Czech court awards compensation to Moroccan assaulted by DSSS candidate
The first criminal court decision awarding compensation to a hate crime victim for non-material damages has now taken effect in the Czech Republic. Even though racial motivation was not found, the victim will be compensated by the perpetrator for the assault on his personal rights and dignity. July marks the first month in which it has been possible to seek compensation during criminal proceedings for non-material damages in the Czech Republic.
The assault occurred in March. A man from Morocco was assaulted for no reason and without being involved in any previous conflicts after he bought a package of cigarettes in a restaurant and started walking home. The assailant attacked him from behind, striking his head and then his face, fracturing his nose. It was later discovered that the perpetrator had run as a independent candidate for parliament on the list of the ultra-right Workers' Social Justice Party (Dělnická strana sociální spravedlnosti - DSSS) in 2010. He has been sentenced to 12 months in prison, to be preceded by a probationary period of three years. The victim was awarded compensation for the cost of his medical treatment, his destroyed property, and the non-material harm suffered.
"For the Czech context, the court made a rapid decision. That will make it possible for the victim to quickly recover from the aftermath of this crime," says David Oplatek of the civic association In IUSTITIA, which provided legal aid to the victim. "We requested CZK 50 000 compensation for non-material damages, which is on the lower end of the scale, and the court awarded it," he said.
Hate attacks primarily affect a victim's dignity. During such crimes, victims are typically assaulted for no apparent reason, solely on the basis of their ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexual orientation or skin color. Before now, crime victims had to undergo an additional civil proceeding to seek compensation for non-material harms, which sometimes took several years to resolve. "That procedure disproportionately burdened the victims. Most of them did not continue with a civil proceeding," says Oplatek's colleague Klára Kalibová.
In IUSTITIA has been providing legal services to the victims of violent hate crime in the Czech Republic for four years. Consultation and legal representation are provided to violent hate crime victims irrespective of their religion, sexual orientation, skin color, or social status. This year the group's services have been financially supported by the Open Society Fund, the Erinnerung, Verantwortung und Zukunft Foundation, the US Embassy, and the Prague City Hall.
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