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Czech Human Rights Minister says he believes his department and the Hate Free Culture campaign are "unnecessary"

11.9.2017 13:40
Czech Human Rights Minister Jan Chvojka speaking on 13 May 2017 at the commemorative ceremony for the Romani victims of genocide at Lety u Písku (PHOTO: Petr Zewlakk Vrabec)
Czech Human Rights Minister Jan Chvojka speaking on 13 May 2017 at the commemorative ceremony for the Romani victims of genocide at Lety u Písku (PHOTO: Petr Zewlakk Vrabec)

Czech Minister for Human Rights, Equal Opportunities and Legislation Jan Chvojka said today that the Government's human rights department in its current form is basically unnecessary. He said he believes a better model is the German one, where a specialized institute is the only body functioning in this area.

Speaking in an interview with the weekly magazine Týden, Chvojka also once again attacked the Government's Hate Free Culture campaign, saying that he is sometimes shocked by what he sees on its Facebook profile. "I think it's good the Government defends and guarantees human rights, although the courts are primarily designed for that and no Government can replace them. By establishing the ministry the Government demonstrates that it is serious about human rights protections. However, I regret that the human rights ministry we have had here has been so off-and-on," he was quoted as saying, referencing the previous administration's decision not to appoint a cabinet-level post for the human rights agenda.

"The model, for me, would be Germany, where they have an Institute for Human Rights, which is an advisory institute to the federal government, the state governments, and parliament. It is essentially an independent organization established by law," Chvojka explained, adding that he believes such an organization does not have to be financed from the state budget.

"Why couldn't nonprofit organizations be involved in financing such an institute? Why couldn't fundraising work in that case? I think that when it comes to the question of the certitude of independence from the Government, it would not be a bad idea for the topic of human rights to be approached that way. Certainly it would be a more stable solution than establishing a human rights ministry," he said.

Chvojka: I am not satisfied with the Hate Free Culture project

The minister also expressed his view of the Hate Free Culture campaign. He reiterated his previous statement that it has been known since April 2014 that its contract would end this past April.

"The project must run until the end of this year because otherwise we would have to return several tens of millions of crowns to the Norway Grants. In any event it is just in a minimal maintenance regime by now," he said.

"To be fair, I must admit that I am not very satisfied with the work of Hate Free. I recognize their efforts to point to examples from the lives of elderly people, or people living with disabilities, or Romani people, and to do their best to include such people into mainstream society. Ever since Miloš Zeman was Prime Minister we have always had some kind of Government campaign against intolerance or against the violence sparked by hatred and racism. Generally I support the idea of those campaigns, but I am concerned about their conception. I follow the Facebook profile of Hate Free Culture rather frequently and sometimes I am shocked by what is posted there, I always get angry," he said.

Chvojka specifically criticized a video published to the campaign's Facebook profile in which a roughly 20-year-old English-speaking man is explaining his gay identity and his plan to someday marry another man to his little brother, who is five. The Human Rights Minister told the weekly that be believes the video smacks of the older brother "exploiting" his younger brother in order to get publicity and promote his ideas.

"I think in Hlinsko, Chrudim and Pardubice almost nobody takes an interest in Hate Free Culture and 99 % of the people would be angered by that video," the Human Rights Minister said. He is currently the chair of the Pardubice Regional Committee of the Czech Social Democratic Party, where he has been a member since 2007, an MP in the Czech lower house since 2010, and a councilor at the Pardubice Regional Authority since 2016.

ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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HateFree Culture, Jan Chvojka, Kampaň, Lidská práva



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