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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 November 2007, 22:47 GMT
Court rules on Roma 'segregation'
Roma teenagers in the Czech Republic, July 07
Roma children are educated separately in many parts of Europe
Roma children in the Czech Republic should be educated in mainstream schools, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled.

The court found in favour of the families of 18 Roma children who had been placed in special schools by the Czech authorities.

Lawyers for the families argued that this separate schooling was a form of racial segregation.

The practice of educating Roma children separately is widespread in Europe.

The court ruled by 13 votes to four that the 18 children, from the North Moravian city of Ostrava, had had their human rights violated when Czech authorities sent them to special schools without adequate justification.

The separate schooling had had serious implications for the children's academic prospects and future careers, their lawyers argued.

Poor quality education

They will each now receive 4,000 euros in compensation from the Czech authorities.

This is a stunning legal victory
Cynthia Morel
Minority Rights Group

The Czech Republic's education system has been overhauled since the Roma children first made their complaint in 2000.

The special schools were abolished in 2005, but critics say that the same schools continue to operate under a different name, offering the same poor-quality education to Roma children, according to BBC's Rob Cameron in Prague.

The court's ruling could mean that the integrated education of Roma children will be enforced throughout the European Union.

"This is a stunning legal victory, setting a strong legal precedent against the remaining obstacles that the Roma and other minorities often face in the realisation of their right to education," says Cynthia Morel, from the Minority Rights Group, a UK-based human rights organisation.


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