Saturday, 24 August 2019

Právo: Czechs criticise AI report on Romanies' discrimination

10 March 2016

Prague, March 9 (CTK) - The Amnesty International (AI) report on the ethnic discrimination against Romany children in the Czech education system contains untrue and distorted information, according to a Prague district state attorney's office, daily Pravo writes yesterday.
It says Martin Odehnal, head of the schools and European funds section at the Prague 9 Town Hall and former head of the Education Ministry's special schools section, filed a proposal for examining the AI report with the state attorney's office.
State attorney Zdenka Galkova assessed the document and she called it a "pseudo-research report," Pravo says.
"The report apparently includes untrue, distorted and defamatory pieces of information that are presented as objectively found facts," Galkova writes.
"The report may be described as unsubstantiated, unrightful and impudent criticism of state institutions and their employees, or possibly an unjust labelling of citizens of the Czech Republic who do not belong to the Romany community," she said.
However, such an act cannot be qualified as a crime, she added.
The extended segregation of Romany children at Czech schools is an example of a systemic, prejudice-based behaviour, which is a clear and simple racism, AI Secretary General Salil Shetty said last year, when the report was issued.
It quotes the experience of several Romany children who feel discriminated against and are bullied at Czech schools.
The AI report again points to a high share of Romany kids who end up in practical, previously special, schools for the slightly mentally disabled. They make up almost one-third of children in these schools, though there are only up to 3 percent of Romanies in the Czech Republic with the population of 10.5 million, according to statistics.
AI also writes that the Czech primary education system needs a thorough reform to remove the discrimination against Romanies. Such a reform is now being prepared in the form of inclusion of children with some disabilities in regular schools, Pravo says.
Odehnal has criticised the AI's report. "Instead of collecting all relevant data and assessing them in an unbiased way, apparently only the information that was to confirm the conclusions made beforehand about the continuing discrimination against Romanies at Czech schools was gathered," Odehnal told Pravo.
He argued that children from the Vietnamese minority, which is comparable with the Romanies in the the Czech Republic, have long ranked among the best students at schools, though, unlike Romanies, they do not get any special aid from the state. There are almost no Vietnamese in practical schools, Odehnal said.
The AI rejects the criticism of its approach, Pravo writes.
"The AI work has been based on a relevant and reliable research in the area of human rights that has clear rules for over 50 years. The respective research was carried out in several schools, it is mapping the school and other environments, and the work of the government and NGOs," AI spokeswoman Martina Parizkova told the paper.

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