The government’s Council for Human Rights is pushing for a more humane approach in dealing with refugees. The council on Thursday approved a list of basic principles that the authorities should adhere to – among them that families with children should not be placed in detention and that they should be provided with psychological and legal assistance, as well as the services of an interpreter. The council has likewise criticized the fact that migrants are being made to pay for the time they spend in detention. The Minister for Human Rights and Minorities Jiří Dienstbier is to present the document to the government at its next session.
The Czech Republic will not join Slovakia in filing a complaint about temporary migrant quotas so as not to fall into isolation in further negotiations with EU member states, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said in an question and answer session in the lower house on Thursday. The prime minister said the government’s goal was not to bring the Czech Republic into isolation within the European Union, but to prepare the ground for pushing through its arguments against permanent migrant quotas. “It would be meaningless to act in a way that would frustrate our communication with other member countries where our arguments would no longer be listened to and would not be taken seriously," Sobotka said.
President Miloš Zeman has informed the Norwegian ambassador to Prague Siri Ellen Sletner that she is not welcome at the celebrations of the Czech Republic’s national holiday on October 28th. The Norwegian embassy in Prague said it had received a diplomatic note from Prague Castle effectively cancelling the ambassador’s invitation to the upcoming event. Relations between the two countries have hit an all-time low after Norway’s Child Welfare Services stripped a Czech mother of her parental rights, forbidding her contact with her two sons and placing them in different foster families. The children were taken away from their parents in 2011 on suspicion of abuse and neglect but the case never got to court and nothing was ever proven. The Czech government has also severely criticized the decision and the Norwegian ambassador was summoned to the Foreign Ministry for an explanation.
The Czech Republic is offering Hungary 50 police officers and 100 soldiers to help protect its stretch of Schengen’s outer border, Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec told journalists after a meeting of Višegrad Group interior ministers on Thursday. The offer of assistance comes in response to a request from Hungary. The Czech Republic which currently presides over the Višegrad Group suggested it should be a joint Višegrad initiative and Slovakia and Poland have nodded to the idea. Slovakia has promised to send 50 officers, Poland said it was not at present able to specify the assistance it could offer. The Czech soldiers and police offers are expected to operate in Hungary from mid-October till mid-December.
Living conditions in Czech detention facilities for migrants are inhumane and humiliating, Czech Organisation for Aid to Refugees head Martin Rozumek said in an interview with Swiss Radio and Television aired on Wednesday. Rozumek said there were not enough toilets in the facilities and the refugees often did not even know why they were detained. He said that in his view the Czech government wanted to discourage further refugees from crossing the Czech Republic and accused the Czech authorities of shifting the burden to other countries.
The Czech unemployment rate in September dropped to 6 percent from 6.2 the previous month, according to figures released by the Labour Office. The office currently registers 441.892 unemployed persons and there are 4.1 applicants per vacancy on average. September’s unemployment figure is the lowest since March of 2009. The positive trend is driven by strong economic growth. A slight increase is expected towards the end of the year with the end of seasonal work.
ANO leader and Finance Minister Andrej Babiš remains the most trusted politician in the Czech Republic, according to a survey conducted by the STEM agency. Mr. Babiš has consistently topped the popularity ladder since January 2014 when he edged ahead of Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka. According to the latest poll, Mr. Babiš has a 64 percent trust rating, Mr. Sobotka remains in second place with 56 percent, Defense Minister Martin Stropnický has a 50 percent trust rating and Interior Minister Milan Chovanec placed fourth, with 46 percent.
Czech police carried out of one of the biggest seizures of illegal explosives in the country’s history last week, spokesman Pavel Hanták announced on Wednesday. Three simultaneous raids took place last week in the regions of Pardubice, Hradec Králové and Prague. More than 100 kilograms of poisons, toxic materials and explosives, including Semtex, were seized during the operation. Police also arrested four men, who were allegedly planning to sell the explosives on the black market.
A new direct air-link between Brno and Munich is to be set up by the end of the year, the governor of South Moravia Michal Hašek told journalists on Thursday. The BMI regional flights should be six days a week with the exception of Saturdays and the planes will have a capacity of 50 seats. Mr. Hašek said Brno had waited years for a direct link to Munich and expressed the hope that it would spur business and tourism in the region.
The 13th annual Bollywood festival of Indian film got underway in Prague on Wednesday night. Over the next five days, the event will offer a selection of classical as well as contemporary movies mainly from India. Among the films screened at the festival this year will be Bang Bang, a Bollywood remake of a Hollywood action comedy Knight and Day, which was partly shot in the Czech Republic. For the first time this year, the festival will also expand to Pilsen and Brno.
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