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Czech Gov't plans social housing law, redress for victims of illegal sterilizations

Prague, 3.3.2014 21:06, (ROMEA)
Czech Minister for Human Rights, Equal Opportuntities and Legislation Jiří Dienstbier (PHOTO: Petr Vilgus, Wikimedia)
Czech Minister for Human Rights, Equal Opportuntities and Legislation Jiří Dienstbier (PHOTO: Petr Vilgus, Wikimedia)

Social housing should begin to function in the Czech Republic as of 2017. The law regulating it should take effect by the end of 2016, according to the Government's preliminary plans.

New measures to support families should be introduced in mid-2016. Pensions should also start rising more rapidly once again. 

The minimum wage is also slated to rise annually. Finally, women who have been illegally sterilized should also receive compensation starting in mid-2016.

These are the results of the Government's proposed legislative plan, which has been made available to the Czech News Agency. The Labor Ministry should submit an amendment by the end of March to return to the original, higher pension adjustments starting next January instead of in 2016 as previously planned.  

The law should take effect this fall so that pensioners will receive the bonus in January. The minimum subsistence level should also be adjusted, as will the salaries of state employees. 

The Government is counting on annually increasing the minimum wage. A draft amendment to the law on aid to those in material distress should also be ready by mid-year.

That amendment would affect the housing supplement. Changes to that law were already being drafted by the previous cabinet of former Czech PM Rusnok.

His administration wanted to restrict the time during which housing supplements could be disbursed to tenants of residential hotels and to cap the supplements. Experts have criticized the Rusnok proposal.  

It was believed that many people in need would have been at risk of ending up on the street within just a few months should the measure have been adopted. Current Czech Labor Minister Michaela Marksová Tominová (Czech Social Democratic Party - ČSSD) also believed the proposed legislation would have done more harm than good.  

Her ministry is therefore drafting its own version, thanks to which she intends to deter "trafficking in poverty" at the residential hotels. The outlines of a new law on social housing should be submitted to the Government by mid-2015 as well.  

The wording of that legislation should be completed by the Regional Development Ministry together with the Labor Ministry and the Human Rights Minister by mid-2016. The law should take effect in December 2016.

By the end of this year, the draft outlines of a brand-new law on support for families should also be ready. Marksová has already previously promoted introducing paternity leave into the Czech social system.   

The ministry will have one year to draft the legislation, which would take effect in mid-2016, according to the plan. By the end of next year the Labor Ministry should also propose the form of a law addressing unpaid alimony. 

That law would arrange for the state to provide alimony to families on behalf of defaulters and subject those who owe to collections proceedings to recover the funds. The legislative plan, however, only mentions drafting the preamble; the enactment clauses and the date of the law's ultimate effect are not mentioned. 

Czech Human Rights Minister Jiří Dienstbier (ČSSD) will begin work on a social inclusion law which should take effect in 2017. Its preamble should be ready one year from now. 

By the end of June, Dienstbier also plans to submit an amendment to enhance the powers of the Public Defender of Rights (the ombud) so that office can turn to the Constitutional Court with proposals to abolish contentious laws. According to the Government plan, that change should apply as of January 2016. 

By the end of this year, the minister is also counting on proposing a model for compensating the women who have been illegally sterilized by doctors in the past. The law would be written during the course of next year and could take effect in June 2016.

Even though Dienstbier previously spoke of amending the country's law on registered partnership so such partners would be able to adopt each other's offspring, that legislation is not on the list. The Government, which includes Christian Democrats, evidently is not planning to submit it, so any change to the existing law in that regard will most probably be proposed by MPs. 

The Labor Ministry is also planning a law on social workers, which should take effect in 2017. The social services field awaits rather large-scale changes, also starting in 2017.

Dienstbier, who is also the chair of the Legislative Council of the Government, told the Czech News Agency that the coalition cabinet will discuss the legislative plan next week. According to the preliminary proposal, this year ministers would submit a bill to expand the powers of the ombud, a bill on line constructions to accelerate the design and construction of transportation infrastructure, and a bill on the office of the state prosecutor. 

The legislative plan will be discussed by the cabinet on 12 March, but Dienstbier says they may not finish debate during that session. "At this moment we are in the phase of the inter-ministerial commentary proceedings. The first draft was compiled on the basis of what each ministry submitted. Now we all have the opportunity to comment," he said. 

The minister believes the commentaries should be ready by the end of this week. He told the Czech News Agency that he plans to submit the amendment on expanding the powers of the Public Defender of Rights (the ombud) to include the option to file proposals for the abolition of laws that are unconstitutional, and that he is also preparing a draft constitutional law on a general referendum.

Last week Dienstbier rejected a bill drafted by MPs from Tomio Okamura's "Dawn of Direct Democracy" party, explaining his rejection in part by saying the bill would have made it possible to change the Constitution by referendum. He has not commented on the proposals made by his other colleagues. 

ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Jiří Dienstbier, Michaela Marksová-Tominová, sociální bydlení, Sociální, sterilizace, Vláda



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