Roma in the Czech Republic

Foreigners in their Own Land

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In 1995 alone, there were at least 181 reported attacks against Roma or foreigners in the Czech Republic and many other assaults go unreported. One murder in particular, that of Tibor Berki in May 1995, incited a public debate about racism and prompted the government to take more forceful measures. The government condemned the attack, proposed stiffer penalties for racially motivated crimes and introduced a special department within the police to deal with "skinheads" and other extremist groups. While these changes are steps in the right direction, they do not go far enough to combat the serious problem of racist violence and discrimination against the estimated two to three hundred thousand Roma in the Czech Republic. Since 1989, Czech authorities have failed to adequately protect Roma from the ever-increasing danger of racist attacks. When attacks do occur, Roma are often denied equal treatment before the law, a direct violation of both Czech and international law.

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