In IUSTITIA warns Canada: 2008 violence in Litvínov has never been punished
After meeting today with Canadian experts on migration, Czech ombudsman Pavel Varvařovský told the Czech Press Agency that complaints of discrimination form only a small fraction of the complaints his office receives, about 2 %. Varvařovský said the experts were most interested in whether people complain of ethnic discrimination, which he says is not frequent. The experts are also interested in the opinion of non-state organizations regarding the situation of the Roma minority in the country.
Czech Roma have requested asylum in Canada en masse, justifying their claims by saying they are socially disadvantaged. However, there are also suspicions that their departure from the country is organized and has an economic subtext.
In any event, Canada reintroduced visas in 2009 for all Czech citizens due to the strong migration wave. According to representatives of the legal organization In IUSTITIA, which follows hate violence in general, the Roma are the group most at risk of becoming the victims of violent hate crime in the Czech Republic. The Canadians met with members of In IUSTITIA as well.
The ombudsman said his office addresses different topics of rights protection. "Those who complain of discrimination do not often mention that it is about ethnicity. I have not had a complaint like that for the past five months," Varvařovský said. People turning to his office are more likely to complain of age or gender discrimination.
The Canadians are in the Czech Republic this week because of diplomatic efforts to see the visas lifted. The experts are meeting with both non-state and state organizations involved in minorities and security.
Klára Kalibová of In IUSTITIA told the experts she considers it problematic that the case of the violent demonstrations in Litvínov in 2008, which in her view de facto prompted the departure of many Roma to Canada, remains unsolved. She says that until now, no one has been punished for verbally inciting hatred against an ethnic group or for physically attacking police officers. "We claim that it is precisely the lack of a response to that explicit violation of the law, both at the level of the criminal justice system and at the level of a society-wide condemnation, that could have been one of the reasons for the wave of emigration," Kalibová said. "We also emphasized that every asylum request should be researched in detail."
The Canadian delegation also visited the People in Need organization, which helps with Roma minority integration. On Wednesday the group visited the Museum of Roma Culture in Brno to learn about the situation for minorities and what the state is doing for Roma integration. On Tuesday the delegation visited the Agency for Social Inclusion at the Office of the Czech Government, which runs a project of three-stage housing access to assist people from socially deprived backgrounds.
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