[JURIST] The European Court of Human Rights ruled [opinion text] Tuesday that the educational separation of Roma children in the Czech Republic violates principles of human rights. By a vote of 13-4, the court held that the separation amounts to racial discrimination [ECHR press release] in violation of Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights [PDF text], finding that the schools for Roma children offered sub-standard education. The court said that:
the schooling arrangements for Roma children were not attended by safeguards [citations omitted] that would ensure that, in the exercise of its margin of appreciation in the education sphere, the State took into account their special needs as members of a disadvantaged class [citations omitted]. Furthermore, as a result of the arrangements the applicants were placed in schools for children with mental disabilities where a more basic curriculum was followed than in ordinary schools and where they were isolated from pupils from the wider population. As a result, they received an education which compounded their difficulties and compromised their subsequent personal development instead of tackling their real problems or helping them to integrate into the ordinary schools and develop the skills that would facilitate life among the majority population.
The Czech Republic was ordered to pay 4,000 euro to each child, and the ruling could potentially speed educational integration throughout the European Union.
Roma children first complained of the lack of equal education in 2000, at which time the Czech Republic began to implement changes to the system. In 2005, special schools for Roma children were officially abolished, however, some observers maintain that the schools still operate with the same sub-par education under new names. Last year, the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia reported that Roma gypsies, Jews and Muslims continue to experience significant racial and ethnic discrimination and violence [JURIST report] in EU countries. BBC News has more. The EUobserver has additional coverage.