Rights group: Czechs still segregating Roma kids at schools

AP News
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Posted: Apr 23, 2015 6:34 AM

PRAGUE (AP) — The Czech Republic has failed to comply with a European court order to stop placing healthy Gypsy children in schools for the mentally disabled, Amnesty International said Thursday.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled in 2007 that the Czech Republic must stop the practice.

In a report, the human rights group said it found that Gypsies, or Roma, still make up almost 30 percent of the students in schools for those with mild mental disabilities, while the community makes up less than 3 percent of the country's population.

"The widespread segregation of Romani children is a horrifying example of systematic prejudice, with schools introducing children to bitter discrimination at an early age," said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International's secretary-general.

"Let's call this what it is: racism, pure and simple," the report said.

The Education Ministry said it has been taking steps to fix the problem and that the number of Roma children in those schools declined by 11 percent, or 440 pupils, last year.

The group also claim that Roma pupils are separated from other students even in many mainstream schools in breach of the country's international obligations.

The European Commission opened an investigation last year into whether the Czech Republic was breaching EU anti-discrimination legislation.