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May 21, 2022



Civil society members of the Czech Govt Council on Roma Minority Affairs differ on whether Human Rights Commissioner should remain in office

17.1.2020 11:35
Edita Stejskalová (right) and Petr Torák (center), Romani civil society members of the Czech Government Council on Romani Minority Affairs, at the Council session on 10 September 2018. (PHOTO:  František Bikár,
Edita Stejskalová (right) and Petr Torák (center), Romani civil society members of the Czech Government Council on Romani Minority Affairs, at the Council session on 10 September 2018. (PHOTO: František Bikár,

The civil society members of the Czech Government Council on Romani Minority Affairs (Rada vlády pro záležitosti romské menšiny - RVZRM) differ on whether Helena Válková should remain in her appointment as Czech Government Human Rights Commissioner. News server contacted the civil society members and asked for their opinions on this issue.

Of the 15 civil society members, just six responded. Two expressed support for Válková and four have a problem with her remaining in the post.

The other civil society members have either refused to express their opinions publicly or did not respond to our questions at all. We are publishing the statements of those who did respond here in full.

Edita Stejskalová

My personal opinion is that Professor Helena Válková should remain in the Commissioner position. However, my opinion is not important, because it is the Government that decides this appointment.

I am convinced of this by my five-year membership in the advisory body of the Government Council for Roma Minority Affairs and my comparison of her activities and approach to managing our advisory body with those of her predecessors as Human Rights Commissioners or Human Rights Ministers. As a member of our advisory body, the climate in which I can advocate and propose my recommendations on how to design policies to achieve a positive change in the social status of the Roma is extremely important to me and to my work there. However, whether our advisory body is perceived by the Commissioner as a partner is also important. In comparison with previous periods, our perception by this Commissioner is inspiring, very good and above all, is conducted in the spirit of partnership. In dealing with her I have not noticed any arrogance or downplaying of societal problems such as discrimination or segregation of the Roma, compared to her predecessors. On the contrary, I have noticed an honest interest and intellectual curiosity about how to address including Roma to the greatest possible extent. I am very pleased about this, because in the beginning I was more dubious about her nomination for the position of Human Rights Commissioner.

For me, the defense of human rights in this regime and societal context is crucial and a priority. This is a time when we can publicly share our beliefs and views without fear of persecution. Again, I will dare to compare this Commissioner with her predecessors in relation to the Roma. I consider the way in which her predecessors either advocated, defended or responded to antigypsyism in our society to have been insufficient and to have made no significant contribution to or impact on the situation of the Roma. They lacked either courage, expertise, or personal conviction. Through their inactivity in most such cases, they were tolerating anti-Roma marches by so-called "decent citizens", fundamental violations of the civil and social rights of Romani people, and hate speech by politicians. I did not notice any public debate about the appropriateness of her predecessors holding a political function, or about the quality of their moral leadership with regard to tolerating those phenomena. Moral leadership was needed when performing in that appointment during that time with respect to the future of the Roma, for example. I personally found that sorely lacking. Válková has also contributed significantly to the possible future compensation of the women who have been illegally sterilized here during the last 50 years. Personally, I hope and wish Professor Válková will make the most of this opportunity to leave behind, as a result of her actions, a fair, fundamental mark on the promotion of human rights in our country in the future.

Alica Sigmund Heráková

The current situation with Helena Válková's nomination as Public Defender of Rights and the subsequent withdrawal of that nomination has in and of itself demonstrated what we publicly criticized as the civil society section of the RVZRM even before her appointment. It is difficult to reconcile her personal and professional agenda and focuses with the area of human rights. In the few months that she has been the Human Rights Commissioner, she cannot be said to be doing a bad job, on the contrary. What is problematic, however, is the moral aspect and the fact that the enormous subject of coming to terms with the communist past of our country is influencing her nomination. The paradox is obvious - if Helena Válková is not sufficiently acceptable for the ombudswoman position, it is difficult to justify her continuing in the position of Human Rights Commissioner.

Simon Slanina

As a member of the Government Council for Roma Minority Affairs, I can evaluate the work of the Commissioner positively so far.

František Bikár

In connection with the "forgotten" communist history of Mrs. Válková, and in the context of her statement against stripping MP Rozner of immunity for falsely calling the concentration camp for Romani people at Lety a "pseudo-concentration camp", I would rather be able to imagine as Commissioner a person without such political burdens who would not have to constantly, continually defend herself to the media from her various positions.

Lucie Fuková

I believe anybody in such a position must be aware that doubt may be cast on his holding that position if he has a bad history linked to human rights. The era of communism is just such a history, associated for all with human rights violations. In the context of Válková's cooperation on the scientific text with Josef Urválek, I believe the Commissioner should consider resigning.

Zdeněk Guži

I am following this case and the nomination of Professor Helena Válková [as a candidate for ombudswoman]. As far as I am concerned, I was not glad that she became Human Rights Commissioner - I did not trust her from the beginning and that distrust has been confirmed. Her excuse for not knowing about prosecutor J. Urválek, who agreed with her work, was a miserable one. Does she not know what the fate of Milada Horáková was? [Translator's Note: Milada Horáková was executed by the regime in 1950]. This person has no business working in human rights positions. This is a disgrace of politics as it's being conducted today. Everything is a political game. I am against her nomination for ombudswoman and I also do not agree that she should remain Human Rights Commissioner. She should tender her resignation. Similarly, I disagree with the nomination of Stanislav Křeček for the post of ombudsman because of his approach and the way he expresses himself about the Roma. Are there really no other honest, morally pure people [to appoint]? Both of them, definitely, NO.

Die, vhl, ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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