Forcibly sterilised Roma women to be compensated by Czech government

A Roma woman and child.
A Roma woman and child. Reuters/Adi Piclisan

Between 1971 and 1989, up to 90 thousand Roma women in former Czechoslovakia were sterilised. The government has apologized, but until this point has offered little else.


After criticism by the human rights arm of the United Nations (UNHCR) for discrimination against the Roma people, the Czech government has unveiled a program of financial compensation.

Interview with human rights lawyer Katerina Cervena

The often nomadic Roma people suffer from high unemployment and housing discrimination, as well as limited access to schools across Europe.

Though the Czech government apologised in 2009, no process of compensation meant the victims have had to sue hospitals through individual lawsuits.

The Czech Republic's Human Rights Minister Jiri Dienstbier said that the necessary legislation should be completed by the end of this year.

Forced sterlization during this period has also been documented in what is now Slovakia, but that government has made no similar move to provide compensation.

RFI's Anne-Marie Bissada spoke with Katerina Cervena, a lawyer and project leader with the Czech League for Human Rights, who said that Czech courts never criminalised forced sterilisation because the police had been involved, and that some cases of sterilisation may have occurred as late as 2007.

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