Strasbourg, 06.10.2021 – In its latest Opinion on the Czech Republic, published today, the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM), whilst acknowledging some progress in combatting discrimination, urges the authorities to intensify their efforts to combat stereotypes and prejudice against the minority groups most exposed to hate speech, including by prosecuting cases of criminal relevance effectively. (See versions in French and Czech)
The Committee, which adopted the Opinion in February 2021, also exhorts the authorities to implement the Strategy of Roma Integration 2021-2030 and to compensate the women who were victims of forced sterilization – a measure addressed by a law adopted by Czech Parliament in June and signed into law by the Czech President in August.
The Committee recognises positive developments, especially in the fields of education and media and concerning the removal of the pig farm on the site of the former concentration camp for Roma in Lety.
The Committee regrets that instances of hate speech against particularly Roma, Muslim migrants and Germans still occur, particularly on social media, often supported by statements of mainstream politicians. In order to overcome deeply rooted historical prejudices against some national minorities, it calls on the authorities to ensure that mainstream education provides concrete information about the history and culture of the national minorities as well as their contribution to Czech society.
Many persons belonging to certain national minorities do not declare their ethnic affiliation in censuses for fear of negative attitudes. As a result, they fail to meet the population thresholds required for gaining access to specific rights. The Committee urges the authorities to collect more data about the number of persons belonging to national minorities.
The Polish minority is the only one benefitting from a comprehensive model of minority language education and a regular practice of using its language in dealings with the local authorities in certain districts. The Committee encourages the authorities to assess the needs of other national minorities as regards education in minority languages and the use of such languages in the local administration. It also calls on the authorities to actively support the display of topographical indications in minority languages and to apply the respective 10% threshold in a flexible manner.
Significant progress towards inclusive education has been made by amending the Education Act in 2016, which introduced a compulsory year of pre-school education and has resulted in the enrolment of most Roma children. However, there has been slow progress to achieve the second aim of the amendment, transferring Roma pupils diagnosed as having a mild mental disability to mainstream schools, as 72.8 % are still assigned to separate classes.
The Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities is Europe's most comprehensive treaty protecting the rights of persons belonging to national minorities. It is the first legally binding multilateral instrument devoted to the protection of national minorities worldwide, and its implementation is monitored by an Advisory Committee composed of independent experts. The treaty entered into force on 1 February 1998 and is now in force in 39 states.
The Czech Republic applies the protection provided by the treaty to 14 national minorities (Belarusian, Bulgarian, Croatian, German, Greek, Hungarian, Polish, Roma, Russian, Ruthenian, Serbian, Slovak, Ukrainian and Vietnamese), which are represented in the Government Council for National Minorities.