The Czech government has turned down a proposal from the lower house of
parliament aimed at boosting legal aid to the poor. The proposal from the
communist party that the state meets at least part of the costs of civil
cases for the poor was turned down.
The communist party has repeatedly backed the move in the past. The government also rejected a proposal from the STAN party aimed at boosting clients’ rights when changing foreign currency. It would have given them the right to back out of transactions within two hours.
And a proposal from the same party allowing high placed government officials to remain on regional councils was also rejected.
Jan Gebert’s powerful new documentary When the War Comes delivers sometimes shocking insights into the Slovak Recruits, a group that run paramilitary boot camps and promote an extreme nationalist ideology. One scene even shows their charismatic leader extolling the virtues of Slavic blood in a talk at a primary school, while the film ends with the fresh-faced autocrat announcing plans to enter politics. When we spoke, Gebert told me his attention was immediately caught when he first heard about the growing organisation.
Women’s only compartments in some trains operated by Czech state rail
company, Czech Railways, does not amount to discrimination according to
Czech ombudswoman Anna Šabatová.
The compartments amount to a legitimate move to try and increase the safety on women when travelling, she explained. Several complaints against the compartments, sometimes almost empty when the rest of the train is full, have been lodged with Šabatová’s office.
Czech Railways introduced the compartments in 2012 following the example of some foreign rail companies. Czech Railways said only a very few seats on trains were reserved exclusively in this way for women.
Police arrested three Turkish nationals traveling on Prague's ring
road for allegedly trying to smuggle 22 people from Iraq, Syria and Turkey
into Germany; the group was found hidden in the back of their van. The
suspects are believed to have smuggled some 100 people or so across the
border in the past.
The news was confirmed on Friday by the spokesman for the National Centre Against Organized Crime Jaroslav Ibehej. If found guilty, the trio could face up to eight years in jail.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad
al-Hussein, has criticised the Czech Republic for alleged discrimination of
the Roma minority and segregation of Roma children in schools.
In his speech at the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday, he called on the Czech government to compensate Roma women who were sterilised in the past without their full consent and to terminate the use of both surgical and chemical castration for sex offenders.
Municipal police officers have focussed on areas where homeless people
sleep, in an effort to get them to go indoors, to various shelters for the
night. The move comes at a time when the Czech Republic has been hit by
extremely cold weather.
Officers doing their rounds, whether in Prague or towns like Ústí nad Labem and Zlín, have encouraged those sleeping rough to take shelter and have been providing information. Temperatures have fallen well below zero at night, putting lives at risk.
As Arctic conditions take a grip on Central Europe night and day shelters
are filling up with homeless people and charity organizations are seeking
them out on the street to offer assistance. One person is already reported
to have died in Prague as a result of the freezing cold weather.
The situation is expected to worsen in the coming days with night temperatures dropping to – 20 and even – 30 degrees Celsius in places. Children and chronically ill people have been advised to stay indoors.
International human rights agency Amnesty International has criticized the
position taken by Czech politicians on refugees and immigrants.
In its latest report on human rights, Amnesty said politicians, including the president and minister of interior, made xenophobic remarks last year.
The report also criticised the country for the unequal access of Roma to education and the long running failure to buy out a pig farm at the site of a WWII Roma camp used by the Nazis. An agreement to buy out the farm has since been signed.
Former interior minister Milan Chovanec said the Czech position saved the country from the biggest waves of immigrants. The president’s spokesman denounced the report as insignificant nonsense.
The Czech Interior Ministry has granted asylum to eight Chinese Christians seeking protection in the country on the grounds of religious persecution. The requests of seventy other applicants were rejected. A lawyer representing the group of Chinese Christians has said she will advise them to appeal the decision.
For nearly 20 years, the Multicultural Centre Prague has been involved in promoting human rights and respect for cultural diversity. Their activities and projects focus on the social and economic advancement of migrants in the Czech Republic or inclusion of socially disadvantaged minorities. I met with the centre’s director Zuzana Schreiberová to discuss some of their activities, including a project called Prague Shared and Divided or the recently published Prague-Warsaw newspaper:
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