Albania Fined by Strasbourg Court for Segregating Schoolchildren

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The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg ruled that the Albanian government was guilty of discrimination for segregating Roma and Egyptian children at a primary school in the city of Korca.

The European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday found the Albanian state guilty of violating anti-discrimination measures in the European Convention on Human Rights by segregating children from the Roma and Egyptian minorities at the Naim Frasheri primary school in the south-eastern city of Korca.

The court ordered the Albanian government to pay compensation of 4,500 euros to five families, who filed a lawsuit in 2017 through the European Centre for Roma Rights.

“The applicants are 18 Albanian nationals of Roma and Egyptian ethnicity who together make up six households. They live in Korca (Albania),” the ruling said.

It said the applicants complained that the section of the European Convention on Human Rights prohibiting discrimination was being violated “owing to the over-representation of Egyptian and Roma pupils in Naim Frasheri school”.

In an average year, Roma and Egyptian pupils make up between 89 to 100 per cent of the enrolled children at the Naim Frasheri school, according to the plaintiffs, even though these communities are a minority in Korca.

The court said that the Albanian authorities failed to take steps to avoid the concentration of Roma and Egyptian children in the school, despite the decision of the Commissioner for Protection against Discrimination for the Ministry of Education and Sports to take immediate steps to improve the situation.

Naim Frasheri School is not the only segregated school in Albania, according to Roma and Egyptian community activists, who say the problem also exists in other public educational institutions in Shkodra, Berat and Elbasan.

A monitoring report by the Council of Europe in 2020 identified the de facto segregation of Roma and Egyptian pupils as a problem in some schools in Albania.

“De facto structural segregation of Roma and Egyptian pupils in schools still occurs in some locations,” the report said.