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Romania court orders 10,000-euro payout for barred Roma girl

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Romania court orders 10,000-euro payout for barred Roma girl

Justice - Photo © James Steidl

(BUCHAREST) - A Romanian court has ordered a teacher to pay a record 10,000 euros in compensation to the family of a 12-year-old Roma girl repeatedly barred from class, a court spokesman said Tuesday.

The ruling was hailed as a blow against segregation in a country which has one of the largest Roma communities in Europe although many hide their ethnic origin fearing discrimination.

The appeal court in the southern city of Craiova "obliged" teacher Lenuta Daba to pay 10,000 euros or the equivalent in the local currency, lei, to Pompiliu Ciurescu, the father of young Rahela, the spokesman told AFP.

The ruling was delivered on May 19 and made public in the media on Tuesday.

Media reports said the teacher in the southwestern village of Voloiac had repeatedly refused to allow the girl into her class in 2007.

Daba had denied she discriminated against the child, invoking administrative irregularities related to Rahela's transfer from another school.

Roma rights non-government organisation Romani Criss praised the court's decision.

"The amount is a first. This decision must become a signal for all those using discrimination and segregation in education which is a fundamental right," its representative Monica Vasile told AFP.

The 2002 census says there are around 530,000 Romas in the country but non-government organisations put the number at about 2.5 million.

Countless Roma children do not go to school or drop out after primary school. According to a 2008 government study, 19 percent of Romas aged 18 to 29 have never been to school, compared to 1.8 percent of non-Roma Romanians.

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