The new electoral law, which strengthens the position of larger parties by introducing majority elements to the current proportional system has come into effect. The lower house last week overruled President Havel's veto of the controversial new law, and it is expected that either the President or the opposition Christian Democrats will lodge a complaint against the law with the Constitutional Court.
423 million Deutschmarks are to be paid to Czechs forced to work as slave labourers in Germany during the Second World War. According to the final report on Czech-German negotiations, victims will be divided into two categories: those who also survived concentration camps, or their descendants, will be paid 15,000 Deustchmarks, while those who were forced to work in Germany will receive a maximum of 5,000 Deutschmarks. The Czech Foreign Ministry estimates there are some 67,000 Czechs eligible for compensation. The final agreement on compensation with Central and East European countries will be signed by Germany and the Czech Republic, Poland, Belarus, Ukraine and Russia on Monday July 17th.
The Czech Foreign Minister, Jan Kavan, has met with the mayor of Jerusalem, Ehud Olmert, as part of his official 5-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian territory. During his visit, Mr Kavan will meet with other Israeli and Palestinian representatives to discuss the Middle East peace process and economic co-operation. He will also attend the opening of a Czech representative office in the West Bank. The Czech Republic is the only Central and Eastern European country to act as donor in the region.
A regional court in South Bohemia has acquitted the last defendant in the 1993 murder of Czech Roma Tibor Danihel. 25-year-old Milan Brata was the last of 4 men to be charged in the case, in which Tibor Danihel drowned when several skinheads attacked a group of Roma, chasing 4 of them into a freezing cold river. Brata's three fellow defendants, who qualified as young offenders at the time of the crime, received jail sentences of 6 to 8 years from the High Court in Prague last year.
The government has approved a national plan against commercially exploitative sexual abuse of children. The plan identified over 1,320 reported cases of child and youth abuse last year. It stresses education and preventative measures, as well as more effective legislative action, including faster identification of victims and their protection and reintegration. Obligatory treatment for perpetrators and reporting of abuse by health-care workers are also to be priorities in the fight against child sexual abuse.
The City Hall of the north Bohemian town Jablonec nad Nisou has lodged a complaint with the regional state prosecutor's office on account of a large inscription found near a highway leading out of the city reading "Gypsies to the Gas Chambers". The city authorities have charged an unknown culprit with inciting racial hatred.
The Czechtrade agency, which promotes Czech exports abroad, opened its ninth foreign office, in the Latvian capital Riga. The aim of the Latvian branch will be to provide market analysis and assist Czech firms in expanding their exports and finding business partners. In the first 5 months of the year, Czech exports to Latvia increased by 15 pct year on year, totalling 18 million US dollars.
And finally a quick look at the weather. Cloudy skies, scattered showers and occasional storms will continue on through the weekend, with day temperatures between 14 to 18 degrees Celsius, dropping to lows of 8 degrees at night.
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