Czech President's nominee for ombudsman says he would not deal with discrimination against Roma if chosen because that's what the courts are for
Czech President Miloš Zeman has officially nominated Stanislav Křeček (age 81) as his candidate for the job of Public Defender of Rights (ombudsman) and the new holder of that office will be chosen by the Chamber of Deputies next month. Křeček has previously served as Deputy Public Defender of Rights, as an MP for the Czech Social Democratic Party (ČSSD) and as the longtime chair of the Association of Tenants of the Czech Republic, and according to the President, he is the candidate who best meets the job description because he does not lack the necessary experience and because he has a clear idea about the direction in which he would lead the office.
Zeman made those statements in a letter to the speaker of the lower house, Czech MP Radek Vondráček (Association of Dissatisfied Citizens - ANO), which Prague Castle has also published on the President's official website. In an interview for Deník N, Křeček said that if appointed Public Defender of Rights he would not deal with discrimination against Romani people.
Last year the President unsuccessfully nominated Křeček for a second term as Deputy Public Defender of Rights more than once. The Chamber of Deputies did not accept him and has since chosen a different candidate for that role.
Despite that, Zeman decided to nominate Křeček for the position of Public Defender of Rights. "Even though I am aware that last year he was twice not chosen as Deputy Public Defender of Rights, I am firmly convinced that this candidate best fulfills the requirements for performing the job of Public Defender of Rights. He is familiar in detail with the operations of the Office of the Public Defender of Rights and with the job description because he successfully served as Deputy Public Defender of Rights from 2013-2019," Zeman wrote.
In the interview for Deník N, Křeček said he would lead the Office of the Public Defender of Rights differently than the incumbent, Anna Šabatová, has. In his opinion, the ombudsman should not concentrate so much on discrimination, which should be addressed by the courts.
In the interview, Křeček also stood by his previous remarks on social media that if an employer rejects a Romani candidate it is not discrimination, but a decision based on experience. "You know, it's not possible to act without drawing on your experience, only children do that. We cannot blame people for applying the experience of their lives to their decisions - naturally, it's not ok, but I would be quite glad if the people who are affected by this discrimination would look toward taking the same approach themselves. They should do their best to not be discriminated against, to make sure experiences with them are not so negative," he said in the interview with journalist Jan Moláček.
The former Deputy Public Defender of Rights also said that if somebody were to contact him, as ombudsman, with the problem of being refused a job on the basis of ethnicity, he would not address it. "That is not part of the ombudsman's remit. We investigate the activity of state bodies, not employees or private individuals. That is exactly the kind of thing that just does not belong to the ombudsman. We have the Anti-discrimination Act, so the person with such a complaint has to turn to the courts. We have the Anti-discrimination Act, and it addresses these matters somehow. Whether it deals with it in the appropriate way or not is another question. We have the Anti-discrimination Act and we do not replace the courts, the Public Defender of Rights does not substitute for the courts in that decision-making," he said in the interview, adding that he would like to reorganize the office to reduce the number of lawyers involved in working on discriminatory behavior.
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