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Czech Helsinki Committee: Neo-Nazi, ultra-conservative and fascististic fighters gear up for elections

Prague, 11.9.2013 16:49, (ROMEA)
The logo of the Czech Helsinki Committee (Český helsinský výbor).
The logo of the Czech Helsinki Committee (Český helsinský výbor).

The Czech Helsinki Committee (Český helsinský výbor - ČHV), which monitors adherence to human rights in the Czech Republic, has published its 19th Report on the State of Human Rights in the Czech Republic. The ČHV is the only organization in the Czech Republic to publish this report regularly since 1994. The complete "Report on the State of Human Rights in the Czech Republic for 2012" (Zpráva o stavu lidských práv v České republice za rok 2012) is available online in Czech only at http://helcom.cz/ke-stazeni/zpravy-o-stavu-lidskych-prav-v-cr/.

"The Report on the State of Human Rights covers many of the most serious topics specific to this period of time from the point of view of protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms. Protection of human rights and the quality of the judicial system are some of the most important principles of the rule of law. This report is intended to comprehensively capture the issue of adherence to human rights during this time," said ČHV director Markéta Kovaříková.

The document covers the following topics:  Discrimination, the issue of hate crime, the prison services, the police, freedom of speech, social rights, social housing, populist and unconstitutional regulations, the position of Romani people in the Czech Republic, children's rights, women's rights, senior citizens' rights, the rights of persons living with disabilities, patients' rights, sexual minority rights, foreigners' rights, and the issue of extraditions. The report also includes other sensitive questions the ČHV wants to draw attention to, take a stand on, and open up a society-wide discussion of. 

Those questions include the deteriorating living conditions of many people in the Czech Republic. Official statistics claim that the economic situation stabilized last year, but given the methodology used to compile those statistics, it must be realized that such surveys often do not generate realistic numbers.

For example, a recent survey by the Czech Statistical Bureau (Český statistický úřad) on the question of "Living standards in Czech households" was only conducted among apartment-dwellers. The survey did not map the situation of persons living in institutional facilities (e.g., prisons, retirement homes, social care institutions, etc.) and also did not map the situation of persons living in residential hotels or other accommodation not normally categorized as part of the country's housing stock.

The report finds that it can be presumed, with great certainty, that most of the people living at or below the poverty line are precisely the people living in residential hotels (or generally not residing in accommodation included in the official definition of the country's housing stock). The lack of a law on social housing, which the nonprofit sector and the Public Defender of Rights (the ombudsman) have been demanding for several years now, is causing many people's situations to deteriorate and is intensifying their social exclusion.

Socially vulnerable people, primarily those of Romani nationality, are living in residential hotels because there is no place for them on the normal apartment market. The state is also ignoring the profitable business that has recently accelerated on the housing market. 

Statistical data show that expenditures on housing for persons who receive state subsidies for their housing costs are higher than expenditures on housing for persons who do not receive such benefits. The principle therefore generally applies in the Czech Republic that the poorer a person is, the more his or her housing actually costs.

The report notes that it is impossible to achieve effective protections for people against discrimination or to eliminate manifestations of discrimination as long as there are barriers to enforcing rights or to introducing measures to facilitate equality. The Czech Republic faces such barriers in the key areas of education, employment and housing.

For many people, a deterioration in their standard of living is causing the emergence of frustration. The results of this frustration among ordinary people are very dangerous, because every other deterioration in the societal atmosphere pushes their latent racism to the surface. 

The report finds that the position of Romani people in the Czech Republic is sharply deteriorating. Negative anti-Roma sentiment is gaining strength and Romani people are being labeled culprits for the widest possible variety of problems in Czech society.

More and more people are venting their anger on members of the Romani minority. We are witnessing regular anti-Roma demonstrations and marches throughout the country which are attended not only by the ultra-right, but by more and more people from the ordinary population. 

The lax posturing of Czech political representatives on these anti-Roma demonstrations is making this situation worse, as are the frequently anti-Roma, populist statements made by various politicians. The report finds that "Neo-Nazi, ultra-conservative and fascististic fighters are preparing for the many upcoming elections in the Czech Republic - to the European Parliament, to the Czech Chamber of Deputies, to the Czech Senate, and to the local councils of towns and villages." 

The report notes that the media, unfortunately, have also contributed to this escalation of tensions by publishing biased, completely fabricated, or unverified reports.

Criminal activity committed because of hatred fundamentally demands special attention from state bodies. The prosecution of this serious criminal activity is a means of protecting everyone, all of society, and does not aim to solely protect minorities, as is sometimes incorrectly interpreted and perceived in the Czech Republic. 

The report reiterates that the prison services are still not receiving sufficient attention. While partial positive changes are occurring, what is crucial is that the entire system change.

The policy on crime should be fulfilled through measures that are capable of gradually producing good results, that have proven effective in the long run, and that are scientific. Attention must be paid above all to the conditions of those in custody. 

According to the report, current events in the area of immigration have simply confirmed that the economic crisis has exposed the serious problems in Czech immigration policy. The adoption of ad hoc restrictive measures cannot make up for the lack of vision or direction in this policy.

The random, restrictive setup of the entire immigration system is leading to the growth of negative phenomena, such as the criminalization of foreigners and, primarily, the insufficient integration of foreigners into Czech society. According to the nonprofit sector, the first step toward stabilizing the situation in the area of labor immigration would be the adoption of an immigration policy concept that would clearly establish the aims, direction, and starting data for such a policy on the basis of public discussions with academia, foreigners themselves, and NGOs.  


František Bikár, Czech Helsinki Committee, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Český helsinský výbor, lidská práva, Násilí, Racism, zpráva, Aktivismus, Anticiganismus, cizinci, informování o Romech, menšiny, národnostní menšina, Nenávist, nepokoje, nesnášenlivost, Občanská společnost, Poslanecká sněmovna, protiromský pochod, přistěhovalectví chudoby, radnice, Represe, Romové, Senátní volby, situace ve společnosti, Sněmovna, sociální bydlení, sociální politika vlády, socioekonomický rozvoj, spekulanti, společenská atmosféra, Šíření nenávisti a nesnášenlivosti, ubytovny, vyloučená lokalita, Vymyšlené přepadení, Czech republic, Election 2013, Extremism, Facism, Housing, Immigration, integration, Neo-Nazism, Populism, Roma, Šikana, Xenophobia



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