Concluding observations on the sixth periodic report of the Czech Republic *
1.The Committee considered the sixth periodic report of the Czech Republic (CEDAW/C/CZE/6) at its 1385th and 1386th meetings, on 23 February 2016 (see CEDAW/C/SR.1385 and 1386). The Committee’s list of issues and questions is contained in CEDAW/C/CZE/Q/6 and the responses of the Czech Republic are contained in CEDAW/C/CZE/Q/6/Add.1.
2.The Committee appreciates the submission by the State party of its sixth periodic report. It also appreciates the State party’s written replies to the list of issues and questions raised by the pre-sessional working group and welcomes the oral presentation by the delegation and the further clarifications provided in response to the questions posed orally by the Committee during the dialogue.
3.The Committee commends the State party on its delegation, which was headed by the Director of the Human Rights and Minority Protection Department, Andrea Barsova, and included representatives of the Gender Equality Unit, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports and the Permanent Mission of the Czech Republic to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva.
4.The Committee welcomes the progress achieved since the consideration in 2010 of the State party’s fifth periodic report (CEDAW/C/CZE/CO/5) in undertaking legislative reforms, including the adoption of the following:
* Adopted by the Committee at its sixty-third session (15 February-4 March 2016).
(a)Act No. 372/2011 Coll., on health-care services and the terms and conditions for the provision of such services, as amended by Act No. 167/2012 Coll.;
(b)Act No. 418/2011 Coll., on the criminal liability of legal entities.
5.The Committee welcomes the State party’s efforts to improve its policy framework aimed at accelerating the elimination of discrimination against women and advancing women’s rights, including:
(a)The reinstatement of the position of Minister for Human Rights, Equal Opportunities and Legislation in 2014;
(b)The adoption of a strategy for equality of women and men, covering the period from 2014 to 2020.
6.The Committee welcomes the fact that, in the period since the consideration of the previous report, the State party has ratified or acceded to the following international instruments:
(a)Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, in 2013;
(b)United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, in 2013;
(c)Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, in 2014.
C.Principal areas of concern and recommendations
7. The Committee stresses the crucial role of the legislative power in ensuring the full implementation of the Convention (see the Committee ’ s statement on its relationship with parliamentarians, adopted at the forty-fifth session, in 2010). It invites Parliament, in line with its mandate, to take the necessary steps regarding the implementation of the present concluding observations between now and the next reporting period under the Convention.
Visibility of the Convention and the Optional Protocol thereto
8.The Committee reiterates its concern that the provisions of the Convention continue to be rarely invoked in proceedings in the Constitutional Court and the ordinary courts, which indicates that there is inadequate knowledge among the general public and women themselves, as well as within the judiciary, about the rights of women under the Convention and the procedures available to them under the Optional Protocol; the concept of substantive equality of women and men; and the Committee’s general recommendations.
9.The Committee reiterates its previous recommendation (see CEDAW/C/CZE/CO/5, para. 13) that the State party ensure that the Convention and the Optional Protocol thereto, in addition to the Committee’s general recommendations, are made an integral part of the legal education and training of judges, lawyers and prosecutors, with a view to enabling them to directly apply the provisions of the Convention and interpret national legal provisions in the light of the Convention. It also reiterates its request that the State party raise awareness among women of their rights under the Convention and the communications and inquiry procedures provided under the Optional Protocol.
Access to justice
10.The Committee reiterates its previous concern regarding the low number of gender discrimination lawsuits filed and the fact that women often prefer out-of-court settlements owing to, inter alia, the financial cost of litigation and the difficulty of substantiating incidents of gender discrimination.
11.The Committee recommends that the State party expeditiously establish a comprehensive system of free legal aid for women without sufficient means to pay for legal assistance in anti-discrimination proceedings, taking into account the Committee ’ s general recommendation No. 33 (2015) on women ’ s access to justice. The Committee also recommends that the State party consider undertaking legislative reforms to allow for actio popularis, including in cases of gender discrimination. The Committee reiterates its previous recommendation that the State party provide systematic training on the application of legislation prohibiting discrimination on grounds of sex in line with its obligations under the Convention, including the Anti-Discrimination Act, the Labour Code and the Employment Act, to judges, lawyers, labour inspectors, non-governmental organizations and employers.
