Czech police file is labeled "GYPSIES + DRUG ADDICTS", but no one will be held responsible
The online Czech daily ECHO24.cz has reported on the case of a police inspector who had a file labeled "GYPSIES + DRUG ADDICTS" on the shelf among others he was working on. The label was noticed by a person who came to the Prague II District Police Directorate in mid-April to be deposed.
"I was shocked. The last people to lead special police groups on different nationalities here were the Nazis," Jan Vučka, an attorney and specialist in criminal law, told ECHO24.cz on behalf of the person who complained.
"The worst thing is that these officers don't see anything wrong with this, because otherwise they would not leave the files out for visitors to see," he added. His client, who has requested anonymity, immediately filed a complaint with the head of that office, Zdeňka Brotánková, who told ECHO24.cz last week that she was determined to get to the bottom of the case: "I will see what the complaint involves, it's too soon to draw any conclusions. However, I would not rule out the possibility that disciplinary action might have to be taken, but I repeat, I must first see the complaint."
Czech Human Rights Minister Dienstbier (ČSSD) and Czech Interior Minister Chovanec (ČSSD) both commented on the scandal. "I don't know this specific case, but I will ask the Police President for information," Chovanec told ECHO24.cz, adding that such behavior is not usual: "I believe that the vast majority of officers are professional and that proceeding in such a way is alien to them."
Dienstbier condemned the incident, saying: "The police especially should avoid such stereotypes." Director Brotánková has since announced that since she does not know who put the label on the file, there is no one for her to punish.
"I investigated the complaint and it does correspond to the facts. However, all indications are that this file has been in use in the office for many years and that its title is not the work of these officers," ECHO24.cz quoted the director as saying.
The label has been removed and the file is still being used. The director said that she told her subordinates at the station that the label was "inappropriate and unethical" but is not planning to prosecute anyone.
"The law says only a concrete individual can be punished," Brotánková said. She told ECHO24.cz that she would be informing the Interior Minister of her findings.
News server Romea.cz contacted the person who first filed the complaint for comment, who said: "The explanation of the police director that the current officers have nothing to do with the file has not calmed my fears at all. If for many years they have failed to notice the subject of that file and a visitor to their station notices it within just a few minutes, that means they are not fit to perform their profession."
Another aspect of the case disturbs him even more, though: "If they ignored the file, which is to say, they tolerated it, it is appropriate to ask whether their work to date has not been influenced by a racist sensibility and whether there is a need to review it. The fact that the file was left around without any concern over what the reaction to it might be from members of the public or their superiors is the best illustration we have of the reality at police stations in the Czech Republic."
The person who filed the complaint will consider taking further legal steps once he has received an official response to his complaint in writing. "For the time being I have not received any response to my complaint, nor, as far as I know, have my legal representatives," he said.
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