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Slovakia 2023

Discrimination against Roma persisted, including in education and in the public housing system. Parliament failed to adopt a consent-based definition of rape. Parliamentarians again attempted without success to adopt amendments that would restrict access to abortion. Irregular migrants were subjected to arbitrary detention and other human rights violations. There was still no procedure for gender legal recognition based on the principle of self-determination.


Right to education

In April, Slovakia was referred by the European Commission to the Court of Justice of the EU for failing to effectively tackle discrimination in education, as set out in the EU’s Race Equality Directive. Landmark judgments by the Supreme Court of Slovakia and the Regional Court in Prešov ruled that the continuing existence of schools attended mainly by Roma children – as well as their unlawful placement in “special” classes – violated the right to equal access to education and was discriminatory.

Excessive and unnecessary use of force

Incidents of police brutality against Roma continued. The government failed to take steps to comply with judgments by the European Court of Human Rights requiring that Slovakia ensure effective access to justice for minors; that courts effectively examine allegations of humiliating treatment by the police; and that possible racist motives for arresting and ill-treating people are effectively investigated.

Right to housing

Roma people continued to live disproportionately in segregated, environmentally hazardous housing with inadequate access to water, sanitation and electricity.

Women’s rights

No progress was made towards ratifying the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention).

Parliament failed to adopt a consent-based definition of rape.

Sexual and reproductive rights

No effective compensation mechanism had been established for women who were illegally sterilized between 1966 and 2004.

Several bills were proposed to restrict safe and legal abortions, but these were not passed by parliament.

Refugees’ and migrants’ rights

In September, the Public Defender of Rights released findings claiming that irregular migrants were detained longer than legally permitted in the temporary detention centre in Veľký Krtíš.

From October onwards, every migrant entering Slovakia irregularly was placed in a detention centre for foreigners.

The Public Defender also raised concerns regarding several human rights violations at the police detention centre for foreigners in Sečovce, including its restrictive regime, lack of meaningful activities, lack of opportunities to connect with family, lack of information about legal aid and legal status, problematic access to adequate healthcare, and a ban on wearing one’s own clothes.

In October, 45 irregular migrants went on hunger strike after being arbitrarily detained at the police detention facility in Medveďov. They demanded their release to open facilities, and access to legal aid and assistance with social support.

LGBTI people’s rights

Parliament failed to pass a law which would have granted same-sex couples the option to access each other’s medical documentation. Reform was overdue on regulating same-sex couples’ unions and parenthood, and on transgender people’s rights, including marriage and legal gender recognition – which still required gender-affirming healthcare – in violation of the right to self-identification. From March to June, there were attempts in parliament to make gender recognition virtually impossible, but these were unsuccessful.

Right to health

After many delays, in March the former minister of health approved professional guidelines on the provision of gender affirming healthcare. However, the guidelines were ignored by some healthcare providers and state institutions, and their validity was questioned by several public officials, including a former prime minister.

Right to a healthy environment

December saw the closure of the Nováky power plant, the last facility producing electricity from domestic coal sources, as a consequence of the 2018 decision to end government support for domestic coal mining. It was estimated that the closure would reduce CO2 emissions by more than 1 million tonnes. However, the use of coal continues in domestic heating and in industry, and a liquefied natural gas terminal in Bratislava with an expected lifespan of 20 to 40 years was scheduled for completion in 2026.

The Climate Act, in draft form since 2021, had not yet been enacted. Climate Action Network criticized the “very low ambition” contained in the legislation.