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Experts of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination Commend Slovakia on Improving Census Methodologies, Ask about Low School Enrolment Rates for Roma Children and Housing Segregation of the Roma Community

Meeting Summaries

 

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination today concluded its consideration of the thirteenth periodic report of Slovakia, with Committee Experts commending the State on improving census methodologies, and asking about low school enrolment rates for Roma children and housing segregation of the Roma community.

Sheikha Abdulla Ali Al-Misnad, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur, commended Slovakia on new census methodologies, which would hopefully give more comprehensive data on the composition of the population. Questions were added to the census addressed to specific groups of the population regarding mother tongue, nationally or ethnicity. What were the objectives of these questions?

Ms. Al-Misnad said that only 34 per cent of Roma children attended nursery schools compared with 70 per cent of the general population, and only 33 per cent of Roma children aged 15 to 18 were enrolled in school. What measures were in place to support Roma children to attend school, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic?

The Country Co-Rapporteur also cited independent reports indicating that housing segregation of Roma had increased in recent years. More than 40 per cent of the Roma population lived in segregated communities with no paved roads or access to drinking water. What types of housing were provided to Roma and what were the requirements for acquiring social housing?

Introducing the report, Dušan Matulay, Permanent Representative of the Slovak Republic to the United Nations Office at Geneva and head of the delegation, said that the State had developed a national action plan for the 2021 population and housing census. One activity conducted under this plan was to prepare a methodology for the census of the population in terms of nationality, ethnicity and mother tongue. The delegation added that a database of census data was currently being compiled. The new data would be used to strengthen minority rights and develop a new language act.

Mr. Matulay said that in 2021, the Government adopted a strategy for an inclusive approach to education and training, which aimed to ensure accessible and quality education for all children. The delegation added that in 2021, kindergarten education was made obligatory for children at five years of age. In January 2023, a new action plan would enter into force that would address communication barriers and segregation in schools. The Ministry also provided compensation for fees for after-school activities for children in need.

Mr. Matulay also said that the State had implemented a housing policy toward 2030, the objective of which was to gradually increase the overall level of housing so that housing would be affordable for the population. The delegation added that a new public housing project had been implemented to secure 2,000 public housing units for Roma persons. The Plenipotentiary Office for National Minorities had also proposed an amendment to legislation to prevent the construction of segregation walls.

In concluding questions, Ms. Al-Misnad noted that Slovakia had implemented several measures to support the integration of minorities. However, there was not enough support for the integration of children, and not enough children were enrolled in schools. More support for children needed to be provided, she said.

In his concluding remarks, Juraj Kubla, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Slovak Republic to the United Nations Office at Geneva and acting head of the delegation, said that the dialogue with the Committee was an opportunity to discuss best practices and challenges in Slovakia. The Government pledged to study carefully and address the concluding observations of the Committee. To make real progress, the State party needed to change its minds and hearts, and it intended to do so.

The delegation of Slovakia consisted of representatives of the Plenipotentiary for National Minorities; Plenipotentiary for Roma Communities; Ministry of the Interior; Ministry of Justice; Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family; Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport; Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs; Ministry of Health; Ministry of Transport and Construction; and the Permanent Mission of the Slovak Republic to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

The Committee will issue its concluding observations on the report of Slovakia at the end of its one hundred and seventh session, which concludes on 30 August. Summaries of the public meetings of the Committee can be found here, while webcasts of the public meetings can be found here. The programme of work of the Committee’s one hundred and seventh session and other documents related to the session can be found here.

The Committee will next meet in public on Wednesday, 17 August at 3 p.m. to review the combined fifth to eleventh periodic report of Zimbabwe (CERD/C/ZWE/5-11).

Report

The Committee has before it the thirteenth periodic report of Slovakia (CERD/C/SVK/13) .

