Situation of Roma and protection available (2000) [CZE35347.E]


At a press conference held in Prague on 23 September 2000, Mary Robinson, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, stated that the Czech authorities, in particular local authorities, needed to do more for the Roma, notably for their children (CTK 23 Sept. 2000).

In a 10 May 2000 article, The New York Times described as a "big problem" the way in which the 200,000 Roma living in the Czech Republic are treated. It also noted the slow improvement of their situation in Prague while "huge problems" remained in the countryside (ibid.).

According to Ondrej Gina, chair of the Roma Cultural Union, the Czech government has acknowledged the existence of racism and discrimination in the country , particularly towards the Roma, and agreed to take measures to deal with these problems after criticism were voiced by the United States Congress, the State Department and the European Union (ibid.).

According to Michal Horak, a representative of the Prague-based Movement for Civic Solidarity and Tolerance (HOST), an October 1999 law forbidding any forms of discrimination in the workplace has failed to end discrimination of Roma by employers (RFE/RL 21 Aug. 2000). Commenting on the situation of Roma in the Czech Republic, Petra Tomaskova of the Helsinki Citizens Assembly while noting the existence of relevant legislation stated that there is no "political will to prosecute discrimination cases and generally integrate Roma into society" (ibid.).

State Policy

On 14 June 2000, the Czech cabinet approved the "Concept for Integration of the Romany Community" in an effort to deal with discrimination towards Roma and to improve their social position (ibid. 15 June 2000). Commenting on the document, the deputy premier in charge of legislation noted that the government would reward the companies whose work force is composed of more than 60 per cent Roma or other "socially-disadvantaged groups", but rejected the idea of a "quota system" for Roma in the civil service (ibid.). In addition to the Concept, the cabinet adopted guidelines for a law on ethnic minority rights in line with provisions of the European Convention on the Protection of Ethnic Minorities which the Czech Republic has signed, although the deputy premier indicated that the government had not seen the need for an office for ethnic minorities (ibid.).

Political Participation

On 21 March 2000, Bozena Filova was appointed as a City Hall Roma Coordinator by Prague's city councillors (CTK 21 Mar. 2000). The coordinator is in charge of the security, employment and education of Roma, and will handle cases of discrimination towards Roma in public services (ibid.). This appointment aimed at improving communication between Roma and city council employees on Roma-related issues (ibid.). According to Deputy Mayor Otto Kechner, there are no "big problems" with ethnic minorities in Prague (ibid.).

A CTK article makes reference to "Romany advisers" working at Czech Republic's 73 district offices and at the city halls of Prague, Brno, Ostrava and Plzen, 60 per cent of whom are ethnic Roma (3 Oct. 2000). A October 2000 report authored by Interior Minister Stanislav Gross for submission to the cabinet, underscores the contribution of these advisers to the solution of some problems affecting the Roma community in the country (ibid.). However, the minister identified the lack of definition of the work to be done and of their powers as the "weakest point." (ibid.). According to a spokesperson, the specificity and complexity of the problems advisers deal with require more than a "methodical recommendation" issued by the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry (ibid.).


There are several reports of attacks perpetrated in 2000 on Roma by skinheads (ERRC 2000b; ibid. 2000d) and non-skinheads (ibid. 2000b; CTK 21 July 2000; ibid. 19 July 2000a; ibid. 19 July 2000b). Sources refer to police investigations into attacks on Roma, some of which led to charges such as rioting, aggravated bodily harm (ibid., ERRC 2000d), coercion, defamation of race, nation or opinion, damage to property (ibid. 2000b), association to commit racially motivated violence (ibid. 2000c) aggravated bodily harm resulting in death by negligence, aggravated bodily harm with racial motivation (ibid. 2000d) and violence against a group of people and an individual (CTK 19 July 2000b).

In Most (north-western Czech Republic), four three-member groups of Roma volunteers have been patrolling the streets of the city since May 2000 in an effort to help state and city police to maintain order (ibid. 4 Sept. 2000). Commenting on this initiative, which came from the Association of Romanies of the Town of Most (ARTM), the deputy head of Most's police acknowledged that the patrols were "useful" and that the police would recommend the creation of similar patrols in nearby Rudolice (ibid.). According to the ARTM chair, the volunteers resolved several dozen incidents such as skirmishes, violence or drug consumption, involving Roma and non-Roma (ibid.). The volunteers as well as 25 other Roma engaged in construction and cleaning activities receive a compensation from the Most employment office (ibid.).

Legal Proceedings

On 13 July 2000, a regional court in Ceske Budejovice (southern Czech Republic) acquitted a skinhead who had been accused of involvement in the murder of a Roma teenager in Pisek in September 1993 (ibid. 13 July 2000). Both the defendant and the state prosecutor appealed the ruling (ibid.).

ERRC made reference to a 24 January 2000 ruling of the Jesenik District Court (eastern Czech Republic) which found two men guilty of damage to health and racially motivated damage to health, disturbing the peace and defamation of nation or race (2000e). Originally, the police had indicted six men for having assaulted a Roma in a bar (ibid.). The judge sentenced the two to a 18-month and a 22-month terms of imprisonment respectively (ibid.).

