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Council of Europe monitors visit Czech Republic to review its upholding of minority rights

Prague, 14.4.2011 14:16, (ROMEA)

A team of Council of Europe monitors is visiting the Czech Republic this week. In March of this year, the Council in Strasbourg published a report on how the rights of national minorities are being upheld in the Czech Republic. The monitors will be in the country until Friday and are meeting with representatives of various minority communities, government institutions, and municipalities. They are also interested in the activity of the government's agency for the social inclusion of Roma people. The monitors are following whether the Czech Republic is upholding and fulfilling a convention on the protection of national minorities and if so, how.

Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Thomas Hammarberg, who wrote the report for the Council of Europe that was released at the start of March, criticized the Czech Republic for its approach toward the Roma minority and called in particular on the Czech authorities to make greater efforts to implement integration policy. Hammarberg said the main obstacles to the inclusion of Roma people into Czech society are anti-Roma approaches and the ongoing segregation of Roma people in education and housing. He recommended the creation of social housing and ending the practice of pushing Roma people into ghettos on the outskirts of towns. He also drew attention to the high numbers of children living in children's homes and to the large proportion of Roma children among them. The Commissioner was also disturbed by the anti-Roma, racist statements made by some politicians and recommended creating a mechanism of active self-regulation so such statements disappear from the public sphere.

Czech Government Human Rights Commissioner Monika Šimůnková told the Czech Press Agency that she met with members of the Council of Europe Advisory Committee earlier this week. She has not yet released a statement on their visit, but said she hopes to issue one on Friday once the monitoring visit has ended.

Today the Council of Europe representatives are meeting with representatives of public radio and television. They should be determining how broadcasts for minorities work in the Czech Republic.

This is the third such visit by Council of Europe monitors to the Czech Republic. They will issue a report on their visit and possibly recommend measures to be taken. The secretariat of the Czech Government Human Rights Council says the monitoring is held every five years.

ČTK, Gwendolyn Albert, Czech Press Agency, zk, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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