Czech Republic: NGOs disagree with draft law on free legal aid
The Czech Helsinki Committee and other non-governmental, non-profit organizations are criticizing the draft law on free legal aid that will be discussed by the Czech Government on Wednesday, 21 September 2016. According to a statement released today by the organizations, the bill was originally meant to arrange for a comprehensive, innovative system for persons whose fundamental human rights have been violated to access free legal aid in order to provide them more options for achieving redress through the courts.
The NGOs consider the current draft bill produced by the Justice Ministry to be quite minimal. According to a press release sent out by the organizations today, the draft law offers free legal aid through "the provision of verbal legal advice of an informational nature for a legally-prescribed time of a minimum of 30 minutes and a maximum of 120 minutes per year."
This kind of legal aid would be provided to persons in need solely by attorneys, according to the draft law, whose work would be remunerated by the state, but the NGOs believe such an approach to legal aid will be neither effective nor efficient. They are asking the Prime Minister and Justice Minister to withdraw the proposal and rework it so that it will cover more legal work than just the provision of legal advice and so the state will remunerate not just attorneys, but also, for example, non-governmental, nonprofit organizations or trade union organizations for such work.
While such entities already provide this kind of legal aid, the Czech state finances such work only to a limited extent, and many people whose fundamental human rights have been violated do not, therefore, have an opportunity to effectively defend themselves through the courts, according to the NGO press release. Those affected include people who have been directly or indirectly discriminated against, for example, on the basis of age, disability, or sex; institutionalized persons; minors; or senior citizens who have lost their assets through loan-sharking.
In October 2015 the Government sent a letter to the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, Nils Muižnieks, in which the Czech Prime Minister declared that the new system of legal aid would be of benefit to the large group of persons who have been involuntarily sterilized with achieving redress through the courts. Their cases are an example of extremely serious human rights violations that the Czech Republic has not yet fully resolved.
The NGOs asking that the draft law on free legal aid be reworked include the Czech Helsinki Committee, the Czech Women's Lobby, the Organization for Aid to Refugees and the Counseling Center for Civil Rights. On 19 September 2016 these organizations sent the Czech Prime Minister and Justice Minister a joint letter about the issue and also sent a copy to Commissioner Muižnieks.
On 6 October 2015, Muižnieks sent a letter to the Czech Government reminding them that states have been called upon to adopt appropriate measures for the purpose of establishing accessible, effective mechanisms to ensure that victims of gross human rights violations will be compensated for the damages caused to them in a proportionate way without delay. States have a special obligation to do so in such cases.
According to the Česká justice (Czech Justice) website, objections to the current draft of the law on free legal aid produced by Czech Justice Minister Robert Pelikán (ANO) have also been expressed by the working commission of the Government Legislative Council. That body said it found the proposal lacking in any mention of either qualitative or quantitative data, for example.
The proposed law will be submitted to the Government by the Justice Ministry and, according to the website of the Government of the Czech Republic, is meant to tackle the existing deficiencies of the current legislation on the provision of legal aid free of charge. The stated purpose of the proposed legislation is to augment and expand the provision of legal services funded by the state into areas where they are currently not provided and to make the system of state-funded legal aid more comprehensive in all areas where there is a need for it.
- Czech Republic: Romani women forced to undergo sterilization tell their stories through theater
- OSCE/ODIHR Event to Focus on Justice and Redress to Roma Victims of Forced Sterilization in the Czech Republic
- UN Committee tells Czech Republic: Compensate victims of forced sterilization and punish those responsible
- Czech Government to answer questions about illegal sterilizations, mostly of Romani women, from UN Committee tomorrow
- Marek Szilvási: Czech Government should stop gambling with the country's reputation - the fight for compensation for forced sterilization is not over
- Slovakia internationally criticized for forced sterilization, police impunity for brutality against Roma, position on refugee reception and segregated education
- Compensation for victims of forced sterilization raised at OSCE event on Roma
- Czech Government rejects bill to compensate victims of illegal sterilizations
- Czech Republic: Victims of illegal sterilizations could receive CZK 300 000 in compensation
- Czech Government should have forced sterilization compensation plan outlined in six months
- Slovakia: Candidate offering remuneration to Roma for sterilization
- Czech Govt tells UN that law to compensate forced sterilization will be ready in one year
- Gwendolyn Albert: Seven UN agencies issue joint statement on stopping forced, coercive, and involuntary sterilization
- Czech Helsinki Committee, Human Rights Minister draft law to compensate forced sterilization victims
- Czech Gov't plans social housing law, redress for victims of illegal sterilizations
- Czech Trade Inspection Authority found 13 cases of consumer discrimination last year - "No Roma, no young children..."
- Despite Czech PM's allegations, actual welfare abuse is negligible
- Young teacher describes how antigypsyism is alive and well in Czech primary education
- Czech Labor Minister for ROMEA TV: Government as a whole is responsible for addressing social exclusion
- Czech research finds excluded residents, including Roma, fall victim to crime more than others
- Czech court sentences Romani man to six months in prison for hate speech against the Czech President and others
- Czech Govt will not draft social housing law or anti-poverty measures
- Czech Government Council on Romani Minority Affairs has five new members
- Czech Government to receive pro-family law package for review in the spring
- Czech Labor and Social Affairs Ministry plans revision of welfare within several months
- Czech Govt rejects SocDem proposal to increase welfare system baseline
- Czech cabinet rejects SocDem plan for free school lunch for all, asks EdMin to rewrite more limited proposal