Marking International Roma Day on Monday, Amnesty International has just launched a Europe-wide campaign entitled Human Rights Here, Roma Rights Now. It aims to end persisting discrimination and segregation that an estimated six million Roma face in many European countries, including the Czech Republic. Mark Martin, the head of Amnesty International’s Czech branch, explains what the campaign hopes to achieve.
The number of apartment buildings and districts inhabited by the poor in the Czech Republic is on the rise, the Czech News Agency quoted the head of the government’s social integration agency, Martin Šimáček, as saying on Sunday. While there were an estimated 330 ghettos in the country in 2006 and 400 in 2011, that number is now higher, said Mr. Šimáček, adding, however, that precise figures will not be available until next year. He said many poor people have been forced to move from apartments to hostel-style accommodation due to indebtedness.
Prosecutors in the northern city of Děčín on Thursday charged 15 women with promoting neo-Nazism, a spokesman for the prosecution said. The charges are linked to the women’s activities in Resistance Women Unity, a neo-Nazi group. Prosecutors say the women, aged between 22 and 33, organized and promoted events held by the neo-Nazi group in Czech towns between 2007 and 2009. If convicted, they face up to eight years in jail.
The freezing cold weather has led Prague City Hall to introduce special measures to protect the homeless. Hot soup and tea are being distributed several times a day in the city centre and night shelters for the homeless are open around the clock. The metropolitan police also make regular rounds of the places where the homeless congregate.
The Czech Republic has joined Poland and Germany in rejecting the European Commission´s proposal to set a 40 percent quota for women on the boards of big European companies. Czech lawmakers said the proposal was an intervention in shareholders´ rights and did not take into account the different conditions in individual member countries or in different fields of enterprise. Under the resolution, pushed through by European Commissioner Viviane Reding last November, state-run companies were expected to meet the 40 percent quota for women in 2018 and private companies in 2020. The norm would have concerned about 5000 big companies in the EU.
Anti-Roma sentiments continue to be a major issue in the Czech society, according to an annual report by the European Network Against Racism, an advocacy group. The report says little progress has been achieved in fighting discrimination against Roma children many of whom are still placed in schools for mentally handicapped pupils. The Czech Romany community also faces attacks and discrimination on the labour market, in housing and other areas. In other EU countries, the report mainly focused on the rise of islamophobia.
King and King (Koning und Koning), a young children’s book by authors Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland that was first published in Dutch but has since been translated into English and several other languages, is slated to soon get a Czech edition. The children’s book tells the story of young prince Bertie who must marry in order to inherit the kingdom. The twist is that he falls not for the princess but for her brother.
In his inauguration speech, Miloš Zeman repeated a previously expressed intention to represent the “lower 10 million”, meaning all but the country’s elite. Mr. Zeman said his office would serve as a neutral space for dialogue between the parties in parliament, but also other significant organisations, adding that he wished to serve as a mediator, not a judge. He also pledged to fight the mafia, neo-Nazis and sections of the media, which he accused of brain-washing the public.
At the start of The Invisible Men, which is being shown at the One World festival of human rights documentaries in Prague, a gay Palestinian named Louie describes how his father – on discovering his sexual orientation – brutally attacked him, slashing his face open with a knife. Louie has moved to Israel where he is relatively safe (and even wears a Star of David to blend in), but he faces great uncertainty every day. Prior to a screening, the film’s Israeli director Yariv Mozer outlined the predicament of such “invisible men”.
Interior Minister Jan Kubice will try to reach an out-of-court settlement
with the relatives of a Vietnamese man who died as a result of police
brutality. The victim’s mother is suing the state for her son’s death
and has demanded 50 million crowns in compensation. On Tuesday the court
postponed further hearings until April at her request to give the two
time to reach an out-of-court settlement. Minister Kubice said he thought
the mother wanted moral satisfaction first and foremost and would be
willing to settle for a significantly lower sum if she received a proper
apology from the state.
The incident took place in Brno in 2005. A woman called the police because she thought she had found drugs in her apartment which she shared with 43-year-old Vietnamese man. The man was brutally assaulted by the police and later died of internal injuries in hospital. The officer responsible was sentenced to three and a half years in prison.
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