Initial report dated 27 June 1994
Location and People
The Slovak Republic or Slovakia (Slovenska republika, Slovensko), is a landlocked country in Central Europe. The majority of Slovakia's 5.4 million population is Slovak (85.7 percent) but there exist sizable minority communities include Hungarians (ten percent), Gypsy or Romany (1.5 percent), Czechs (one percent), Ruthenians (0.3 percent), Ukrainians (0.3 percent), Germans (0.1 percent) and Poles (0.1 percent). Roman Catholics are the largest religious group and comprise about sixty percent, the Slovak Lutheran church accounts for six percent and the Slovak Reformed church for two percent of the population, and there are small numbers of Orthodox Christians and Jews.
Slovakia became independent from Czechoslovakia on 1 January 1993. Following the overthrow of communism in Czechoslovakia, in the so-called 1989 "Velvet Revolution," the differences between the country's two main ethnic groups, the Czechs and the Slovaks, over the country's economic and political reforms became increasingly clear and led to the split.1
Since independence, the Slovak Republic has been undergoing "a triple transition": a political transition; transition to capitalist market economy; and identity-security transition aimed at negotiating differences among national groups and defining territorial boundaries.2 In recent years, the country has been criticized by the international community for the failure to implement democratic process and values. The government has been accused of a pattern of intimidation of judges and attacks against its critics, including the opposition political figures and journalists. 1997 In December 1997, the European Union rejected Slovakia's (the only rejected Central European country) candidacy for accession because of doubts as to its commitment to democracy.4 In 1997, Slovakia also was excluded from talks on NATO expansion. According to international observers, the free elections and constitutional system in Slovakia are currently at risk.5 The country also found itself unable to elect a successor to the president whose term expired in March 1998.
Government6 and Politics
Slovakia's Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar of the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), an ex-boxer and bullying leader, who was once described by Western press as "an unstable autocrat prone to violence,"7 has dominated Slovak politics since the split from Czechoslovakia. Meciar was the one who pushed for and negotiated the "Velvet Divorce" from the Czech Republic without referendum despite opposition from President Vaclav Havel8 and despite the fact that polls were showing that the majority of the Slovak people supported a union with the Czechs. In recent years, Meciar's government has been criticized by the European Union and the United States for the slow pace and depth of country's democratic reforms, and it has been accused by critics both at home and abroad of authoritarian tendencies.9
Meciar's commitment to democracy was put into question yet again by his role in President Michal Kovac's dismissal in March 1998. According to observers, Meciar engineered a political impasse that led Kovac to step down on 2 March 1998 without a successor. 10 Meciar and Kovac, both members of HZDS, have been involved in a bitter feud dating back to Kovac's role in dismissing by a vote of non-confidence a previous Meciar government in the spring of 1994. According to Kovac, the enmity started when he refused to be "an obedient tool in [Meciar's] hands."11
Kovac's departure resulted in the transfer of most of the presidential powers to Meciar. He used them immediately to dismiss 28 pro-opposition ambassadors, to block criminal proceedings over a disputed referendum last year12 and over the 1995 kidnapping of president Kovac's son.13 Both the European Union and the United States criticized these actions, and in March 1998 the domestic opposition began a campaign against Meciar's assumption of presidential powers.14 At the same time, the political polls have shown that government's popularity was much lower than the combined popularity of the opposition (36 percent to 57 percent).15
At the same time, despite several attempts to elect a new president by the Slovak parliament, the polarization in the legislature and the divisions in the opposition have made it difficult for any candidate to obtain the required three-fifths of the vote. As Slovakia is scheduled to hold legislative elections in September 1998, the failure to elect a president by that time, could throw the country into a constitutional crisis. For instance, Meciar as both prime minister and interim president could not hand his government's resignation to himself.16 Kalman Petocz of the Hungarian Civic Party, representing Slovakia's ethnic Hungarian minority, expressed concern that when the election campaign starts in September, Meciar would have "all the power to sidetrack and to create legal chaos. And he does that well."17
