Document Type



Political Science


This paper examines the Czech Republic’s passage in 1993 of a citizenship law that rendered approximately 10,000 to 25,000 members of the Roma community stateless. The Czech Republic, a former satellite state of the Soviet Union, peacefully split from the Slovak Republic with the dissolution of the Czechoslovak Federal Republic (hereafter Czechoslovakia) in 1993, a process known as the Velvet Divorce. Following the dissolution, a new citizenship law came into effect that put steep requirements on individuals who wished to gain or retain Czech citizenship. These requirements included verification of a five-year period of residence, a clean criminal record, and unwieldy fees and administrative procedures. Many argued that these requirements unfairly affected Roma, who were considered Slovakian by many non-Roma Czechs. Many Roma did not have documentation to prove citizenship or residence, had criminal records that prevented successful applications, or could not understand or afford the administrative procedures and costs required by the new law.