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Czech Gov't Human Rights Commissioner removed as director of human rights section

Prague, 16.10.2013 0:51, (ROMEA)
Monika Šimůnková (PHOTO: www.vlada.cz)
Monika Šimůnková (PHOTO: www.vlada.cz)

News server Romea.cz has been informed that as of today, Monika Šimůnková has been removed from her position as director of the Human Rights Section at the Office of the Government of the Czech Republic. She is still retaining her role as the Czech Government Human Rights Commissioner.

"Monika Šimůnková has been dismissed from her position as director of the Human Rights Section but remains the Government Human Rights Commissioner - I don't yet know why," a source at the Office of the Government told news server Romea.cz on the afternoon of 15 October. According to our source, the section is now being led by Martin Šimáček, director of the Czech Government Agency for Social Inclusion. 

News server Aktuálně.cz reports that it is not likely a new person will be appointed to head the section before early elections take place on 25-26 October. "I do not know the reason for it and I consider this dismissal unjustified," Šimůnková told news server Aktuálně.cz, adding that she would have more information after she meets with Czech Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok.

Šimůnková heard of her dismissal as section director from the administrative head of the Office of the Government but reports directly to the PM in her role as Czech Government Human Rights Commissioner. The outgoing PM told journalists today that administrative decisions regarding hiring and firing at the Office of the Government lie solely within the competence of the administrative head, Radek Augustin.   

"Given certain problems with the behavior in the team between her and her subordinates and with her work ethic in general the director has decided to dismiss her from her post as director of the section," Rusnok said. The PM said Šimůnková would remain the Czech Government Human Rights Commissioner and that he would let the next government decide her future. 

Jana Jabůrková, spokesperson for the Government, told the Czech News Agency only that Šimůnková had been dismissed for not following the rules of the Office of the Government. "This is an internal organizational measure of the Office, she remains Czech Government Human Rights Commissioner and the human rights agenda remains open," Jabůrková said. 

Radek Augustin, administrative head of the Office of the Government, issued a press release on the issue just before 17:00 (the full translation of which is below). "I have dismissed Ms Šimůnková in accordance with my powers as head of the Office of the Government from the post of director of the Human Rights Section. I will repeat what I stated previously:  I see my role as head of the Office of the Government as one in which I must insist the rules be upheld as configured," Augustin explained. "I immediately made it very clear, not just in words, but through my deeds since joining the Office of the Government that the same rules apply to all employees and must be upheld by them. I am a proponent of holding everyone to the same standard. Naturally, not everyone will like that."    

Šimůnková (born 1972) was appointed the Czech Government Human Rights Commissioner in February 2011. Prior to taking up that post she worked as a lawyer in the field of child protection.

PRESS RELEASE:  Monika Šimůnková remains Czech Government Human Rights Commissioner

Radek Augustin, the administrative head of the Office of the Government of the Czech Republic, dismissed Monika Šimůnková today from her post as director of the Human Rights Section. Šimůnková will remain the Czech Government Human Rights Commissioner.

"I immediately made it very clear, not just in words, but through my deeds since joining the Office of the Government, that the same rules apply to all employees and must be upheld by them. I am a proponent of holding everyone to the same standard. Naturally, not everyone will like that," the head of the administration said.

"I have dismissed Ms Šimůnková in accordance with my powers as head of the Office of the Government from the post of director of the Human Rights Section. I will repeat what I stated previously:  I see my role as head of the Office of the Government as one in which I must insist the rules be upheld as configured," Augustin explained.    

Monika Šimůnková will remain the Czech Government Human Rights Commissioner. "This is just an internal, organizational matter of the Office of the Government, nothing will change with respect to external functions. There is no need to fear that Ms Šimůnková's agenda will be left without guidance," the administrative head has confirmed. 

Before a new director is appointed to the Human Rights Section, the head of the Office of the Government has entrusted management of that section to the director of the Department for Social Inclusion, Martin Šimáček, who has been involved with human rights issues at the Office of the Government for many years and who came to his job with years of experience from working for various private foundations.

Mr Šimáček knows the communities these issues concern very well and is accepted positively by them. "I consider Mr Šimáček an essential guarantee of the fact that the Office of the Government will continue to dedicate itself to human rights issues with the highest possible level of care," Augustin said, adding that the new leadership of the Human Rights Section will be addressed by the incoming government once one is formed after the early parliamentary elections. 

bau, ČTK, ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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