National machinery for the advancement of women
12.The Committee is concerned that the frequent changes in the reporting lines and mandates of the State party’s national machinery for the advancement of women have resulted in instability and weakened capacity for the implementation of the Convention. It also remains concerned about the inadequate human and financial resources of the Gender Equality Unit, with a significant proportion of the funding coming from the European Social Fund and Norwegian funds rather than specifically earmarked funding from the State party’s regular budget.
13. Recalling its general recommendation No. 6 (1988) on effective national machinery and publicity and the guidance provided in the Beijing Platform for Action, in particular regarding the conditions necessary for the effective functioning of national mechanisms, the Committee calls upon the State party to establish a clear, stable and sustainable framework for the efficient functioning of its national machinery for the advancement of women. The framework should include a clear mandate and reporting lines, the necessary authority, adequate human and financial resources and a monitoring and evaluation capacity for its Gender Equality Unit. The State party should also allocate specifically earmarked regular budget funding for its national machinery.
Temporary special measures
14.The Committee notes that the Anti-Discrimination Act (2009) does not explicitly cover political participation and that a plan of action for the implementation of the recently adopted strategy for equality of women and men for the period from 2014 to 2020 (the “+1 Strategy”) is currently being developed. It notes with regret that the State party did not adopt the draft law on temporary special measures requiring a minimum quota for the representation of women on electoral lists of political parties. The Committee is concerned at the lack of specific goals, targets and time frames in the +1 Strategy to accelerate the achievement of substantive equality of women, including Roma women, in political and public life, especially in legislative assemblies, public and private companies, the Government and the public administration, in particular at the senior levels.
15. The Committee reiterates its recommendation that the State party strengthen the use of temporary special measure s, in accordance with article 4 (1) of the Convention and the Committee ’ s general recommendation No. 25 (2004) on the subject, in all areas under the Convention in which women are underrepresented or disadvantaged. It recommends that the State party develop specific goals, targets and time frames for the imp lementation of the +1 Strategy on equality of women and men and that it consider amending the Anti ‑ Discrimination Act and other relevant legislation to include temporary special measures to accelerate the achievement of substantive equality of women and men in political and public life. The Committee also recommends that the State party raise awareness among parliamentarians, government officials, employers and the general public about the necessity and time-bound nature of temporary special measures.
Stereotypes and discriminatory practices
16.The Committee notes as positive Act No. 40/1995 Coll. prohibiting sexist and discriminatory advertising, but notes with concern the lack of practical enforcement of the Act and the insufficient capacity of supervisory authorities, including the Regional Trade Office, to promptly identify and remove sexist advertisements. The Committee remains concerned at the persistence of patriarchal attitudes and discriminatory stereotypes regarding the roles and responsibilities of women and men in the family and in society, as reflected by the low rate of fathers taking paternity leave and the high number of women employed on a part-time basis or availing themselves of flexible working arrangements, which limits their career prospects and pension benefits.
17. The Committee reiterates its recommendation that the State party strengthen its efforts to address persistent and deep-rooted gender stereotypes that perpetuate discrimination against women. It recommends that the State party adopt a legislative framework to ensure prompt, effective and coherent action against sexist or discriminatory advertisements and media outputs. The Committee also recommends that the State party undertake targeted awareness-raising and education initiatives for both women and men, including employers, to promote equal sharing of domestic and family responsibilities between women and men. Such measures should include promoting the use of paternity leave and flexible working arrangements among men.
Violence against women
18.The Committee notes the steps taken by the State party towards ratifying the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention). It remains concerned, however, at the risk of further delays in the ratification process. The Committee is also concerned about:
(a)Reports that capacity-building programmes on gender-based violence, including domestic violence, for the police and for professionals working with victims of such violence do not reflect gender sensitivity;
(b)The inadequate funding system for victim services;
(c)The heavy dependence of such services on regional co-funding, which has a negative effect on their long-term stability and sustainability.