In a 10 May 2000 article, The New York Times reported that Monika Horakova, the only Roma member of Parliament, had won a civil court case in which the court ruled that a club owner in Brno (south-eastern Czech Republic) had violated her civil rights by refusing to let her in because of her ethnic background. In its ruling, the court ordered the owner to pay her damages (ibid.). However, she has been unable to seek redress in a criminal court for the same matter. According to Ms. Horakova, "it's hard to prove discrimination, and it's up to the state prosecutor" (ibid.).

Commenting on discrimination in public places, Ondrej Gina, chair of the Roma Cultural Union, claimed that it was common in Rokycany and that the city authorities, though aware of it and of its illegality, "silently tolerated it" (ibid.). He added that he had committed himself to having state prosecutors enforce the provision in the criminal code that bans discrimination (ibid.).


In Trmice, near Usti nad Labem (north-western Czech Republic), the company SZZ, owner of a residential building inhabited by 42 families, ordered them to leave by the end of June 2000, after which the company would sell the estate (CTK 15 Aug. 2000). Fifteen families, mostly Roma, decided to stay, although the company cut off electricity and water in mid-July 2000 and destroyed makeshift outdoor toilets and a tent for cooking built by the tenants (ibid.). Commenting on this incident, Trmice Mayor stated that the municipal authorities could not help the families as the building was private property (ibid.). However, the families had decided to move out as soon as they received threats from officials saying that they would take their children away because they could not live in apartments deprived of electricity and water (ibid.). The incident ended when Josef Makula, a Roma activist, found accommodation for the 15 families without assistance from Trmice's council (ibid.).

The Budapest-based European Roma Rights Center (ERRC) made reference to Eastern and Western Lower Hrusov, two neighbourhoods of Ostrava (eastern Czech Republic) where about 70 families, mostly Roma, were living in April 2000 with the permission of the municipal authorities (2000a). Despite bad housing conditions, a dysfunctional sewage system, a lack of regular garbage collection and a 1997 municipal ban on using Lower Hrusov for housing, municipal authorities "repeatedly" refused to provide Roma with housing outside Lower Hrusov (ibid.). However, some local inhabitants interviewed by the ERRC claimed that some non-Roma individuals from the same neighbourhood had been given apartments in other parts of Ostrava (ibid.).


The New York Times reported on 12 May 2000 that the government was working on new tests for children that would give less importance to Czech-language skills and culture. Also, a law, initiated by Monika Horakova, the only Roma member of Parliament, stipulates that every child, including those going to special schools, may take part in examinations held to enter secondary schools (ibid.).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


CTK [Prague, in English]. 3 October 2000. "Czech Republic: Advisers Contribute to Solving Romany Problems." (FBIS-EEU-2000-1004 6 Oct. 2000/WNC)

_____. 23 September 2000. "UN Official Says Czechs are not Doing Enough for Romanies." (FBIS-EEU-2000-0923-27 Sept. 2000/WNC)

_____. 4 September 2000. "Romany Streets Patrols Proved Useful in Czech Town." (FBIS-EEU-2000-0905 6 Sept. 2000/WNC)

_____. 15 August 2000. "Czech Romany Activist Secures Housing for 15 Families in Need." (FBIS-EEU- 2000-0815 16 Aug. 2000/WNC)

_____. 21 July 2000. "Czech Police Charge Prominent Romany Activist with Tax Evasion, Fraud." (FBIS-EEU-2000-0722 24 July 2000/WNC)

_____. 19 July 2000a. "Romanies in Czech Town under Attack - Daily." (FBIS-EEU-2000-0719 20 July 2000/WNC)

_____. 19 July 2000b. "Three Czech Youths Accused in Connection with Arson Attack on Romanies. " (FBIS-EEU-2000-0719 20 July 2000/WNC)

_____. 13 July 2000. "Czech Skinhead Tried for Involvement in 1993 Murder of Romany Acquitted." (FBIS-EEU-2000-0713 17 July 2000/WNC)

_____. 21 March 2000. "Czech Republic: Prague Council Appoints Romany Coordinator." (FBIS-EEU-2000-0321 23 Mar. 2000/WNC)

The European Roma Rights Center (ERRC) [Budapest]. 2000a. Eva Sobotka. "Life Under the Bridge: Ghettoising Roma in Lower Hrusov, Ostrava, Czech Republic." [Accessed 11 Aug. 2000]

_____. 2000b. "Skinhead Violence Against Roma in the Czech Republic." [Accessed 11 Aug. 2000]

_____. 2000c. "Gang of Skinheads Attacks Roma in Southern Czech Republic." [Accessed 3 May 2000]

_____. 2000d. "Prosecuting Discrimination and Hate Crime in the Czech Republic." [Accessed 10 Oct. 2000]

_____. 2000e. "Prosecuting Racist Criminals in the Czech Republic." [Accessed 1- Oct. 2000]

The New York Times. 12 May 2000. Steven Erlanger. "Czech Gypsies Knock Harder on the Closed Doors." (NEXIS)

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) Newsline [Prague]. 21 August 2000. Vol. 4, No. 160, Part 2. "Czech Human Rights Groups Agree With UN Report on Roma." (

_____. 15 June 2000. Vol. 4, No. 116, Part 2. "Czech Government Approves Roma Integration Concept." (

Additional Sources Consulted

IRB Databases


Internet sites including:

Amnesty International (AI)

Czech Helsinki Committee

Human Rights Watch (HRW)

International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF-HR)

Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)

Project on Ethnic Relations (PER)

Roma Page

Roma Press Center

World News Connection (WNC)