The international human rights organisation Amnesty International has released a report stating that the Czech Republic and Germany are exporting products that are intended for torture. Amnesty says that the two countries have taken advantage of legal loopholes to permit the export of police equipment and coercive devices, such as shackles that give electric shocks, to at least nine countries where they are used for torture. According to the organisation’s report, these sales have continued in spite of EU-wide control measures adopted in 2006. The report is to be discussed in the European Parliament’s subcommittee on human rights on Thursday.
Agricultural land is fast disappearing under concrete in the Czech Republic and the pace is getting faster rather than slowing down. That is one of the main reasons why the Ministry of Environment is making a last minute bid to pass a new law that could put a brake on the process. Chris Johnstone reports.
According to data published by the Czech Credit Bureau, 929 Czech companies and individuals filed bankruptcy in the first two months of 2010 alone, an increase of over 120 percent as compared to last year. February saw the highest number of bankruptcies in a single month, with nearly 500 companies and individuals filing bankruptcy. The increase is especially pronounced as far as personal bankruptcies are concerned, with a growth in numbers by 229 percent.
Built at the end of the 1980s to host communist party gatherings, Prague’s Congress Centre was the pride of the communist leadership. However, within years of building it, the communists lost power and the centre never became fully functional. In 2000 it hosted a summit of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, but soon ran into debt and now finds itself on the verge of bankruptcy.
The internet auction website eBay has launched a Czech language version at www.ebay.cz. However, the firm’s payment system PayPal is not yet available in Czech. eBay had said last week that its Czech version would begin by the end of March. It has also created new versions in a number of other European languages.
Some 60 percent of small and mid-sized Czech companies believe it is necessary to pay some form of bribe in order to win public contracts, according to a survey of 550 Czech firms. The study, conducted by the Czech Association of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, also suggests that more than 25 percent of the companies would be ready to pay bribes to get such contracts. Meanwhile, 44 percent of the firms surveyed said they would be willing to blow the whistle should they learn about corrupt practices. Anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International said the numbers were very high, while the head of the association said many companies were angry about the situation.
The US-based action website Ebay will launch a new platform in Czech and five other languages by the end of March, the company said on Wednesday. Ebay believes that allowing buyers to navigate in their native languages will boost cross-border transactions. The website will also offer its on-line payment system, PayPal, in six new languages. Ebay said the Czech Republic and five other countries were chosen based on demand. Last year, the number of registered users of the website rose by 3 percent to 90.1 million.
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