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Czech Public Defender of Rights criticized by Romani figures, they believe the lower house should intervene

29.6.2022 8:18
Cyril Koky
Cyril Koky

Romani figures contacted by news server Romea.cz are condemning the actions of Czech Public Defender of Rights Stanislav Křeček, who announced yesterday that he is taking back the agenda he previously assigned to Deputy Public Defender of Rights Monika Šimůnková. Some Romani figures believe the Chamber of Deputies should intervene and investigate the behavior of the ombudsman, and all of those contacted agree he should no longer remain in office.

Cyril Koky: The Chamber of Deputies has to intervene

"Lawmakers should start intensively investigating the situation that has arisen at the Office of the Public Defender of Rights. It is not possible that the agendas that were entrusted to the Deputy Public Defender of Rights be removed from her purview and shut down in this way. It was a big mistake to elect Stanislav Křeček, as is being demonstrated. The Chamber of Deputies has to intervene," Cyril Koky, the longtime coordinator for integration at the Central Bohemian Regional Authority, told Romea.cz.

Alena Gronzíková, a community worker from the IQ Roma servis organization, expressed similar views. "In my opinion, removing these agendas from Šimůnková is absolutely unjustified and I hope this move will be followed by repercussions and the lower house will dismiss him. Although Mr. Křeček has many defenders, he is decidedly not my ombudsman, and compared to Monika Šimůnková, who dedicates herself to the human rights agenda exceedingly responsibly and competently, he has behaved disgustingly and unprofessionally," she said.   

Karel Karika, chair of the Czechoslovak Romani Union, told Romea.cz that "I have already expressed my disapproval of Mr Křeček many times and it is apparent that as a man, he was unable to take the criticism in the Senate. Removing the agendas from deputy ombudsperson Monika Šimůnková just confirms his absolute failure in the job of ombudsman, which he cannot handle, and his attitude constantly confirms that."    

Marián Dancso, an educator, disagrees with the ombudsman's step of removing the agendas assigned to Šimůnková and considers it to have been revenge. "Mr Křeček, acting in the function of the Public Defender [of rights], has done the maximum to discredit that authority. His interpretations have long divided society, incited racial intolerance and xenophobia, and even the Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic has cautioned him against continuing this way. I am amazed, personally, that Mr Křeček has not yet stepped down, but I firmly believe he will find the strength to do so as soon as possible," he told Romea.cz. 

Jarmila Balážová: Bullying, unprofessional behavior

According to journalist Jarmila Balážová, by removing all of the agendas from his deputy, the incumbent Public Defender of Rights has just escalated what everybody has long known to be the case. "Stanislav Křeček, on the one hand, does not comprehend the purpose of this authority and does not want to lead it so its actual purpose will be achieved, but on the other hand he wants to remain in office to an unreal degree, despite the fact that he is absolutely incapable of maintaining the high prestige that was built up over the course of many years for that authority by his predecessors. On the eve of the Czech presidency of the EU, he is prioritizing his personal dispute with his deputy over the ability to lead this authority and fulfill its basic mission," she told news server Romea.cz. 

"His unprofessional, bullying behavior demonstrates that he is not willing to respect Monika Šimůnková - who by the way was also elected by the Chamber of Deputies and who was recommended for this role by many clubs in the Senate - just because her opinions differ from his. Her opinions could certainly never correspond to his attitudes, because Šimůnková comprehends to a much better extent what has been and what is supposed to be the main aim of the institution of the Public Defender of Rights, and she is also demonstrating that understanding through her work and through the positive response it has otherwise received," said Balážová, who believes the ombudsman is applying the power of his position harshly and continuing to discredit the Office of the Public Defender of Rights by doing so. 

"I hope that this time the lawmakers in the lower house who voted for him really will have to hold him thoroughly accountable. Basically he has brought this upon himself, paradoxically, they too are now expressing their views of his behavior, in addition to the senators," the journalist observed.

According to Michal Ďorď, a member of the Czech Government Committee on the Rights of the Child, this is a textbook example of mobbing. "Today's announcement that Ms Šimůnková has been deprived of all her powers gives the impression of being a textbook example of mobbing – bullying that escalates, humiliation, making it impossible for her to do her job. The reasons that the ombudsman gives when explaining his decision seem fabricated to me. I have long followed the work of the deputy ombudsperson and it seems very good to me," he told Romea.cz.    

Jaroslav Miko: Šimůnková is managing to defend truth and justice when it comes to Romani people

According to activist Jaroslav Miko, the reasons given for removing these agendas from Šimůnková's purview are absurd and the move is just revenge for the praise she is receiving from all quarters. "Stanislav Křeček was nominated for this position by President Zeman, and unfortunately, that in and of itself was enough to assume that he would have low moral credit," he told news server Romea.cz.

"Even so, Mr Křeček, during his time in office, has exceeded the lowest expectations, as he has taken and continues to take exactly the kinds of steps that the Public Defender of Rights should never take under any circumstances, mainly with regard to his relentness incitement of hatred toward Romani people," Miko told Romea.cz, adding that compared to the ombudsman, he believes Monika Šimůnková is one of a very few people who publicly manages to call things by their real names. "She is managing to defend truth and justice when it comes to Romani people even though such a stance yields no fruit in this country," added Miko, who also believes it will not be possible for the ombudsman to be dismissed. 

"The respectable part of Czech society has survived the difficult period in which Miloš Zeman has been the head of state, a president who so frequently and gladly exploited Romani people as a tool to gain popularity among the members of Czech society who have no decency. The situation of Mr Stanislav Křeček in particular is similar, but his era will end one day, and there is nothing else for us to do but hope and believe that we have reached rock bottom with these gentlemen, that we will bounce back, that there is nowhere to go now but up, because sincerely I cannot imagine anything worse than this experience," Miko told Romea.cz. 

The highest politicians in the country have also expressed withering criticism of Křeček's move: Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said he wants an explanation, Czech Senator Adéla Šípová (Pirate Party) called on Křeček to resign, and Czech Interior Minister Vít Rakušan and the president of the Chamber of Deputies, MP Markéta Adamová Pekarová, have criticized him too. RomanoNet, an umbrella organization for pro-Roma and Romani-led NGOs, has called for the ombudsman to be dismissed.    

Zdeněk Ryšavý, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Monika Šimůnková, Ombudsman, Poslanecká sněmovna, Stanislav Křeček



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