Czechia aims to improve Roma integration with new government position

The Government Commissioner for Roma Community Affairs strives to bridge the gap between Roma and non-Roma Czechs.

Thomas Smith

Written by Thomas Smith Published on 10.01.2023 12:36:00 (updated on 10.01.2023) Reading time: 3 minutes

The recent appointment of the Czech Republic’s first-ever Roma government commissioner shows the state’s willingness to tackle the current – and substantial – divide between Roma and non-Roma Czechs.

'Disjointed' integration

Late last year, the Czech government created a brand new parliamentary position, named Government Commissioner for Roma Community Affairs. Government spokesperson Václav Smolka said in Deutsche Welle that the current administration “takes the matter of the integration of national minorities very seriously,” adding that current “integration measures are very disjointed.”

Lucie Fuková has been chosen as the new commissioner. The 41-year-old of Roma origin was previously the Czech coordinator of the European Year of Equal Opportunities for All event and has served on the Czech Government Council on Roma Minority Affairs, a "permanent advisory and initiative body of the Government of the Czech Republic on issues related to Roma integration," according to the government's website.

"I want to advocate for effective coordination and communication of integration policies at the national level within individual departments,” Fuková said.

Widespread inequality

The Roma community is largely marginalized in Czech society, which is one the main reasons why some are reluctant to declare themselves as being ethnically Roma. In the 2021 census, only 21,691 people out of a total of 10.5 million declared their ethnicity as Roma. This number is likely to be much higher, however – Dení notes that many Roma do not declare their ethnicity for fear of social exclusion.

One startling statistic from a report published last year by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights is that 77 percent of Roma in the Czech Republic were at risk of poverty in 2021, which is a significant increase compared to 2016, when it was 58 percent. By contrast, the average for the entire EU population was 17 percent in 2021.

Czech schools have also been accused of deliberate segregation and imposing a maximum limit on the number of Roma children per class, according to iDnes. Over 25 percent of all children placed in specially designated classes for learning difficulties are Roma, leading to accusations that Czechia’s schools are deliberately excluding Roma children from normal education.

Jana Horváthová, who is director of the Museum of Romani Culture, told DW that in many cases, prejudices are perpetuated by the lack of education about the Roma minority, which is because children "learn practically nothing about Roma" as part of school curricula. "For three decades, we have been campaigning for the history of the Romani community to be taught in Czech schools, too," Horváthová said.


  • About 1 in 5 Roma in Czechia live in severe poverty.
  • Almost half (48 percent) of the Czech Roma community has experienced discrimination in the country.
  • According to the latest data, there are about 830 ghettos with 127,000 Roma inhabitants in the Czech Republic.
  • Only 43 percent of working-age Roma were employed in 2020.
  • Around 85 percent of young Czechs see living with Roma people as "problematic."

    Sources: European Commission, iRozhals,

Even Ukrainian Roma fleeing war are treated differently – writes that they are treated like a “hot potato,” sometimes because they lack the necessary documents to settle in Czechia, and often because they simply have “a different way of life.” A survey published in August 2022 by found that “one-third of Roma refugees from Ukraine encountered intolerance in Czechia, and one in six experienced discrimination from authorities.”

Exclusion, then, leads to the creation of ghettos, which does not aid Roma people’s assimilation into society. In a 2020 report, charity Amnesty International underlined “the constant discrimination of Roma in the Czech Republic," especially for housing and education.

"People still have prejudices against the Roma. They perceive 'otherness' as a threat." Government Commissioner for Human Rights Klára Šimáčková Laurenčíková in

Distinguished Roma journalist Patrik Banga says in iDnes that he “encounters prejudices against Roma all the time.” A couple of weeks ago, a Czech comedian came under fire for jokes about the Roma and the Holocaust.

The gap in equality between Roma and non-Roma Czechs is palpable today – the creation of a new government position will hope to bridge these differences and prevent the Roma from living on the fringes of society.

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