Harassment Against Opposition and the Media
In recent years Slovakia has seen a pattern of harassment and violence against Meciar government's critics that have included political leaders, journalists, and their families. The Slovak intelligence agency, the Slovak Information Service (SIS), has been suspected in the kidnapping and torture of former President Kovac's son in 1995. Several persons who claimed to have evidence for SIS's involvement have been removed from the investigation of the case, and one person was murdered. Several politicians, including the president, justices of the Constitutional Court and journalists who were critical of the Meciar government, suffered beatings, death threats and bomb attacks. In 1997, Miroslav Toman of the Democratic Party was assaulted. Several journalists, including reporters for Radio Free Europe, were beaten or assaulted in the last few years. In March 1997, a bomb exploded in the car of Peter Licak, editor of Presovsky Vecernik. The car of opposition daily SME Assistant Editor Peter Toth was torched in September 1997. The government has either dismissed these attacks or accused the opposition of staging them to discredit the government, and many of these cases were closed ostensibly for the "lack of evidence." 18
Government's hostile attitude to transparency and unwillingness to accept criticism is also illustrated by Meciar's abolition of government press conferences in December 1997 under the pretext of a "low cultural degree of some Slovak journalists and low professional reaction in some media."19 On the same occasion, Meciar accused opposition media, including dailies SME, PRACA and Novy Cas, of publishing lies about the government.
In 1997, the government also attempted to pass laws that could seriously limit freedom of expression. In October 1997, a draft law presented in the parliament would have amended the Penal Code by creating a new criminal offense based on broad and ambiguous definitions of "subversive conduct" and "defamation of the state." Former President Kovac had refused to sign this law after the first vote in March 1997, and he subsequently rejected similar drafts in October and December 1997. Amnesty International called for the repeal of this bill which would undermine the right to freedom of expression and association. 20
Since its separation from the Czech Republic in January 1993, Slovakia has been undergoing a double economic change: from a socialist to a free market system and from a subordinate to an independent economy. 21 Privatizations started in 1991-92 and by mid-1995, the World Bank put the private sector share of gross domestic product (GDP) at fifty eight percent.22 In 1997, the private sector generated more than eighty five percent of GDP.23
Slovakia consistently has had one of the best growth rates in Central Europe. In 1997, the GDP grew 6.5 percent. The country also has been successful in reducing inflation (six percent in 1997).24 The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) also estimates that unemployment will drop to eleven percent in 1998 from the 1997 figure of 11.5 percent.25
Yet despite country's good economic performance, its strategic location and highly skilled work force, Slovakia has managed to attract only four percent of total foreign investment in Central Europe since 1990. "Slovakia? It's a basket case," stated London-based investment analyst Rod Benniger. "It shouldn't be. It has low labor costs. It's located right next to the biggest markets - Austria, Poland, Russia, Western Europe. But it's still the Wild East, and will be for the foreseeable future."26 Despite these positive macroeconomic indicators, in 1997, Slovakia was removed from the list of candidates for accession to the European Union and NATO because of shortcomings in democracy.27
Discrimination Against Minorities
Slovak Romanies (Gypsies) are the second largest minority (after the Hungarians). The group has been affected by disproportionately high levels of poverty. The Romas consistently have constituted the highest number of unemployed as they face difficulties in finding and holding jobs partly as a result of discrimination. The US Department of State also reported discrimination of Romas in housing and administration of state services.28 According to a recent report by the Budapest-based European Romany Rights Center, Slovak Romanies are forced to live on the edges of villages without running water, electricity, sewers and toilets since their request for better housing are routinely turned down by housing authorities.29
