Canada will in the near future lift a visa requirement for Czechs visiting the country. The news was reported by the site Canada.com and confirmed on Thursday by the Canadian Embassy in Prague. Ottawa imposed the restriction four years ago following a spike in asylum applications from Czechs, many of whom were from the Roma minority. The Czech government had appealed to the European Union to put pressure on Canada to abolish the visa requirement.
October 17th is international day for the eradication of poverty and this year it is more than just a formal acknowledgment of a global problem. According to statistics a million Czechs are now threatened by poverty and 400,000 are living in extreme poverty. The Czech government recently unveiled the country’s first ever national strategy for the homeless of whom there are 30,000 people in the Czech Republic and underscored the need for social housing. For this week’s edition of Panorama I spoke to Pavla Vopelakova of the Salvation Army about the
The Canadian Embassy has confirmed media reports that the government in Ottawa is on the verge of lifting visas for Czechs. Visas for Czechs wishing to visit Canada were reintroduced in 2009 following a rise in the number of Roma people seeking asylum. The Czech government had appealed to the European Union to put pressure on Canada to abolish the visa requirement.
The head of the government’s human rights department Monika Šimůnková has been dismissed from office for allegedly violating internal regulations. She is to be replaced by the current head of the government’s agency for social integration Martin Šimáček. Ms. Šimůnková, who was dismissed by the head of the government’s office, has denied any wrongdoing and told reporters she would discuss the matter with Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok on Wednesday. She retains the post of the government’s human rights commissioner for which she is directly answerable to the prime minister. The internet news site which broke the story aktualne.cz has suggested her dismissal might be linked to reports that she resisted efforts to radically reduce the government’s human rights section which currently employs about 50 people.
Over 100 Romanies joined a Roma Pride march through the centre of Prague on Sunday afternoon. The event was intended to address widespread prejudice against the Roma minority and draw attention to the problems they face. Prague is also hosting an exhibition documenting Romany history and culture, a seminar on hip hop and Roma Pride day should culminate with a mass and concert. Similar events are taking place in 13 other European cities.
Ultra nationalists demonstrated in central Prague on Saturday against what they described as the Czech Republic’s decay in the post-1989 period. Around 120 people took part in the protest, bearing slogans such as “national identity instead of globalised grey masses” and chanting against multiculturalism. In a speech on Wenceslas Square, one of the organisers called on voters to back parties defending Czech national interests in next month’s election, adding that some sections of the population should have their voting rights removed. Another group, of around 40 people, held a counter demonstration entitled We Won’t Give Wenceslas to the Nazis. There were no clashes between the two sides.
A gathering of the far-right Workers Party of Social Justice culminated in clashes with the police in the Zábřeh district of the eastern city of Ostrava on Friday evening. The neo-fascists’ leader Tomáš Vandas said the group were protesting against the spread of hostels for “the inadaptable”, a term usually used to refer to the Roma minority. Around 1,000 people attempted to march on a hostel chiefly housing Romanies but were blocked by the police. Some members of the crowd then threw bottles, rocks and firecrackers at riot police, who responded with teargas. Several arrests were made and five people were charged. Tensions have been high between members of the majority population and Romanies in a number of Czech cities and towns in recent months.
The Czech police have arrested six Vietnamese and three Austrian citizens over the sale of methamphetamine, a spokeswoman for the anti-drug unit of the police said. The Vietnamese face accusations of selling the illicit drug to foreign nationals at a marketplace in Kaplice, in southern Bohemia; the Austrians allegedly resold the drug in Austria. During several house searches, the police seized 1.2 kilograms of methamphetamine with a street value of two million crowns. The detained foreign nationals face up to 12 years in prison.
The Czech authorities have asked schools to make a count of Romany pupils with light mental disorders, the news website idnes.cz reported on Thursday. The Czech School Inspectorate, part of the Education Ministry, is planning to use the data as evidence at the European Court of Human Rights that the number of Romany children segregated in special schools is declining. The Czech Republic has come under severe international criticism for placing disproportionately large numbers of Romany children in special schools because of their alleged mental disorders. The news website reported that some school directors objected to the request, complaining about racial profiling and the vague definition of Romany. The school inspectorate however warned that if schools fail to provide the figures, school inspectors will do the counting themselves.
City councillors in Prague have taken a significant step to try and curb disorderly conduct in the capital, passing an ordinance doubling the number of public areas where the consumption of alcohol will be banned. As of October 3, almost 860 spots in the capital will be off-limits for alcohol, including parks, areas near schools, and city squares.