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September 23, 2018
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Civil society members of Czech Govt Roma Council leave meeting in protest against housing benefit-free zones

19.6.2018 15:03

Romani civil society members of the Czech Govt Council for Romani Minority affairs have left the Council meeting today to protest the current Government's social policy. They are demanding the abolition of housing benefit-free zones and the withdrawal of a bill to amend the Act on Aid to Those in Material Distress even further in a restrictive direction.


We, the civil society members of the Czech Government Council for Romani Minority Affairs have left today’s meeting of the Council together as a form of civic protest. We refuse to continue to just be puppets and to provide an alibi for the current Government, which ignores the resolutions of the Council and adopts measures that are endangering the very existence of tens of thousands of low-income households.

We object to the introduction of the legal provision by which municipalities can designate areas as being localities with an increased incidence of socially undesirable phenomena, the so-called housing benefit-free zones. The Council called that provision of the law on aid to those in material distress discriminatory already during its session on 8 November 2017.

“It is no longer possible to support a policy that is destabilizing and polarizing society,” said the vice-chair of the Council, Martina Horváthová.

“The civil society members of the Council feel a responsibility, both as experts and in a moral sense, to object to these proposals from the Labor and Social Affairs Ministry in the Act on Aid to Those in Material Distress. The Government, in its Strategy for Social Inclusion to 2020, pledged to reduce the number of persons in danger of social exclusion by 30 000,” the civil society members of the Council recalled.

“Instead, the Government is promoting a repressive policy of ‘zero tolerance’ that is intensifying segregation and forcing citizens of the Czech Republic into situations from which there is no escape,” the civil society members of the Council said.

We are proposing the Labor and Social Affairs Ministry file a motion to abolish paragraph 33 d) of the Act on Aid to Those in Material Distress and that it also remove from parliamentary discussion its other planned amendment to that law.

At the same time we are calling on the Czech Justice Ministry to issue a public declaration answering the question of whether the current Act on Aid to Those in Material Distress complies with the Antidiscrimination Act and the Constitution of the Czech Republic.


The Council has:  

  I.  expressed its essential disagreement with limiting the rights of citizens to aid in material distress, which will happen by introducing the provision of “areas with an increased incidence of socially undesirable phenomena” to the Act on Aid to Those in Material Distress. The Council is convinced that this provision will not contribute to addressing negative social phenomena and poverty, but that on the contrary, it will increase the gravity of these phenomena even more;
 II.   called on the Labor and Social A3ffairs Ministry to initiate the abolition of Section 33 d) of the Act on Aid to Those in Material Distress and to arrange for the rights of citizens and other principles of the rule of law to be upheld.

brf, vhl, ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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