19. The Committee recommends that the State party take measures to accelerate the process of ratification of the Istanbul Convention. In accordance with its general recommendation No. 19 (1992) on violence against women, the Committee urges the State party to intensify its efforts to prevent and prosecute acts of domestic and sexual violence and assist women who are victims of such violence. In that regard, the State party should:
(a) Undertake regular and systematic training of the police, security personnel and the judiciary to ensure that they carry out their functions with gender sensitivity;
(b) Ensure transpare nt evaluations of its capacity- building programmes on gender-based violence, including domestic violence, to ensure that they are fully in line with the Convention;
(c) Increase the allocation of human, technical and financial resources for the provision of specialist services for victims of gender-based violence in a long-term, sustainable manner;
(d) Ensure that resources for its victim support services are allocated adequately and sustainably and progressively fund such services through the regular budget of the State party instead of external funding sources.
Trafficking and exploitation of prostitution
20.The Committee notes as positive that the State party has begun consideration of draft legislation on regulating prostitution, but notes with concern:
(a)The low number of prosecutions and convictions of perpetrators of trafficking in women and girls;
(b)The vulnerability of Roma and migrant women and girls to becoming victims of trafficking for purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labour;
(c)The inadequacy of long-term support for victims of forced prostitution and the lack of exit programmes for women wishing to leave prostitution;
(d)The absence of specific measures for the implementation of the European Parliament resolution of 26 February 2014 on sexual exploitation and prostitution and its impact on gender equality.
21. The Committee calls upon the State party to combat trafficking in women and girls, including at the regional level and in cooperation with neighbouring countries. In that regard, the State party should:
(a) Ensure that perpetrators of offences relating to trafficking in women and girls, especially for purposes of forced prostitution and forced labour, are prosecuted and adequately punished; compile statistical data on victims of trafficking disaggregated by gender, age, ethnicity and country of origin; and assess the efficiency of the programmes and strategies that have been implemented;
(b) Adopt preventive measures specifically targeted at Roma and migrant women and girls and provide free legal aid to victims of trafficking;
(c) Allocate sufficient human, technical and financial resources to ensure the provision of adequate medical, psychosocial and legal support, as well as rehabilitation and reintegration programmes for women wishing to leave prostitution, and extend those measures to victims of forced prostitution;
(d) Develop policies in accordance with the European Parliament resolution of 26 February 2014 on sexual exploitation and prostitution and its impact on gender equality.
Participation in political and public life
22.The Committee notes the high rate of female representation in the judiciary of the State party, but is concerned:
(a)That, in 2015, Parliament rejected a proposed amendment to the electoral law that would have instituted a “zipper” system for ensuring at least one female candidate in every trio of political candidates, together with sanctions for non‑compliance;
(b)That women, in particular Roma women, continue to be significantly underrepresented at all levels of decision-making, including in both chambers of Parliament, regional and local assemblies, the Government, especially at the ministerial and vice-ministerial levels, in mayoral and ambassadorial posts and in senior positions in the foreign service, as well as in senior positions in companies owned or controlled by the State party.
23. The Committee reiterates its previous recommendation (see CEDAW/C/CZE/CO/5 , para. 27) that the State party take effective measures, including temporary special measures, in accordance with article 4 (1) of the Convention and the Committee ’ s general recommendation No. 25. In that regard, the State party should:
(a) Amend its electoral law to implement the “ zipper ” system for election candidates;
(b) Set specific goals, targets and time frames to increase the representation of women, including Roma women, in legislative assemblies, the Government and the public administration, in particular at the senior levels, and include such special measures in the internal rules and regulations of each government department;
(c) Provide incentives for decision makers who comply, as well as adequate sanctions for those who fail to comply, with such measures or quotas;
(d) Establish a transparent and independent system for monitoring and reporting on the level of representation of women in political and public life.
24.The Committee welcomes the adoption in 2015 of a Roma integration strategy to help to ensure that Roma girls and boys are guaranteed equal access to education. The Committee notes, however, the State party’s statement, during the dialogue, that the education system has been deregulated and decentralized, resulting in the State party having limited means to intervene in the structure and syllabus of its education sector. In that context, the Committee reiterates its previous concern that women and girls continue to be underrepresented in technical schools and scientific research work, as well as in academic institutions, in particular at the senior level. While noting that the Ministry of Education has issued guidelines for textbook providers on how to include a gender perspective, there is no coherent or comprehensive system of oversight for ensuring that the education syllabus adheres to the principles of the Convention. The Committee remains concerned about the disproportionately high number of Roma girls who drop out of or fail to attend school, especially in socially excluded areas.
25. The Committee recommends that the State party enact legislation to ensure a comprehensive, coherent framework that guarantees that the structure, conduct and syllabus of its education sector are in compliance with human rights, including the rights of women. In that regard, priority should be accorded to promoting non-traditional career choices for girls in technical schools and in scientific research and to recruiting women at the senior levels of academic institutions. The Committee also recommends that the State party further strengthen its efforts to reduce the school dropout rate and absenteeism of Roma girls, educate teachers on countering persistent prejudices and negative gender stereotypes in respect of the Roma and develop policies that promote gender equality in the education sector.
26.The Committee is concerned about the slow progress made during the reporting period. It notes the reduction in the very wide gender pay gap in the State party, but remains concerned about:
(a)The low employment rate of women, horizontal and vertical segregation in the labour market, the concentration of women in traditionally female-dominated professions and in the informal sector, and their underrepresentation in managerial and decision-making positions;
(b)The continued gender wage gap of approximately 21 per cent;
(c)The limited capacity of central and regional labour inspectorates to combat gender discrimination, in particular against women facing intersecting forms of discrimination, such as Roma women and refugee and migrant women, notwithstanding the recent appointment of 16 labour inspectors;
(d)The fact that, notwithstanding a recent increase, the minimum wage remains low and falls below the poverty line for single mothers with children.
27. The Committee recommends that the State party strengthen its measures to ensure substantive equality of women and men in the labour market. In particular, it recommends that the State party:
(a) Take measures to eliminate occupational segregation and combat the underemployment of women, including by enhancing efforts to encourage women and girls to select non-traditional educational and vocational choices and career options, according priority to the transition of women from part-time to full-time jobs and promoting full-time employment for women that is supported by adequate high-quality childcare facilities and the promotion of equal sharing of family and domestic responsibilities between women and men, and promote the use of paternity leave by men;
(b) Continue to reduce the gender pay gap, with a view to eliminating it, including by expeditiously implementing its envisaged online “pay calculator” and ensu ring that it is based on a data- collection system that regularly gathers independently verifiable data on gender and salaries that are cross-comparable and transparent; provide a clear legal definition of the principle of equal work for equal pay; and ensure effective mechanisms for timely redress and compensation for violations of that principle;
(c) Further strengthen its labour inspectorates to enable them to combat discriminatory practices and empower them to enforce commensurate sanctions against perpetrators of such practices;
(d) Consider raising the minimum wage with a view to addressing its negative impact on the feminization of poverty.
28.The Committee regrets that the State party has not fully implemented its previous recommendations (CEDAW/C/CZE/CO/3, para. 24 and CEDAW/C/CZE/CO/5, para. 35) that the State party adopt a legal framework for the financial compensation of victims of coercive or non-consensual sterilizations. It notes with concern that the draft legislation on the establishment of extrajudicial mechanisms for addressing that issue has been rejected by Parliament. The Committee reiterates its concern that most of the compensation claims brought by victims were dismissed because of the courts’ interpretation that the statute of limitations bars such claims after three years from the time of injury rather than from the time of discovery of the real significance and all consequences of the forced sterilization.
