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December 8, 2019
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Former Czech Justice Minister slated to become Czech Government Human Rights Commissioner

27.4.2019 11:01
Helena Válková (PHOTO: ANO party archive)
Helena Válková (PHOTO: ANO party archive)

As of 1 May, former Czech Justice Minister and current MP Helena Válková (ANO) is slated to become the new Human Rights Commissioner after being nominated by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO). The Czech News Agency (ČTK) reported on 25 April that the Government is scheduled to discuss the appointment on Monday.

Válková has confirmed that information to them. The post of Human Rights Commissioner was renewed last June by the first cabinet over which the PM presided.

At that time he appointed former Deputy Human Rights Minister Martina Štěpánková to the office. By March of this year Štěpánková decided to resign.

Previous administrations have also had such a post. The position was first created in 1998.

The Human Rights Commissioner post has previously been held by five men and two women. Some cabinets have also (or only) had a Human Rights Minister, which is a cabinet-level post.

Válková, who is currently chair of the Petition Committee in the lower house, told ČTK that fulfilling the role of Human Rights Commissioner would overlap with her legislative activity. "The Prime Minister asked me to aid him, because he has brought this under his purview and many matters are in need of attention," she said.

"He knows that I also do this here in the Chamber of Deputies, so he probably believes I'm not doing a bad job," the former Justice Minister said. She intends to remain in her role as lawmaker.

"[The Commissioner] is not a member of the Government, so it does not clash with performing my elected office. If it is necessary to aid the Government, I am glad to assist," she said.

If appointed, Válková said she would like to focus on issues of children's rights, senior citizens' issues, equality of men and women, national minorities and social inclusion. The Human Rights Commissioner's agenda includes the rights of people living with disabilities, equal opportunities for all, and the issue of nonprofit organizations.

The Czech Government Agency for Social Inclusion still falls under the Human Rights Commissioner as well, and if appointed, Válková would also become vice-chair of all the relevant Government councils chaired by the PM. However, at the beginning of next year the Agency will be moved out of the Office of the Government to the Regional Development Ministry.

Other components of the Government's Human Rights Section previously managed by the former Human Rights Commissioner were the Department of Human Rights and Minority Protections and the Department of Equal Opportunities for Women and Men. That, too, is slated for relocation, according to ČTK.

Previously that department was housed at the Labor Ministry. The Government Human Rights Section also covers the Government's councils on human rights, national minorities, Roma minority affairs, equality of men and women, nonprofit organizations, and the Government Board for People with Disabilities.

The press department of the Office of the Government previously confirmed the relocation of the Agency to ČTK. The wire service reports that the move fulfills the long-term aim of allocating these expert agendas to different ministries.

ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Andrej Babiš, lidská práva, Vláda, Zmocněnec



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