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Czech presidential candidate criticizes cancellation of Human Rights Minister post

4.1.2018 11:04
Pavel Fischer (PHOTO: Facebook profile of Pavel Fischer)
Pavel Fischer (PHOTO: Facebook profile of Pavel Fischer)

Czech presidential candidate Pavel Fischer is criticizing the Government of Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš for not appointing a Human Right Minister. Fischer said before the New Year that today, when it is exactly extremist voices that are being heard more and more frequently, such a move is absolutely incomprehensible.

The abolition of the post was previously criticized by the Czech Government Human Rights Council's Committee on the Rights of the Child. The new Government, for the first time in almost 20 years, has neither a Human Rights Minister nor a Commissioner for Human Rights.

News server Romea.cz reported that coordination of tasks in the human rights and equal opportunities field has been entrusted to Czech Justice Minister Robert Pelikán. "The case of the racist online attacks on the first-graders in Teplice is still a hot issue and the Babiš cabinet has already cancelled the post of Human Rights Minister at a time when nationalists and right-wing extremists are gaining strength without society showing them any greater resistance," Fischer said.

The candidate believes it is not a good sign that the Prime Minister has transferred the human rights agenda to the Justice Ministry. "Personally, I believe one person will not have what it takes to satisfactorily coach teams in both areas. I am concerned that the consequences of the new Government's headlong move, which is absolutely incomprehensible to me, will soon be felt by all of us," he said.

The abolition of the Human Rights Minister post was previously criticized by nonprofit organizations as well as by the Czech Government Human Rights Council's Committee on the Rights of the Child. The Committee issued a resolution calling on the Czech PM to preserve the human rights agenda as an independent, self-contained agenda within the framework of the state administration system.

"Many matters that are transpiring today, such as attacks against young children because of their different skin color, would have been absolutely politically unacceptable just a few years ago," Monika Šimůnková, a civil society member of the Committee who was Human Rights Commissioner from 2011-2013, warned during an appearance on Czech Television. Martin Rozumek, director of the Organization for Aid to Refugees (Organizace pro pomoc uprchlíkům - OPU), said, "We are heading a bit toward the Hungarian and Polish situations, where human rights play no role and where nationalists and frequently, ultra-right extremists are gaining even more attention essentially without any resistance from the Government."

Human rights subjects did not appear in the proposed program declaration of the new Government either. The cabinet has just stated that it refuses to contribute to exaggerating fears of potential security risks, as such incitement, in their view, leads to the growth of extremism and xenophobia.

The Czech PM has defended the new arrangements for the human rights agenda and their shift to the Justice Ministry. "Mr Pelikán has long dedicated himself to that area. He basically asked for that agenda. I think he will do it, that he knows his way around it and that it belongs with him," the PM told Czech Television.

ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Andrej Babiš, lidská práva, Prezidentské volby, Prezidentské volby 2018



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