Slovakia: Discrimination and forced sterilisation exalted the review at the Human Rights Committee

The Human Rights Committee reviewed the fourth periodic report of Slovakia on the 17th and 18th October 2016. The Committee praised Slovakia’s effort to ratify a large number of international conventions on this matter (Slovakia has ratified 16 out of the 18 UN human rights treaties and optional protocols). Nevertheless, the experts expressed concern regarding the effective implementation of the Committee’s views and recommendations at the domestic level. Among the issues discussed by the Committee, discrimination against women, ethnic minorities and LGBTI people was emphasised on several occasions.

"Transgender people appear to be the only group in Europe subject to legally prescribed, state enforced sterilisation."

- Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights

Inequality between men and women

One of the issues raised by the experts was the low representation of women in decision-making positions. Women represent less than 20 per cent of the National Council, and only 2 out of 15 members of the government are women. The Committee asked the delegation what are the measures taken by the government to reduce gender inequality in the political life. The delegation replied with a list of percentages to demonstrate the increase of women representation in the judicial system and added that the number of female candidates in all electoral lists by all parties is also increasing.

Discrimination against Roma

Discrimination against Roma people was another main issue raised by the Committee during the review, including the lack of effectiveness of anti-discrimination legislation. The Committee raised its concerns regarding the continuing segregation of Roma children in education in several areas of the country, as well as human rights violations against Roma women, including forced sterilisation ( see report submitted by Citizen, Democracy and Accountability, the Center for Civil and Human Rights – Poradna, Women’s Circles and the Center for Reproductive Rights). The Committee also stressed that hate speech is still frequently used in the political sphere against Roma people and other minorities. The government adopted in 2012 a Strategy for the Integration of the Roma Population by 2020 and is taking measures to prevent discrimination against Roma population.

LGBTI Rights

The situation of LGBTI persons in Slovakia was a concern during the review. The proliferation of hate speech against LGBTI persons was brought up several times by the Committee, as well as the prerequisite of sterilisation for transgender persons in order to obtain legal gender recognition. Another matter underlined by the experts was the referendum intended to strengthen a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and same-sex adoption in Slovakia, which failed since less than 50% of the population turned up to vote. The Committee expressed its worries on how Slovakia would continue to address this issue. The delegation replied that they would not do another referendum on this matter.

Recommendations of the Committee

The Concluding Observations for which the State should provide information on the implementation within one year, concern:

  • Hate crime, hate speech, increasing radicalisation in political discourse and in media: The State party should, inter alia, take measures to promote tolerance and an inclusive environment towards persons belonging to ethnic, national, racial, religious and other minorities, use legislative, policy and educational measures to counter stigmatisation of Roma, Muslim, and other minorities and take measures to prevent racist attacks.
  • Violence against women, including domestic violence: The Government of Slovakia should ensure that women victims of violence have adequate access to protection and assistance, ensure that perpetrators of violence against women are prosecuted and, if convicted, punished with appropriate sanctions, and consider ratifying the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention).
  • Unaccompanied minors: The State should ensure that unaccompanied minors receive appropriate protection and establish a register of disappeared unaccompanied children and conduct search operations for those children and ensure that unaccompanied child asylum seekers have access to education, social and psychological services and legal aid, and are provided with a legal representative and/or guardian without delay.

The next (fifth) periodic report of Slovakia should be submitted by 4 November 2021.

 

Photo credit: Social Business Hearth

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