EU court backs Slovak Roma women in sterilisation case

30th April 2009, Comments 0 comments

The women believe they cannot conceive again because they were sterilized during their Caesarean delivery by medical staff at two hospitals in eastern Slovakia where they were treated during their pregnancies.

Strasbourg -- Europe's top human rights court Tuesday backed the right of eight Slovak women of Roma origin, who believe they were sterilised in hospital, to have full access to their medical records.

The European Court of Human Rights judged unanimously that Slovakia had violated the women's right to respect for private and family life after they were refused permission to photocopy their doctors' records.

The women believe they cannot conceive again because they were sterilized during their Caesarean delivery by medical staff at two hospitals in eastern Slovakia where they were treated during their pregnancies.

In 2002 the hospitals refused to grant them access to their medical records. A year later a court ruled that their lawyers could consult the files and make handwritten notes but not photocopy them to prevent their abuse.

After the introduction of the Health Care Act in 2004, seven of the women were provided with full access to their records. But the eighth was only given a simple record of a surgical procedure which led to her becoming sterilized.

The court, which awarded the women 3,500 euros (4,500 dollars) each in damages, said the Slovakian government had not given sufficient reasons to justify the restriction on accessing the medical files.

The court is also examining at least two other complaints of forced sterilization.

AFP/Expatica

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