According to UNICEF's recent report, as the health of Slovak children and young people is generally deteriorating due to bad nutrition, the Romany women and children are among the most affected. For instance, according to the UNICEF study, as much as fifty percent of the children are born to poor Romany women. The report states that as a result, the Romany children are less intelligent because of shortage of basic nutrients. UNICEF suggested that the problem can be resolved by nutrition programs which have been effective in other countries such as Chile. According to Slovak UNICEF representative Viera Halamova, the Labor and Social Affairs Ministry has provided no financial support for such programs.30
Press reports indicate that forced sterilizations of Romany women in the poor villages of East Slovakia continue as a legacy of the former communist regime's program. Although women have not been directly forced to have the operation, a system of coercion was in place, including threats to take children away if they refused. In some cases, Romany women were enticed with money to have the operation. 31
Several human rights organizations, such as the ERRC and Human Rights Watch, have reported incidents of police brutality against the Roma, including a spontaneous attack of one hundred police officers on a Romany village several years ago.32 In addition, Romanies have become a target of numerous racist attacks, including verbal abuse and burning down their houses. In a widely publicized July 1995 incident, a young Romany boy, Mario Goral, was burnt alive by a group of Slovak skinheads.33 Also in 1997, there have been several attacks on Roma by skinheads. For example, one person was killed when four Roma youth were shot in a car near Levoca in June 1997. In August 1997, two skinheads broke into a Romany home in Banska Bystrica and beat the family with baseball bats. 34 According to ERRC, these human rights abuses routinely do not reach a conclusion in court and the perpetrators are usually charged with the lesser crime of infliction of bodily harm instead of racially-motivated crime.35
Government officials have fueled these sentiments by anti-Roma remarks. Several ruling party representatives publicly blamed most of the Slovak crime on the Roma community. Deputy prime minister, Jan Slota, declared in October 1997 that the only way to deal with Gypsies was with "a long whip and a small yard."36
Discrimination and lack of opportunities has caused an exodus of Slovak Romanies. In 1997, there was a particularly large number of Roma applications for asylum in Great Britain.37 The Slovak government responded by allotting 1.6 billion Slovak crowns for programs of solving Romany issues but the implementation of such programs is yet to be seen.38
According to Bela Bugar, leader of the opposition Hungarian Christian Democrat Movement (MKDH), the situation Hungarian minority in Slovakia is deteriorating in comparison with their rights under the Communists. Since the Meciar government came to power in 1994, the Hungarian minority in Slovakia has lost some of the rights it had enjoyed previously. The government has eliminated bilingual school-leaving certificates, and Hungarians may not use their own language when they communicate with the authorities, even in the areas where they constitute more than twenty percent of the population.39 At the same time, Hungarian-language newspapers and magazines are disappearing for the lack of support and funding.
The following report was sent to IWRAW for editing and submission to the CEDAW Committee. The organizations that participated in production of this NGO report are:
Dr. Eva Sopková, ProFamilia, Humenné
Katarína Farkasová, Alliance of Women in Slovakia, Bratislava
Ms. Juránová and Ms. Cviková, ASPEKT, a women's interest association
Third Sector Gremium, SAIA, Bratislava
Monika Grochová, Fenestra, a women's interest association, Kosice
Alena Chudíková, J.D. and Eng. Margita Barosová, Social Democratic Women's Association, Bratislava
Helena Woleková, Social Policy Analyses Center SPACE Foundation, Bratislava
Dr. Maria Orgonásová, Alliance of Organizations of Disabled People in Slovakia, Bratislava
Dr. Kliment and Dr. Cupaník, Slovak Society for Planned Parenthood (Slovak Family Planning Association), Bratislava
Mrs. Daniela Klochánová, Confederation of Trade Unions of Slovakia, Bratislava
It is paradoxical that in Slovakia the problem of women's discrimination became painful after 1989, following the so-called revolution and after commencement of processes that were designed to transform society from totalitarian communism to democracy. The women in Slovakia were affected adversely by these changes. For example, in the labor market the free enterprise conditions led to the discrimination against women, especially women over forty years of age and those who take care of children.
