination. Most were related to sale or let of property, or denial of services.

Around a third of Roma live in ghettos, of which there are 400 in the country. They have low-quality accommodation and virtually no access to healthcare. They have difficulties in employment, with some Roma settlements having almost 100% unemployment.

Most Roma children study in so-called practical schools, designed for children with light mental disabilities. Various reports indicate that Roma constitute for 30% of students in such schools, which is 10 times more than their proportion in the population. Many cities have segregated “Roma classes”.

Back in 2007, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the separation of Roma students from students of other ethnic groups in special schools is a form of unlawful discrimination. Nevertheless, the situation in the Czech Republic remains the same, the education system continues to defend separate education of Roma children and in this sense, the situation in the Czech Republic is the worst compared to many other European countries.

Nevertheless, the situation in the Czech Republic remains unchanged, the education system continues to uphold the separate education of Roma children and in this sense the situation in the Czech Republic remains the worst in comparison with most other European countries. In January 2014, the head of the school in Ostrava refused to accept Roma children, saying that they should be “in their own schools” and that he did not want to lose the reputation of the school.

In September 2014. The European Commission initiated a case against the Czech Republic for violating the anti-discrimination law in the EU. According to a survey conducted in May and June 2013 in five European countries to compare the opportunities available to various marginalized groups in finding housing, in the Czech Republic Roma are discriminated against in 62% of cases.

Police often remains inactive when the Roma community is attacked; such cases are rarely investigated.

In January 2014, it was reported that Roma families in Duhcov are regularly inspected to find “unadjusted” people. In early May 2014, heads of 18 settlements in the norther region of the country expressed their fear regarding local elections (October 2014), expecting mass anti-Roma demonstrations. Government funds, designed to improve the situation are instead being given to create new Roma ghettos. Ministry of Regional Development is reportedly working on a special amendment that would change the system of housing subsidies, lowering them for those living in halls in favour of those renting apartments.

Roma concentration camp in Leti shares premises with a pig farm and the government is reluctant to buy out the farm and set up a memorial of the Roma genocide.

European Roma and Travellers Forum (ERTF) criticised the Czech Republic for its “reluctance” to fight racism against Roma and improve their standard of living. ERTF also notes that the country had not implemented any Council of Europe legal recommendations regarding, for example, housing for the Roma community.

Minorities are also being discriminated in the labour market. For example, a person with a Czech name is more likely to find a job than others. Non-Czechs usually receive lower wages.

On November 4, CERGE-EI held an experiment on the issues faced by Czech, Vietnamese and Romani people in employment and housing. 1800 emails were sent on behalf of three people, of each respective nationality, responding to rent and job adverts on the four most popular Czech websites. The Czech received 78% approvals for property viewings and the Vietnamese received 41% approvals. Out of 274 job adverts, 43% responded to emails sent by the Czech and 14% invited him for interviews. Members of national minorities received responses in 20% of cases and only 6.5% interview requests.

There were 22 notable cases of discrimination of foreign nationals in 2014. Tourists are often given higher prices in restaurants, parking and spas. Two Russian tourists were refused service in a hotel.

Muslims are another vulnerable group in Czech Republic. On April 25, Prague police detained several people in the Prague Islamic Centre. They are suspected of publishing and distributing a book promoting anti-Semitism, xenophobia and racial violence. Presumably, the mentioned book is Fundamentals of Tawheed: Islamic Concept of God, published by the Centre of Muslim Organisations in Czech Republic and the Islamic Fund.

On July 15, the decision of Prague authorities to prohibit the Centre of Muslim Communities to rent land for a cemetery came into force.

In early October, Motol Hospital in Prague refused to allow Muslim nurses wear hijabs in the workplace. This came after Director of a Prague Med School enquired whether three Muslim students could undergo work experience at the hospital. Hospital administration explained that hospital regulations prescribes a specific uniform and a headscarf would violate this rule. “We respect the fact that a Muslim headscarf is an expression of faith, however, we must take into consideration the aspects of health and safety and therefore – choose the option of unified clothing for all practitioners”.

At the same time it should be noted, that some progress has been done in this regard in 2013, as the practice of evictions of Roma from their homes to more expensive housing or without provision of suitable alternative accommodation almost stopped, in comparison to 2012.

In 2012 the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MLSA) has issued a series of instructions, significantly limiting the rights of foreign workers, reducing the duration of the work permit, requiring proof of education, etc.

