Czech ministers of human rights and labor to review situation at Janov housing estate
The situation at the Janov housing estate in the town of Litvínov, according to Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, will be reviewed by his fellow Social Democrats in the cabinet, Czech Human Rights Minister Jiří Dienstbier and Czech Labor and Social Affairs Minister Michaela Marksová Tominová. The PM has written as much to the initiators of a petition who complained of their allegedly impossible coexistence at the housing estate with socially vulnerable residents, primarily Romani ones.
The Czech News Agency has seen a copy of the PM's letter. The petition was signed by more than 1 600 people.
Sobotka writes to the petition authors that addressing Romani integration and social exclusion are among his Government's priorities. "We are aware of the seriousness of the situation and the many years of insufficiently addressed or unsolved problems we have inherited from preceding governments," the PM writes.
Sobotka says the Government is now proposing the elaboration of a new Strategy to Combat Social Exclusion for 2016-2020. The PM has passed the petition on to Dienstbier and Marksová Tominová.
The petition was organized by representatives of the Krušnohor apartment cooperative, which administers or owns 1 300 apartment units at Janov. The cooperative has already mothballed two buildings there.
František Ryba, chair of Krušnohor, says the damage caused to his property runs into the millions of crowns. "In many of the apartments that the tenants have moved out of there is now a mess. Some of them are partially burned out and there are piles of garbage in them. It's completely customary for apartments to be left in that shape. Society then has to pay for the clean-up, we are addressing difficulties with hygiene, rats have been found in the garbage," Hana Žihlová, a representative of one of the buildings, told the Czech News Agency previously.
Ryba says the PM's response to the petition means that the state does not know what to do with inadaptables and the socially vulnerable. "From the Prime Minister's answer it is obvious that he does not understand at all what this is about and how dramatic the situation at Janov is. Bohuslav Sobotka is once again talking about social programs and other programs, about strategies and the visions flowing from those strategies. From our own experience, however, we know that programs and strategies don't apply to inadaptables, they don't get involved in them, they don't care about them. They will continue to ravage their own apartments and the apartment buildings and to commit crime," Ryba told the Czech News Agency.
The Litvínov town hall is doing its best to address the situation as well. Mayor Kamila Bláhová (ANO), however, says the town's options are limited.
The buildings were privatized years ago and are now privately owned. "There are many social services operating at Janov, we have crime prevention assistants and the municipal police there. The options for the town are limited, though. That's why we have repeatedly invited Labor and Social Affairs Minister Michaela Marksová Tominová here. We have repeatedly appealed to higher places for the authorities and politicians to involve themselves in the situation, not just at Janov, but also in other socially excluded localities," she told the Czech News Agency previously.
The town has invested tens of millions of crowns into Janov in recent years, thanks to EU subsidies. A playground and sidewalks have been built there.
The situation at Janov has long been tense. In 2008 local right-wing radicals exploited local dissatisfactoin and repeatedly convened anti-Romani marches in the town during which they clashed with police.
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