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March 5, 2021

 

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Czech ombudsman claims his deputy was not appointed to Govt councils, Romea.cz has proof that is not true

21.1.2021 9:10
Monika Šimůnková, Deputy Public Defender of Rights (left) and Public Defender of Rights Stanislav Křeček (2020). (PHOTO: official Facebook page of the Public Defender of Rights)
Monika Šimůnková, Deputy Public Defender of Rights (left) and Public Defender of Rights Stanislav Křeček (2020). (PHOTO: official Facebook page of the Public Defender of Rights)

"This is absurd and a lie, of course. I cannot dismiss somebody who is not now and never has been a member of those councils..." Czech Public Defender of Rights (ombudsman) Stanislav Křeček posted to his Facebook profile when he shared an article published by the Czech daily Deník N reporting, just as news server Romea.cz has, that "Křeček dismissed his deputy from three Government councils".    

News server Romea.cz has seen the credentials issued by the ombudsman in April 2020 to Deputy Public Defender of Rights Monika Šimůnková to represent the Office of the Public Defender of Rights on the Government Council for Human Rights, the Government Council for Equal Opportunities for Women and Men, and the Government Council for Romani Minority Affairs, and the website for the Office of the Government (www.vlada.cz) lists Šimůnková as a member of the Government Council for Romani Minority Affairs and the Government Council for Equal Opportunities for Women and Men; although the ombudsman signed credentials for her to represent the institution at the Government Council for Human Rights as well, the Government's website lists the ombudsman himself as a member. Šimůnková recently objected to the official comments made by the ombudsman on the Government's draft Roma Strategy for 2021-2030. 

The Deputy Public Defender of Rights fundamentally disagrees with the official comments submitted on behalf of the institution and feels she cannot remain silent, as she informed the ombudsman in an internal e-mail. She has now informed the public that the ombudsman has responded to her disagreement by dismissing her from representing the institution at the three Government councils, apparently to punish her disagreement. 

Romea.cz contacted the ombudsman for comment. Křeček refused to answer any questions by telephone and just reiterated his claim that he has not revoked his deputy's credentials for those councils. 

The ombudsman did promise to answer questions in writing. Of three questions sent to him, he has just answered one so far. 

"The Public Defender of Rights is a member of the advisory bodies at issue by virtue of their own statutes. The ombudsman's deputy recently informed him in writing that their opinions differ, and therefore she cannot act as his representative," he told news server Romea.cz. 

"Moreover, this is an area of activity for which she has not been authorized," the ombudsman alleged. Šimůnková disagrees with that interpretation and has reiterated once more that she was authorized to represent the ombudsman on all of the councils as of 16 April 2020. 

"He commissioned me to attend meetings of those councils as a member or as a permanent representative, and the validity of that authorization lasts until it is revoked. Last Friday I was informed by e-mail that he was revoking those commissions," she told the Czech News Agency.    

Křeček told Romea.cz that Šimůnková should stop pretending to be a victim. "I would actually be glad if my deputy would stop constantly complaining to the media and playing the role of a victim, she would do better to more intensively focus on the agenda entrusted to her," he said, adding that he remains a member of the councils in accordance with their statutes and will commission experts involved with those agendas at the Office of the Public Defender of Rights to represent him there.   

The ombudsman was asked by Romea.cz whether he ever proposed his own solutions during the drafting of the Roma Strategy and whether he is aware that his official comments on the Strategy actually criticize his own office's work on it. He has yet to answer those questions.

The official comments made by the Public Defender of Rights on the Roma Strategy for 2021-2030 have been criticized by the Agency for Social Inclusion, by representatives of nonprofit organizations, and by some volunteer civil society members of the Czech Government Council for Romani Minority Affairs. The civil society members of the Roma Council criticized the ombudsman for not recognizing the powers of his office, for making untruthful statements about the Strategy, and for purposefully and systematically undermining the dignity of Romani people by his many remarks about them. 

ryz, sam, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Monika Šimůnková, Ombud, Rada vlády pro záležitosti romské menšiny, Stanislav Křeček



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