Presentation of Report

DUŠAN MATULAY, Permanent Representative of Slovakia to the United Nations Office at Geneva and head of the delegation, said that the Slovak Government was devoted to fighting discrimination and adopting measures for the future, but equally to rectifying shortcomings from the past. Since the last report, the State party had submitted two apologies. The first, dated 23 June 2021, was an apology for the manner of the intervention of the armed forces of the State against the Roma in Moldava nad Bodvou in 2013 and related events that led to the criminalisation of those who had been harmed. This was a commitment by the Slovak Republic to avoiding similar failures in the future and a signal that law enforcement authorities were sincerely interested in regaining the trust of civil society. The second, dated 24 November 2021, was an apology to women who had undergone sterilisation in violation of the law. A working group had been established to examine the circumstances under which sterilisations had taken place, as well as the possibility of financial compensation for the victims.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of the Slovak Republic had fulfilled the tasks of the strategy for Roma integration until 2020. In April 2021, the new strategy for Roma equality, inclusion and participation until 2030 was adopted. In April 2022, separate action plans for 2022–2024 were adopted in priority areas such as education, housing, employment, health, combatting anti-Roma racism and promoting participation. The Office of the Government Plenipotentiary for Roma Communities continued to implement individual national projects during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020–2022.

The Ministry of Health had established the healthy regions organization, which implemented policies and measures to prevent discrimination of marginalised groups, including Roma, in both the public and non-public sectors. In 2021, the Government adopted a strategy for an inclusive approach to education and training, which aimed to ensure accessible and quality education for all children. The State had developed a national action plan for the 2021 population and housing census. One activity conducted under this plan was to prepare a methodology for the census of the population in terms of nationality, ethnicity and mother tongue.

The Ministry of Justice was preparing a comprehensive amendment to the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code that increased protection against propaganda and disinformation, and blocked support for extremist groups. The definition of hate crimes was also expanded to include discrimination based on real or perceived citizenship, language, lack of religion, disability and gender identity. A provision was added to the Criminal Code to make racial motives an aggravating circumstance in certain ordinary criminal offences. Free legal, social and psychological assistance had been provided to foreign male and female victims of hate crimes since January 2022.

The housing policy of the Slovak Republic until 2030 had also been implemented. The objective of this policy was to gradually increase the overall level of housing so that housing would be affordable for the population.

In 2021, the Office of the Government Plenipotentiary for National Minorities developed an action plan for the protection of the rights of persons belonging to national minorities and ethnic groups for 2021–2025. The public service broadcaster, Radio and Television of Slovakia, was also working to improve its use of the languages of national minorities. One of its main tasks under the new legislation effective from 1 August 2022 was to broadcast content and regionally balanced programmes for national minorities and ethnic groups in their own languages.

Questions by Committee Experts

SHEIKHA ABDULLA ALI AL-MISNAD, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur, commended the State party on its methodologies for the 2020 census, which aligned with the Committee’s recommendation in 2018 for more reliable statistical data on the socio-economic status for minorities. The new methodologies would hopefully give more comprehensive data on the composition of the population. Questions were added to the 2022 census addressed to specific groups of the population regarding mother tongue, nationally or ethnicity. What were the objectives of these questions? Ms. Al-Misnad called for updated comprehensive statistics on the demographic composition of the population.

Ms. Al-Misnad also commended the State party for establishing the Slovak National Human Rights Centre, and its efforts to comply with the Paris Principles. What were the differences in function between this institution and the Ombudsperson? There was a low number of cases under the Anti-Discrimination Act litigated by the Centre, allegedly due to the Centre’s lack of resources. What legislation was in place to ensure that the Centre had the needed financial and human resources to carry out its mission effectively? The Ministry of Justice had proposed a bill to Parliament to strengthen the Centre’s independence and transparency, but this had rejected. What was the reason for this rejection? Did the Centre have legal authority to promote the ratification and application of international treaties and to bring cases in its own name to litigation institutions and courts?

