Daily news summary News

11-07-2011

Justice Ministry puts forward bill regarding victims of criminal acts

Justice Minister Jiří Pospíšil has put forward a wide-ranging bill regarding the rights of victims of criminal acts. The legislation is intended, among other things, to give victims the explicit right to financial aid, which was previously possible only in cases of injury or death. Victims of sexually motivated crimes would be able to apply for immediate basic damages for the first time. According to the bill, victims would have the right to be dealt with by the authorities on an individual basis and to receive more information on the course of judicial cases and investigations involving them. The Justice Ministry also wants to increase the involvement of NGOs in aiding victims with the use of state funds. Mr Pospíšil says that the bill would bring victims’ rights into line with those in Germany and Switzerland, where similar laws are in place.

Civic association suspends work with Interior Ministry over approach to fighting extremism

The civic association Romea has said it is discontinuing its work with the Ministry of the Interior because of the ministry’s approach towards fighting extremism. The non-profit organisation for support of Roma interests says its cooperation with the ministry officials and police was good until the beginning of this year, since which time the police have not been dealing effectively with extremist gatherings. In an open letter to the ministry’s security policy division, Romea also criticises the cancellation of a multilateral task force focusing on right-wing extremism and the decision to replace it with seminars. The association says the ministry is working to the detriment of minorities and intends to suspend cooperation until its complaints are redressed.

Klaus issues eight pardons

President Václav Klaus issued eight pardons on humanitarian grounds on Monday. The president’s spokesman says that the pardoned offenders were mostly either caring for their children, had health problems or were of advanced age. Three of the cases involved failures to pay alimonies, others fraud or minor offences. A Brno physician convicted to seven years for falsifying medical reports had her sentence waived due to previous good behaviour and a poor psychological condition. In other cases the president commuted prison sentences to community service so that the offenders could work to repay their debts.

Interior Ministry proposes new ways to monitor party financing

The Ministry of the Interior is considering ways to monitor the treasuries of political parties and movements. On Wednesday the government is to discuss a ministry analysis for the potential establishment of an independent supervisory body or possibly extending the purview of the Supreme Audit Office. The analysis also suggests other measures such as requiring parties to have a separate transparent account for campaign financing and more detailed annual financial statements. The ministry is also calling for increased fines for violations of parties’ financial regulations.

Health care unions to protest reforms on Tuesday

Health care unions will be holding a demonstration in front of the Ministry of Health on Tuesday to protest government reforms. The organisers intend to use pantomime and theatrical performances to show what health care will look like if the reforms are implemented, and then set out on a march across Prague. The protest is timed to coincide with the first day of parliamentary debate on the reforms. The unions are primarily opposed to the establishment of standard and above-standard medical care, increased hospital fees and the lack of a broader consensus on reforms between the government on the one hand and the opposition and specialists on the other.

Bárta to seek leadership of Public Affairs parliamentary club

Public Affairs MP Vít Bárta reportedly intends to seek the leadership of the party’s parliamentary club, the Czech Press Agency reports. Citing Public Affairs members, the agency writes that Mr Bárta has a good, but not certain chance of replacing MP Karolína Peake in the post, as the latter is set to head the government’s legislative council. Vít Bárta, a former transport minister often called the defacto leader of the party, is currently being investigated for allegations of bribery. The parliamentary committee on immunity is to meet Tuesday to discuss whether to give him up for investigation, as police have requested.

Former president Václav Havel feeling weak following respiratory infection

The office of Václav Havel says he remains in poor health after contracting a respiratory infection four months ago. Mr Havel’s secretary says the former president is still suffering from fatigue and is being looked after in his home by doctors and nurses, as well as his wife Dagmar, who cancelled a visit to the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival due to her husband’s poor state of health. Respiratory infections pose a great health risk to Mr Havel, who had part of his lungs removed due to cancer 15 years ago. The 74-year-old has frequently suffered from respiratory infections since. In March he was hospitalized for two weeks and was recently treated at a health spa.

Agriculture Ministry investigates tenders for Lesy ČR

The Ministry of Agriculture is investigating tenders called by the state forestry company Lesy ČR, the winners of which refuse to sign contracts intended to prevent cartels and profiteering. Agriculture Minister Ivan Fuksa told reporters on Monday that the selection would be cancelled if there were suspicions of manipulation in any of the 117 administrative districts involved. The statement came in response to findings by the anticorruption watchdog Transparency International that the tenders for forest exploitation and other work showed strong evidence of cartels among certain forestry companies.

Constitutional Court rejects Opencard privacy complaint

The Constitutional Court has rejected a complaint regarding Prague’s Opencard project and the use of personal data. The challenge was raised by an attorney who had previously took the Prague transit authority to court because obtaining an Opencard required the processing of his personal information. The Constitutional Court threw out the case, saying that the amount involved - 1,170 crowns – was too minor to constitute an infringement of fundamental rights. The court did however state that the previous Prague district court had not dealt with the issue of privacy law in the case. Opencard is a chip card meant to facilitate purchases in public transit and elsewhere in Prague. It has been plagued by numerous problems and controversies since its beginning.

Former hockey player killed in plane crash

An ultra-light aircraft crashed near Brno on Monday, killing the pilot. The operator of the aircraft was reportedly 71-year-old Jaroslav Jiřík, a former player for the Czechoslovak hockey team and the first Czech to play in the NHL. The plane crashed into a wheat field shortly after taking off. Initial reports put the cause down to a technical malfunction, though the plane was new. Rescuers reached the crash site in only eight minutes, however the pilot was already dead..

Weather

Currently cloudy and cool conditions are expected to improve on Tuesday with clearer skies and highs of around 24° Celsius.

11-07-2011