Overcoming the language barrier is one of the main hurdles Romany children face on starting school and is one of the oft-cited reasons for putting them in “special schools” for children with learning disabilities. Deputies in the lower house are now engaged in a debate on whether to introduce a special dual-language curriculum for Romany children.
Finance Minister and ANO party leader Andrej Babiš on Thursday apologized for his attack on the news website echo24.cz. Earlier this week, Mr Babiš said the website’s investor was a front, and indirectly threatened to audit his tax returns. His comments came after ANO’s Justice Minister Helená Válková suggested in an interview for the website that conditions in Bohemia and Moravia under Nazi rule were not that harsh. Mr Babiš said the interview was not fair. The outlet, which has also expressed critical views of the finance minister and his party, was founded by journalists who left the daily Lidové noviny after it was acquired by Mr Babiš last year. In a statement for another of his papers, Mladá fronta Dnes, Andrej Babiš apologized for his remarks and said it was not his intention to check the media outlet’s finances or to silence anyone.
The Czech government’s Agency for Social Inclusion will launch a nationwide anti-racism campaign, its coordinator Jaroslav Valůch said on Wednesday. The campaign will start in the autumn, and will focus on people between 15 and 25 years of age. The agency is planning to use testimonies of victims of racially motivated violence to refute myths and disinformation about the country’s minorities. It will also work with schools, mainly in the depressed north Bohemia and Moravia-Silesia regions, Mr Valůch said. The project, covered mostly by EU funds, will last two years.
The Czech Republic has a large Vietnamese community and today Vietnamese-run open-all-hours corner stores are to be found throughout the country. Indeed, a new report by market analysts Nielsen says that one fifth of Czech food shops are now Asian run. But what does the boom in Vietnamese stores mean for consumers? That’s a question I put to leading Czech food writer Petra Pospěchová.
Statistics reveal a significant gender gap in pay, according to a report by the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry. The figures show that both in the private and public sector women make on average 17 percent less than men in similar positions. The gap is reportedly widest in the 40 to 50 age bracket, where women make on average 23,000 crowns a month, while men make on average 31,000 crowns.
Since its foundation in the early 1990s, the Prague-based Člověk v tísni, or People in Need, has become one of the biggest NGOs in Central Europe. Founding member Šimon Pánek has for many years been the organisation’s director, and when we met at People in Need’s HQ the other day the conversation touched on its targeting of aid, politics, international perception and plans for the future. But I first asked Pánek what for him had been its standout projects of the last 20 years-plus.
The Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, has promised that his cabinet will deal with the issue of discrimination against the Roma minority in the Czech Republic, the news site novinky.cz reported. Mr. Sobotka made the pledge in a reply to a letter the government received from the Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights, Nils Muižnieks, who called for action to halt a growing number of anti-Roma demonstrations. The Czech leader said his cabinet would stand up to all forms of violence, hostility and discrimination, including “anti-gypsyism”. Mr. Sobotka said the government was preparing a national strategy on Roma integration that would be in place until 2020.
The police in south Bohemia are reported to have cracked down on a drug-smuggling ring operating at one of the Vietnamese open-air markets close to the border. A police spokeswoman said officers confiscated a kilogram of crystal methamphetamine with a street value of approximately one million crowns which was bound for Germany. The gang reportedly sold drugs to German and Austrian tourists and also smuggled drugs across the border themselves in small quantities. There is a nationwide search on for several members of the gang, but the gang leader – a woman – was reportedly detained in the crack-down.
Among the highlights of this year’s One World festival of human rights documentaries is God Loves Uganda, a gripping film revealing how right-wing Christians – including LGBT opponent Scott Lively – campaigned successfully for anti-gay legislation in the African state. Ian Willoughby spoke to the Oscar-winning director of God Loves Uganda, Roger Ross Williams, and asked him why the Kansas-based International Church of House of Prayer had targeted Uganda in particular.
Demonstrations against the Russian intervention in Crimea were held in four Czech cities over the weekend. The protests, held under the motto "For Your and Our Freedom", were staged in Prague, Brno, Plzen and Karlovy Vary, and were attended by Ukrainians and Russians living in the Czech Republic as well as Czechs concerned about the recent developments in Crimea. Among those who joined the protest in Prague was the former foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg who said he felt the need to show solidarity with Ukraine in this this difficult time. He recalled that the Czechs experienced twice what the Ukrainians are experiencing today, making a reference to the German occupation in 1939 and the Soviet-led invasion in 1968.
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