Candidate for Czech ombud moderates his anti-Romani stance
Social Democrat Stanislav Křeček, who has been proposed by Czech President Miloš Zeman as a candidate for the post of Public Defender of Rights (ombud), is now attempting to moderate anti-Romani statements he published last August on his Facebook profile. "I could have held back," he has told news server Lidovky.cz.
The ROMEA organization has drawn attention to Křeček's remarks once again on its own Facebook profile. "What does Stanislav Křeček, the president's candidate for ombud, believe about Romani people? Read here!" the organization posted next to a screen shot of Křeček's Facebook profile from August.
Křeček, who has been Deputy Ombud until recently, shared an article in August about Romani people who had allegedly committed violence on his Facebook profile with the following commentary: "Now we'll have shouting about discrimination, racism and Fascism again..." According to Zdeněk Ryšavý, the director of ROMEA, the status update was all the more serious because it was written at a time when anti-Romani demonstrations were escalating countrywide.
"I am amazed that at such a time the Deputy Ombud was engaged in spreading the prejudice that Romani people do nothing but complain. Romani people and Romani organizations do not stand up for crooks who commit assault," Ryšavý told news server Lidovky.cz.
Křeček is now moderating his words. "I could have held back, Mr Ryšavý is probably right," he said.
At the same time, however, the candidate is defending his opinion, saying that he did not write the remarks with any ill intent. "My response was to the problem of an unequal approach. If the police are going to intervene, then it should be against anyone and everyone who causes disorder. The problem is that sometimes when they intervene against Romani people, a certain segment of activists always has the feeling that it's a racist process," he told Lidovky.cz.
Křeček believes it is precisely such behavior on the part of activists that incites extremist groups to their increasing hatred. "It doesn't bother me if a couple of Nazis demonstrate somewhere, they'll always do that. Of course, it's dangerous when a mother out with her infant and a pensioner then say the Nazis are right," he said.
"The president can propose whomever he wants, but I am amazed. If you look at that status update and read the discussion that took place beneath it, you'll see what one such sentence can lead to. It's just more division in society, more fomentation. This is very curious behavior for a potential ombud," Ryšavý said.
Křeček, however, says that he too wants to unite society instead of dividing it. "We must unite society. That's exactly why I would like an equal approach to these matters," he told Lidovky.cz, acknowledging that if he were to be chosen for the post of ombud he would have to make sure not to make similar statements.
Czech Senate to propose Křeček and Šabatová for ombud
The Czech Senate is evidently going to nominate both Křeček and former Deputy Ombud Anna Šabatová for the ombud post. The Czech News Agency reports that the Senate's commission has not received any other relevant proposals and does not expect to; the deadline for nominations to the commission ends at midnight tonight.
The Senate has the right to propose two candidates for the post to the lower house and will decide at the start of February. The lower house must then select a new ombud from the candidates proposed by the president and the upper chamber by 20 February (which marks 60 days from the December resignation of former Public Defender of Rights Pavel Varvařovský).
Křeček was proposed to the Senate commission by Senate vice-chair Zdeněk Škromach (ČSSD), while Šabatová was propose by the vice-chair of the ČSSD club in the upper house, Miroslav Nenutil. This is Šabatová's third attempt at the post.
Four years ago, Šabatová tried twice to replace deceased ombud Otakar Motejl, whose deputy she had been. In June 2010 the Senate proposed her along with Supreme Court presiding justice Iva Brožová, but the lower house did not choose any candidates at that time; in August 2010 she then lost the competition for becoming a Senate nominee to the chair of Prague's Jewish Community, František Bányai, and to Varvařovský, the former Constitutional Court judge who was eventually appointed.
Křeček, who was once a ČSSD MP, won the support of the upper chamber last year when he sought the Deputy Public Defender of Rights post. Then as today, he was proposed by the Czech President, who last year was still Václav Klaus.
Křeček may also eventually win support from many Civic Democratic Party (ODS) senators. Their chair, Jaroslav Kubera, told the Czech News Agency on Tuesday that President Zeman's candidates for ombud were "unacceptable" to the Civic Democrats.
Zeman had previously suggested former Legislation Minister Pavel Zářecký, and the Christian Democrats were also originally considering putting him forward as well. Jan Horník, chair of the Senate's "Mayors and Ostravak" club, told the Czech News Agency his group will not be proposing anyone for the ombud post.
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