Ms. Al-Misnad expressed concern that the implementation of the anti-discrimination act was weak in practice, due to its low degree of enforcement through the legal system and the extreme length of court proceedings. What was the result of the measures taken to intensify the enforcement of the act?

The Committee commended efforts to train law enforcement authorities in preventing and responding to hate crimes. What activities and training had been designed specifically to raise awareness about and combat racial discrimination and excessive use of force? Were there any public awareness campaigns aimed at the broader public that promoted the Convention?

There had been reports of increased hate speech, in many cases promoted by political figures during election campaigning against minorities. How many hate crimes had been investigated and prosecuted by the National Criminal Agency? What were the mechanisms by which persons from minority groups could raise claims of discrimination? Ms. Al-Misnad welcomed the creation of a special unit within the national criminal investigations police to combat extremist hate crimes and hate speech. However, this unit was allegedly not independent and its ability to deal with hate crime and hate speech was very limited.

TINA STAVRINAKI, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur, said that the term “marginalised Roma communities” was used in the census. How did the State party prevent the stereotyping effect of this term? Had the State party fully enforced its anti-discrimination act, ensuring that the principle of shifted burden of proof was applied? What were the findings of the evaluation of the national action plan for the prevention and elimination of racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance for 2016-18, and was a new plan being prepared?

Twenty hate crimes were recorded in the State in 2020, 16 were prosecuted and six were convicted. Did these crimes include hate speech? Why did the number of cases decrease from 2019? Why was the number of convictions low? What measures had been taken to condemn hate speech?

How did the police and judicial authorities build a relationship of trust with communities, especially Roma, that had been severely affected by police violence? Had the authorities taken any measures to review violations committed by police forces in the 2013 Moldava nad Bodvou case to remedy systemic issues? Why had no investigations conducted before the 2021 apology resulted in convictions or disciplinary sanctions? Was the Inspection Service of the Ministry of the Interior compliant to human rights standards on independence for investigations of police officers? How was the independence of the Service ensured? Ms. Stavrinaki asked for more information on the crime report 2019 analysing offences by police officers. Why did the Control and Inspection Service Section not separately register statistical data on the number and nature of reported crimes motivated by racial intolerance?

GUN KUT, Committee Expert and Follow-Up Rapporteur, said the Committee had not received a follow-up report within one year after issuing concluding observations in 2018. In the last concluding observations, the Committee requested the State party to work to deter hate speech, particularly on the Internet. The State report mainly focused on hate crimes rather than hate speech. The Committee had also urged the State party to adopt targeted measures to end residential segregation affecting Roma persons. The State party report stated that a new building act would seek to prevent the segregation of the Roma community through “segregation walls.” Mr. Kut called for more information on this issue.

A Committee Expert asked for more information on the definition of discrimination within State legislation. Were forms of indirect discrimination included?

What measures had been taken to ensure that police officers were aware of racist motives as aggravating circumstances in crimes? What measures were in place to prevent racial profiling?

A Committee Expert said that over 500 members of neo-Nazi groups were active in the State and free to organise events? How were these groups allowed to promote racism? What measures had been taken to prevent racism in sport? What steps was the Government taking to protect human rights defenders?

Responses by the Delegation

The delegation said a new methodology was introduced in the 2021 census to collect data on nationality and mother tongue. This new methodology was based on international standards. A database of census data was currently being compiled, which would allow for processing of a range of data based on nationality. This would be released in September. Around 11 per cent of the population had a nationality other than Slovakian. The new data would be used to strengthen minority rights and develop a new language act. The number of villages with national minorities and minority languages would be increased. Data on Roma communities was also being updated. The Plenipotentiary for National Minorities was currently identifying targets for support schemes in marginalised communities based on household income data. Questions on discrimination of Roma people provided data that would inform the 2030 action plan for supporting the Roma community.

