Czech Human Rights Commissioner says President supports her remaining in that position
Czech Government Human Rights Commissioner Helena Válková, who is also an MP from the governing Association of Dissatisfied Citizens (ANO) party, told the Czech News Agency after meeting with Czech President Miloš Zeman on 14 January that the President supports her remaining in that position even though he does not have decision-making power with respect to such appointments. Zeman had withdrawn his nomination of Válková that same day as his candidate for Public Defender of Rights, which the lower house will soon vote on.
Válková declined to become the candidate after being criticized for having co-authored a criminological journal article in the late 1970s with former communist prosecutor Josef Urválek. He prosecuted the show trials of Milada Horáková and Rudolf Slánský in the 1950s, both of whom were executed.
"I mainly explained the circumstances of this entire quasi-case and why, for example, I had told the media that I did not know who Mr Urválek was," Válková said. She said that during the second half of the 1970s, when she joined the research workplace where she would later co-author the article, she actually had not known who he was.
"It was not until later, however, that I naturally learned who he had been," she said. According to her, the President expressed "critical astonishment" over the matter.
"He said I should have followed things more during the 1960s, but he believes me, and for me the important thing is that the President of this republic believes I am not lying," Válková emphasized. She related that she had then asked the President's opinion as to whether she should remain in the function of Czech Government Human Rights Commissioner.
"The President expressed his opinion on that issue by saying that naturally he does not decide such things, that the Government and Prime Minister do, but that he believes I meet the requirements for performing useful work in the position of Government Human Rights Commissioner and that I should remain in office," Válková said. The cabinet met on Monday to discuss whether she should remain in that post but did not take a vote on the issue.
Representatives of the Czech Social Democratic Party (ČSSD), which is in the governing coalition, expressed the view that she should be dismissed. Válková has refused to resign.
Instead of Válková, the President will nominate the former Deputy Public Defender of Rights and former ČSSD MP Stanislav Křeček as his candidate for ombudsman. Last year Zeman nominated Křeček to continue in the Deputy Public Defender of Rights role more than once, but the lower house chose not to give him a second term and has since voted in his successor, former Human Rights Commissioner Monika Šimůnková.
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