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Czech PM defends his authoritarian human rights advisor to the Czech Senate

Prague, 25.8.2010 16:18, (ROMEA)

Czech PM Petr Nečas made it through his first day at the Czech Senate in his role as government head today. While he primarily informed the upper chamber of parliament about the positions the Czech government will take at the EU summit in mid-September, he also had to defend the nomination of his controversial new human rights advisor, Roman Joch, who is famous for the opinion that the right wing has the right to “establish a right-wing authoritarian regime”.

Many disagree with Joch’s appointment as advisor. Last week approximately 100 people opposed to his concept of human rights demonstrated against him in Prague. Joch makes no secret of the fact that he will recommend Nečas abolish the Office of the Human Rights Commissioner. Joch views the idea of a “human rights czar” as something from feudalism. Senate Vice-Chair Alena Gajdůšková (ČSSD) objected to Joch’s opinions during today’s Senate briefing.

"The EU is based on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and the upholding of human rights including those of minorities. These values are shared by all of the Member States in a society featuring plurality, the unacceptability of discrimination, justice, solidarity, and equality of women and men. My question in this regard is how certain ideas and proposals for which the Prime Minister has also assumed responsibility mesh with those values. Allow me to draw attention to just a few of them: These are statements about the permissibility of torture, about democracy ending and being replaced with a right-wing authoritarian regime, about women who never bear children being deprived of the right to a retirement pension or to vote, and about those who do not pay taxes being deprived of the right to vote. Here I will permit myself a small digression – half of our self-employed people and entrepreneurs would be unable to vote if this were the case. My question for the Prime Minister is what position he wants the Czech Republic to occupy within the European Union. Mr Premier, how do you expect to defend the national interests of the Czech Republic in the European Union when you legitimize opinions such as these and thereby separate the Czech Republic from the rest of the civilized world? For those who do not know what I am talking about, these are the opinions of the Premier’s advisor, Mr Joch," Gajdůšková said.

Nečas responded by saying the position of advisor is not an executive one and that he is consciously including even “intellectually distinct” persons among his advisors whose opinions some might find irritating. "Just as I find irritating the opinions of those who are close to very distinct philosophies of socialism, Trotskyism, and the left,” Nečas said.

Kocáb is ready to leave, Joch should go too

Czech Human Rights Commissioner Michael Kocáb also does not agree with the PM’s selection of Joch as his advisor and has sharply protested Joch’s announcement that he will recommend Nečas abolish the Human Rights Commissioner post. Kocáb has also admitted he would be willing to resign if it would mean the post could be preserved, reports news server iDNES.cz.

"I will do everything I can to preserve the human rights agenda at the Office of the Government. At one time I voluntarily left politics together with the last Soviet soldier to leave our territory, and today I am prepared to leave office if Roman Joch will go too,” Kocáb told iDNES.cz.

Kocáb views Joch as a radical who has identified Kocáb as his “ideological enemy”. "The choice of advisors is up to the PM, but the problem is that Joch is supposed to advise him on specific human rights matters. The state and the justice system have been promoting these matters in a certain spirit that has been incorporated into analyses and strategies with which Joch is unfamiliar,” Kocáb told iDNES.cz, adding that he also condemns the statements made by Joch in recent interviews. “What Joch is familiar with is the ‘ideological enemy’ – which for the time being is identified with me – and he bases everything on an artificially constructed point of view against which he argues as the mood strikes him.”

ČTK, Gwendolyn Albert, Zdeněk Ryšavý, ryz, Czech Press Agency, iDNES.cz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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