There were differences between the Ombudsperson and the Slovak National Human Rights Centre. The Ombudsperson was an independent institution that assessed public officials’ upholding of human rights standards, while the Slovak National Human Rights Centre protected human rights nationwide. The State party did not plan on reviewing legislation related to the Centre. The budget and staff of the Centre had been increased from 2019. The Centre had received 131 submissions on discrimination in 2021. The election of the new Ombudsperson was planned for September.

The Ministry of Justice conducted a grant scheme for non-governmental organizations promoting human rights and freedoms, providing funding for these organizations through this scheme each year.

The Ministry of the Interior had created a brochure that aimed to raise awareness on hate speech. The Ministry also took part in the United Nations’ awareness-raising campaign “#NoToHate”. In 2021, the Ministry started a movement to prosecute extremist material, prosecuting 30 cases for the creation of such material. In 2021, there were 29 cases of extremist crimes against Roma community members, 13 against Jewish persons, and a larger number against black persons and sexual minorities. The Ministry submitted a report dealing with extremism in 2021 with detailed data.

The delegation apologised for not submitting the follow-up report, which had been prepared and would be submitted to the Committee later.

With new amendments to the Criminal Code, harsher penalties were issued for racially motivated crimes. Eleven hate-related crimes had been identified in 2021. The most common victims of extremist attacks in 2020-2021 were members of the Roma community, and the most common victims of online attacks were the Jewish community. In 2020, 115 cases of extremism were investigated. There were 106 racially motivated crimes in 2020 and 76 in 2021. Expressions of hate had become more common during the pandemic. A non-governmental organization “DGQ” monitored hate incidents on the Internet, finding that over 50 per cent were directed at the migrant community. A member of a far-right political party had been found guilty of expressing sympathy to groups that promoted racial hatred. With this member’s removal, the party was now not considered to be a danger to democracy in the State.

Under the new media services act, media providers were required to not incite hate or defame based on nationality, gender, sexual orientation, race or other characteristics. Providers who did not comply would be fined. In cases of repeated breaches, broadcasts could be stopped and providers stripped of their licences. Online media providers were also obliged to not promote violence or hatred against any group. The national broadcaster highlighted intercultural issues and promoted intercultural understanding.

The Inspection Service of the police force was established in 2019. It was an independent body that investigated acts of excessive force and discrimination committed by the police force. Each decision on violations by police officers was supervised by the Prosecutor’s office. The organizational structure of the Inspection Service had recently been changed to enhance the prevention of criminal actions and corruption, and improve analytical activity. The State gave sufficient attention to crimes committed by police officers, and each investigator in the service was independent. Acts of violence against detainees in detention facilities were also promptly investigated. A report on criminal actions of police officers was published in 2021. The report included measures and recommendations relating to reducing criminal actions by the police.

In response to a follow-up question on the rise in the number of people identifying as members of the Roma community, the delegation said that the question of second nationality in the census had led to a larger number of people identifying as Roma. Roma people were still not proud of their identity, and there were still many challenges to enhancing the Roma identity. The population of every national minority had increased in the latest census. Questionnaires had been prepared in seven languages, including Roma languages, and the State party had campaigned in minority communities to promote the census.

Responding to a follow-up question on incidents of hate crimes in sport, the delegation said that a significant number of extremist crimes related to spectator violence occurred at football games. The General Director of a professional football club had been convicted on extremist grounds.

In response to a question on whether leaders of corporations could be convicted of crimes of extremism, the delegation said that leaders of corporations could be convicted, however, there were no cases of such convictions.

Answering a question on why proposed amendments related to legislation on the National Human Rights Institute had been rejected, the delegation said that a comprehensive amendment to this legislation was proposed in 2019, and its aim was to bring the national human rights institute to “A” status. However, the amendment had been rejected for political reasons.

Questions by Committee Experts

SHEIKHA ABDULLA ALI AL-MISNAD, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur, welcomed all changes and policies to reduce the police’s use of force. However, she said that these policies would not have much impact unless there were efforts to change the minds and hearts of the police force.

