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Racially segregated schools in Europe in 2010?

A journalist working on the Google story called here yesterday asking us to wrack our brains for other examples of where companies had pulled out of countries because of human rights concerns. The main examples we came up with were related to apartheid South Africa, something very comfortably historical.

But something entirely different we’re working on this week throws up apartheid comparisons with what’s happening in Europe today.

A new Amnesty report published yesterday finds that Roma children in the Czech republic are being racially segregated in schools, placed in both special schools for children with “mental disabilities” and Roma-only schools. This despite the Czech authorities being reprimanded for the practice in 2007 by the European Court of Human Rights.

The BBC’s World Tonight programme carried an in-depth report on this last night which makes compelling listening. It includes an interview with a headteacher who explains that the parents of the non-Roma children are a big part of the problem, threatening to move their children from schools when there are significant numbers of Roma kids in them, and a despondent young Roma girl who says she’d like to be a doctor but she already knows this is unrealistic.

The Financial Times also looked at our report and includes a comment from a local NGO that Roma children receive similar treatment in Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania.

Do we learn (nothing) from history?

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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