Czech ombudsman to control discrimination agenda, head of the legal section steps down to work for his deputy
The newly-appointed Public Defender of Rights in the Czech Republic, Stanislav Křeček, definitively apportioned the office's agenda on Monday. He did not accept the offer of Deputy Public Defender of Rights Monika Šimůnková to handle the agenda of discrimination.
Křeček had previously publicly criticized his predecessor, Anna Šabatová, for her attempts to address the discrimination of minority groups, specifically Romani people who contacted the office believing that she could help them. In an interview for the Deník N news server, the Deputy Public Defender of Rights said the following: "I made him that offer of taking up [the agenda of discrimination] to the best of my ability and in good conscience because I want to preserve the continuity of how the agenda is run."
"I'm saying this to you straight out, I don't want anybody who has a complaint to be concerned about whether to contact us based on any of [Křeček's] public statements or on what has appeared in the public arena," the Deputy Public Defender of Rights told the news server. In several interviews Křeček has said that he would lead the office of the ombudsman differently than his predecessor.
Křeček believes the ombudsman is not meant to concentrate on discrimination to such a degree because it is meant to be addressed by the courts here. He has also expressed his view of his previous remarks posted to social media that if an employer rejects a Romani job-seeker it is not an example of discrimination, but of experience.
"According to his statement, [discrimination] is currently an extremely live subject that is greatly important to him, including in the public arena, which is where the theme is mostly being mentioned. He considers the agenda to be so important that he will hang onto it," the Deputy Public Defender of Rights told the news server.
"At least he will do so for the time being. I don't know what he meant by that, for how long," the Deputy Public Defender of Rights said in the interview.
After speaking with the new ombudsman, the director of the office's legal section, Petra Zdražilová, who has been at the institution for 17 years, resigned her position, and the Deputy Public Defender of Rights convinced her to remain at the institution in the position of her assistant. "After 17 years at the Office of the Ombudsman and after carefully considering all the options, I have decided to resign from the position of director of the legal section, which I have held now for seven years," Zdražilová posted to Facebook.
"I believe that by taking this step I will calm the atmosphere inside the office, that these personnel changes will come to an end, and we will be able to dedicate ourselves to our work with composure. After a conversation with the ombudsman, JUDr. Stanislav Křeček, which I asked him for, I have arrived at the conclusion that our collaboration would not be possible, not for either of us," Zdražilová posted to Facebook.
The personnel changes happening at the institution because a new Public Defender of Rights has taken office have been referred to by him as a "night of the long knives", the same term that was used to refer to the public murders that were meant to intimidate Hitler's opponents in the 1930s. The Deputy Public Defender of Rights distanced herself from those remarks, saying they were unworthy of somebody who is meant to protect human rights in the role of the Public Defender of Rights.
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