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Council of Europe's Commission against Racism and Intolerance holds round table in Prague on Thursday

1.11.2016 17:46
PHOTO:  Aktron, Wikimedia Commons
PHOTO: Aktron, Wikimedia Commons

On Thursday, 3 November, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), in collaboration with Czech Minister for Human Rights, Equal Opportunities and Legislation Jiří Dienstbier and Public Defender of Rights Anna Šabatová, will convene a round table to discuss the measures that have been undertaken by the Czech Government in response to the recommendations made by ECRI during its most recent monitoring report about the Czech Republic in 2015. The round table will take place in the building of the Office of the Government of the Czech Republic from 9:00 to 17:00.

The aim of the round table is to contribute to the Czech domestic discussion about combating racial discrimination and intolerance and to increase the awareness of the broader public about these questions. The event will be attended by representatives of central and local administrative bodies, academics, representatives of international and non-governmental organizations, as well as members of the vulnerable groups on which ECRI focuses.

The round table will review the report on manifestations of racism and intolerance in the Czech Republic published in 2015 and will be divided into three blocks covering first, the report's main conclusions and recommendations, second, the Czech legislative and institutional framework for combating racism and racial discrimination, and lastly, the integration of Romani people. The event will be opened by the chair of ECRI, Christian Ahlund, together with Dienstbier and Šabatová.

The report will be presented by ECRI members Eva Smith Asmussen and Thomas Büchel. Ahlund and Deputy Human Rights Minister Martina Štěpánková will then close the event together.

The first block of the program will be chaired by Dalibor Jílek, ECRI member for the Czech Republic, the second by the Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the Council of Europe, Emil Ruffer, and the final block will be chaired by David Beňák of the Human Rights Section of the Office of the Government of the Czech Republic. ECRI's report expressed unease over many questions, such as the restriction of the mandate of the Public Defender of Rights when it comes to effectively combating racial discrimination, the complex regime of the Anti-Discrimination Act and how it legislates the sharing of the burden of proof, the limited effect of the Government's Romani Integration Concept and Strategy for Combating Social Exclusion, hate speech, and discrimination against Romani people in access to education and housing.

In the report published last year, ECRI recommended amending the provisions of the Anti-Discrimination Act to include sharing the burden of proof, expanding the powers of the Public Defender of Rights, focusing the "Campaign against Racism and Violence" on the treatment of the Romani population, and introducing at least one year of cost-free, mandatory attendance at preschool for all children prior to their enrolling into mainstream primary schools. It is a human rights body of the Council of Europe that is comprised of independent experts who follow problems of racism, xenophobia, antisemitism, intolerance and discrimination on the basis of "race", national/ethnic origin, skin color, citizenship, religious faith and languages (racial discrimination), etc., producing reports and issuing recommendations to the Council of Europe member states on these questions.

jal, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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