The Slovak political atmosphere has been marked by impunity of law offenders as a result of the "power democracy" practiced by prime minister Meciar and his party, Movement for Democratic Slovakia (Hnutie Za Demokraticke Slovensko, HZDS). The presidential term of M. Kovac expired in March 1998 and Meciar's HZDS has obstructed appointment of a new president by the parliament. Meciar took up most of presidential duties. Based on these "presidential" powers he immediately granted amnesty to all offenders who had ties to HZDS, that is to the "unknown" abductors of the son of the former president and to murderers of a friends of one of the key witnesses in the case, as well as to persons who blocked the May 1997 referendum on the Direct Presidential Election Bill. As a result of these developments and insufficient protection of citizens against organized crime reaching to the highest political circles, the society is pervaded by the atmosphere of impunity and hopelessness. The abuse of power at the highest political and decision making levels affects social relations, influences interpersonal behavior and does not contribute to the improvement of behavior of men towards women and children. Instead of tolerance, the reality of "the stronger can venture any action towards the weaker" prevails.
At the same time, however, the move toward democracy opened information channels. One of the most positive aspect of the 1989 changes is the emergence of the many new civic independent (non-governmental and non-profits) organizations, the so-called "Third Sector." The Third Sector has a distinctive position within the Slovak community. At present, approximately 10,000 organizations have been registered. Individual organizations coordinate efforts, despite (partially maybe even thanks to) the new restrictive law on NGOs that the Meciar government passed to restrict and control civic activities. The passage of the law was followed by a dramatic campaign "S.O.S. Third Sector," which aroused common feeling among all active citizens, demonstrated their power and provided for good mutual communication.
In Slovakia there also is a variety of organizations which are heirs to communist interest groups (the so-called GOGNOs-Government Organized NGOs), such as the women's communist organization Women's League (Zvaz Zien). Its successor, the Democratic Women's Union (Demokraticka Unia Zien), still works as a government connected organization. Individual political parties also have women's organizations, which are concerned with civic life more than reflecting political views of the parties. There are only a few truly independent civic NGOs that work on women's human rights and women's status in the society. However, they cooperate closely and communicate on specific problems even with women from the ruling coalition.
MEASURES TO ELIMINATE DISCRIMINATION - Convention Article 2
Even during the communist regime, the labor unions had the primary role in supporting status of women issues. Thanks to the unions (ninety percent) and to the influence of the 1995 Beijing Conference (ten percent), the Minister of Labor, Social Affairs and Family, Mrs. Keltosova (presently the vice-chairperson of Meciar's HZDS party), established a Coordination Committee for Women's Affairs at the Department of Labor. It is an "advisory, coordinating and initiating government authority dealing with questions that affect position and interests of women in all areas of life."40 Members of the Committee come from the parliament, unions, regional government authorities, central government authorities, research institutions, churches and individual experts on women, children and family matters. In response to a request from the Secretary of the Committee, several NGOs delegated their representatives as observers with the Committee.
However, when the most important issue of funding women's institutions came up, the Ministry of Finance refused to pay the membership fee of 823,500 Slovak crowns (membership fee for the European Commission program of "Medium Term Community Action Program on Equal Opportunities for Men and Women, 1966-2000). This made it impossible for Slovak women to receive funding of 5,500,000 Slovak crowns promised by this program for various projects. Similarly, information on the possibility of commenting on the official government report to CEDAW and the possibility to prepare a "shadow report" reached Slovak women's NGOs only through external channels.
TEMPORARY SPECIAL MEASURES - Convention Article 4
The government has not adopted any temporary special measures aimed at accelerating de facto equality between men and women. The idea of equal chances has not even been understood. The existing situation is the communist heritage of the notion of "men and women are the same." The government does not support any special gender education, any campaign against discrimination against women or counseling for women in difficult situation. Women themselves are shocked at the thought that they should demand measures to make them equal with men. According to one survey, only thirty five percent of women judge feminism positively, twenty percent judge it negatively, and ten percent have distorted ideas about what it is and thirty six percent could not answer.41 In some cases, such as in a recent discussion of shelters for female victims of domestic violence and in a March 1998 open discussion on quotas for women organized by the daily SME, the opinion has been voiced that meeting needs of women means discrimination against men.
