Ivo Skoric on Sat, 20 Apr 2002 21:20:01 +0200 (CEST)

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[Nettime-bold] ERRC: Lawsuit Against Segregation of Roma in Croatian Schools

Segregation in Croatian classrooms must be ended.

------- Forwarded Message Follows -------
Lawsuits filed by Roma Challenge Racial Segregation in Croatian Primary

April 19, 2002, a group of 57 Romani children in Medimurje County,
Croatia, assisted by local counsel and the European Roma Rights Center
(ERRC), filed a legal complaint with a Croatian court challenging their
segregation into separate Roma-only classes in what are otherwise
“normal” primary schools.

The lawsuit filed with the Cakovec Municipal Court charges the Croatian
Ministry of Education, the Medimurje County local government, as well as
four primary schools in Orehovica, Macinec, Kuršanec and Podturen, with
segregating the plaintiffs and numerous other Romani children into
separate and educationally inferior classes simply based on their ethnic
identity. The complaint further alleges that the result of this practice
is the denial of equal educational opportunities for most Romani

The evidence documented in the complaint and based on official
statistics shows that almost 60% of all Romani primary school students
in Medimurje County regularly attend segregated classrooms. As a result
of this practice, the plaintiffs, like many other Romani children
throughout the county, have suffered, and indeed continue to suffer,
severe educational, psychological and emotional harm, including the

* they have been subjected to a curriculum far inferior to that in regular 
classes, with attendant damage to their opportunities to secure adequate 
employment in the future;
* they have been stigmatized with the effects of diminished self-esteem and 
feelings of humiliation, alienation and lack of self-worth;
* they have been forced to study in racially segregated classrooms and 
hence denied the benefits of a multi-cultural educational environment.

“Attempts to explain away racial segregation can never be persuasive,”
said ERRC Executive Director Dimitrina Petrova. “Whatever the excuse
offered, the solution is to give help where it is needed, not in
continued segregation. Equal educational opportunities are the only way
to break the cycle of poverty and unemployment suffered by Roma in the

The complaint demands:

* a judicial finding of racial segregation;
* an order that the defendants develop and implement a monitoring system 
and a plan to end racial segregation and discrimination and to achieve full 
racial integration; and
* an order that the plaintiffs be placed in racially integrated classrooms 
and provided with the compensatory education necessary for them to overcome 
the debilitating effects of past discrimination and segregation.

According to the ERRC, the current situation clearly violates the
Croatian Constitution, other provisions of domestic law, and numerous
binding international treaties ratified by Croatia, including the
European Convention on Human Rights.

Failure to secure effective remedies in domestic courts will result in
an application to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

* Further information on the situation of Roma in Croatia is available
For more information on the ERRC desegregation lawsuit, please contact 
Gloria Jean Garland, ERRC Legal Director. (E-mail: jgarland@errc.org, 
Phone: +361 413 2200).


The European Roma Rights Center is an international public interest law
organisation which monitors the rights of Roma and provides legal defence
in cases of human rights abuse. For more information about the European
Roma Rights Center, visit the ERRC on the web at http://www.errc.org.

European Roma Rights Center
1386 Budapest 62
P.O. Box 906/93

Phone: +36 1 4132200
Fax:   +36 1 4132201



The European Roma Rights Center is dependent upon the generosity of
individual donors for its continued existence. If you believe the ERRC
performs a service valuable to the public, please join in enabling its
future with a contribution. Gifts of all sizes are welcome; bank transfers
are preferred. Please send your contribution to:

European Roma Rights Center
Budapest Bank Rt.
1054 Budapest
Bathory utca 1

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