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September 24, 2018
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Czech ultraconservative alleges that members of minorities defend their rights at the expense of "heterosexual men who are white"

30.6.2018 12:16
The Office of the Public Defender of Rights in Brno, Czech Republic. (PHOTO:  Czech Television)
The Office of the Public Defender of Rights in Brno, Czech Republic. (PHOTO: Czech Television)

Speaking in the lower house on 27 June, the chair of the xenophobic "Freedom and Direct Democracy" (SPD) party, Tomio Okamura, and the ultraconservative Václav Klaus, Jr (Civic Democratic Party - ODS) criticized the activity of the Czech Public Defender of Rights, Anna Šabatová. Okamura accused her of just defending the rights of minorities to the detriment of "white heterosexual men", and Klaus indirectly called her an extreme leftist.

Šabatová did not want to respond to their assaults, which were made during debate about the report on the activity of the Public Defender of Rights for 2017. "The folklore that was recited there is basically of no consequence," she told the Czech News Agency (ČTK).

The ombudswoman emphasized that the outcome of the session was that the lower house has asked, in a resolution to the cabinet, that the executive review her motions for amendments to various laws and that the Government submit to MPs, by the end of September, information about how they are being used. Okamura said that "The activity of this so-called Public Defender of Rights is, in a single word, a debacle. It is defeats the mission and purpose of the function of the head of that authority, which is meant to defend the civil and human rights of our citizens."

Okamura then accused the ombudswoman of making no secret of the fact that she is allegedly not interested in what he called "normal people", and alleged that her main job description is apparently to discriminate against "the majority", to the benefit of "inadaptable minorities". He then fulminated to the lower house that: "There seems to be no time left for the human rights of the normal, working, heterosexual white man."

Rapporteur Helena Válková (ANO) responded by pointing out that the report in question concerns possible violations of the rights of people who are exactly from the white majority. Okamura, in her view, was exploiting the debate to make a campaign speech or remind the lower house of the SPD's priorities.

Czech MP Klaus Jr then spoke and noted that he would support a law to abolish the institution of the Public Defender of Rights altogether, as in his view it is absolutely unnecessary. "Under the direction of this lady, the office of the ombudsman as a state institution has become just a focal point for advocating for extreme left politics," he said.

Other MPs then stood up for both the office and its current head. For example, according to Czech MP Olga Richterová (Pirates), this institution is an important balancing component to the state, while Czech MP Alena Gajdůšková (Czech Social Democratic Party - ČSSD) said the ombudswoman and the employees of the Office of the Public Defender of Rights are the right people in the right place and are doing good work.

"I believe that if the activity of the Public Defender of Rights is criticized by people who hold xenophobic opinions then that is basically great praise," said Czech MP Jan Čižinský of the Christian Democrats (KDU-ČSL). Czech MP Vít Kaňkovský (KDU-ČSL) and Czech MP Dominik Feri (TOP 09) said they disagree with Šabatová about some matters, but they defended the office itself.

Kaňkovský said that for many people the Public Defender of Rights is the last hope of achieving justice. Responding to Klaus, Jr, Feri said abolishing the entire institution would be unfortunate but that the lower house could, in his opinion, choose a new head of the institution who will be what he called "more prudent" next time.

ČTK, voj, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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