SEX ROLES AND STEREOTYPING - Convention Article 5
Social and cultural customs in Slovakia go hand in hand with the traditional image of a woman as a nursing mother and a wife and are reinforced by the rural way of living (forty three percent of population) and by the prevailing Christian, mostly Catholic, faith.42 Frequently the convenience of custom prevents women from attempting to undertake the unknown and redefine their position within the community and family.
According to a sociological survey in Slovakia, the most important trait of "the right kind of woman" according to both men and women is the "ability to take care of household (eighty six percent of respondents), while a woman's "ability to financially provide for family" is important to only twenty three percent of male and female respondents (whereas in regards to men it is important for ninety two percent of both male and female respondents). A woman's "ability to make independent decisions" is important to fifty percent while for a man to be "decisive" is important to seventy two percent of the respondents.43
Addressing in feminine gender and using feminine nouns has not become a custom, despite the fact the Slovak language has separate feminine and masculine noun forms. The female gender of words such as citizen, voter, participant, politician, members etc. is not used regularly. From the time of birth, children (through first children's books, school textbooks and media programs) are exposed to the traditional division of household responsibilities. Pressure of public opinion and a tradition of seeing the male offspring as "stronger," and thus "predestined for higher goals" prevents even educated mothers from bothering their sons with household tasks. The NGOs are not aware of any measures taken by the government to change the culture of men-women relationships.44
POLITICAL AND PUBLIC LIFE - Convention Article 7
Notwithstanding mass protests by some domestic officials and NGOs, as well as protests from the West, in July 1996 the government adopted a new law on foundations that severely restricts civil society, including women. Under the new law, to register a foundation, it is necessary to have consent of the Ministry of Interior. The government reserves the right to interfere with civic association. It is necessary to complete annual budgets by March (which is almost impossible for a Slovak donation-based foundation). The law limits administrative expense to only fifteen percent of the budget; because of high cost of office rent in Bratislava, only the largest organizations can meet this limitation.
EDUCATION - Convention Article 10
The literacy rate in Slovakia is 99.99 percent for both males and females. The major issue of discrimination in education is the division of boys and girls into technical and humanitarian majors respectively. Traditionally there have been very few women in the technical majors. Sex roles and stereotyping are deeply rooted even in first school textbooks that present a father and a mother in different roles.
Males and females have equal access to sex education, which is on a fairly high level. Along with an elective course on Family Education, future teachers will have available an elective course on sex education. There also exists an elective course on Drug Prevention. Eighty percent of all biology and ethics teachers (for kindergartens, elementary schools and high schools) have taken supplementary schooling in selected aspects of sex education.
EMPLOYMENT - Convention Article 11
Although the Article 7 of the Slovak Employment Code declares that women have an equal employment status with men, democratic changes brought forth further feminization of the already strongly feminine, and notoriously underpaid, sectors such as education and health. According to one research study, the proportion of women in these sectors exceeds eighty percent.45 Another common occupation for women is lower-level administration or management. Discriminatory advertisements, offering different kinds of work men and women are a common practice.
Operation of day care institutions for children four months to three years (nurseries) has been canceled. The decline in the number of kindergartens has been halted; kindergartens are now supported by communities by local budgets. These, however, are systematically and drastically lowered by the government. At present, a number of public protests against the lowering of local budgets is taking place. There have been some cases of kindergartens refusing to accept children of unemployed mothers or of mothers who were on a maternity leave with a younger child. It is extremely difficult to find a kindergarten for a three-year-old child.46
Generally women are employed in positions below their qualifications and education level. Even though more women than men complete secondary and higher education, women account for only forty one percent of employed college graduates and as much as fifty eight percent of workers with only elementary education are women.47 Moreover, women's unemployment rate is higher than the overall unemployment. In August 1997, the National Employment Authority registered a total of 332,828 unemployed, out of which 177,204 (53.24 percent) were women.
