March 4. 2024. 8:22

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Roma segregated in schools, Supreme Court finds


Roma children are segregated in Roma-only primary schools in the eastern city of Stará Ľubovňa, according to the first-of-its-kind Supreme Court ruling that holds the Education Ministry and city institutions responsible.

The city of Stará Ľubovňa, where the school is located, “violated the principle of equal treatment,” according to the court’s statement from Tuesday.

It also failed “to take sufficient preventive measures to protect against discrimination and measures to eliminate discrimination against Roma children” in primary schools on the basis of their ethnic origin, it added.

“This judgement is extremely important because it confirms the segregationist treatment of Roma children. There are many similar cases, and they do not just concern education,” National Council member Peter Pollák jr. said.

The case has been ongoing since 2015 when the NGO Civil and Human Rights Advisory Council filed a lawsuit against Slovakia under the Anti-Discrimination law. The Supreme Court ruling differs from previous rulings of Bratislava county and regional court, which both said there has been no segregation in school.

“The judgement is a clear message to state institutions that they must act and start taking measures to eliminate the segregation of Roma children not only in Roma classrooms but also in purely Roma schools,” the plaintiff’s lawyer Vanda Durbáková said.

Štefan Ivanco, Programme Coordinator of the Civil and Human Rights Counselling Centre, pointed out that the ruling is important also for other, Roma-only schools that are often located near Roma settlements.

“The causes of this are complex and the state, in cooperation with local governments, has a legal obligation to act. They must identify the causes and propose effective measures to eliminate segregation. This is in the interest of our whole society,” he said.

(Michal Hudec | EURACTIV.sk)