05 Nov 2010

State Protection of the Czech Roma and the Canadian Refugee System

Marina Caparini

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This paper examines state protection as applied to the Roma minority group in the Czech Republic and the link to Roma refugee claimants in Canada. The paper traces measures implemented by the Czech national authorities to improve the situation of the Roma, but also continuing problems of discrimination and violence by state and non-state actors. It also describes the often weak implementation and enforcement of anti-discrimination measures by state officials and the judiciary, among which are the failure to properly investigate and hold accountable public officials, including police officers, accused of misconduct towards members of the Roma minority. The paper then examines the Canadian governmental response to the 2008–09 influx of Czech Roma refugee claimants. It argues that Canada’s response reflected broader trends among receiving states, particularly the effort to reinforce state sovereignty and territorial control, and in concert with efforts to exert greater political influence over the refugee determination process, the response resulted in the weakening of Canada’s obligations under the international refugee regime.

This work was prepared as part of a project on Migration and Asylum in Europe and EU-Canada Relations, funded by the European Commission, Directorate-General for External Relations, Relations with the US and Canada. The project aims at providing a better understanding of the conceptual, political, sociological and legal elements and dilemmas characterising the development of common European public responses to these issues, and their implications for the relationship between liberty and security in EU-Canada relations.

The author is Senior Research Fellow, Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI).