- Very small country of net immigration (mostly non-EU) only since 2000s, driven by pre-crisis economic conditions and future demographic trends
- More anti-immigrant sentiment in SK than on average in EU (e.g. in 2012, only 37% thought that immigrants enrich the country economically and culturally)
- Relatively low employment rates (65%) and decelerating GDP growth
- Decrease in number of newcomers with SK's short but strong recession in 2009 and rise in unemployment
- Alternating coalitions from left/nationalist (2006-2010) to centre-right (2010-2012) to left-leaning (2012-today)
- Rank: 34 out of 38
- MIPEX Score: 37
- LABOUR MARKET MOBILITY 21
- FAMILY REUNION 56
- EDUCATION 24
- HEALTH 31
- POLITICAL PARTICIPATION 16
- PERMANENT RESIDENCE 54
- ACCESS TO NATIONALITY 25
- ANTI-DISCRIMINATION 72
Changes in context
Key Common Statistics
|Country of net migration since:||% Non-EU citizens||% Foreign-born||% Non-EU of foreign-born||% Non-EU university-educated||% from low or medium-developed (HDI) country|
|UN 2010 data in 2013||Eurostat 2013||Eurostat 2013||Eurostat 2013||Note: Adults aged 18-64, Eurostat 2013||Eurostat 2013|
Changes in policy
SK is one of the last EU Member States to adopt even a ‘concept’ of integration in 2009 and eventually a policy in 2014. It has not made any major progress on promoting integration since 2007, other than strengthening the anti-discrimination laws. In fact, the 2007 Citizenship Act significantly restricted the path to citizenship. Only 1 of the 18 changes on immigration policy since 2010 improved SK's MIPEX score, but this amendment was both introduced and removed in the same year.
Conclusions and recommendations
SK's integration policies raise major doubts about their effectiveness. Integration is weak from the very beginning, with weaker rights for labour migrants and reuniting families in SK than in most countries. School and health practitioners receive hardly any guidance when they have to serve SK's very small number of immigrant pupils and patients, since education and health are largely missing from SK's integration strategies. Most non-EU citizens are allowed to vote, but excluded from democratic life, despite the benefits that immigrant leaders and volunteering can bring to SK society. The lowest and most inequitable naturalisation rates in Europe keep most non-EU citizens in a relatively insecure status, with potentially negative side-effects on their integration outcomes. SK's anti-discrimination law is its one strength for integration, but too few people know about discrimination and their rights to take even the first step towards justice. Little else is known about these policies' effects on immigrants and their integration, as data and evaluations are also missing in SK.
Policy Recommendations from Institute for Public Affairs
- Beyond formal concepts and action plans, make real reforms improving laws and developing new programmes
- Recognise real examples of migrants’ positive contributions to economy, culture, education and society and use these to make reforms
- Guarantee equal treatment and eliminate administrative discretion in different areas and procedures for foreigners and integration, including access to the labour market
- Increase the number and support of local and regional authorities’ integration policies
- Address specific needs of high- and low-skilled non-EU immigrants through new targeted programmes and evaluate their impact
- Raise immigrants’ awareness of discrimination and make it easier for them to report complaints and access justice
- Remove barriers and create new structures for the political participation of non-EU citizens
POLICIES - SUMMARY
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POLICIES - DETAILS
Labour Market Mobility
Labour market mobility more likely to hinder than help long-term integration in SK, ranking 37th out of 38; non-EU residents' skills wasted by limited access to labour market, unemployment services/support and recognition of qualifications/skills
How many immigrants could be employed?
SK does not survey enough of the non-EU citizens in the country to determine their employment needs and compare them to immigrants in other countries in the region.
Do immigrants have equal rights and opportunities to access jobs and improve their skills?
Since 2010, the 18 changes to the Act 5/2004 on Employment Services led to no real improvements for non-EU citizens, apart from the new EU-required 'Blue Card' for highly-skilled (only 15 issued in 2012/3) and the EU Single Permit (7,126 issued in 2013, easier procedure but few new rights). Despite talk about non-EU citizens' employment and skills in the 2011 Migration Policy 2020 and Minerva 2.0 strategies, SK has made no progress to improve its policies for labour market mobility, which are far below 36 of the 37 other MIPEX countries, on par with only TU. The long-term labour market integration of non-EU citizens may be jeopardised by the lack of targeted support and their restricted access to the labour market and social safety net (see instead reformers in AT, CZ, DE, GR, HU, PL, PT).
Dimension 1: Access to labour market
- Access to the labour market remains a critical problem for labour market mobility of many non-EU citizens
- SK scores a perfect zero, alongside only CY and TU
- A 2012 amendment started to address this major problem by removing the 1-year-delay for family migrants (the trend in most MIPEX countries, e.g. AT, GR, ES) but this delay was reintroduced in a next amendment
- Unlike SK, many countries granting equal access to self-employment for all non-EU residents (recently GR, HU, PL)
- Non-EU citizens are excluded from the public sector (unlike in 28 countries, see EU-required opening in IT to long-term residents) and from several regulated professions (unlike in nearly all)
Dimension 2: Access to general support
- The jobs that immigrants manage to find could be well below their skills since non-EU qualifications might not be recognised, despite recommendation from 2009 Integration Concept, Non-EU immigrants still face a maze of complicated procedures and documentation, often based on uneven bilateral agreements (see models for procedures in 17 other MIPEX countries)
- New Law 81/2013 focused on 'alternative recognitions', only for humanitarian migrants; future Lifelong Learning Act may create a formal alternative 'aptitude test' for recognition of migrants' professional skills (see examples in 23)
- Another way out may be using their equal right to education and training, one strong point in SK and 9 other MIPEX countries
- Access to public employment services is still restricted for non-EU citizens, unlike in 32 countries
Dimension 3: Targeted support
- Only in SK, GR, PL is serious targeted support still lacking beyond ad hoc EU-funded projects
- 2009 Integration Concept called at least for structural information policy on qualification recognition & workers' rights (as in most countries, including in Central Europe)
Dimension 4: Workers' rights
- Right to trade unions and same working conditions as citizens in SK and nearly all other MIPEX countries
- Restrictions on unemployment, maternity, disability and housing benefits also make employment a weak basis for long-term integration in SK
- Non-EU migrant workers and their families cannot touch their unemployment benefits and, in principle, must leave Slovakia if unemployed (see instead equal access in 14 countries, including Southern Europe, HR, EE, RO)
Are immigrants acquiring new skills?
Not enough comparable data is collected in SK on non-EU immigrants' uptake of adult education or unemployment benefits.
What other factors explain whether immigrants find skilled and well-paid jobs?
- Relatively low overall employment rate (≤60%) over past decade and slow GDP growth
- Employment protection legislation slightly more strict than on average in developed world
- 1/3 of recent migrants coming with temporary work or study permits
- Few exposed to the language prior to migration
Are immigrants employed in qualified and well-paid jobs?
Non-EU immigrants are under-represented in SK national surveys, which limits the data available for international comparison and for integration policymaking. Overall, working-age non-EU-born adults are slightly more likely to have a job than Slovaks. In other countries, the long-settled non-EU-born (10+ years stay) are on average only slightly less likely to have a job than non-immigrants with the same gender and level of education, though the gaps are greater for the high-educated. These workers' experience of in-work poverty or overqualification is unknown.
Many reunited families will benefit from equal socio-economic rights and a more secure status as a firm starting point for their integration
How many immigrants are potentially living in transnational couples?
It is not known how many non-EU residents in SK have been separated from their families due to their immigration. One estimate of the number of potential separated couples put the number at around 5-7% of non-EU citizen adults on average in 17 European countries, rising to 12% in SI and 34% in CY.
How easily can immigrants reunite with family?
Newcomers have a basic legal right to reunite with their families because of EU standards, which Slovakia only follows to a minimum. Most non-EU sponsors can apply through a typically discretionary procedure with more demanding conditions than in most countries. However SK limits the opportunities for the social and economic integration of these family members, treating them as temporary dependents of their sponsor. Only HU, IE and TU grant fewer rights to reunited family members.
Dimension 1: Eligibility
- All temporary residents can apply after 1 year (immediately in 14 MIPEX countries) for their minor children and spouse (but not for a registered or long-term partner, unlike in most countries)
- Sponsors can apply for certain adult dependent children, while single elderly dependent parents can join permanent residents, humanitarian migrants and most workers (as in 25 countries)
Dimension 2: Conditions
- SK's requirements for family reunion are actually slightly higher than the basic minimums needed and required for SK families to live together (see instead HR, LT, SI, PT)
- Fee and housing test (revised in 2014) are comparatively high by SK standards
- Higher income level required than basic social assistance (see guidance by European Commission)
Dimension 3: Security of status
- Successful families should get a quick response and permits equal to their sponsor's
- Still, families meeting these comparatively high requirements can be rejected on wide grounds, without explicit consideration of their personal circumstances and without full judicial review (going against EU standards, stronger in 29 countries)
Dimension 4: Rights associated
- The law can push families into dependency on their sponsor by limiting their access to employment, education and social benefits (equal rights guaranteed in 23 countries and recommended by European Commission)
- Their 1-year-delay in labour market access was removed and reinstated in 2012
- Spouses and parents have little chance of an autonomous status in the 5 years before long-term residence, even in many cases of death, divorce and physical/emotional abuse (see instead 11 countries, IT, SI, ES, PT, TU)
Are families reuniting?
1,038 family members joined non-EU sponsors in 2013. This represents a slight increase on the 600-800 accepted every year according to statistics going back to 2008. These newcomer families are very diverse, representing all of SK's major countries of origin, such as KR (around 1/4), CN, RU, RS and UA.
What other factors explain whether immigrants reunite with family?
- Mostly permanent residents likely to stay
- Many from distant, developing or war-torn countries
How often do immigrants reunite with family?
Non-EU families were just as likely to reunite in SK as in most European countries in 2011, though family reunion has become steady more common for SK's settled residents in 2012 and 2013. This increasing rate generally applies to all nationalities and reflects SK's slightly favourable definitions and procedure, with the correlation observable in most countries between family reunion policies and rates. However these newcomer families will be confronted upon arrival with their limited rights to participate in the SK society and economy, which, if unaddressed, are likely undermine their and their family's long-term integration outcomes.
SK's very small number of immigrant pupils may be poorly served by integration policies that overlook child education as a key area for social integration
How many pupils have immigrant parents?
The SK school system only has to serve the specific needs of a very small number of immigrant pupils. <1% of pupils aged 15 have immigrated to SK (0.3%) or immigrant parents (0.4%). These estimates are similar to other countries with very new and small immigrant communities (e.g. BG, JP, PL, RO).
Is the education system responsive to the needs of the children of immigrants?
Integration strategies and support are missing to address immigrant pupils in SK, a weakness across Central Europe (except CZ). Other than the multicultural education curriculum announced in 2008, schools receive no support to promote social integration and only weak support to help immigrant pupils participate and catch up academically.
Dimension 1: Access
- Only migrant children with permitted residence can access full schooling and general support for disadvantaged students. Many can be excluded (only BG, HU, RO are so restrictive)
Dimension 2: Targeting needs
- Not all newcomer pupils may be able to keep up with their peers, since only those in the asylum system have guaranteed state support to learn SK (unlike most MIPEX countries)
- 2013 National Action Plan for Children mentions protective measures for asylum-seeking children and trafficking victims, but nothing about the needs of the average immigrant pupil
- 2014 Integration Policy's only mention of child education is teacher training on SK as a foreign language
- No additional financal and professional support provided systematically for schools with newcomer pupils (see instead other new destinations CZ, EE, KR, PT)
Dimension 3: New opportunities
- SK education system blind to new learning opportunities brought by immigration (similar problem in 10 other countries)
- Although 2013 Children Action Plan calls for eliminating barriers to cultural rights of children from disadvantaged backgrounds, only EU citizens are granted free lessons in their mother tongue/culture, despite recommendation from European Commission to expand this to non-EU citizens
- Wider range of immigrant languages/cultures taught at or after school (e.g. see different approaches in CZ for long-term residents, AT, EE, HU, LV, PL, SI)
Dimension 4: Intercultural education
- SK approach goes halfway on multicultural education, further than most in Central Europe (see also CZ)
- Multicultural education introduced in 2008 as cross-curricular subject for all subjects
- Schools encouraged to reflect their diverse student bodies in curricula and in daily life under 2008 Methodical Regulation
- Training on intercultural education for qualifying and working teachers
What other factors explain whether the children of immigrants excel at school?
- Around 2/3 of all immigrant pupils in SK speak the official language at home
- SK system generally concentrates pupils with low-educated mothers together in disadvantaged schools
- 50% of foreign-born pupils arrive after age 12
- Lower % of GDP spent on education in SK as across Central Europe
- Relatively short duration of compulsory education
How well are the children of immigrants achieving at school?
Comparable data is missing on immigrant pupils' participation and outcomes in the SK school system.
Limited efforts to make health system accessible and responsive for migrant patients in SK and across Central Europe
Is the health system responsive to immigrants' needs?
SK's health system is not so strong at responding to migrant patients, which is a common problem in Central European countries with fewer means and few immigrants. Its policies have gone halfway to make coverage and services more accessible, but services remain unresponsive to migrants' specific health needs, partly due to weak leadership from its national ministries and integration strategies.
Click here to learn more about how MIPEX health was developed with IOM and EU’s COST/ADAPT network through ‘Equi-Health’ project and co-funded by European Commission’s DG SANTE.
Dimension 1: Entitlements
- Entitlements to healthcare coverage are not strong for any categories of migrants and lack clear exemptions for vulnerable groups (see instead BE, HR, FR, DE, NL, SE, CH and, to some extent, IT, RO)
- Legal migrants enjoy healthcare coverage depending on the conditions of their permit
- Asylum-seekers have free care in reception centres, with a limited range of services, and no coverage outside
- Undocumented migrants not living in detention are only entitled to emergency care
Dimension 2: Access policies
- Different methods tested by regular multilingual projects informing legal migrants and asylum-seekers of their healthcare entitlements
- Migration Information Centre provides information about entitlements and use of health services since 2006 under agreement with government
- Information on health promotion and cultural mediators are very rarely provided in SK (unlike in 18 countries, e.g. IT, JP, KR, MT, ES, PT)
- Healthcare professionals are neither explicitly required nor prohibited to report their undocumented patients
Dimension 3: Responsive services
- No support for interpreters in SK as also in most of Central and Southeast Europe
- No specialised centres, training or guidelines to help health professionals on the rare occasions that they serve migrant patients (see initial initiatives in new destinations CZ, HU, IE, MT, PT, ES)
Dimension 4: Mechanisms for change
- Policy can be informed by data on migrant patients and several relevant research projects
- Limited consultation of stakeholders has led to only general mentions of migrant health in SK policy, without a specific plan or set of priorities
- Diversity measures in health services focus on Roma communities in SK, but no additional attention to migrant health
Under an incoherent policy, non-EU immigrants in SK are allowed to vote and stand in local elections, but not the right to join political parties, the right to form political associations or a permanent place at the table to develop the country's integration policy
Who are disenfranchised from voting?
Non-EU adults with temporary permits are not eligible to vote in local and regional elections. As an approximation, temporary residents make up 36% of all SK's non-EU citizens (adults and children).
Do immigrants have comparable rights and opportunities to participate in political life?
Political participation is still missing from integration strategies in SK, which has not made any progress in this area since 2007. These policies are unfavourable for promoting political participation and rank 31st out of 38, tied with LT. While permanent residents favourably enjoy passive and active voting rights, this small number of non-EU citizens has a very small voice in SK elections. Beyond the voting booth, non-EU citizens have few opportunities to inform and improve the country's emerging integration practices. Greater support for immigrant leaders and volunteering may demonstrate that immigrants are a benefit and not a threat to SK society.
Dimension 1: Electoral rights
- Non-EU nationals with permanent residence have the right to vote in local elections (as in 21 MIPEX countries), stand in local elections (as in 14) and vote in regional elections (as in 9)
- These expansive voting rights set a standard for Central Europe and other new countries of immigration
Dimension 2: Political liberties
- SK denies more basic political liberties to non-EU immigrants than 31 out of the 28 MIPEX countries (alongside Baltics, RO, PL, TU)
- For some reason, they cannot form, join or donate to the political parties that they vote or stand for as candidates
- They still face limits on political associations (removed in CZ in 2012)
Dimension 3: Consultative bodies
- Though immigrant associations helped design the 2009 Integration Concept, they are still not structurally funded or consulted to share immigrants’ experiences (see local bodies in 24 MIPEX countries and national bodies in 13, with recent Central European examples in CZ, EE, LT)
- 2014 Integration Policy promises to create a consultative body on the rights of foreigners within the Government Council for Human Rights
- Immigrants have been elected and leading several bodies across Europe, representing the diversity of the immigrant communities (e.g. AT, DE, IE, IT, PT)
Dimension 4: Implementation policies
- Integration work remains largely dependent on projects from the European Integration Fund, with no priorities for immigrant-run organisations
How many non-EU immigrants are eligible to vote?
More inclusive voting rights lead to higher shares of enfranchised non-EU citizens. As an approximation of the non-EU electorate, permanent residents make up an estimated 64% of all SK's non-EU citizens (adults and children), according to 2011/2 estimates. A larger share of the non-EU population appears to be enfranchised than in other countries with more limited voting rights, such as HU (25%) and LT (14%). Generally across Europe, large numbers of non-EU nationals have used this right to vote, although registration rates are generally lower than for national citizens but often similar to or higher than for EU citizens.
What other factors explain whether immigrants become politically active?
- Around 1/3 are university-educated
- Few from developed countries with lower levels of civic engagement
- Generally low levels of civic engagement in SK
- Most long-settled in SK
Are immigrants participating in political life?
So few non-EU immigrants are included in SK statistics and surveys that their level of political participation is impossible to estimate. These estimates from other European countries suggest that long-settled non-EU-born adults seem on average as, if not more, likely to participate politically as non-immigrants with similar levels of education.
Becoming a permanent resident is an immigrant's main chance at integration in SK, even if the procedure is one of the most demanding and discretionary in Europe
Who can become long-term residents?
Though data is missing from SK, 2011/2 estimates from other countries suggest that between 2/3 - 3/4 of non-EU citizens have lived the required 5+ years to become permanent residents.
How easily can immigrants become long-term residents?
Non-EU immigrants looking for the equal rights to integrate must pass the relatively restrictive and discretionary procedure to become permanent residents. Where most countries converge around the 60-point average, SK's greater conditions and discretionary powers bring its score down 6 points to 54/100 and its rank here to 25th out of 38.
Dimension 1: Eligibility
- As in most countries, most temporary residents are eligible to apply after 5 years
- Permanent residence is closed to people on tolerated stay, one of three basic legal types of residence in SK
Dimension 2: Conditions
- Eligible immigrants are confronted with some the most restrictive conditions in Europe to become and remain EU or national permanent residents (e.g. health insurance, accommodation, income, criminal record, fees, later language/integration conditions at renewal)
- For national permanent residence, applicants face more onerous requirements (e.g. health status, criminal record from country of origin, stricter grounds for refusal)
- For EU long-term residence, applicants must pay a high fee by SK standards (lower in most of Central Europe)
- Permanent residents cannot prepare properly for the language and integration conditions at renewal, where authorities exert wide discretion in implementing them
- Other new destination countries more successfully encourage immigrants to learn A1/A2 level fluency & basic facts about the country by providing guaranteed free courses for all applicants and exemptions for vulnerable groups (see CZ, IT, MT, PT, RO)
Dimension 3: Security of status
- Permanent residents are some of the most insecure in SK of all countries, as discretion continues to govern their fragile status
- Permits need to be renewed and only upon conditions
- National permanent residents can lose this dependent status if they apply for a benefit in case of material distress
- Leaving the EU beyond 180 days without permission is just one of many grounds for withdrawal, without requirement to consider key personal circumstances
Dimension 4: Rights Associated
- Due to EU law, SK and most European countries grant permanent residents with equal access to the private labour market, public employment services and social benefits
- Permanent residence is also required for voting rights and the path to citizenship in SK, as in several Central European countries
Migrants pass numerous State procedures to integrate e.g. for family reunion, long-term residence and citizenship. Procedures that lack explicit rules give discretion to the administration, which risks being abused. Moreover, applicants are never fully prepared as they do not know what will be asked. The 2009 CZ language test for long-term residence aimed to ensure equal and reasonable conditions. With an attainable level (A1), wide exemptions, free support and professional testers, this model creates conditions for applicants to succeed,rather than creating more bureaucratic obstacles.
How many immigrants are long-term residents?
10,900 permanent residents in 2013. 70% (7,584) were national permanent residents. Only 3,316 are EU long-term residents with a more secure residence and the right to freely move and reside in other EU Member States under certain conditions.
