Slovakia's legislation on forced sterilisation

Legislation about (forced) sterilisation

Forced sterilisation is incriminated under article 246b of the Criminal Code on “unlawful sterilisation”, providing that “anybody who sterilises a person contrary to the law is to be punished by a prison term of between three and eight years, by a prohibition on carrying out his or her activity or by a pecuniary penalty.”

The Health Care Act (No.576/2004) contains provisions on forced sterilisation: article §40(2) of the Health Care Act allows the legal representative of a person deemed “incapable of giving informed consent”, to consent to the sterilisation of that person or address such request to a court.

According to Slovakia, “to eliminate shortcomings that could lead to the occurrence of illegal sterilisations”, different measures have been adopted.

The aforementioned Act instituted informed consent and its §6 sets an obligation on the attending health care professional to provide information about the “purpose, nature, consequences and risks” related to any provision of health care (including sterilisation, for which alternative methods of family planning are presented to the person). Such information has to be provided in a comprehensible manner adapted to the intellectual capacity of the person concerned.

The Ministry of Health adopted Decree No 56 of 23 October 2013, providing details on the information to be provided to ensure informed consent before performing sterilisation. After that, a 30-day waiting period between the provision of information and the sterilisation is instituted.

The CRPD Committee expressed concerns about the Health Care Act which provides for forced sterilisation of women with restricted legal capacity decided by their guardians. The Committee noted with concerns the lack of investigations and redress for cases of forced sterilisations. It thus recommended Slovakia investigate and redress cases of forced sterilisation, including for Roma women with disabilities.

While welcoming the adoption of Decree No56, the CEDAW Committee deplored the absence of monitoring of its implementation and the legislation prohibiting forced sterilisation. The Committee also expressed concerns over the length of cases of forced sterilisation (several years).

Regarding access to redress, in a letter dated 12 July 2021, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights called on the Slovak authorities to ensure access to compensation through a compensation mechanism for victims of forced sterilisations in Slovakia. In response to this letter, the Minister of Justice informed that discussions were ongoing between her Ministry and other ministries on the examination and reparations of claims of sterilisation without informed consent, before 2004. She also mentioned the measures already taken by the State to implement the EtCHR ruling on the case V.C. v. Slovakia.

Data related to the matter

Slovakia stated that since 2004, the Ministry of Health has not been made aware of any sterilisation that took place without informed consent.