As a rule, women have fewer opportunities for career promotion. But discrimination is especially distinctive (and most difficult to prove) in policies concerning wages since men are generally considered to be the "prime breadwinners." As a result of traditional understanding of male-female division of responsibilities, women are only considered to be "additional breadwinners." The reality, however, is that as many as seventy three percent of women work because their family depends on their income.48 Men also are given more discretionary pay (bonuses, supplemental wages, premiums), because of subjective criteria. At the beginning of 1996 the women's salaries were 81.93 percent of men's, by the end of the same year they went down to 77.62 percent.49
A survey by the Social Democratic Women Association showed that women are not hired for well paid jobs for family reasons:
If a woman is on maternity leave, her levies (medical insurance payment, social security payments, etc.) are paid by the state, but only up to the limit of minimum wage. She is allowed to earn additional money only to half a minimum wage, that is the amount of 1,500 crowns. She may not buy additional medical insurance. There are reported cases of women who have been refused unemployment benefits after their maternity leave expired, based on an argument that during three years of their maternity leave they did not work or pay their social security payment (which is a responsibility of the state).
Discrimination tends to multiply itself. There is a different retirement age for men and women. Different age requirements for retirement are responsible for the fact that disabled women cannot reach the same amount of retirement pension as men with the same education, the same profession, and the same kind of disability. The current legislation (Law No. 100/1988 Coll.) enables women to claim retirement pension when they reach the age of 57 years, or even earlier depending on the number of children they bore and raised. Men can claim retirement pension at the age of 60. This, however, is only a possibility, not a duty, and many women and men alike, especially those with higher education, continue working even after they reach the retirement age. The possibility to retire earlier is supposed to express the acknowledgment of the society for women who work, keep the households, and raise children simultaneously. In practice, however, the different age requirement for retirement causes indirect discrimination when the amount of disability pension is being calculated. According to the current law (article 21 of the Law No. 100/1988), when the disability pension is being calculated, the only income that can be taken into consideration is the one that was earned before the person reached the required age limit for retirement pension, that is 57 or less in the case of women, and 60 in the case of men. According to article 35, section 1 of Law No. 100/1988, any disabled person whose health qualifies him/her for full disability, and who continues to work under special circumstances, may receive disability pension as well. If the person continues to work for at least five more years and manages to achieve a higher income, he or she may ask for a new calculation of the disability pension. In the case of disabled woman, the legislation stipulates that while calculating the new amount of the pension, the only income that can be taken into consideration is the one she was receiving before she reached the required age for retirement (57 or less), even if her income situation improved only later. The more children she raised the worse are her chances to improve her pension because the required age limit for retirement decreases with the number of children. In the case of men the limit remains the same: it is always 60 years of age. This can cause a considerable financial difference compared with men of the same age, education and profession, and we therefore consider it a discrimination of disabled women and mothers. It is also contradictory to the Constitution of the Slovak Republic (paragraph 12, section 2) as well as of the Guideline of the Council No. 79/1/EHS, and Guideline 86/378/EHS concerning the implementation of equal treatment of men and women.50
HEALTH CARE AND FAMILY PLANNING - Convention Article 12
The situation in health care in Slovakia at near-disaster level. The distribution system for medication and drugs is near collapse as medical insurance institutions refuse to pay the chemists their entitlements. The status of material and technical equipment in hospitals is critical. Pre-birth preparation of women (prophylactic preparation, exercises for pregnant women, etc.) deteriorated because the operation of the Health Education Branches that used to be located with local state-owned hospitals has been canceled. There has been a decline in nurturing and preventive care of children up to one year of age. Nurses no longer visit newly born babies in their homes which has impacted especially the poor areas and Romany villages.51
Family Planning and Reproductive Health
In Slovakia, the notion that the state has the right to control fertility of its citizens still prevails. The state fails to provide information on contraceptives. Abortion is the primary method of regulating the number of children. However, the rate has begun to decline. In 1996, the number of births went down by 2.5 percent while the number of abortions went down by 17.4 percent.52
According to the Law No. 98/1998 Col., sterilization of a woman can only be carried out for medical reasons, or on demand by a woman who has three living children (in this case it is covered by medical insurance). It is not possible to have the procedure solely as a personal decision, even if one is willing to pay.
