Daily news summary News

19-05-2011

Czech EU ambassador rejects commissioner’s criticism regarding sexual arousal testing of asylum seekers

Czech ambassador to the EU Milena Vicenová rejects the EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecila Malmstrom’s criticism of the Czech Republic’s practice of using sexual arousal testing to determine whether applicants who seek asylum on grounds of being gay are actually homosexual. Mrs. Vicenová said that phallometric testing was no longer in use in the Czech Republic and that the criticism suggested the practice was widely employed. She said this was untrue and that the tests had only been used in a small number of cases. In December of last year, the EU issued a statement that suggested the practice could be in violation of its convention on human rights.

Poll: Population’s trust in government, prime minister dropped significantly

A fresh poll by the STEM agency finds that 28 percent of Czechs trust the prime minister, while only one in five respondents said they place trust in the government as such. This represents a drop by 14 percent as compared to a result from last December. The majority of the 1219 respondents said they did not believe that Prime Minister Petr Nečas’ government would survive until the next general elections, to take place in 2014.

In April, a corruption scandal within junior coalition member Public Affairs caused a serious government crisis, which was reignited when the party’s chairman, deputy prime minister Radek John, resigned from his post of anti-corruption tsar last week.

Police arrest man behind anonymous phone call connected to potential bomb threat in Ministry of Education building

Police on Thursday arrested a man who had placed an anonymous call to the national emergency line, claiming that a bomb was inside the building of the Ministry of Education. The arrest occurred just two hours after the call had been placed. Prague police evacuated some 300 employees from the building and pyrotechnics expert was sent in to investigate. No bomb was found.

United Nations Human Rights Council to announce decision over seat distribution Friday

The United Nations Human Rights Council is set to announce its decision on whether or not the Czech Republic will be granted a seat in the council. The decision is expected on Friday. Edita Hrdá, the Czech Republic’s representative to the United Nations, said that she believed the result of the vote will be positive given the Czech Republic is a trustworthy nation. In her view, the chances of gaining a seat in the council are high. Ahead of the vote on the distribution of new seats, the Czech Republic lobbied for the support of its partners abroad for nearly a year. Around a hundred countries pledged their support. Georgia and Romania are also trying to secure a seat. At least 127 of the council’s 192 votes are needed for the Czech Republic to become a member. In 2007, the Czech Republic unsuccessfully campaigned to be voted into the United Nations Security Council.

Exhibition honoring Sir Nicholas Winton to open in Prague and London on Saturday

An outdoor exhibition honoring Sir Nicholas Winton, who organized the rescue of nearly 700 Jewish children from German-occupied Czechoslovakia in 1939, is to open at Prague’s Vyšehrad Park on Saturday. A parallel exhibit at London’s Liverpool Street Station will begin on the same day. The exhibits will feature large-scale photographs devoted to the theme of Winton’s train, which carried 669 Jewish children to safety, from Prague to London, in 1939. They later came to be known as “Winton’s Children.” Sir Winton, who celebrates his102nd birthday on Thursday, has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. A new drama-documentary detailing his incredible story premiered in January of this year and was shown at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

Public Affairs party to hold online poll to elect new party leadership.

Junior Coalition member Public Affairs is holding an online poll starting on Thursday night for members to elect the party’s new leadership. Aside from current chairman Radek John, the head of the party’s group of deputies, Karolína Peake, as well as MP Dagmar Navrátilová are running for the post. The election process will last five days; its results also have to be approved at the party conference on the weekend of May 28. The leaders of the three ruling parties – the Civic Democrats, TOP O9 and Public Affairs have agreed on the continuation of their coalition agreement and on adding an amendment to it. The coalition is currently in disarray after the resignation of Public Affairs chairman Radek John from the cabinet. Public Affairs has laid down a number of conditions for its continuation in the government –a rewrite of the coalition agreement, the dismissal of three ministers from the two stronger parties and four ministerial posts for itself.

Ostrava court issues high-profile rape case verdict

A regional court in Ostrava on Thursday handed an eight-year prison sentence to a seventy-year old pensioner charged with the rape of his daughter. The defendant abused and raped his child over a time-span of 22 years. As a result of the prolonged abuse, the man fathered two children with his daughter.The victim has been severely traumatized by the abuse and is in therapy. The pensioner was dubbed the “Czech Fritzl” by national media, which drew parallels to the highly publicized case of an Austrian man convicted of raping and holding his daughter captive for 24 years.

President’s ratings at all-time low

Public confidence in President Václav Klaus has fallen to an all-time low of 47%, according to a poll published by the STEM agency. The poll suggests strong opinions on Mr. Klaus, with one in ten Czechs saying he has their absolute trust and one in five saying they have no confidence in him whatsoever. STEM recorded relatively high confidence in the president only last December, when 63% of respondents showed trust in Mr. Klaus. The public was roughly split on the president’s response to the recent government crisis, when he refused to endorse the dismissal of three cabinet ministers.

International food producers unload poor goods on Czech Republic and other post-communist countries, survey finds

According to a fresh survey by the Slovakian consumers’ association, international food producers unload lower-quality products on post-communist states, including the Czech Republic. The association’s director said that tests reveal that products in newer EU member states are of lower quality than those on supermarket shelves in older EU member states, with the worst results found in Bulgaria. He added that companies may choose to unload lower-quality products on those markets because they expect consumers there to be more likely to accept poorer quality.

Czech motorists’ federation criticizes current system of driver’s license testing

The Czech motorists’ federation ÚAMK has harshly criticized the current system of drivers’ license testing, stating that it was unacceptable, inefficient and that it enables corruption. The statement came after it became public that drivers’ license applicants in Prague were facing delays due to an ongoing police investigation of 14 commissioners suspected of accepting bribes. As a consequence, the total number of commissioners currently at the licensing office of Prague City Hall was reduced to five. Detectives from the police’s anti-corruption department raided the office on Monday. The remaining officials are only able to process a fourth of the usual number of applicants, and have asked commissioners in retirement and in regions to fill the gap. By law, City Hall must test applicants within 15 days of receiving a request.

Firefighters remove bee swarm from famous astronomical clock

Prague firefighters on Thursday removed a swarm of bees from Prague’s famous astronomical clock, the Orloj. The swarm had started nesting on the clock’s angel statue. Firefighters removed the insects with a special vacuuming device; bystanders and tourists took great interest in watching the procedure, which only lasted about ten minutes.

Weather

Currently mostly sunny conditions are expected to continue over the coming days with daytime temperatures of around 25° Celsius, with a chance of isolated thunderstorms later in the week.

19-05-2011