In the summer of 2013 the Parliament adopted amendments to the Act on Residence of Foreigners who have severe restrictions on residence in the country of foreign workers and their families. Moreover, it was actually introduced significant financial requirement for stay in the country for foreigners.

All these measures have led to massive layoffs of migrants as employers do not want to incur additional costs.

At the same time the parliament in its resolution of May 29th 2012 did not recommend ratification of ILO Convention 189 on Decent Work for foreign workers in the household, claiming that “from the point of view of the national practice in the Czech Republic.. work of foreigners in the family does not require the signing of individual conventions”. And the problem persists overtime along with sexual harassment by employers against immigrants.

According to a number of human rights defenders there are discriminatory requirements in order to obtain a permanent residence permit for EU citizens, in the case of stay in the Czech Republic for more than 90 days instead of the usual registration of the residence permit, which creates problems, especially for the citizens of Slovakia, who had previously lived in a free country.

In early October, Motol Hospital in Prague refused to allow Muslim nurses wear hijabs in the workplace. This came after Director of a Prague Med School enquired whether three Muslim students could undergo work experience at the hospital. Hospital administration explained that hospital regulations prescribes a specific uniform and a headscarf would violate this rule. “We respect the fact that a Muslim headscarf is an expression of faith, however, we must take into consideration the aspects of health and safety and therefore – choose the option of unified clothing for all practitioners”.

The problem of school segregation of Roma children remains one of the most serious problems in the Czech Republic. In September 2014 European Commission ruled against the Czech Republic due to continued discrimination against Roma children in its school system. The Commission will ask the Czech government to address complaints that it is violating European Union law by continuing to allow Roma children to be placed in separate schools, in violation of both the EU's anti-discrimination law and its Charter of Fundamental Rights. This problem remains unresolved to this day.

However, in 2021, according to experts, 10.5 percent of Roma students still received education in separate programs, and the share of Roma students in separate programs was 24.2 percent (compared to 26.2 percent in 2016 year), which is much higher than the percentage of Roma in the total population.

In 2017, European Court of Human Rights ruled that sterilization and any treatment with a high likelihood of infertility as a precondition for legal gender recognition is a violation of human rights. This decision was directed primarily against transgender people. However, despite these findings, the Czech Republic has failed to eliminate the requirement for transgender people to undergo sterilization for legal gender recognition. In 2018, the European Committee of Social Rights found that the Czech Republic violated the right to health guaranteed by the European Social Charter by requiring the sterilization of transgender people. The Czech Republic has not implemented this decision to date. On March 31, 2022, the Czech Constitutional Court ruled to dismiss the complaint of a trans person seeking legal gender recognition (LGR) without surgery.

In 2018, the Czech State Labor Inspectorate conducted a survey of 258 employers and found that discriminatory hiring practices were found in 219 of them — more than four out of every five. In a similar audit two years ago, the State Labor Inspectorate audited 117 companies and found unequal or discriminatory practices in 109 of them. Inspectors specifically targeted job postings posted by employers and often found that job postings that specifically requested employees of a particular gender or age, such as looking for a retired person to work as a cashier or a woman to work as a cleaning lady. This was contrary to Czech law, according to which potential job seekers cannot be denied employment on the basis of gender, age, race, health status or nationality.

At the end of 2020, the Ombudsman visited detention centers for asylum seekers and concluded that individual rights were severely restricted and the measures put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 were excessive. Neither women nor other risk groups were separated from men, and detainees had limited access to fresh air, legal and psychological counseling. Another monitoring visit was planned for the end of the year.

An NGO reported that two Vietnamese men were sexually assaulted in a refugee center by another prisoner in July 2020 and that the administration failed to take appropriate measures, such as housing revisions, to prevent such incidents. The Ministry of the Interior commented that later that year the perpetrator was sentenced to six years in prison and 72,000 crowns ($3,300) in non-pecuniary damage, and that various measures were taken, such as 24-hour video surveillance, emergency telephones and reinforced physical impact.

In 2021, there were reports from NGOs that accusations of hate crimes, including hate speech directed at women based on gender, were not taken seriously and were not properly dealt with by the police and the courts. The director of a leading non-governmental organization specializing in hate crimes has been unable to secure legal protection, including before the Constitutional Court, after she received more than 100 sexually explicit emails and death threats from a man. The Constitutional Court concluded that the director is a public figure and should expect and ignore such messages.

In 2021, NGOs also reported a case of discrimination against an Algerian woman who lives and works in the country. She has spoken out about discrimination in the workplace, saying that colleagues at work called her a "black parasite" and praised Israel for "bombing Arabs".

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