29. In accordance with its previous concluding observations ( CEDAW/C/CZE/CO/3 , para. 24 and CEDAW/C/CZE/CO/5 , para 35), its general recommendations No. 19 and No. 24 (1999) on article 12 (women and health) and the recommendations in the final statement dated 23 December 2005 of the Ombudsman on the matter of sterilizations performed in contravention of the law and proposed remedial measures, the Committee reiterates its call for the State party:
(a) To review the three-year time limit in the statute of limitations for bringing compensation claims in cases of coercive or non-consensual sterilizations with a view to extending it and, as a minimum, ensure that the time limit begins from the time of discovery of the real significance and all consequences of the sterilization by the victim rather than the time of injury;
(b) To establish an ex gratia compensation procedure for victims of coercive or non-consensual sterilizations;
(c) To provide all victims with assistance in gaining access to their medical records;
(d) To prosecute and adequately punish those who illegally practised coercive or non-consensual sterilizations;
(e) To appoint an independent committee to research the full extent of the harm caused by the practice of involuntary sterilization, and support continuing outreach to all potential applicants for compensation.
30.The Committee welcomes the low rates of perinatal mortality in the State party. It is, however, concerned about continued reports that childbirth conditions and obstetric services unduly curtail women’s reproductive health choices, including:
(a)Unnecessary separation of newborns from their mothers without medical grounds;
(b)Disproportionate limitations on home childbirths;
(c)Frequent use of episiotomy without medical need and in contravention of the preference of the mother;
(d)Undue restrictions on the use of midwives in lieu of physicians or gynaecologists in situations where such use does not pose a health risk.
31. The Committee reiterates its previous recommendation that the State party accelerate the adoption of a law on the rights of patients, including the reproductive rights of women. In that regard, the State party should:
(a) Adopt clear guidelines to ensure that the separation of newborns from their mothers is subject to the requirement of medical necessity;
(b) Establish a prenatal care system that allows for the effective assessment of the suitability of home childbirths and the option of giving birth at home, where appropriate;
(c) In the light of its adoption of Act No. 372/2011 Coll., on health-care services and the terms and conditions for the provision of such services, ensure its effective implementation in compliance with the Convention, including by adopting and enforcing a protocol for normal obstetric care that ensures respect for the rights of patients and prevents unnecessary medical interventions, ensuring that all interventions are performed only with the free, prior and informed consent of the woman, monitoring the quality of care in maternity hospitals and providing mandatory training for all health-care professionals on the rights of patients and related ethical standards; and continue to raise the awareness of patients of their rights, including by disseminating information;
(d) Take measures, including legislation, to make midwife-assisted childbirth outside hospitals a safe and affordable option for women.
32.The Committee notes with concern that migrant women from countries outside the European Union are excluded from public health insurance.
33. The Committee recommends that the State party expeditiously undertake the legislative amendments necessary to ensure that migrant women and girls residing in the State party have the same access to public health insurance as nationals.
Economic empowerment of women
34.The Committee commends the State party for its achievements in combating poverty and notes that it ranks among the top new States members of the European Union in that regard. The Committee is, however, concerned about the some 30,000 persons, in particular women, who do not have decent housing. The Committee is concerned that single-parent households headed by women, older women and Roma women face disproportionately high risks of poverty. In that context, it is concerned that the State party’s social benefits, allowances, pensions and social housing measures are inadequate for the protection of such women from poverty. The Committee is also concerned that the absence of a legal framework that ensures the timely payment of alimony exacerbates the situation of single-parent households headed by women.
35. The Committee recommends that the State party reinforce its social housing policy and develop gender-sensitive funding mechanisms and vocational training adapted to such economic areas as agriculture, tourism and renewable energies. The Committee recommends that the State party expeditiously evaluate its social benefits, allowances, pensions and social housing measures with a view to ensuring that such support measures are adequate with respect to providing effective protection against poverty. In that regard, the State party should take targeted measures that address the economic needs of single-parent households headed by women, older women and Roma women. The Committee also recommends that the State party consider amending its legal framework and procedures for alimony to ensure the timely payment of adequate amounts.
Social exclusion of disadvantaged groups of women
36.The Committee notes the establishment of a grant programme to provide support to civil society actors working on discrimination against women, including disadvantaged women. The Committee nevertheless reiterates its concern about the marginalized situation of some disadvantaged groups of women, in particular Roma women, migrant women and women with disabilities, who face intersecting forms of discrimination in all areas of political, economic and social life, including participation in decision-making, education, employment and health.
