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Czech PM to ask Public Defender of Rights to explain his decision to remove agendas from his Deputy, other politicians in governing coalition criticize that decision as well

28.6.2022 18:48
Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala (2022) (PHOTO:  vlada.cz)
Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala (2022) (PHOTO: vlada.cz)

Representatives of the governing coalition are criticising the decision by the Czech Public Defender of Rights, Stanislav Křeček, to remove all of the agendas previously assigned to the Deputy Public Defender of Rights, Monika Šimůnková, as of 1 July. Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala (Civic Democratic Party - ODS) told the Czech News Agency (ČTK) that he does not understand the move and will ask for an explanation once he returns from the NATO summit in Madrid.  

The president of the Chamber of Deputies, MP Markéta Pekarová Adamová (TOP 09), will also be asking for an explanation. She tweeted that for the time being, the move seems to be revenge against the Deputy Public Defender of Rights for her holding different opinions from those of Křeček.  

Fiala wrote to ČTK that he does not understand the move. "Once I have returned from abroad I will ask for an explanation. Ms Šimůnková is appreciated for her work by both experts and citizens. That makes this step by the ombudsman all the more surprising to me," the PM wrote.   

Adamová recalled that according to the law, the ombudsman must answer to the Chamber of Deputies for how he executes his function. "I will therefore request his justification for this move. For the time being, it appears to just be revenge for the fact that Monika Šimůnková holds different opinions from him. I consider that unacceptable in a democratic society," she said.  

The president of the lower house also said she considers Šimůnková an excellent lawyer. "I have never made any secret of the fact that her concept of protecting rights is close to my own, unlike that of Mr Křeček," the MP added.  

Czech Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Vít Rakušan (Mayors and Independents - STAN) wrote to ČTK that he has nothing but the highest regard for Šimůnková, as a manager and as a person, based on his negotiations with her. "During this time of crisis in Ukraine, her appearances are as competent as one could ask for and she has stood up for the best tradition of that authority in the vein of Motejl," he said, recalling the first-ever Czech ombudsman, Otakar Motejl.   
 
"I do not understand this decision by the ombudsman and I consider it ill-considered at a time when we are addressing fundamental human rights issues in our society," Rakušan added. Czech Labor Minister and chair of the Christian Democrats, Marian Jurečka, called Šimůnková competent and diligent.     

"I do not understand this approach, and we will decidedly want the Public Defender of Rights to change his approach and to explain this unprecedented move, for which I think there is no rational reason," Jurečka wrote. The vice-president of the Chamber of Deputies, MP Olga Richterová (Pirátes), is condemning the move by the Public Defender of Rights and disagrees with it.  

"Ms Šimůnková has been independently elected by the Chamber of Deputies. Mr Křeček, through this move, is disdaining their choice," Richterová has tweeted.

Czech Deputy Prime Minister, Regional Development Minister and chair of the Pirate Party Ivan Bartoš fundamentally disagrees with Křeček's actions. "I would be glad if he would mainly, finally, properly dedicate himself to fulfilling his mandate, as he pledged to do. Last week the Senate even called on him to respect the position of his Deputy, who was independently elected by the Chamber of Deputies - in other words, by the representatives of the citizens," he wrote to ČTK.

Czech Government Human Rights Commissioner Klára Šimáčková–Laurenčíková also disagrees with the ombudsman's approach. In her view, the Government should intervene and overturn his decision. 

"Ms Šimůnková was appointed to her position through a transparent process, she has the expert erudition to properly carry out her obligations in that role. I work very well with her on many agendas," the Human Rights Commissioner told the newspaper Hospodářské noviny.  

ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Government of the Czech Republic, koaliční vláda, Monika Šimůnková, Ombudsman



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