Czech NGOs call on incoming PM not to jettison cabinet post for human rights
NGOs in the Czech Republic have written an open letter to Andrej Babiš, who has been entrusted by the Czech President with forming a new Government after last month's lower house elections, calling on him not to close down the post of Human Rights Minister. His ANO movement, which was the favorite in the recent elections, proposed abolishing the position in its electoral program.
Speaking in interviews for the media, Babiš has said he would assign one part of the human rights agenda to the Labor and Social Affairs Ministry and another part of it to the Justice Ministry. According to the open letter, the human rights agenda "requires appropriate financial, institutional and staff security if it is to be executed as more than a formality."
"We consider it essential that the new Government continue to systematically dedicate itself to protecting and fulfilling the human rights and civic freedoms of all vulnerable groups such as women, children, senior citizens, persons living with disabilities, minorities, persons serving sentences or otherwise in custody, and asylum- seekers, including assessments of whether state bodies such as the police, the prison services and other institutions and public administration authorities respect Czech laws, including international human rights conventions that have been ratified," the letter states. Czech Helsinki Committee chair Táňa Fischerová sent the letter on 10 November, and the organization says that while Babiš has thanked them for their offer of cooperation, he has not expressed an opinion on the ministerial position.
Besides the Czech Helsinki Committee, the other contacts associated with the letter on its website are for the Czech Women's Lobby and We Are Lumos. News server Romea.cz is publishing the letter here in full translation.
Dear Mr Chair,
We are turning to you as the chair of the victorious party in the lower house elections who has been entrusted wih the negotiations to form a new Government. The bigger a party's victory, the greater its responsibility for public affairs.
We consider it essential that the new Government continue to systematically dedicate itself to protecting and fulfilling the human rights and civic freedoms of all vulnerable groups such as women, children, senior citizens, persons living with disabilities, minorities, persons serving sentences or otherwise in custody, and asylum-seekers, including assessments of whether state bodies such as the police, the prison services and other institutions and public administration authorities respect Czech laws, including international human rights conventions that have been ratified. Along with other civic initiatives, we are disturbed to learn that the position of Human Rights MInister is not to be preserved in the new Government even though this is a significant, extensive agenda that requires appropriate financial, institutional and staff security if it is to be executed as more than a formality.
We believe that whatever kind of Government is created, the position of a minister entrusted, among other matters, with human rights issues will be renewed. We are offering you and the other parties, as well as any possible future minister entrusted with this agenda, our cooperation on formulating the priorities in this area and the steps for their fulfillment.
The Government would be continuing an essential, democratic, liberal tradition of collaboration between the human rights sector and the Government's agenda if it were to undertake such an arrangement.
Chair, Czech Helsinki Committee
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