A Committee Expert commended the report of the delegation on hate crimes, which had been carefully researched. Were prison sentences issued for hate crimes? The Expert commended the State party for taking hate crimes very seriously.

Another Committee Expert said that the anti-discrimination law for individuals in Slovakia on indirect discrimination went beyond that of European law. Were there provisions preventing indirect discrimination in constitutional law?

A Committee Expert welcomed positive developments relating to preventing racism from neo-Nazi groups. How did the State party ensure that minorities were represented in political life?

VERENE ALBERTHA SHEPHERD, Committee Chairperson, said that the Committee applauded the State party for its apologies on past instances of forced sterilisation and excessive police force. How did the State determine the compensation provided to victims in both cases?

SHEIKHA ABDULLA ALI AL-MISNAD, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur, asked about the impact of special measures to combat structural discrimination against Roma implemented through the strategy of Slovakia for Roma integration by 2020. The Committee was concerned that discrimination of Roma was still widespread, and there was a lack of special measures to combat structural discrimination. Ms. Al-Misnad called for more information on cases reported by Roma persons of the police’s use of excessive force, and for statistical information on the living conditions of Roma people. Around 50 per cent of the children in State care were Roma children. What was the reason for this?

Why had the representation of minorities in the legislative body gradually decreased since 2018? What measures had been taken to increase the political participation of ethnic minorities?

Ms. Al-Misnad commended the efforts by the State party to provide adequate public housing to minorities through the State housing policy of 2020. However, some independent reports indicated that housing segregation of Roma had increased in recent years. More than 40 per cent of the Roma population lived in segregated communities with no paved roads or access to drinking water. Roma living in segregated settlements faced increased threats of evacuation, because the land they built their houses on had been transferred from the State to individuals or municipalities. What types of housing were provided to Roma and what were the requirements for acquiring social housing?

The Country Co-Rapporteur welcomed the adoption of a health action plan as part of the State strategy for Roma integration by 2020. She called for updated information on court rulings concerning the sterilisation of Roma women. In 2022, only 7 per cent of Roma in Slovakia were vaccinated against COVID-19 compared to 43 per cent of the general population. In addition, testing for COVID-19 in Roma settlements resulted in full area quarantines and without isolation of positive cases. What measures were being taken by the State party to improve the health conditions of Roma, including COVID-19 vaccination programmes for them?

Ms. Al-Misnad commended the State party’s plans to provide inclusive educational opportunities for socially disadvantaged children, and the school act amendment passed by the parliament in 2019, which introduced compulsory preschool education for all children from the age of five. However, only 34 per cent of Roma children attended nursery schools compared with 70 per cent in the population as a whole, and only 33 per cent of Roma children aged 15 to18 were enrolled in school. The drop-out rate of Roma children from schools was around 61 per cent for Roma girls and 54 per cent for Roma boys. What were the causes of this situation? What measures were in place to support Roma children to attend school, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic? Seventy per cent of Roma children did not participate in distance learning and 60 per cent had no contact with their teachers because of lack of computers and Internet services.

In 2018, there were around 65,000 foreigners in Slovakia, of which only around 17,000 had permanent residence and about 48,000 held temporary residence permits. These numbers indicated that key measures of the State party’s 2014 integration policy had not been implemented. What was the number of refugees and asylum seekers in the country, and what measures had been adopted to protect their legal rights to health, education and employment? Ms. Al-Misnad called for more information on detention centres, which some reports described as prison-like.

TINA STAVRINAKI, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur, said that 61 per cent of the Roma population currently had access to potable water, compared to 48 per cent in 2013. What had contributed to this increase?

What measures had the State party taken to raise awareness among Roma women about past forced sterilisations, and provide adequate non-judicial remedies for reparation, including compensation? Were Roma women represented in the working group established by the State party towards this end? What measures had been taken to address the enforcement of anti-discrimination legislation in the provision of health services? What healthcare services were provided to refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, including preventative measures related to reproductive health?

