Czech Public Defender of Rights meets Romani community member Štěpán Kavur of the Buči association
Czech Public Defender of Rights (ombudsman) Stanislav Křeček met last week with the chair of the Buči assocation, Romani community member Štěpán Kavur, who says he wants to establish closer collaboration with the ombudsman. Kavur announced that he is arranging a meeting with the ombudsman and other representatives of the state administration for representatives from chosen Romani organizations.
Křeček recently got into a public dispute with Deputy Public Defender of Rights Monika Šimůnková, several volunteer civil society members of the Czech Government Council for Romani Minority Affairs, and some nonprofit organizations over his critique of the country's draft Roma Strategy for the next decade, as well as his longstanding belittling of the discrimination experienced by Romani people. For his part, Kavur said he and Křeček are considering the option of establishing what he called a "Romani ombudsman" (in Romanes, Romano Čačipen, which translates as "Romani rights" or "Romani truth") to review the problems of Romani people within the Romani community.
Kavur's association wants, as part of that effort, to organize a meeting with other Romani organizations and, as part of their activities, to work more closely with the Public Defender of Rights, which the ombudsman has reportedly promised to do. "We want to establish a collaboration, for example, by creating the position of an adviser to the Public Defender of Rights with respect to Romani communities," Kavur told news server Romea.cz.
The technicalities of such a position, according to Kavur, should be arranged by his Buči group, based in Prague. "Support from nonprofit organizations and arranging for communications with the entire Romani movement from all over the Czech Republic will be arranged by the networking association PRO (Prague Romani Organizations), where the Buči group is a member," Kavur said.
On 4 March 2021, according to Kavur, a meeting will be held at a round table in Prague that will feature the ombudsman, key representatives of the public administration, representatives of the Romani movement, and selected nonprofit organizations to discuss future moves that will be publicized in the future. "The aim is to achieve a state of affairs where each person will have the right and the opportunity to present his wishes, comments or requirements," he said.
The Buči organization is especially focused on Romani community employment. Kavur met with Křeček just after the ombudsman publicly attacked the Government's draft Roma Strategy for the next decade.
Because the Deputy Public Defender of Rights then disagreed with the ombudsman's critique, he removed her from representing the Office of the Public Defender of Rights on three governmental councils. Křeček's critique of the Roma Strategy was subsequently criticized by representatives of nonprofit organizations and volunteer civil society members of the Czech Government Council for Romani Minority Affairs.
The civil society members described the ombudsman as apparently unfamiliar with the powers of his office, as having made untruthful statements about the Roma Strategy, and as systematically, in a targeted way, undermining the dignity of Romani people. The ombudsman was also criticized by the Agency for Social Inclusion after attacking it as well.
Křeček has long been criticized for belittling the discrimination experienced by Romani people. He recently doubled down on rejecting that reality in his critique of the Roma Strategy, reiterating that Romani people themselves are to blame for landlords not wanting to rent them housing.
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