Czech Railways defends conductor who forced Romani refugee women with young children from Ukraine to disembark from train
A video has gone viral on Facebook of a Czech Railways (ČD) conductor arrogantly, bluntly forcing a group of Romani mothers and their young children off of a train and has already received almost 400 000 views. Apparently the children and women are all Romani refugees from Ukraine.
Czech Railways denies the conductor committed any error whatosever and claims the group refused to present any personal identification or tickets. "Unfortunately, the recording does not capture the entire event from the beginning of the ticket check, when the conductor asks the passengers to present either tickets or the travel documents that would entitle Ukrainian refugees to travel on interstate transport free of charge. The conductor asked several times them to present their tickets, or their personal identification, or to pay the fare," Petr Šťáhlavský, spokesperson for Czech Railways, told the Romea.cz news server.
Conductor: "You have no money, so get out or I'll call the cops"
The footage shows one of the Romani women objecting to the conductor's behavior, who answers "I don't care, I don't care." She then asks him how much a ticket costs.
The conductor arrogantly replies, "A lot!" He then repeatedly tells the entire group to disembark.
"Don't you have money? Then get out! Hurry up! Either you get out now, or I'm calling the cops in Nymburk," shouts the Czech conductor in the video footage, accompanied by racist statements from one of the other passengers.
"They're like the plague. Wherever they sneak in, they won't leave," a passenger can be heard saying about the Romani women and their young children in the video footage.
The group of Romani women and their crying children then disembark. The conductor keeps shouting at them: "Hurry, let's go, let's go!"
"The group at issue did not identify themselves in any way. They did not present any personal identification or tickets that would entitle them to transport. It is possible to believe they were refugees from Ukraine, but our staff had no opportunity to find out," explained the ČD spokesperson, adding that there had been no relevant information presented to either confirm or refute whether the group were refugees from Ukraine.
"Therefore, the conductor did not have any options on the basis of which he could have transported those people," Šťáhlavský said. His information is that the group boarded the train in Prague and were headed to Eastern Bohemia.
"These passengers boarded the train in Prague, and their destination was supposed to be Broumov. After they were told to disembark, the same group or one similar to them appeared on another, later route, for which they submitted valid tickets to Brno. So the group was not travelling in the direction from Ukraine, but within the Czech Republic," Šťáhlavský told the Romea.cz news server.
Czech Railways: The conductor did not commit any errors
According to Czech Railways, the conductor whose work was captured in the video did not commit any errors, although he was asked to attend a "commission" meeting. "Unfortunately, the recording is not complete, so the essential part where he requests the submission of personal identification or travel documents was not captured. From the part of the encounter that was captured, there is no evidence of any clear violation of conditions and rules. As the group did not present any tickets or identification (passport, identity card, etc.), the conductor had no choice but to exclude the group from transport. The group was not traveling from a border to one of the places where they would be able to register and ask for aid, but was traveling in the opposite direction, out of Prague. At the main railway station in Prague, assistance for Ukrainian refugees is functioning and signposted," Šťáhlavský said.
The spokesperson further reminded news server Romea.cz that Czech Railways is already helping refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine. "They were literally the very first to transport refugees traveling with their basic personal belongings free of charge, just literally a few hours after the outbreak of the war, and other European railways followed suit. Czech Railways has also provided several humanitarian trains to and from Ukraine. Following that immediate response, there was a gradual consolidation and the establishment of the rules and terms for transporting refugees from Ukraine through both domestic and interstate transport, which have already become general knowledge," he told Romea.cz.
"Czech Railways accommodates refugees seeking transportation and solves their situations with regard to the bigger picture sensitively, but in accordance with the applicable conditions. If persons are unable to present tickets or identification on the basis of which they can be transported free of charge, or if they otherwise violate the conditions of carriage, such as smoking on the train or any other violation of the transport conditions, then such persons are warned they must comply with the conditions, and if they repeatedly violate the conditions, then such persons are excluded from transport. We therefore approach all passengers according to the same rules, but of course, at the same time we always assess concrete circumstances and resolve situations individually, taking into account the specific situation. Unfortunately, we have recently come across cases where people presenting themselves as refugees from Ukraine do not comply with standard transport conditions (for example, smoking on the train, etc.). In such cases, we proceed in accordance with the conditions for transport and, if necessary, with the assistance of the Police of the Czech Republic. However, the vast majority of refugees are decent and comply with transport conditions and check-in rules," Šťáhlavský concluded.
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