D.H. v. Czech Republic: Roma Educational Equality and the Vulnerability of Strategic Litigation


  • Filip Sys BPP University, London


In 2007, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights ruled that 18 Czech Roma primary school children had been unlawfully placed into special schools, designed for “mentally handicapped” children, and were subject to indirect racial discrimination. D.H. and Others v. the Czech Republic, a landmark piece of strategic litigation, hoped to catalyse tangible Czech educational reform; however, reports persist of Roma educational segregation. Firstly, this study briefly investigates why strategic litigation is an attractive, albeit obstacle-ridden, tool to effect societal reform. The study then conducts an in-depth impact analysis of D.H., focusing on Czech legal reactions and supranational developments and the post-judgment responses of the Czech Roma community. The study concludes that strategic litigation is a potent tool to effect social change but, regarding implementation and obstacles to its use and impact, remains vulnerable if not used in conjunction with extra-legal activism.

Keywords: strategic litigation; extra-legal activism; educational desegregation; Roma; European Court of Human Rights; Czechia

DOI: 10.14712/23363231.2020.10

© 2020 The Authors. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.