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Czech MP Jeroným Tejc wants to propose amendment to accelerate deportations and alter Charter of Fundamental Rights

16.11.2016 7:33
Czech MP Jeroným Tejc. (PHOTO:  Wikimedia Commons)
Czech MP Jeroným Tejc. (PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons)

The Czech MP Jeroným Tejc (Czech Social Democratic Party - ČSSD) wants to propose an amendment to the law on asylum to accelerate the process of deportation for rejected asylum seekers. He is also considering altering or eliminating the article in the Czech Republic's Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms that guarantees the right to asylum to foreign nationals who have been persecuted elsewhere for asserting their political freedoms and rights.

Tejc told journalists in Brno yesterday that he wants to contribute to increasing the country's security through the bill, given the risks he believes immigration poses. In his view, many migrants are "abusing" the current form of the law.

Outgoing Human Rights Minister Jiří Dienstbier (ČSSD) believes proposing this bill qualifies Tejc as a National Socialist (a Nazi), not a Social Democrat. The legislator will first submit his proposals to Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (ČSSD) and will then seek support from his fellow party members and other MPs.

"If I submit this by the end of the year, it could be discussed in the spring and take effect by the summer," Tejc said. In his view, while the technical securing of the country's borders is working, there is a need to adapt existing laws to prepare for the arrival of mobs of refugees numbering in the thousands in case Germany, for example, stops receiving refugees altogether and they end up in the Czech Republic as a result.

According to Tejc, last year more than 1 500 foreign nationals applied for asylum in the Czech Republic and more than 600 people applied during the first five months of this year. Asylum applicants are coming from Iraq, Syria, and other countries.

The legislator's proposal has three points. The first is to remove Article 43 from the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, either altogether or in part.

"I don't know whether it's necessary to have in the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms an article binding the Czech Republic to guarantee the right to asylum to such a broad extent," Tejc said. He added that if the article were to be removed, legislators would then be able to respond more flexibly to situations by changing other laws as well.

Given that the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms is part of the Czech Constitutional order, such a change would require a constitutional majority of votes in Parliament. In the Chamber of Deputies a constitutional majority is 120 votes out of 200, while in the Senate it is three-fifths of the Senators present during a session of that chamber, which would be 49 votes if all Senators chose to be present.

The other two changes concern the law on asylum. Currently asylum applications are decided by the Czech Interior Ministry, but if the decision is negative, the applicant can appeal through the courts.

Until the courts make a decision, the applicant may legally remain on Czech territory. "In my opinion, the part of the law on asylum guaranteeing the suspensory effect of filing an appeal should be removed," Tejc said.

The MP believes asylum seekers are abusing the system in order to legally stay until the courts make a final decision. He said he does not want to outright deny the possibility for court review of their applications, just keep the clock running while they appeal.

The third point of his proposal assumes that any migrant who commits an intentional felony on Czech territory would have his or her asylum revoked. "Currently we can only revoke asylum for persons who have committed especially serious crimes," the MP said.

Dienstbier: This is a Nazi idea

Outgoing Human Rights Minister Jiří Dienstbier (ČSSD) called his fellow party member a National Socialist (Nazi), not a Social Democrat, for proposing the changes. Speaking to the Czech News Agency yesterday, Dienstbier said that if these changes were to be adopted the Czech Republic would be backing away from its international human rights obligations.

"Czechoslovak Social Democrats also sought aid in exile for at least half of the 20th century," Dienstbier said, alleging that Tejc's proposals dishonor the memory of his Social Democratic predecessors by forgetting this history. "I consider these proposals to limit the rights guaranteed by the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms to contravene the program and values of social democracy."

Dienstbier also reminded the press that according to the Charter, human rights are imprescriptible, inalienable, inherent and irreversible. "If Mr Tejc wants to remove one part if the Charter, he might as well abolish the whole thing," he said.

Tejc later tweeted that he has been a Social Democrat for almost 20 years. "I will never be a National Socialist. Somebody else here was a member of the Free Democrats-National Socialist Liberal Party," he said, referring to Dienstbier's previous representation of the Free Democrats in that coalition.

There is speculation that Tejc, who represents Southern Moravia, is a possible candidate for the post of party head. Last week Dienstbier said some of his fellow party members have been striving to strip him of his cabinet post and called Tejc the "putschist from Lány", the residence of the Czech President.

Tejc denies making any such attempts. He did attend a meeting at the presidential residence after the 2013 elections, when several influential Social Democrats met with Czech President Miloš Zeman, who used to head the party, without first informing Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka.

Last week the PM announced Dienstbier will be replaced at the end of November by Czech MP Jan Chvojka (ČSSD). He explained the dismissal of Dienstbier by saying his approach to the question of human rights was incomprehensible to ČSSD voters and was part of why the party lost support during last month's elections to Regional Authorities and the Senate.

ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Jiří Dienstbier, lidská práva, Zeman, Asylum



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