Indirect Discrimination and School Segregation of Roma Children in the Czech Republic


In DH v. Czech Republic (2007), the Czech government argued that Roma parents consented to the assignment of their children to ‘special’ schools. According to the government, parental consent undermined the claim that the disproportionate assignment of Roma children to inferior schools amounted to discrimination. The court rejected the argument, finding as a matter of law that parents could not choose to subject their children to discriminatory education, and as a matter of fact that the parents’ consent was not informed. Since the judgment, the Czech government continues to disproportionately assign Roma children to inferior schools, but it has revised the procedure they use to obtain parental consent for the assignment, and there are some indications that Roma parents indeed wish for their children to go to separate schooling from Czech children because they would be subjected to bullying and other intimidation in integrated schools. This memorandum examines circumstances in which the disparate impact of a government policy is said to result from choices made by the purported victims, and analyses of how courts have addressed the issue of agency and discrimination.

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