Roma continued to experience discrimination in access to education, health care and housing. The government was found to have violated the human rights of a woman who alleged an enforced sterilization.
Following a vote of no confidence in October, early elections were scheduled for March 2012. The Prime Minister and her cabinet had limited powers to act on crucial social and economic policy measures.
At the end of November, after negotiations failed between the government and the trade unions over hospital privatization and working conditions for doctors, over 1,200 doctors in public hospitals resigned from their jobs, and a number of hospitals were reportedly unable to provide adequate health care services. The government declared a state of emergency which obliged the doctors to come to work. A failure to comply risked criminal charges. A compromise was reached between the government and the doctors and the state of emergency ended on 8 December.Top of page
Slovakia was criticized by international human rights monitoring bodies and NGOs for continued discrimination against Roma. In April, the UN Human Rights Committee stated that Roma were excluded from political participation, and faced discrimination in access to education, health care and housing.
In June, the Minister of the Interior responded to existing tensions between non-Roma and Roma in the village of Žehra, eastern Slovakia. He proposed an amendment to the Act on Municipalities, allowing a municipality to separate into two parts. NGOs and the Government Plenipotentiary for Roma Communities (Plenipotentiary) criticized the initiative, as it could lead to municipalities dividing on ethnic lines.
In April, the UN Human Rights Committee noted that reports of de facto segregation of Romani children in schools continued, and that Romani children were placed too often in classes for pupils with “mild mental disability”. The Committee urged the government to eradicate segregation in the educational system. In May, the European Commission held a meeting on Roma inclusion in Slovakia, where participants recognized the continuation of segregation in education. The meeting concluded with a call on the government to adopt a clear strategy for desegregation. In December, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights recommended that the Slovak authorities introduce a duty on all schools to desegregate.
Inhabitants of informal Romani settlements faced the threat of, and experienced, forced evictions, and lacked access to basic services. In September, the Parliament proposed an amendment to building regulations, to oblige municipalities to demolish unauthorized constructions without legal title to the land. The proposal suggested penalties for those municipalities which failed to carry out the demolition within a period required by law. The Plenipotentiary’s office expressed concerns that the proposal contravened anti-discrimination legislation and that it would severely affect Romani informal settlements. The Ministry of Construction and Regional Development announced in November that it would work on this proposal and submit a new draft amendment in 2012.
In April, Slovakia was criticized by the UN Human Rights Committee for the narrow focus of the investigation into past allegations of enforced sterilizations. The Committee also expressed concerns over the lack of information on the elimination of forced sterilizations, which, allegedly, continued to take place.
Slovakia was repeatedly reminded by the UN Human Rights Committee that it should strengthen its efforts to combat racist attacks committed by law enforcement personnel, particularly against Roma.
Two out of the three men formerly held in US custody in Guantánamo Bay, accepted by Slovakia in 2010, left for their native Tunisia and Egypt. One of them was reportedly arrested upon his arrival in Egypt in June and charged with terrorism. The Minister of the Interior stated that the departure of both men from Slovakia was their choice. All three former Guantánamo detainees had received residence permits in Slovakia in 2010. While waiting for these permits, they had been detained in a centre for illegal migrants where they went on hunger strike to protest against their detention and the living conditions.Top of page
In April, an amendment of the Labour Code came into force, extending the protected grounds against discrimination to include sexual orientation.
In June, the second annual Bratislava Pride march included more than 1,000 participants. The organizers acknowledged good co-operation with the police and therefore progress from the previous year (when the police had announced they would not be able to protect the participants, and the organizers had therefore changed the march’s route). Minor incidents were reported, and the police arrested a few counter-demonstrators. The Pride march was attended by the mayor of Bratislava, as well as some members of the parliament.Top of page