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN - Convention Articles 3, 5, 6, 12, 15, and 16
The term "domestic violence" is not codified in the law. Article 163 of the Penal Code requires consent of the victim before an offender may be prosecuted. Cases of domestic violence are usually processed as misdemeanors, punished by fine. For this reason, female victims often try to avoid prosecuting since paying a fine would ruin their family budgets.
There does not exist a single shelter for abused women in Slovakia. There are only homes for single women and asylum homes for indigent people (homeless people who completed their prison sentences; people who have come to an age when they have to leave children's asylum homes). There is only one crisis intervention center in Petralka, Bratislava for "women in a harsh living situation." It is funded by the NGO, Help to Endangered Children, and run by personnel without proper training (female psychologists).
There does not exist a telephone helpline that would serve exclusively abused women and which would be run by specially trained personnel. There only are Centers for Consultations and Psychological Services. Their staff, however, does not specialize in working with abused women. Abused women do not have available free legal assistance. Besides, no training is offered for professionals that are in direct contact with victims of violence, such as police officers, social workers, psychologists, attorneys, judges and medical doctors.
REVIEW OF SLOVAKIA BY OTHER UN TREATY BODIES:
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (15 and 16 July 1997). The Human Rights Committee considered the initial report of Slovakia under this treaty on 15 and 16 July 1997.
Concerns and Recommendations:
2 Quoted in : Carol Skalnik Leff, The Czech and Slovak Republics: Nation Versus State (Boulder:Westview Press, 1997), 2-3. back
3 Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE; Helsinki Commission), Human Rights and Democratization in Slovakia, September 1997. back
4 "EU Envoy Critical of Developments in Slovakia," CTK News Agency (Prague, Czech Republic), 23 March 1998, Nexis, accessed on 1 April 1998. back
5 Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE; Helsinki Commission), Human Rights and Democratization in Slovakia. back
6 Slovakia has a multiparty, parliamentary type of government. The legislative body is the National Council (Narodna Rada), composed of 150 deputies serving four-year terms, and a chairperson elected by an absolute majority of the deputies. The National Council elects the president, the head of state, to a five-year term. Three-fifths of the majority is required to do so. The executive branch consists of the prime minister (appointed by the president) and his cabinet. back
7 Quoted in : Carol Skalnik Leff, The Czech and Slovak Republics: Nation Versus State (Boulder:Westview Press, 1997), 155. back
8 "Vladimir Meciar, Ex-boxer Turned Political Bruiser," Agence France Presse, 3 March 1998, Nexis, 10 March 1998. back
9 Ibid. back
10 Meciar and Kovac have been involved in a feud over Kovac's role in dismissing a previous Meciar government in the spring of 1994. back
11 Jana Dorotkova, ""Slovakian Leader Shakes Things Up," Associated Press, 3 March 1998, Nexis, accessed on 24 March 1998. back
12 In 1997, Meciar's government ignored the decision by the Constitutional Court and an overwhelming public support to hold a referendum question on the direct election of the President to be printed on the ballot. back
13 "Slovak Premier Cancels Referendum on Elections," New York Times, on-line, 4 March 1998, World Briefs. back
14 "Meciar Attacked on Powers," Financial Times (London), 26 March 1998, Nexis, 1 April 1998. back
15 "Slovak Government Support Stays Low After Crisis," Central Europe On-line, 27 March 1998, on-line, Internet, available from: http://www.centraleurope.com, accessed on 31 March 1998. back
16 Fabrice Martin, "Autocracy Fears Grow as Slovakian President Prepares to Step Down," Agence France Presse, 28 February 1998, Nexis, 10 March 1998. back
17 Christine Spolar, "Lacking President, Slovakia Is in Deadlock," Washington Post, 3 March 1998, A11. back