37. The Committee reiterates its recommendation that the State party gather disaggregated data on the situation of women facing intersecting forms of discrimination, such as Roma women, migrant women and women with disabilities; take effective measures to eliminate such discrimination; put in place specific targets, indicators, implementation time frames, monitoring mechanisms and sanctions; and allocate adequate resources to achieve such measures in order to accelerate the realization of the substantive equality of such disadvantaged groups of women, in particular in the areas of political and public life, education, employment and health.
Asylum-seeking, refugee or irregular migrant women
38.The Committee notes with concern that the State party’s measures to address the recent increases in the number of asylum seekers, refugees and irregular migrants have not been in compliance with international humanitarian and human rights law. The Committee is particularly concerned that many asylum-seeking, refugee or irregular migrant women, including pregnant women, nursing mothers and mothers with children, are deprived of their liberty in immigration detention in the State party.
39. The Committee urges the State party to respect the fundamental rights of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees, recalling its general recommendation No. 32 (2014) on the gender-related dimensions of refugee status, asylum, nationality and statelessness of women. The Committee urges the State party to immediately cease the detention of asylum-seeking, refugee or irregular migrant women and their children and to implement less coercive alternative measures. The Committee recommends that the State party adopt an inclusive and non-selective approach in upholding the principle of non-refoulement and that it take a gender-sensitive approach to the ongoing refugee inflows and to asylum claims, including in procedural matters, in line with the rights covered in the Convention and the Committee’s general recommendation No. 32.
Marriage and family relations
40.The Committee commends the State party for the new Civil Code, in which plenary guardianship is abolished. However, the Committee reiterates its concern regarding specific provisions allowing general courts to restrict a person’s legal capacity, including family and reproductive rights, and its concern that those provisions are used in particular against young women with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities. The Committee reiterates its previous concern regarding the lack of legal recognition of de facto unions in the State party and its adverse impact on the acquisition by women of rights during such unions and on their entitlements upon dissolution of the union. The Committee notes with concern that the right of migrant women, in particular those from Ukraine, to family life has been significantly affected in the past few years by the non-functioning consular system called “visapoint”, which migrants should be able to access in order to make appointments at the consulates of the Czech Republic in Ukraine.
41. The Committee calls upon the State party to repeal articles 673 and 865 (2) of the Civil Code and to ensure that women with disabilities can exercise their right to marry, parental rights and the right to adopt on an equal basis with others. Recalling its general recommendation No. 21 (2004) on equality in marriage and family relations and its general recommendation No. 29 (2013) on article 16 of the Convention (economic consequences of marriage, family relations and their dissolution), the Committee reiterates its recommendation that the State party amend its legislation to recognize de facto unions to ensure the equal rights and responsibilities of both partners within and upon the dissolution of such unions. The Committee recommends that the State party secure access to the “visapoint” system for all persons and that it ensure that those applying for visas and permits have a real possibility of making an appointment through that system and of reuniting with families within a reasonable time.
Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action
42. The Committee calls upon the State party to use the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in its efforts to implement the provisions of the Convention.
2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
43. The Committee calls for the realization of substantive gender equality, in accordance with the provisions of the Convention, throughout the process of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
44. The Committee requests the State party to ensure the timely dissemination of the present concluding observations, in the official language of the State party, to the relevant State institutions at all levels (national, regional and local), in particular to the Government, the ministries, the parliament and the judiciary, to enable their full implementation.
Ratification of other treaties
45.The Committee notes that the adherence of the State party to the nine major international human rights instruments would enhance the enjoyment by women of their human rights and fundamental freedoms in all aspects of life. The Committee therefore encourages the State party to consider ratifying the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, to which it is not yet a party.
Follow-up to the concluding observations
46. The Committee requests the State party to provide, within two years, written information on the steps taken to implement the recommendations contained in paragraphs 23 (a) and 29 (a) and (b) above.
Preparation of the next report
47. The Committee invites the State party to submit its seventh periodic report in March 2020.
48. The Committee requests the State party to follow the harmonized guidelines on reporting under the international human rights treaties, including guidelines on a common core document and treaty-specific documents ( HRI/GEN/2/Rev.6 , chap. I).