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Czech HateFree campaign will continue in a different form, Govt issues statement fully backing its manager

13.3.2017 6:55
A visual image from the HateFree Zone campaign. (Photo:  HateFree Culture)
A visual image from the HateFree Zone campaign. (Photo: HateFree Culture)

The Czech Government's HateFree Culture campaign will continue next year in a different form. Deputy Human Rights Minister Martina Štěpánková informed members of the lower house of the decision on 7 March.

The new campaign will again be targeted against displays of hatred and racism, news server iDNES.cz reported. An official statement clearing the name of the manager of the campaign, Nikola Křístek, who had been accused by the Mf DNES newspaper of unethical behavior, was also issued by the Office of the Government.

Pavel Dvořák, head of the Office of the Government, said in the statement that he stands fully behind Křístek "in the sense that no misconduct has been proven and everything is in order." After attending a session of the Subcommittee on Human Rights in the lower house, Štěpánková told iDNES.cz that "The offer exists from the side of Norway Grants for the Czech Republic to implement a similar campaign, and we said yes, we would like to do that. We will discuss the form of the campaign during the course of this year."

Křístek proceeded in accordance with ethics guidelines and internal regulations

"Several weeks ago the Office of the Government became a subject of media attention due to a possible conflict of interest specifically to do with the rather frequent mentioning of the name of our colleague Nikola Křístek from the Department for Social Inclusion. I would like to express full support for him in the sense that no misconduct has been proven and everything is in order. On the contrary, Mr Křístek proceeded as he should have, both from the standpoint of ethics and in accordance with our internal regulations. The Ethics Commission, which is an advisory body to my position, reviewed the matter in great detail, carefully and responsibly. The outcome of that review was the formulation of a standpoint, justified in detail, that convincingly arrives at the conclusion I have just outlined," Dvořák writes in a section of the Czech Government's website called "Correcting the Record".

Radek Jiránek, director of the Czech Government Agency for Social Inclusion, under which the HateFree Culture campaign falls, told the MPs that "refuting hoaxes is a big activity of HateFree Culture. They have managed to refute 120 hoaxes to date. We collaborate with the Academy of Sciences, the police, and universities."

Negative online posts about Roma predominated even during the refugee crisis

"I would also like to correct another myth that has been disseminated," Jiránek said, "and that is that actually, in Internet discussions, the topic against which there is the biggest amount of hate speech is still that of Romani people. Even the refugee crisis, which actually steered clear of the Czech Republic, did not overtake Romani people as the dominant subject of such discussions."

Jiránek said that 80 % of the posts made about Romani people in online discussions are negative, while surveys show that 75 % of the posts about refugees are negative, that was mainly during the peak of the refugee crisis. Those findings and others were reported by an analysis of communications about Romani people on the Czech Internet last year performed by the Yeseter company.

Norway Grants chose 15 countries in the European Union to focus on, and the Czech Republic is one into which money for a campaign similar to the HateFree Culture campaign might flow again. It is not yet clear how much money might be available for the new campaign.

The current HateFree Culture campaign will close at the end of April. It cost a total of CZK 40 million [EUR 1.5 million], of which 80 % came from a grant from Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway, and the remaining 20 % was contributed by the Czech Republic.

The project was planned for three years. Some of its activities will continue beyond the end of April.

HateFree Culture campaign manager's name is cleared

Dvořák issued the Office of the Government's first official statement about the decision by the Ethics Commission with respect to Křístek on 6 March. The announcement came 14 days after news server Romea.cz reported the Ethics Commission's findings.

jal, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Agentura pro sociální začleňování, Diskuze, HateFree Culture, Kampaň



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