Czech Govt adopts seven measures to curtail social unrest
On 11 December the Czech Government approved seven measures intended to help address the reasons behind a series of anti-Romani incidents that led to unrest this year in the towns of České Budějovice, Duchcov and Ostrava. The resolution adopted tasks the ministries with undertaking specific legislative tasks.
The proposed measures are the result of meetings of the Government's working group to address social unrest, which met with the participation of the Czech Prime Minister and Interior Minister Pecina this summer. Expert background materials for the proposals were prepared by the Czech Government Agency for Social Inclusion.
Eight proposals were originally submitted, including a task for the Regional Development Ministry to submit its draft legislation on social housing by mid-2014. "The material including that task was prepared by the Government even though the ministry disagreed with it. That task was ultimately removed from the draft resolution," explained Czech Government Agency for Social Inclusion director Martin Šimáček, who has also been entrusted with managing the Human Rights Section at the Office of the Government.
"It is necessary to systematically intervene against the owners of residential hotels who are abusing state support. The state must also help ensure that people who can work get the opportunity to do so, in particular through motivational community service, but also through well-designed active employment policies that will particularly target those regions with the highest unemployment," Šimáček said regarding the main points of the resolution.
The General Directorate of the Czech Labor Office issued a binding order for its offices everywhere in the country in August on the process for establishing housing benefits. "The process for disbursing housing benefits must be unified everywhere in the country and must be based on the amount of payments for housing that are customary in a given location. Any sanctions resulting from abuse should affect those providing the accommodation rather than those accommodated," Šimáček said of one of the tasks for the Czech Labor and Social Affairs Ministry.
That ministry also has until the end of March 2014 to submit to the Government a bill on renewing compensation for people performing community service work, as well as a bill on how to finance social work in excluded localities in the long term and how to guarantee a minimum of capacity for the social services networks in such places. "The state and its representatives must also actively fight against myths about the alleged privileging of one group in the population over others that are now spreading like wildfire, especially through social networking sites as well as other media, by providing convincing arguments to the contrary, as well as taking a clear personal stance on such rumors," Šimáček said.
The Education Ministry is tasked with designing an amendment to the School Act by the end of June 2014 dedicated to financing support measures for children with specific needs. The Agency and the Justice Ministry have until the end of March to work on a joint evaluation of the institution of discharging debts described in Law No. 182/2006, Coll., "on bankruptcy and methods for addressing it", and to propose other tools to support the discharging of the financial obligations of citizens who are indebted and insolvent.
All ministries have until the end of May 2014 to submit comprehensive information to the Government on the fulfillment of these measures. The working group to address social unrest which proposed the measures to the Government was established at the beginning of 2013 to evaluate how public administration bodies were proceeding with addressing social unrest in the Šluknov foothills.
The group is comprised of representatives of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport; Industry and Trade; Interior; Labor and Social Affairs; Regional Development; and the Agency for Social Inclusion and is to ensure that the state administration proceeds in a coordinated fashion when addressing such situations. The following is the list of tasks the Government resolution has assigned to the ministries:
Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs:
· Submit to the Government by 31 March 2014 a proposal for mechanisms of long-term financial support for social work and the guarantee of a minimum capacity if the preventive social services network in socially excluded localities;
· ensure by 28 February 2014 a unified procedure for establishing the amount of housing subsidies and, in cases worth of special consideration, for using the payment amount that is customary in that particular location for a similar facility (residential hotel) or apartment and conditioning disbursal on the fulfillment of at least the minimum parameters necessary for quality housing;
· ensure by 31 March 2014 that the Government receives a proposal for renewing the financial remuneration of the performance of community service work;
· ensure by 31 March 2014 that the Labor Office of the Czech Republic takes into account the need to support the employment of socially excluded persons when targeting its financial support for active employment policies, specifically, by increasing employment in socially excluded localities, ensuring support for the creation of subsidized jobs that are linked to jobs on the free labor market, and using the mapping of local labor markets and close cooperation with employers to intensify monitoring of illegal labor; submit a report to the Government about the results of these endeavors.
Czech Government Agency for Social Inclusion:
· In collaboration with the Regional Development Ministry, educate those issuing publicly funded tenders how to issue them in a socially responsible way, familiarize them with legislative options and proven procedures, and bring them into dialogue with potential applicants and interested parties with the aim of achieving added social value for public tenders.
· In collaboration with the Agency for Social Inclusion, evaluate as of 31 March 2014 the institution of discharging debts described in Law No. 182/2006, Coll., "on bankruptcy and methods for addressing it", and to propose other tools to support the discharging of the financial obligations of citizens who are indebted and insolvent.
Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport:
· Finish, as of 30 June 2014, drafting an amendment to the School Act, including regulations for financing support measures for pupils, and submit it to the Government.
Ministers of Education, Youth and Sport; of the Interior; of Labor and Social Affairs; of Regional Development; and the Office of the Government of the Czech Republic:
· Respond in a coordinated, effective manner through the media to untrue information about Romani people and to the activities and measures undertaken to fight the escalation of social tensions.
All of the above:
· Submit to the Government by 31 May 2014 comprehensive information about the fulfillment of the measures to address social unrest.
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