Office of the Public Defender of Rights finds discrimination against Romani refugees from Ukraine at aid center in Czech capital
The Office of the Czech Public Defender of Rights (the ombudsman) has found that discriminatory practices are in place towards the Romani refugees, including children, who are escaping the Russian occupation of Ukraine and seeking refuge in the Czech Republic. Their inspections were performed two weeks ago at Regional Assistance Centers for Aid to Ukraine (KACPUs) in Brno, Ostrava, Prague and Zlín.
The ombudsman's staff monitored whether access to the process of reception was equally afforded to all refugees. Misconduct was observed in Prague, according to Czech news server Seznam.cz.
"There was no equal access for Romani refugees, who were either not allowed to enter the registration center at all, or only when accompanied by a nonprofit sector staffer or police officer. They then found themselves in a situation where they either had to wait outside or under a tent pitched in front of the building," Deputy Public Defender of Rights Monika Šimůnková, who led the team, told Seznam.cz.
"They were required to have their accommodation already secured as a prerequisite to even requesting temporary protection," the Deputy Public Defender of Rights said. According to Czech Government Human Rights Commissioner Klára Šimáčková Laurenčíková, the assistance center staff's behavior contributed to the situation at the main railway station, where Romani refugees from Ukraine have had no choice but to live for weeks.
Šimůnková, according to the news server, gave a more nuanced assessment. She admits the center's conduct could have been a cause of Romani refugees becoming stuck with no other options at the main railway station, but believes there are also other groups among those people besides those dealt with by the KACPU in Prague.
The Office of the Public Defender of Rights has sent the results of its investigation to the Czech Interior Ministry. Šimůnková informed Czech Interior Minister Vít Rakušan (Mayors and Independents - STAN) of the findings during a recent session of the Czech Government Council for Roma Minority Affairs.
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