A Committee Expert said that there were around 400,000 Ukrainian refugees in Slovakia. Had mid- or long-term programmes been introduced to support these refugees, especially regarding education? How would language issues be accommodated? How would refugees’ entry in the labour market be supported?

Another Committee Expert said that the State party report did not include information on migrant workers. What were their working conditions, and what measures had been taken to improve their situation, particularly for undocumented migrants and migrant women? What measures had been taken to support the birth registration of the children of migrants?

A Committee Expert asked why protection functions had been removed from the Slovak National Human Rights Centre, and transferred to the Ombudsperson?

One Committee Expert said that Roma children were placed in specialised schools for children with disabilities. Was being Roma tantamount to having a disability? Roma persons found it difficult to obtain work, and some corporations refused to employ Roma persons. What support measures were in place?

A Committee Expert asked if there was a body that regulated the media, and was able to counter stereotypes in printed and online media?

Another Committee Expert said that there had been situations of racial discrimination at the border based on where migrants had come from. How had the State managed the reception of non-European migrants? What was the State doing to combat systemic racism?

SHEIKHA ABDULLA ALI AL-MISNAD, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur, said that Slovakia had received 9.5 billion euros from the European Union, 400 million of which had been invested in social inclusion projects. How were these funds used?

Responses by the Delegation

The delegation said that the terms “Roma persons” and “marginalised Roma communities” were used to assist Government policies. “Marginalisation” was determined based on several factors, including insufficient housing and access to healthcare. The Plenipotentiary Office for National Minorities had taken part in drafting the housing and land use action plan. Under the new building act developed under this plan, a new public housing project had been implemented to secure 2,000 public housing units for Roma persons. Until 2025, there would be no requirement to submit land use permits electronically, to support Roma persons who did not have access to computers. The Office had proposed an amendment to the organization of State services that would allow it to coordinate the provision of land to Roma persons. The Office had also proposed an amendment to the 1990 act 369 to prevent the construction of segregation walls. The Office had so far received only one complaint regarding a segregation fence, which it had assessed and deemed to be illegal.

In marginalised Roma communities, the average age was lower compared to the general population (27 years compared to 40 years). The employment rate of Roma women was 17 per cent lower than that of Roma men. Almost 70 per cent of women worked shorter hours than men, and had stated that they could not find full-time work. The poverty rate in the Roma community was much higher than for the general population, and this rate had risen due to the pandemic. Eighty-eight per cent of Roma households were overcrowded, with one room shared by three people on average. Twenty-eight per cent of Roma persons did not have access to drinking water, flushing toilets or showers. Marginalised Roma communities spent 22 per cent of their income on housing. Fifty-six per cent of Roma persons did not have regular medical check-ups.

There were 169 villages participating in State projects aimed at improving living conditions. The Government had made interventions in various fields in these villages. The Government worked with families to increase the enrolment of children in kindergarten, and had worked to make kindergartens more inclusive. The Government also helped Roma persons to pay back debts, and helped victims of domestic violence, bullying and prostitution. The Government had also helped to legally define Roma properties, and supported the transfer of property rights to the Roma community. Municipalities no longer needed to contribute to financial grants for Roma persons. Eighty-three projects to supply potable water to marginalised communities had been contracted, and these had contributed to increasing the Roma community’s access to potable water. The Government was also funding the construction of roads in these communities.

As of September 2021, kindergarten education was made obligatory for children at five years of age. Support funding was provided for families earning minimum wage. The Ministry of Education identified children in danger of failing school and provided support to them. As of January 2023, a new action plan would enter into force that aimed to support children and teachers in special schools. The action plan would also address communication barriers and segregation in schools. The Ministry also provided compensation for fees for after-school activities for children in need. The target of the Ministry was to provide quality education for all children, and to refuse any kind of segregation.

