Czech TV Broadcast (TV & Internet) on the Visit by the Coercive Sterilization Survivors to the Council of Europe
Tuesday, May 29, 2007 10:24 AM

Czech Television broadcast an eight-minute segment yesterday evening on the visit to the 23rd Meeting of Experts on Roma and Travellers at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg last week by two Czech Romani women who were coercively sterilized. The women spoke about their situation and presented an exhibition of photographs taken by members of the Group of Women Harmed by Sterilization.

International pressure is increasing on the Czech government, which so far has not addressed the issue.

Coercive sterilization survivor Helena Balogova spoke at the exhibition about the fact that she had been unable to read the consent papers she was asked to sign due to her illiteracy.

Coercive sterilization survivor Elena Gorolova criticized the Czech government for its lack of action and stated that it was necessary to talk about the situation abroad in order to get the government’s attention. She said the group had been fighting for justice for three years and would present the exhibit in Sweden later this year.

Czeslaw Walek of the Government Council for Roma Community Affairs attended the meeting on behalf of the Czech Republic. He stated that international pressure on the Czech government to address the issue is increasing and that the meeting of experts was in agreement that the issue represented a fundamental human rights violation which it is up to the individual state governments to address. Members from Norway and Sweden also reported on their government’s decisions to compensate the victims of similar practices.

The Czech ombudsman issued a report in 2005 calling for victims to be compensated and for an official apology to be issued. Its conclusions were echoed by CEDAW in August 2006. Walek said the Council of Europe experts praised the ombudsman’s report and were concerned that the Czech government has yet to act on its recommendations. He believes the meeting will expect an update on the situation when it next convenes.

The Czech Health Ministry has previously stated it is opposed to acknowledging liability, with a spokesperson saying it is difficult to predict at this time what the government will do.

So far Czech courts have ordered only one hospital to apologize to one victim of the practice.

Published in: Czech TV Broadcast (TV & Internet) on the Visit by the Coercive Sterilization Survivors to the Council of Europe, News Release, Ceska Televize, 29 May 2007.