What other factors explain whether immigrants become long-term residents?
- Small but important numbers of temporary residents on tolerated stay, ineligible for permanent residence
- Many humanitarian or family migrants unlikely to return to their country of origin
- Main option to secure residence for long-settled residents and 2nd generation given SK's restrictive naturalisation policies
How often do immigrants become long-term residents?
An estimated 64% of non-EU citizens have become permanent residents in SK, according to 2013 data. These resutls are similar to several other countries in Europe, including in Central Europe (e.g. CZ, SI). The number of permanent residents strongly reflects countries' path to permanent residence and citizenship. Longstanding destinations that restrict residence and naturalisation eventually end up with high numbers of permanently resident foreigners, including their children born in the country (e.g. SK, AT, CH).
Access to Nationality
Lowest and most inequitable naturalisation rates in Europe: Access to nationality in Slovakia stuck in reverse while neighouring countries move forward with liberal reform
How easily can immigrants become long-term residents?
Ever since the 344/2007 amended Citizenship Act, becoming Slovak has little to do with the law or the facts about an immigrant's situation. The few eligible must meet some of the most subjective requirements in Europe and can be rejected by authorities on vague grounds. The Act was justified by a populist-nationalist coalition as 'proving cultural acclimatisation' and addressing ‘the growing danger of organised crime and international terrorism’. In contrast, most other countries, most recently CZ and PL, are moving towards more objective and inclusive access to nationality.
Dimension 1: Eligibility
Ordinary immigrants face the longest and most inflexible path to citizenship in Europe, extended under the Act by 3 years to 8 years of permanent residence. No special entitlements exist for spouses of Slovak citizens or immigrants' children born or raised in Slovakia, unlike in a growing majority of countries (e.g. DE, recently CZ and DK).
Dimension 2: Conditions
Under the 2007 Act, immigrants do not know how to prove their knowledge of Slovak and Slovak Republic, without any access to the questions or enough free courses (see instead EE or DE). The level and content are both subject to the discretion of non-specialised administrators at the Commission of the District office. The procedure remains difficult, potentially long (24 months), and one of the most expensive (663.50 euros), especially for Central Europe. That's the equivalent of over a month’s income for the average non-EU or Slovak citizen in Slovakia.
Dimension 3: Security of status
The 2007 amendments also made new citizens more insecure, far below the Central European average (see instead CZ and PL). Authorities can deem that the migrant never naturalised (e.g. in cases of fraud, crime or missing facts). It does not matter how long they have been a Slovak citizen, or whether they would become stateless.
Dimension 4: Dual nationality
Luckily for naturalised citizens, they are allowed to retain their original nationality, as in 24 other MIPEX countries, even after the July 2010 citizenship amendments.
How many immigrants are becoming citizens?
In 2012, just 176 non-EU citizens were naturalised in Slovakia, the lowest number in Europe (mostly 1000+), on par with only LT (200). From 2005-2007, the number of applications rose from Asian and Mideast immigrants. Their numbers plummeted after passage of the 2007 Act. Since then, the total number of naturalisations fell from 1100-1500 in 2005-2007 to nearly always 250 per year from 2009-2012.
What other factors explain why non-EU immigrants become citizens?
- 2/3 from countries allowing dual nationality
- Large number of family migrants likely to stay
- Large numbers from developed countries thus less likely to naturalise
How often do immigrants become citizens?
For several years, Slovakia has had one of the EU's lowest naturalisation rates. In 2012, the rate for non-EU citizens in Slovakia was 1.1 naturalisations for every 100 non-EU residents, on par with only AT, Baltics and CZ (before its reform). Non-EU immigrant men and women are much less likely to become citizens in countries with restrictive citizenship policies, such as AT, SK and the Baltic states. The naturalisation rates in Slovakia are also the most inequitable in Europe, meaning that the few successful applicants look almost nothing like Slovakia's ordinary non-EU residents in terms of age or nationality. In 2012, for example, there were hardly any naturalisations of non-EU minors, elderly over 65 or certain nationalities such as CN, RU, US and several refugee-producing nations.
Time for enforcement: Favourable laws but relatively weak equality policies & body may mean that potential victims are poorly informed and supported to take even the first step in the long path to justice
Who said they experienced racial/ethnic or religious discrimination last year?