An expert group had been established to control the spread of COVID-19 in marginalised Roma communities. An information campaign regarding vaccination had been conducted in these communities. To improve access to healthcare in Roma communities, the healthy communities organization worked to remove barriers to healthcare and vaccinations. The Ministry of Health had prepared a project that supported equal access to reproductive health. Healthcare professionals were trained in supporting Roma mothers under the project. Refugees from Ukraine were provided with health insurance, and the Ministry aimed to provide asylum seekers with health insurance.

Roma women were not represented in the Government working group on forced sterilisation, but the Government had been in consultation with non-governmental organizations supporting victims. The amount of compensation had yet to be determined. The number of eligible applications was predicted to be around 500 persons. An information campaign had yet to be conducted on the issue, but the Government would consider carrying out such a campaign once the details of compensation had been determined.

Members of national minorities had a right to participate in political activity. In the last parliamentary elections, however, there were no political parties that explicitly defended the interests of national minorities. Three members of the parliament had Hungarian nationality, three were Roma persons, and one had Czech nationality. A former plenipotentiary for the Roma community currently represented the State in the European Parliament. In 2010, 28 elected mayors were of Roma origin, and this had increased to around 50 mayors in the most recent elections. In 202 villages, there were representatives of the Roma community in the local parliament. Over nine million euros were distributed to national minorities to support local culture and interethnic dialogue, and around 30 per cent of these funds were distributed to the Roma community.

The Slovak Republic had been doing its best to manage the migration crisis. After the start of the Ukraine war, all people from third countries had been exceptionally allowed to enter Slovakia for up to 90 days. Foreigners who had legal permits to stay in Ukraine were eligible for the same support services as Ukrainian national refugees. Temporary shelters had been established to accommodate the influx of refugees. The Ministry of Interior was also supporting refugee children to be included in State education.

Questions by Committee Experts

SHEIKHA ABDULLA ALI AL-MISNAD, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur, said that the State party had implemented several measures to support the integration of minorities, but there was not enough support for the integration of children. More support for children needed to be provided.

TINA STAVRINAKI, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur, said that the State party measured discrimination of the Roma community well. It was now time to develop measures that would help Roma communities to advance. What actions would be taken in response to segregation fences that had been declared illegal? What measures were in place to improve Roma persons’ access to hospitals? Were there incentives encouraging Roma persons to become teachers? What support services were provided for victims of forced sterilisation? Affected persons needed to be involved in the drafting of support measures.

A Committee Expert asked how many stateless persons were in the State, and if there was a body that worked to identify stateless persons. Had the State ratified the two International Labour Organization conventions on statelessness? Had laws been adopted to prohibit racism in sport? A sports brand had been the target of racist comments. What was the State’s response to this?

A Committee Expert said that Roma persons were fully-fledged citizens and needed to be treated as such.

Responses by the Delegation

The delegation said that in the coming years, the Slovak Republic intended to focus on supporting the most vulnerable persons, especially youth. The Government intended to support the employment and education of national minorities through a national project. The State was also aiming to expand the coverage of hospitals in minority communities. A key focus of the Government was promoting the participation of minority groups in public life.

Closing Remarks

SHEIKHA ABDULLA ALI AL-MISNAD, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur, thanked the delegation for all responses, and looked forward to additional responses that would be submitted in writing.

JURAJ KUBLA, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Slovak Republic to the United Nations Office at Geneva and acting head of the delegation , thanked the Committee for the dialogue, and for studying the situation in the State carefully. The dialogue was an opportunity to discuss best practices and challenges in Slovakia. Mr. Kubla also thanked non-governmental organizations that had contributed to the dialogue and the State report.

Slovakia pledged to pay greater attention to supplying the Committee with quality information in a timely fashion in future. The Government also pledged to study carefully and address the concluding observations of the Committee. To make real progress, the State party needed to change its minds and hearts, and it intended to do so.

 

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