Outgoing Czech ombudswoman assessed her seven years in office before the lower house today
Anna Šabatová, the outgoing Czech ombudswoman, assessed her term in office before the lower house today, saying that while the Office of the Public Defender of Rights in the Czech Republic has reviewed tens of thousands of complaints, paradoxically what is spoken of in association with their work is just headscarves worn by Muslim women and the leasing of apartments to Romani people. When discussing her report on the activity of the Office of the Public Defender of Rights last year she also expressed her view of the upcoming vote in the lower house for her successor.
"Don't let yourselves be fooled by nice talk. I would like you to choose the person who will truthfully, honestly and bravely interpret the law for the benefit of all who turn to the office and to those who are legally obligated to protect them," Šabatová said.
The candidates to succeed her are her own former Deputy Public Defender of Rights Stanislav Křeček, the representative of the Czech Republic before the European Court of Human Rights Vít Alexander Schorm, and attorney Jan Matys. Her remarks about headscarves and about leasing apartments to Romani people referenced the much-publicized scandal around a student who was not allowed to wear a hijab to her school.
The other case referenced was about the approach taken by a real estate agent who refused to provide a lease on an apartment to a Romani woman at the express wish of the client she was representing. "It's as if all the other cases never existed. Another paradox is that in both of those cases about which so much has been said, the affected persons on their own later defended themselves by suing and succeeded before the independent courts," she noted.
The outgoing ombudswoman emphasized that if a plaintiff is in the right, the Public Defender of Rights should back that person even if doing so would not earn applause in the public arena. During the subsequent debate, she again faced criticism from MPs with the "Freedom and Direct Democracy" (SPD) and Tricolor movements.
According to the SPD chair, Czech MP Tomio Okamura, Šabatová is protecting minorities [which he considers negative] and "inadaptables", while according to Czech MP Zuzana Majerová Zahradníková (Tricolor), the Office of the Public Defender of Rights has been abused to promote what she called the "New Left" and has therefore been discredited. Representatives of the Czech Social Democratic Party (ČSSD) and the Pirates, on the other hand, defended the outgoing ombudswoman.
Šabatová did not express her view of the reproaches made during the plenary session. Okamura alleged that the Office of the Public Defender of Rights is not fulfilling its assignment.
The SPD chair accused the outgoing ombudswoman of having an elitist world view and said he believed that she had damaged the image of the office. According to the head of the SPD club in the lower house, Czech MP Radim Fiala, under Ša'batová's leadership the office has become a place supporting what he called "inadaptables" and the "multicultural and pro-migration policies of the European Union".
For her part, Majerová Zahradníková alleged the Office of the Public Defender of Rights has become a politicized institution and is succumbing to what she termed "political correctness, genderism and multiculturalism". Tricolor recently filed a motion for the absolute abolition of the Office of the Public Defender of Rights.
Czech MP František Kopřiva of the Pirate Party responded to Okamura's performance by called it "fertilizer". He also expressed gratitude to the outgoing ombudswoman, as did Czech MP Alena Gajdůšková (ČSSD).
"We should support this authority," Gajdůšková emphasized. Czech Culture Minister Lubomír Zaorálek (ČSSD) said that in his judgment, people of Šabatová's "type" are a good fit for an authority such as the Office of the Public Defender of Rights.
"Irrespective of the regime, [such people] are able to stand on the side of those who have the least power. She looks for those who are the most powerless," he said.
The discussion of the report on the activity of the Office of the Public Defender of Rights for last year was not completed by the Chamber of Deputies. It is not yet clear when they will return to it.
- