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Czech Public Defender of Rights takes agenda away from Deputy Public Defender of Rights, she is considering suing him for defamation

28.6.2022 15:32
Monika Šimůnková, Deputy Public Defender of Rights (left) and Public Defender of Rights Stanislav Křeček (2020). (PHOTO: official Facebook page of the Public Defender of Rights)
Monika Šimůnková, Deputy Public Defender of Rights (left) and Public Defender of Rights Stanislav Křeček (2020). (PHOTO: official Facebook page of the Public Defender of Rights)

The Czech Public Defender of Rights (the ombudsman), Stanislav Křeček, is taking away all of the agendas he has entrusted to the Deputy Public Defender of Rights, Monika Šimůnková, effective as of 1 July. Křeček has alleged that "complications" of both a "managerial and personal" nature have accompanied her work.     

Markéta Bočková, spokesperson for the Office of the Public Defender of Rights, sent the ombudsman's statement to the Czech News Agency (ČTK). Šimůnková has objected to Křeček's remarks, telling news server Romea.cz that they are lies.  

Šimůnková is considering filing a lawsuit against Křeček for defamation. The ombudsman said he has decided to change the way the agendas of the Office of the Public Defender of Rights are distributed and organized, and as of 1 July the agendas that he previously entrusted to the Deputy Public Defender of Rights will again be authorized by him alone.  

According to Šimůnková, the ombudsman announced to her this morning that he was taking these agendas away from her. "This morning he announced that he is taking away all my agendas, which I consider an unprecedented step that has never happened before in the history of the ombudsman," she told Romea.cz, adding that she sees a clear connection between his behavior and Friday's resolution in the Czech Senate

"In my opinion, it is no accident that this happened two days after the Senate adopted its resolution urging the ombudsman to refrain from making xenophobic, racist remarks and, among other matters, to treat his Deputy with respect, this is no coincidence," Šimůnková said. ČTK reports that Křeček gave the following reasons for taking the agendas away from her: "The basic prerequisire for successful collaboration is the will and the effort of all involved to reach agreement. That kind of will, unfortunately, is something that I have never felt from Madame Deputy and I still do not sense it from her. Discussions of fact, not just with me, but with the broader collective of lawyers in the Office, are accompanied by an alertness and a lack of trust from her side. In such an atmosphere, cooperation logically costs all involved significant effort."      

"According to my colleagues' experiences as well as my own, the work of Madame Deputy in the Office of the Public Defender of Rights apparently has been accompanied by the same managerial and personal complications that were previously spoken of in association with her past work for the Office of the Government," the ombudsman alleged, without further specifying what he meant. Šimůnková says that when she directly asked Křeček this morning whether she is doing her job well, the ombudsman said that she is, though. 

"The reason he gave for doing this is that our opinions differ, but he said I do my job well," Šimůnková told Romea.cz. "I emphatically object to the statement issued by ombudsman Křeček as the reason for taking back these agendas and I am considering suing him for defamation, because what he said is false and mendacious."    

"For two and a half years, his behavior toward me has bordered on bullying, and I am able to document all of the facts that could substantiate this, from his defaming me during internal meetings, to libelling me on his Facebook profile, to attempting to have me dismissed from various advisory bodies to the Government just because I had expressed my opinions about certain matters internally," Šimůnková told Romea.cz. The law on the Public Defender of Rights stipulates that the Public Defender can entrust the Deputy Public Defender of Rights with independently exercising some of the competences of the office.

Křeček said that in an attempt to "consolidate" the institution's operations, he will no longer be taking advantage of the opportunity to entrust part of the agendas to the Deputy Public Defender of Rights. "Naturally, she will remain my Deputy in a legal sense and will represent me when I am absent. I am still able to entrust her with performing various tasks. Those who complain to us should all rest assured that this organizational adjustment will not affect the handling of their motions. We will also continue our discussions with our colleagues at the level of the authorities, the ministries and the Government on addressing systemic problems or commenting on legislative materials," he said.   

Šimůnková has dedicated her time in office as Deputy Public Defender Rights to the agenda of human rights, such as monitoring the upholding of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, or the agenda on persons who have been deprived of their liberty in various settings. She was elected to the function of Deputy Public Defender of Rights by the Chamber of Deputies in November 2019 when the Public Defender of Rights was Anna Šabatová.  

Křeček had been the Deputy Public Defender of Rights to Šabatová, and Šimůnková was elected to replace him in that role. He himself was then elected Public Defender of Rights in February 2020. 

Disagreements have previously arisen between the current Public Defender of Rights and Deputy Public Defender of Rights. These had to do, for example, with allowing fathers to be present during the delivery of their children, or parents to stay with their hospitalized children. 

In January 2021, Šimůnková announced that Křeček had announced he was revoking her appointment to three advisory councils to the Government - the Human Rights Council, the Council for Romani Minority Affairs, and the Council on the Equality of Women and Men - in retaliation for her having criticized his public comments on the draft Government Strategy for the equality, inclusion and participation of Romani people to 2030. At the time, Křeček alleged he could not have dismissed his Deputy from the advisory bodies because she had never been appointed to them, a claim that was later proven false.

ČTK, ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Monika Šimůnková, Ombudsman, Stanislav Křeček, útok



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