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Czech Govt Inter-ministerial Commission has new vice-chair, David Beňák

Prague, 31.5.2014 8:40, (ROMEA)
David Beňák
David Beňák

On 27 May 2014, the first session of the newly-appointed Czech Government Inter-ministerial Commission for Roma Community Affairs was convened. Its members were appointed by a government resolution on 12 May 2014 that also changed the advisory body's statutes. 

The commission is comprised of representatives of the state administration and a so-called civil society section of Romani people who have the potential, because of their erudition, profession and work, to contribute toward addressing burning topics of concern to the Romani minority and improving ethnic coexistence in addition to improving the position of this minority in Czech society. "I am glad we have succeeded in finding so many Romani figures respected both by society and in the community, we were very concerned about their selection, as the composition of the commission influences how it works and how effective its solutions will be in any given area, which is why one of the selection criteria was the professional focus of those involved. We would like to connect these civil society members with the other ministries and follow up with more intensive collaboration. I also appreciate the participation of the non-Roma members who have been newly appointed to the commission whose experience to date might be of assistance," said Czech Minister for Human Rights, Equal Opportunities and Legislation Jiří Dienstbier, who chairs the commission.   

At the start of the session the commission members approved an adjustment to its Rules of Procedure and elected David Beňák vice-chair of the civil society members on the commission. The election of the vice-chair to represent the members of the state administration was postponed to the next session.

The commission further agreed to the release of the non-investment subsidies for this year that are provided as part of the Office of the Government's subsidy programs for Field Work Support, Prevention of Social Exclusion and Community Work, and Support for Romani Affairs Coordinators. The commission's resolution is a recommendation to the Office of the Government to provide the funds. 

The establishment of the various committees on the commission was the subject of lively debate. The commission also focused on the effective establishment of its current committees and resolved that the debate on the creation of other committees and working groups will be addressed in the next session.

The commission now has a media committee, whose purpose, according to Jarmila Balážová, press spokesperson for the Human Rights Minister, is to monitor how the media reports on the subject of human rights in its entirety. The ambition of its members will be to establish collaboration with the Council for Radio and Television Broadcasting, the Journalists Syndicate, the management of media outlets and journalism faculties.

The commission also sees the need to establish working groups on security and education, and is considering others. The commission also reviewed its own annual report and that of the Czech Government Agency for Social Inclusion. 

The materials will be submitted to the cabinet after undergoing a commenting procedure. Finally, the commission discussed the current form and options for further comment of the Strategy for Romani Integration until 2020, the aim of which is to create a framework for measures that would manage to overturn negative trends in the development of the situation of a significant number of Romani people in the Czech Republic in the fields of education, employment, health, housing and social work by 2020.

The Strategy's policy proposals are intended to start and accelerate positive changes that will lead to the gradual elimination of the unjustified and unacceptable differences between the situation of a large part of the Roma and the majority population, to ensure effective protection against discrimination, their safe coexistence with the majority population, and to encourage the development of Roma culture, the Romanes language and Romani participation. The Strategy is available for public comment here.

Members of the commission:

Civil society section

Jan Balog
Bc. Lenka Balogová
Mgr. David Beňák
František Bikár
Ing. Karel Holomek
Emil Horváth
Martina Horváthová
Mgr. Lucie Horváthová
PhDr. et PhDr. Martin Kaleja, Ph.D.
Michael Kocáb
Mgr. Cyril Koky
PhDr. Renata Köttnerová
Mgr. Jan Kudry
Bc. Lýdia Poláčková
Čeněk Růžička
Bc. Edita Stejskalová
Miroslav Zima
Oto Váradi, DiS

State administrative section

Deputy Foreign Minister Prof. Ing. Petr Drulák, Ph.D.
Deputy Finance Minister Ing. Jan Gregor
Culture Minister Mgr. Daniel Herman
PhDr. Jana Horváthová, director of the Museum of Romani Culture in Brno
Regional Development Minister Mgr. et Mgr. Věra Jourová
Minister of Education, Youth and Sport PhDr. Marcel Chládek, MBA
Interior Minister Milan Chovanec
Labor and Social Affairs Minister Mgr. Michaela Marksová-Tominová
Deputy Health Minister Prof. MUDr. Josef Vymazal, DrSc.
Union of Towns and Municipalities of the Czech Republic
Association of Regions of the Czech Republic

Zdeněk Ryšavý, press release of the Government of the Czech Republic, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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