E. Supp.

V.C. v. Slovaki: A Reproductive Rights Victory Misses the Mark

Abstract: In V.C. v. Slovakia, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) should have held that Slovakia’s intentional, systematic policy of coerced sterilization of Roma women violated the discrimination provision of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The ECtHR, however, is reluctant to find Article 14 discrimination violations unless the government fails to effectively investigate concrete evidence suggesting racial animus, thereby amounting to a procedural violation. In V.C., a discrimination violation was nonetheless appropriate in light of the importance of the Convention rights violated, disproportionate accounts of hospitals sterilizing Roma women, and other objective evidence implicating discriminatory intent. Thus, the ECtHR should have shifted the burden to Slovakia to disprove discrimination. Rather, by avoiding a fact-specific assessment of the discrimination complaint, the ECtHR framed the government’s coerced sterilization of Roma women as mere hospital error.

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