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Commissioner Nils Muižnieks: Protect women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights

The Council of Europe, 22. 7. 2016

The Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muižnieks released human rights comment on women´s sexual and reproductive health and rights yesterday (21. 7.). We appreciate that among other, he refers to the research report elaborated by CDA WOMEN – MOTHERS – BODIES as well as concluding observations of the CEDAW Committee we contributed to.

In these times of resurgent threats to women’s rights and gender equality, we must redouble our efforts to protect women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights. Among the international and European legal instruments that protect these rights, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) guarantees women’s rights to decide freely and responsibly about the number and spacing of their children and to have access to information, education and means to enable them to exercise these rights. Continue reading

“Mrs Mária” is not Mária and she will not vote in Slovakia

The Slovak Spectator, 16. 2. 2016

A stolen photo of a woman taken in New York has been used for calling on people to go to the ballot box in the upcoming election.

An anonymous online leaflet with a photo of an older lady and a question: Do you want Mrs Mária to decide about your future? calls for participation in March parliamentary elections. With rigidly clenched lips and a slightly restrained look, Mrs Mária is not smiling in the photo. She is dressed fittingly for the season in a winter coat; and in a fur cap she looks determined. She will apparently go to cast her vote and ruin the future of young people. This is the basic message of the pre-election online leaflet that started spreading over the internet during recent days. Continue reading

Refugee crisis will stand out also in 2016

The Slovak Spectator, 26. 1. 2016

A responsible migration, asylum, and integration policy should be one of the priorities of the next government, but the programmes of parties leave little room for optimism, according to NGOs.

Human rights advocates expect the mass arrival of refugees to Europe to dominate the human rights agenda in 2016. The Human Rights League has been pointing to Slovakia’s lack of an asylum process. Zuzana Števulová from the Human Rights League says that the immigration and asylum-granting process in Slovakia suffers from absence of experts on the part of the government, and lack of vision. “It has been a topic that nobody wanted to touch,” Števulová says. Continue reading

Human rights policies still found lacking

The Slovak Spectator, 26. 1. 2016

At the very end of the current government’s term refugees became the main issue on Slovakia’s minority and human rights agenda, but for much of the previous three years the excluded Roma communities and LGBTI issues topped the agenda, according to Zuzana Števulová from the Human Rights League non-governmental watchdog. “Nothing significant has been achieved on any of these topics,” Števulová told The Slovak Spectator.

From the perspective of human rights advocates – although less so for the general public – the adoption of the Human Rights Promotion and Protection Strategy that the government aimed for all through the election term was the most important undertaking in the sector. The strategy was prepared by the Foreign Ministry, which at that time oversaw the human rights agenda and which spent a lot of time on dealing with more or less petty conflicts between the conservative and the liberal members of the Human Rights Council. Continue reading

Plan against intolerance not funded properly

The Slovak Spectator, 25. 1. 2016

It’s pointless to set out plans if we do not assign financial and human resources at ministries and other institutions, watchdogs say.

Amid criticism of Prime Minister Robert Fico’s statements about refugees that were labelled cynical and possibly even criminal, the cabinet passed two documents combating discrimination and intolerance on January 13. Though the plans could be beneficial, the lack of a clear financing mechanism will make them difficult to implement, human rights watchdog groups say. Two plans, the action plan on preventing all forms of discrimination and the action plan to prevent racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, and other forms of intolerance, were passed based on the nationwide Human Rights Protection Strategy that was adopted a year ago. Continue reading

Equal opportunities for Roma students

eeagrants.org, 11. 9. 2015

“We want to change the lives of our students and influence the rhetoric around Roma education.” This is how Zuzana Balážová of the Slovak Centre for Research of Ethnicity and Culture (CVEK) describes the ‘You also have a chance’ project. The project is helping Roma students access third level education at the University of Economics (EUBA) in Slovakia’s capital, Bratislava, by providing free courses, scholarships or extra coaching. Last year, four Roma students from disadvantaged backgrounds received support. All successfully passed the EUBA admission exams in June and enrolled this September in the Faculty of Economic Informatics (Ján Lakatoš and Lucia Bílá) and the Faculty of Business Managment (Mária Sándorová and Tomáš Horváth). “It was a great opportunity for me to get high quality preparation that my family would never have been able to afford,” said Ján Lakatoš. Continue reading

Maternity wards have a problem with attitude

The Slovak Spectator, 7. 7. 2015

Maternity wards in the Trnava and Bratislava regions were recently called out for violations of human rights. Were the claims exaggerated? A mother who gave birth both in Canada and Trnava compares.

No matter what country, the birth experience is highly dependent on individual hospital staff, their characters and attitudes. I had friendly doctors both in Canada and Trnava. My last birth in Slovakia was three years ago, and apparently things have improved since then in Trnava. There are, however, some overarching themes that differentiate Slovakia from other Western countries. The most important deficiency in Slovak hospitals is not a matter of money, equipment, or expertise, but of attitude. Continue reading

A question of rights

The Slovak Spectator, 16. 6. 2015

Human rights might seem an abstract concept in a hospital maternity ward, but in essence the issue is no more than basic human decency and compassion.

When the Duchess of Cambridge, wearing high heels and her radiant smile, left the hospital just a few hours after having delivered her second child, women in Slovakia once again started asking why they are kept locked up in maternity wards for days after their children are born. Still the length of hospital stays appear a minor problem in the light of the monitoring by the human rights watchdog group Citizen, Democracy, Accountability published in late April. Continue reading

Maternity wards pay little attention to human rights

The Slovak Spectator, 16. 6. 2015

“So I stayed there those two hours alone, without my baby, without my husband, two hours I was lying there on my own, incredibly thirsty, terribly pained, full of negative emotions about what I’d allowed to happen, […] it wasn’t supposed to be like this.” This is how a woman describes the immediate moments after she gave birth to her child in one of the Slovak hospitals in an interview which was part of the monitoring by human rights watchdog Citizen, Democracy, Accountability (ODZ) and Women’s Circles. The findings of their two-year-long monitoring were published in late April 2015 and show that even though most Slovak hospitals now label themselves baby-friendly and have introduced practices that were unheard of some years ago, from the perspective of human rights, most deliveries in Slovakia are well below standards observed in advanced democracies. Continue reading

The soul is more fragile than you might think

Radio Slovakia International, 16. 3. 2015

„Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity,” says the World Health Organization (WHO). Well, preserving someone’s mental wellbeing in Slovakia is a question trickier than you might think as the RSI reporter Anca Dragu found out.

Our law expert Janka Debrecéniová speaks about legal aspects, employers´ duties and work management possibilities in cases of stress-related disorders (from 8th minute). Continue reading