18 Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE; Helsinki Commission), Human Rights and Democratization in Slovakia, September 1997. back
19 "Meciar To Restore Government Press Conferences," Slovak Unofficial Magazine, 29 March 1998, on-line, Internet, available from: http://svk.home.ml.org, accessed on 31 March 1998. back
20 "AI Report 1997: Slovakia, Amnesty International, on-line, Internet, available from: http://www.amnesty.org, accessed on 23 March 1998. back
21 The World Bank Group, Slovak Republic (October 1997), on-line, Internet, available from: http:www.worldbank.org, accessed on 30 March 1998. back
22 "Slovakia-Economic Freedom," Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty , on-line, Internet, available from: http://www.rferl.org, accessed on 23 March 1998. back
23 U.S. Department of State, The Slovak Republic Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1997 (Washington, DC: Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 January 1998). back
24 Slovakia also had the lowest foreign debt in Central and Easter Europe at 4.6 billion in 1995. back
25 "Oecd Predicts Strong Growth, But Voices Concern About Banks," Czech News Agency (CTK), 8 April 1998, Nexis, 15 April 1998. back
26 James Drake," Deepening Sorrows In Slovakia; Strongman: Saying They 'Are Ruled By Monsters,' Villagers Of U Sabotov Fear Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar, Who Holds And Increases Power By Default," Baltimore Sun, 11 April 1998, Nexis, 15 April 1998. back
27 The World Bank Group, Slovak Republic (October 1997), on-line, Internet, available from: http:www.worldbank.org, accessed on 30 March 1998. back
28 U.S. Department of State, The Slovak Republic Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1997. back
29 "ERRC Report Details Pogroms Against Romany Community in Slovakia," Czech News Agency (CTK), 8 December 1997, Nexis, 20 April 1998. back
30 "UNICEF Warns of Bad Nutrition of Slovak Children," Czech News Agency (CTK), back
31 "La Libre Belgique on the Communist Sterilization of Romanies," Czech News Agency (CTK), 11 February 1998, Nexis, 10 March 1998. back
32 "ERRC Report Details Pogroms Against Romany Community in Slovakia." back
33 "Anti-Racist Project to Tour Sites of Romany Pogroms in Slovakia," Czech News Agency (CTK), 23 February 1998, Nexis, 18 March 1998. back
34 U.S. Department of State, The Slovak Republic Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1997. back
35 "ERRC Report Details Pogroms Against Romany Community in Slovakia," Czech News Agency (CTK), 8 December 1997, Nexis, 20 April 1998. back
36 James Drake," Deepening Sorrows In Slovakia; Strongman: Saying They 'Are Ruled By Monsters,' Villagers Of U Sabotov Fear Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar, Who Holds And Increases Power By Default," Baltimore Sun, 11 April 1998, Nexis, 15 April 1998. back
37 "Ministry Joins British Warning Against Romany Exodus," British Broadcasting Corporation, 16 April 1998. back
38 Ibid. back
39 "Hungarians in Slovakia Worse Off Now Than Under Communism-Press," Czech News Agency (CTK), 16 February 1998, Nexis, 20 April 1998. back
40 Coordination Committee's Information Bulletin. back
41 Zora Butorova, FOCUS, She and He in Slovakia, a sociological survey for Alliance of Women in Slovakia, 1995. back
42 Vladimir Krivy et al., Slovakia and its Regions, 1996. back
43 Zora Butorova, FOCUS. back
44 ASPEKT, a women's interest association, Bratislava. back
45 Eng. Margita Barosova, Social Democratic Women Association. back
46 FENESTRA, a women interest association, Kosice. back
47 Slovak Statistics Authority, Statistics Numbers and Charts, 1995. back
48 Zora Butorova, FOCUS. back
49 Eng. Margita Barosova, Social Democratic Women Association. back
50 Mária Orgonásová, M.D., Ph.D., President of Alliance of Organizations of Disabled People in Slovakia. back
51 Slovak Society for Planned Parenthood, Bratislava. back
52 Ibid. back
53 United Nations, Human Rights Committee, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Concluding Observations of the Human Rights Committee: Slovakia (CCPR/CC/79/Add.79) 4 August 1997. back
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