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Czech Human Rights Minister responds to US report by asserting Government is addressing Romani issues

7.3.2017 8:06
Czech President Miloš Zeman (left) and Czech Human Rights Minister Jan Chvojka (right), 2017. (COLLAGE:  Romea.cz)
Czech President Miloš Zeman (left) and Czech Human Rights Minister Jan Chvojka (right), 2017. (COLLAGE: Romea.cz)

Czech Human Rights Minister Jan Chvojka (Czech Social Democratic Party - ČSSD) has emphasized that the Czech Government is doing its best to improve the position of Romani people and also to eliminate corruption through specific legislative measures. In a statement sent to the Czech News Agency yesterday, Chvojka responded to the US State Department's annual report about the state of human rights in the world, which reproaches the Czech Republic for corruption, the social discrimination of Romani people, and the stigmatization of people infected with HIV.

Washington annually complains to Prague about the Czech Republic's insufficient inclusion of the Romani minority. Chvojka reminded the public yesterday that ministers adopted a Romani Integration Strategy to 2020 in 2015.

"The Government of the Czech Republic is doing its best to improve the position of Romani people in particular, as well as other national minorities, especially in the areas of education, employment, housing and the social arena. Financing is annually allocated from the state budget to support Romani integration," Chvojka wrote.

The minister also mentioned that the cabinet has approved an amendment to the Education Act to beef up inclusive education elements and that it also actively supports the inclusion of Romani children into nursery schools. As far as combating corruption, Chvojka named an amendment to the law on the conflict of interest, a law to protect whistleblowers, an amendment to the law on political parties, and a planned bill on lobbying as measures underway.

The annual report also reproaches the Czech Republic for its anti-immigrant atmosphere, which is supported by the remarks of many politicians, including Czech President Miloš Zeman. The president's spokesperson, Jiří Ovčáček, has criticized the document on Twitter, alleging that it is comprised of "the storytelling of Czech political nonprofits" which, according to him, were nurtured by the administration of former US President Barack Obama.

Former US Ambassador to Prague Andrew Schapiro, who did not enjoy good relations with Zeman during his tenure, tweeted back to Ovčáček that he should calm down.

 

 

The report on human rights protections also noticed, for example, the protracted dispute between Jewish organizations and the Prostějov town hall about the commemoration of the site of a former Jewish cemetery, which is currently a park and parking lot, and also mentions that the Czech Republic should address the question of lengthy detentions for asylum-seekers and immigrants in detention centers, as well as overcrowding in the prisons. The Americans consider the abuse and maltreatment of children and domestic violence against women to be hidden problems in the country.

ČTK, ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Jan Chvojka, Jiří Ovčáček, human rights, USA



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