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Incoming Czech Human Rights Minister authored amendment on anti-corruption

12.11.2016 7:55
Jan Chvojka (PHOTO:  Czech Television)
Jan Chvojka (PHOTO: Czech Television)

Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Czech Social Democratic Party - ČSSD) informed President Zeman of his intention to replace both the Health and Human Rights Ministers yesterday before announcing it to the public. When the Czech News Agency asked Zeman's spokesperson Jiří Ovčáček whether Zeman agreed with the dismissal of the ministers, he first said he had no comment on the decision, then added: "As far as J. Dienstbier goes, the President's long-held opinion is known."

Dienstbier: Whoever takes an active approach will lose popularity

Sobotka's planned changes in the Government were announced a week ago in a letter to ČSSD members and are supposed to be a response to the party's losses in the regional and Senate elections last month. Sobotka repeated today that the new set of Social Democratic ministers should be better at communication and at presenting to the public how the party is working in the Government.

Dienstbier previously reacted to his possible dismissal as follows: "It seems absurd to me that the people who have themselves contributed to the Social Democrats' weak results in the last elections should be bossing me around." Yesterday he told the ČT24 channel that Sobotka had dismissed him in exchange for a promise that nobody will challenge him for the leadership of the party at the March convention.

"Whomever the Prime Minister entrusts with performing the job of Human Rights Minister will have to choose whether to actively advocate for the agenda and thereby lose points when it comes to popularity rankings," Dienstbier said yesterday. He considers incoming minister Jan Chvojka's main task to complete to be the adoption of an amendment to the law on the Public Defender of Rights that will make it possible for the ombudsman to file antidiscrimination lawsuits in the public interest.

New Human Rights Minister Jan Chvojka

Jan Chvojka (age 35) was born in the town of Hlinsko, graduated from the Law Department of Masaryk University in Brno, has been an MP for the ČSSD since 2010, a local assembly member for the town of Chrudim since 2014, and a Regional Assembly member for the Pardubice Region since this year. He is also the vice-chair of the Immunity and Mandate Committee and is a member of the Constitutional Law Committee of the Chamber of Deputies.

As a legislator he has authored an amendment to the bill on conflict of interest that is meant to restrict ministers from engaging in commercial activity. He also drew attention, for example, when he complained to the Council on Radio and Television Broadcasting over a performance by the band Ortel during the "Golden Nightingale" singing competition broadcast by the commercial television station TV Nova.

"I consider public appearances by the Ortel band, which embraces Rudolf Hess, Adolf Hitler, and other criminals, which is openly anti-Muslim and antisemitic in its lyrics, and which espouses Fascism and (neo)Nazism to be appalling and condemnable," he wrote in his complaint. Together with colleagues from the lower house he also condemned remarks by Czech MP Pavlína Nytrová (ČSSD) about homosexuals wanting to legalize sex with children and was quoted by Lidovky.cz as saying the following: "Naturally I disagree with that statement, it's the biggest nonsense I've heard in a long time. I think that by making such a statement she has become unelectable, at least within the ČSSD - all she has done is punish her own self."

jal, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Bohuslav Sobotka, Jiří Dienstbier, ministr pro lidská práva a rovné příležitosti, Vláda



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