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Discriminatory Practices Against Minorities

Discriminatory Practices Against Minorities Over 200'000 Slovak Gypsies live in settlements without access to the basic benifits of Civilization.

Roma is the most vulnerable group in terms of discrimination (2.3% of the population). More than 200 000 Roma live in ghetto-like settlements with no access to basic utilities.

14 Slovak cities had erected walls around Roma settlements in 2008-2013, separating them from the rest of the community” 150 Roma settlements have no access to running water, 370 settlements only have partial access. 38% of Roma suffer as a result of having to obtain water from contaminated wells or neighbouring settlements. 65 settlements have no access to power. Roma women were often forcibly sterilised.

Roma people also face discrimination on the labour market. Study conducted in July-September 2014 showed that employers prefer pass over Roma, despite having all relevant qualifications. 40% of employers responded to Slovak applications, while only 17% responded to Roma. 23% of Roma face discrimination in employment or at work” As a result, only 15%-17% have work, while unemployment among the rest of the population is 11%.

Despite Presevo Court decision in 2012, prohibiting segregation of Roma in education, the problem remained acute in 2014” Many Roma children are forced to study in special schools for the mentally challenged” Their proportion in such schools is much higher than general population. Surveys in 2014 indicated that the cause of this was misdiagnosis, as exams were given in non-native language for Roma.

In Kežmarok region of Slovakia, Roma children are taught in separate schools, isolating them from the rest of society” As a result, 20% of Roma do not get secondary education (compared to 1% of Slovaks). 40% of Roma do not finish primary education and only 0.3% have higher education.

On July 9, 2014, Parliament also rejected the amendments to four laws as part of a “Small Roma Reform”. The initiative was blocked by the majority from the Path – Social Democracy party” The greatest criticism revolved around the claim that the proposed measures will encourage the Roma to employment and social inclusion. The fourth failure of the reform indicates that the ruling party does not trust the Roma Affairs Ombudsman P. Pollak.

Hungarian minority is also facing problems in Slovakia (10% of the population). This group is only represented at the rural community level. To avoid establishment of a Hungarian region, territories populated by ethnic Hungarians are divided between several Slovak regions. Hungarian language is not used in many communities where Hungarian population is significant. This is despite Slovakia’s accession to several Conventions that prohibit such practices.

On July 1, National Council of Slovakia rejected the amendments to the Law on State Language, which were proposed by MP Peter Osuski (Freedom and Solidarity Party)” In particular, the amendments suggested the abolition of penalties for violation of the law, increasing the use of minority languages in local topography and toponymy, expanding the rights of social, religious and educational organisations in the definition of the language of communication” The law was supported by 28 MPs.

Xenophobic sentiments sometimes cause conflicts. For example, the city of Dunajska Streda refused to provide bilingual birth certificate, referring to Interior Ministry’s resolution stating that such document can only be issued in Slovak” On September 16, it was reported that a man in Sturovo (town bordering Hungary) was refused a train ticket when he spoke Hungarian language.

On June 2, after meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister V. Orban, Slovak MEP Pal Caki (Party of Hungarian Coalition) reported that they discussed changing the administrative division of Slovakia and organising a “Komarno Krai”, because Slovak Hungarians are threatened by assimilation” LGBT discrimination is also a common issue. Fundamental Rights Association reports that 24% of Slovaks faced some form of hate (EU average - 19%). Only 2% said that they reported these incidents to the authorities (EU average – 4%). 19% LGBT members said that they feel discriminated due to their sexual orientation. “Transexuality” in Slovakia is considered a psychological illness, which discriminates against transgender people.

In April 2021, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in MB and Others v. Slovakia that Slovakia did not investigate allegations of police mistreatment of six Roma boys in a police car following their arrest in 2009 in the city of Kosice. In May and June 2021, the Kosice District Court dropped the criminal case against five of the six Roma who filed complaints of ill-treatment during the 2013 police operation in Moldava nad Bodvou. The police claimed that the men had falsely accused them of the crime. In December the District Court also discontinued the proceedings against the sixth applicant. In June, the government apologized for human rights violations during a police action, but did not provide justice or redress for Roma victims.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the authorities deliberately introduced quarantine in Roma settlements, while the neighboring towns and villages of Slovaks and other national minorities were not affected. Regional health authorities in several parts of Slovakia have imposed mandatory quarantines on dozens of Roma settlements after some residents tested positive. The police enforced the quarantine. On February 23, the Government Commissioner for Roma Communities expressed concern about the widespread practice of mandatory quarantine. The authorities failed to adequately assess whether they were proportionate or necessary. In December, the Constitutional Court declared the mandatory quarantine law unconstitutional due to lack of limits on human rights restrictions.

In 2021, concerns were raised about Roma's unequal access to Covid-19 vaccines, resulting in low vaccination rates in Romani settlements. By the end of August, only 7% of the inhabitants of the Romani settlements had been vaccinated against Covid-19, compared to 43% of the general population. Until April, when the amendment to the law went into effect, foreigners and people with health insurance debt were not eligible for Covid-19 vaccinations. This disproportionately affected people from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds, including the Roma.

In April 2021, the NGO eduRoma published a report according to which up to 70% of Roma children in Slovakia did not participate in online distance learning during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. Lack of internet access has been one of the main factors hindering homeschooling.

Slovakia is also systematically facing infringement lawsuits initiated by the European Commission for systematic discrimination and segregation of Roma children in education, which is a violation of EU equality law.

In June and November 2021, parliamentarians unsuccessfully tried to pass amendments that would limit access to abortion. The proposals, which were rejected by Parliament, aimed to limit access to legal abortions. Also drawing on data from helplines for victims of domestic violence, a report by the Institute for Labor and Family Research notes an increase in cases during the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2020, the number of calls to helplines increased by 49% compared to 2019.

In August 2021, Slovakia announced that it would only accept 10 evacuated Afghans. Government coalition party leaders have said the country will not be open to accepting "more" refugees.

During the coronavirus pandemic, Roma often faced harsher penalties for violating anti-pandemic measures. In January, police fined Roma 500 euros ($575) for crossing the border between Kosice's Okolje and Kosice neighborhoods for firewood, although media reported that at the time the average fine for violating COVID-19-related restrictions was only 67 euros. ($77). In May, Spisska Nowa Ves district prosecutor's office dropped charges against an 18-year-old Roma from a marginalized community in Ričnava who faced a two-year prison sentence for stealing €0.26 ($0.30) worth of timber in January during the COVID-19 pandemic. 19. The prosecutor considered the police accusations unlawful and unfounded, citing minor damage, the minority of the man at the time of the incident.

Local authorities continued to use regulatory barriers, such as the denial of building permits, to prevent the legal establishment of Romani settlements. The media reported cases of non-Roma individuals attempting to prevent Romani clients from buying or renting property in "their" area.

The Roma minority continued to face barriers and discrimination in accessing quality health care. In a government report published by the Ministry of Finance in 2019, the most recent data available, the estimated life expectancy of the Romani population is 69.6 years, almost seven years less than the general population, and infant mortality is three times the average. around the country. According to NGOs, Romani women faced multiple forms of discrimination in reproductive health care, including segregation in maternity wards, verbal abuse and ill-treatment by medical personnel. The hospitals claimed they grouped people according to their level of hygiene and adaptability, not ethnicity. NGOs continued to express concern about how medical staff obtained informed consent from Roma patients.

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