romea - logo
September 29, 2022

 

SEARCH
 

Czech organization Million Moments for Democracy calls on Public Defender of Rights to resign

20.7.2022 14:13
Czech Public Defender of Rights Stanislav Křeček on 24 June 2022 in the Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic. (PHOTO:  Senát PČR)
Czech Public Defender of Rights Stanislav Křeček on 24 June 2022 in the Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic. (PHOTO: Senát PČR)

The Czech Republic's "Million Moments for Democracy" movement (Milion chvilek pro demokracii), together with other movements and nonprofit organizations, has called on Stanislav Křeček to resign from the post of Public Defender of Rights (ombudsman). In an open letter published yesterday, the movement writes that through his actions and speech, Křeček has repeatedly shown himself incapable of arranging for the equal treatment of citizens before the law in practice and is not even actively attempting to do so.      

The open letter was sent to the Czech News Agency (ČTK) along with a press release. The ombudsman has made a statement to ČTK saying that he has not yet read the call for his resignation, that he does not believe there is any point in responding to its reproaches specifically, and that similar calls are just dividing society unnecessarily.  

"You have long publicly belittled discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, expressed yourself in xenophobic terms, relativized human rights and thereby denied the purpose of the authority you lead. After a very brief time in office you also demonstrated that you prioritize your personal impressions over close investigation of cases, which has caused displeasure among representatives of the legal community especially," the movement said in an open letter signed by representatives of the organizations Život 90 (Life 90), Sdružení pro integraci a migraci (Association for Integration and Migration), Nesehnutí (Independent Social and Environmental Movement), Liga lidských práv (Human Rights League), the Deník Referendum media outlet, and the Prague Pride Festival and LGBT+ Community Center.     

Křeček's actions both as Public Defender of Rights and previously as the Deputy Public Defender of Rights have been accompanied by criticism from part of the public and from many experts focused on human rights. Křeček refuses to acknowledge the critique.

His statement in January 2021 that some Romani people have problems finding housing not because of discrimination, but because "they destroy the housing stock and transform those parts of municipalities into excluded localities" was targeted for criticism. The Czech Senate recently criticized him as well, adopting a resolution condemning his remarks toward minorities and refugees and calling them prejudicial and xenophobic, which narrowly passed with the votes of 25 out of the 45 lawmakers present. 

The Senate also called on Křeček to consistently do his job in accordance with his oath to exercise the office of the ombudsman both impartially and independently. The European Commission has also asked him to explain himself.   

"It is impossible to equate the ombudsman's work exclusively with the equal treatment field. Most frequently, people turn to me for protection against the behavior of the authorities and other institutions. I would like to point out that the Public Defender of Rights, in our country, does not fulfill the role of a human rights institution nationally, although many people believe erroneously that it does," the ombudsman has said. 

Křeček has also pointed out that the Czech Republic has yet to establish an institution responsible for across-the-board protection and promotion of human rights (a National Human Rights Institution), just as it has not yet established a children's ombudsman. The authors of the Million Moments open letter have also mentioned the current dispute between Křeček and Deputy Public Defender of Rights Monika Šimůnková, who he has stopped working on the agenda previously assigned to her, a matter that has been reviewed by the Committee on Petitions at the Chamber of Deputies.   

The committee, however, has chosen not to take a side in that dispute. "The height of your unacceptable behavior has been to remove the entire work agenda from the Deputy Public Defender of Rights and former Human Rights Commissioner Monika Šimůnková. You did this after the Senate called upon you to stop making public, racist, xenophobic remarks and to respect the position of the Deputy Public Defender of Rights, who was independently elected by the Chamber of Deputies," the movement said in its open letter.    

"Given the results of the committee's deliberations it is clear that lawmakers consider the information I provided to be serious and they are not casting doubt on my decision after my explanation. The fact that I do not want to address the internal affairs of the office in public or even in the media does not mean the change to the organization of the agenda was just an arbitrary move," the ombudsman has since said. 

Call for the resignation of ombudsman Stanislav Křeček

Ombudsman Křeček,

Over the last few days you have, once again, demonstrated to us citizens that you are failing to represent the Office of the Public Defender of Rights in a dignified, proper way. Through your actions and speech, you have repeatedly shown yourself to be incapable of arranging for the equal treatment of citizens before the law and you are not even actively attempting to do so. You are failing to tolerate different opinions, and for that reason you are not an even-handed Public Defender of Rights.    

Why do we think this? You have long publicly belittled discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, expressed yourself in xenophobic terms, relativized human rights and thereby denied the purpose of the authority you lead. After a very brief time in office you also demonstrated that you prioritize your personal impressions over close investigation of cases, which has caused displeasure among representatives of the legal community especially. Your election to the position of Public Defender of Rights two years ago was sharply criticized by civil society and by different organizations.  

We are of the opinion that a person who repeatedly shows that he is not an even-handed defender of the human rights of everybody irrespective of differences cannot in principle represent this authority, the purpose of which is to assure the public that equal rights are respected in practice and to aid those who are unable to help themselves. The height of your unacceptable behavior has been to remove the entire work agenda from the Deputy Public Defender of Rights and former Human Rights Commissioner Monika Šimůnková. You did this after the Senate called upon you to stop making your public, racist, xenophobic remarks and to respect the position of the Deputy Public Defender of Rights, who was independently elected by the Chamber of Deputies. Moreover, according to Monika Šimůnková, you have behaved towards her without respect, in an all but bullying manner, for more than two years now. By taking the work agenda away from the Deputy Public Defender of Rights after assigning it to her, you have broken a 22-year-long tradition governing how these two officials divide the authority of this office between them.   

Through your activities you have long demonstrated that your attitudes and behavior are absolutely incompatible with holding the office of Public Defender of Rights. For all of these reasons, we are calling upon you to resign. 

The Office of the Public Defender of Rights is essential to upholding the principles of the democratic rule of law. As representatives of civil society, we can no longer watch as you continue to discredit this office for the next four years. We need an ombudsman who will perform his duties in a dignified, empathetic, non-discriminatory, proper way.  

Hana Strašáková, spokesperson, Milion chvilek, z. s.
Jaroslav Lorman, director, Život 90
Magda Faltová, director, Sdružení pro integraci a migraci, o.p.s.
Nezávislé sociálně ekologické hnutí – NESEHNUTÍ
Mgr. Anna Štefanidesová, statutory representative, Liga lidských práv
Tom Bílý, director, Prague Pride Festival and LGBT+ komunitní centrum
Jakub Patočka, Editor-in-Chief, Deník Referendum
Zuzana Vlasatá, chair, Centrum pro média, ekologii a demokracii
Michal Pitoňák, chair, Queer Geography, z. s.
Radek Kubala, member of the organization Re-set: platforma pro sociálně-ekologickou transformaci
 

bau, ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
Views: 397x

Don't miss:

Related articles:

Tags:  

Ombud, open letter, rezignace, Stanislav Křeček



HEADLINE NEWS

More articles from category







..
romea - logo