Czech Health Ministry Faces Challenges in Resolving Unlawful Sterilization Compensation Claims

The Czech Health Ministry is grappling with a surge in applications for compensation for unlawful sterilizations, with more than 1,500 submissions received, according to data disclosed by the Human Rights League (LLP). The LLP, supporting the victims, presented the information, revealing that 785 applications have been processed so far, with over 500 resolved. However, the compensation process has been marred by challenges, including the lengthy procedures and difficulties in providing evidence.

Victims, particularly women who underwent sterilization without their free decision and adequate information between July 1966 and March 2012, are entitled to CZK 300,000 from the state. The LLP lawyers emphasized the complexity of the situation, citing the frequent shredding of medical records, making it challenging for the Health Ministry to accept alternative evidence.

Jana Repova, an LLP lawyer, noted, “More than 1,500 applications have been submitted, which is above expectations.” The compensation law, in effect since last year, allows victims until the end of the next year to apply. Out of the processed applications, 500 have been approved, 178 rejected, and the remaining cases are pending.

Surprisingly, LLP’s analysis of 390 anonymized cases revealed that over half of the incidents occurred after 1989, challenging the initial belief that this issue was solely linked to the Communist regime. Additionally, recent cases of women undergoing procedures without informed consent post-2012 raise concerns, with ongoing efforts to resolve a 2018 case involving a maternity hospital.

Compounding the challenges, the ministry’s failure to adhere to legal deadlines and its reluctance to recognize evidence beyond medical documentation have triggered calls for compensation system adjustments from Roma and human rights organizations. Efforts to modify the recognition procedure, including recognizing affidavits or testimonies, have been discussed but not yet implemented.

The issue of forced sterilizations, particularly affecting Roma women, was brought to light by the European Roma Rights Center in 2004. Despite an apology from the Czech government in 2009 for the unlawful procedures, challenges persist in compensating victims and addressing systemic issues in the recognition process.

Article by Prague Forum

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