The British Lord Chancellor Lord Irvine of Lairg who's on a visit to the Czech Republic has described Czech Roma applying for political asylum in Great Britain as economic migrants. After a meeting with his Czech counterpart Petr Pithart, Lord Irvine said he was sure ethnic Romanies faced no persecution in the country and their human rights were not threatened. He added that the immigration controls at Prague's Airport were justified, denying they were discriminatory. The presence of British immigration officers at Prague's main international airport is part of a bilateral agreement between the Czech Republic and Great Britain, who both want to avoid the re-introduction of a visa regime. The arrangement was concluded in the wake of a mass exodus of Czech Romanies to Great Britain, many of whom have since been extradited from the country.
British immigration officials are back at Prague's Ruzyne Airport for another round of controls aimed at preventing economic migrants from entering Great Britain. Their presence at Prague's main international airport is part of a bilateral agreement between the Czech Republic and Great Britain, who both want to avoid the re-introduction of a visa regime. The arrangement was concluded in the wake of a mass exodus of Czech Romanies to Great Britain, many of whom have since been extradited from the country. Last Friday the British authorities put 20 Romany families on a flight back to Prague after refusing them asylum. Three of them were wanted by the Czech police and were arrested at Prague Airport. Human rights activists have criticized the arrangement and the Romanies who have undergone the immigration screening process claim that it is "racist". During the last round of immigration screenings, which ended two weeks ago, British immigration officials turned back 78 people.
A restaurant-owner in the North Moravian city of Ostrava stood trial at the Regional court on Friday, after a Roma couple sued him for not serving them in his restaurant because of the colour of their skin. The man defended himself by saying his Club Vegas was a private one which only its members are allowed to enter. Despite the fact that there was reportedly a notice on the door announcing this, a witness told the court he was not a member and had always been served. Markus Pape from the European Centre for Roma Rights has described the incident as disguised racism.
The 13th round of British immigration controls at Prague's Ruzyne airport was discontinued on Tuesday. As of July 20th, British officers refused 78 people entry to the United Kingdom. In the previous round 82 people were denied entry to the UK. The controls, agreed upon by the Czech and British governments, are meant to prevent people from abusing the British asylum system. They were first introduced last summer after several waves of Czech Roma arrived in Great Britain in order to seek political asylum. This year, the asylum seekers are travelling by coaches rather than by air and many have been returned from the Czech-German border by German border authorities.
Two policemen were set upon in a run-down largely Romany area of the north Bohemian town of Most on Thursday evening. The police officers were attacked when they arrived at the scene of a street dispute involving up to 400 people. One man is being questioned in connection with the attack, during which one of the policemen suffered concussion.
The number of Czech Roma leaving the country to seek political asylum in Western Europe has again increased in recent weeks. Those who leave say they're discriminated against and don't feel they're protected from attacks by skinheads. But the government's Human Rights Commissioner, Jan Jarab, says excessive debt is another reason why Czech Roma are leaving the country.
Czech Roma asylum seekers who have been rejected political asylum abroad should not be entitled to social benefits after they return to the Czech Republic, the Government Council for Roma Affairs decided on Thursday. The council also agreed that a special police body should be established in order to deal with the widespread problem of illegal money-lending among the Czech Roma community. The number of Romanies seeking asylum in Great Britain has grown dramatically in the last few months. According to the government's human rights commissioner, Jan Jarab, excessive debt is among the reasons why Czech Roma are leaving the country.
Over the past few days, some sixty members of the Roma minority have attempted to travel to Great Britain, just to be turned back at the Czech-German border. Whilst they all had return tickets and the necessary insurance, German border officials said that many failed to prove they had enough money for their stay.
After 30 members of the Czech Roma minority on their way to Great Britain were turned back by German officials on Friday, another group has decided to try its luck. With the first group failing to have the necessary cash and insurance, some 20 Roma left the Moravian city of Ostrava on Monday, armed with money, return tickets and insurance. A large number of Roma in Ostrava have been leaving the Czech Republic, saying that they are being discriminated against, find it hard to get employed, and do not feel safe. Officials at the border areas have therefore been weary about Roma travellers, fearing that their main aim is to apply for asylum at the countries of destination. As far as those who have been turned back are concerned, social workers have expressed fear that many will have to borrow large amounts of money in order to make up for the lost travel expenses.
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