Health Minister Milada Emmerova and Ombudsman Otakar Motejl have decided to set up a special committee to look into allegations the Czech Republic has tolerated the coercive sterilisation of Roma women. The Budapest-based European Roma Rights Centre says it has evidence of several such cases, mostly during the 1990s.
Meanwhile, an adviser to the education minister said on Friday after a discussion about the education of Romanies that some children might be legally required to go to kindergarten from the age of five, a year earlier than children normally start school in the Czech Republic. Martin Profant said the aim of the plan was to make Romany children better prepared for elementary school, and therefore less likely to end up in schools for children with learning difficulties.
The prime minister, Stanislav Gross, says the government wants to introduce a network of public non-profit hospitals, in an effort to halt a trend towards privatisation; almost 50 of the country's hospitals have already been privatised. After a meeting with the health minister and the head of the Czech Doctors Club on Friday, Mr Gross said he wished to see the bill go before parliament as soon as possible.
Unemployment in the Czech Republic fell by 0.2 percent to 9.1 percent in September, according to figures released by the Labour Ministry on Friday. Over 500,000 Czechs are currently out of work.
Meanwhile, the Finance Ministry announced that the national debt fell by ten billion crowns to 589.3 billion in the third quarter of this year, the first decrease since the end of 2002.
And, says Pavel Mertlik, an economist with Raiffeisenbank and former finance minister, the Czech Republic can this year expect its lowest trade deficit since 1993. The development has been attributed to an increase in exports since the Czechs joined the European Union. Mr Mertlik says this year's deficit should range from 50 to 60 billion crowns, down from the 70 billion recorded last year and the year before.
The operators of an incinerator in the north Bohemian town of Liberec have applied for an Environment Ministry permit to burn 6,000 tonnes of waste from a company in Germany. A spokesperson for the Citizens for Liberec said Friday the group did not know why the application was being considered by the ministry, as such imports of waste are illegal under Czech law.
The Czech Republic's football team are preparing for a qualifying game for the 2006 World Cup, against Romania in Prague on Saturday evening. Since reaching the semi-finals at Euro 2004, things have not been going well for the Czechs, who lost their first qualifier to Holland and saw captain Pavel Nedved retire. Furthermore, they have not scored a goal in almost five hours of play. On Wednesday they travel to Armenia for their third World Cup qualification match.
Saturday should be cloudy with showers in places. Temperatures are expected to range from 10 to 14 degrees Celsius.
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