According to 2012 Eurobarometer, around 5% of people in SK felt they had been discriminated against or harassed in the previous year based on their race/ethnic origin (4%) and/or religion/beliefs (1%). This number of potential victims of racial/religious discrimination in SK was similar to other European countries (e.g. BG, HU, RO).
Is everyone effectively protected from racial/ethnic, religious, and nationality discrimination in all areas of life?
Rejected in 2002 and 2003, the anti-discrimination law (ADA) was required by the EU and eventually passed in May 2004, immediately after SK joined the EU. This relatively new legislation is SK's major areas of strength for integration policy. Amendments continues to strengthen SK's approach on anti-discrimination, with the 85/2008 amendment improving all legal dimensions (see box) and the 32/2013 amendment expanding the list of positive actions. Still, potential victims of discrimination have only a slightly favourable path to justice (72/100), with laws weaker than in other leading countries and ranking just 15th out of the 38 countries. So far, SK has implemented a rather weak equality policy & body, meaning that potential victims and the general public are poorly informed about discrimination and their rights to bring forward cases.
Dimension 1: Definitions
- Slightly favourable definitions of discrimination in SK as in most countries
- Discrimination prohibited for a wide range of actors, including the public sector and police
- Protections still weaker on nationality/citizenship discrimination and multiple discrimination
Dimension 2: Fields of application
- 2008 amendments prohibits extensive and open list of discrimination grounds in all areas of life
- Wide grounds and fields prohibited in 15 other MIPEX countries (e.g. BG, HU, RO)
Dimension 3: Enforcement mechanisms
- The legal system now has some favourable mechanisms to enforce victims’ rights (see also BG, HU, RO, recently HR, PL)
- Since 2008, actio popularis is a possibility, while victims can call on broad NGO support, which is also the case in the majority of other MIPEX countries
- Other high-scoring countries such as BE, FI, SE and UK continuously work to make these mechanisms easier to use for victims
Dimension 4: Equality policies
- Notwithstanding the powers of SK's Centre for Human Rights, equality policies remain weak across the region
- No progress on reforming equality body to grant quasi-judicial powers or right to lead its own investigation or proceedings (see stronger bodies in BG, HU, RO, Nordics, UK)
- Complicated process since 2012 to secure government competence and plan on human rights and non-discrimination
- Long-debated positive actions, first passed with restrictive wording in 2008, expanded with 32/2013 amendment to address socio-economic disadvantage of racial, ethnic & national minority groups; covers all public authorities & private/NGO sectors
Passed with strong NGO support, the 82/2008 law improved SK's score across all dimensions. By allowing action popularis and enabling the Centre for Human Rights and NGOs to bring actions in the public interest, legal protection becomes a reality for victims, particularly for those unable to bring a case themselves. The Centre can also independently investigate the facts of a case. Protection is more concrete with an explicit definition of equal treatment, now covering discrimination by association and assumed characteristics, and religious discrimination in all areas.
How many racial/ethnic and religious discrimination complaints were made to equality bodies?
The partial data collected by the Justice Ministry and by NGOs suggests that the number of discrimination cases is desperately low. As just one example, in 2013 the SK Centre for Human Rights received just 152 complaints of ethnic discrimination.
What other factors explain whether potential victims report discrimination cases
- Around just 1/3 of people in SK know their rights as discrimination victims
- Low levels of trust in police and justice system in Central Europe
- Immigrants rarely naturalise in SK and foreigners are less likely to report disrimination
How many complaints were made last year for every person who said they experienced racial/ethnic and religious discrimination?
Few complaints are made compared to the large number of people reportly experiencing incidents of racial/ethnic or religious discrimination. Only 1 complaint in SK is received for approximately every 1000+ people reportedly experiencing ethnic or religious discrimination. These rates appear to be even less favourable in other Central European countries (e.g. BG, HU, LT, RO, SI). With relatively new anti-discrimination laws and poor knowledge of rights across Europe, it is not surprising that the number of complaints appears to be low in most countries, especially in Central Europe. This is just one available indicator; collecting better statistics on discrimination cases will confirm whether potential victims are more likely to report discrimination in the countries with stronger anti-discrimination laws, equality policies and bodies and public awareness of discrimination.
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