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Czech Gov't Agency for Social Inclusion staff protest removal of director

17.4.2015 21:35
The logo of the Czech Government Agency for Social Inclusion.
The logo of the Czech Government Agency for Social Inclusion.

Staff members of the Czech Government Agency for Social Inclusion have sent an open letter to Czech Human Rights Minister Dienstbier protesting his removal of the Agency's director. News server Romea.cz brings you their letter in full translation below:

Dear Minister Dienstbier,

We are writing to express our extreme unease over your recent steps concerning the Agency for Social Inclusion, steps we are convinced might mean a significant attenuation of or even the complete collapse of the existing Department for Social Inclusion (the Agency) where we work. As a consequence, one of the most effective tools the Government of the Czech Republic has for combating social exclusion would be damaged.  

First and foremost, this concerns the sudden removal of Martin Šimáček, director of the Agency for Social Inclusion, which occurred yesterday. Naturally you have the full right to take such a decision, but we must say that we consider it completely unfair, based on pretexts, and based on incorrect information about the activity of the Agency. Martin Šimáček, thanks to his personal and professional competence, as well as the absolutely enormous amount of work he has done, is one of the most outstanding figures in social inclusion policy in the Czech Republic and will be difficult to replace.

We must point out to you that the entire team of the Agency stands behind Martin Šimáček. By removing him, the Agency will lose its leader at a critical time when the relevant operational programs of the European Structural and Investment Funds are being finalized. Currently we are designing ways for municipalities to draw on this financing in order to aid socially excluded people. Your decision will disrupt the continuity of negotiations, not just with the relevant ministries, but mainly with many cities, communities, Regional Authorities and our other partners.  

We are also seriously concerned about the planned reorganization of the Human Rights Section. This reorganization will mean the division of the Agency and the separation of its local activities from its expert section which is developing essential know-how in all areas of social inclusion. At a practical level, this will mean a significant restriction in the operations of the Agency as an effective tool for inclusion at local level. The notion that effective collaboration with cities and communities can occur without the work of analysts is completely erroneous, according to our experience in the field so far.    

This devastating organizational change has been proposed without the work of the Agency for Social Inclusion having been evaluated, without changing its aims or instruments, without any expert discussion, and without being discussed at the Czech Government Inter-ministerial Commission for Romani Community Affairs. For all of these reasons, we unequivocally disagree with your decisions. Such a step, in our view, will precipitate a significant uncertainty among the cities and communities collaborating with the Agency and will destabilize social inclusion policy in the Czech Republic.  

We ask that you reconsider this entire situation, cancel your decision to remove the director, and cancel the planned reorganization of the Agency as a whole. We are not happy that we have had to choose the non-standard solution of this open letter, but we have decided to proceed this way because the situation is serious.  

Thank you in advance for considering our arguments. We believe that together we can succeed in preventing the destruction of the six years of work we have performed under the direction of Martin Šimáček. Social inclusion must be addressed both conceptually and systematically, otherwise there is no point. That is the only way all of the opportunities opening up for the Czech Republic will be taken advantage of.   

Alena Zieglerová, Head of Management and Coordination

Jakub Švec, Head of the Department of Local Concepts

Vít Lesák, Methodologist, Department of Local Concepts

Alexandr Olah, Methodologist, Department of Local Concepts

Zuzana Drhová, Manager, Individual Project

Bronislav Podlaha, Methodologist, Department of Local Concepts

Jaroslav Valůch, Campaign Manager

Karel A. Novák, Methodologist, Department of Local Concepts

Martin Navrátil, Team Leader, Ostrava

Barbora Bočková, Local Consultant for Chodov

Štěpán Bolf, Local Consultant for Frýdlantsko and Velké Hamry

Karel Straka, Local Consultant for Štětí 

Kateřina Koberová, Lawyer

Jan Hrubeš, Family Policy Expert 

Tereza Svačinová, Secretariat

Veronika Jírů, Secretariat, Department of Local Concepts

Kateřina Čopjaková, Campaign Analyst

Petr Čáp, Regional Collaboration Coordinator

Pavel Pech, Local Consultant for Frýdlantsko and Ralsko

Jana Němcová,  Local Consultant for Roudnici nad Labem

Lucie Macků, Education Expert

Marcela Bužgová, Local Consultant for Frýdek Místek

Zuzana Kollárovitsová, Local Consultant for Krnov

Jan Mochťák, Local Consultant for Moravský Beroun, Šternberk and Brno

Vladimír Kružík, Local Consultant for Odry

Michal Kratochvil, Local Consultant for Dubí and Slaný

Martina Heryšerová, Local Consultant for Litvínov and Obrnice

Kristýna Jůzová Kotalová, Local Consultant for České Velenice

Michal Krebs, Public Safety Expert

Markéta Skočovská, Local Consultant for Jaroměř and Rumburk

Alena Bernau, Chief Economist

Milan Greineder, Local Consultant for Příbram and Kralupy nad Vltavou

Michal Kandler, Local Consultant for Poběžovice and Žlutice

Františka Dvorská, Secretariat,  Department of Management and Coordination

Ludmila Morozová, Economist

Petra Vaňková, Community Work Expert

Tereza Bernátková, Campaign Secretariat

Dana Nedělníková, Social Services Expert

Zuzana Baturná, Local Consultant for Ostrava

Lukáš Houdek, Media Campaign Coordinator

Markéta Černá, Local Consultant for Kraslice

Dita Tenglerová, Local Consultant for Ostrava

Marek Mikulec, Housing and Regional Development Expert, Ostrava

Václav Zeman, PR

Barbora Umancová, PR

Hana Štěpánková, Head of Research

Magda Besedová, Debt Issue Expert

Ferdinand Hrdlička, Structural Funds Expert

Petr Huptych, Project Advisor

Roman Matoušek, Housing Expert

Lucie Bittalová, Media Campaign Assistant

Adam Čajka, Local Consultant for Veselí nad Moravou

Adam Podhola, Assistant for HateFree Zones

Daniela Büchlerová, Coordinator of Professional Platforms

Markéta Chkheidze, Local Consultant for Ostrava

staff of the Czech Government Agency for Social Inclusion, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Agentura pro sociální začleňování, Jiří Dienstbier, Martin Šimáček, Strategie romské integrace do roku 2020



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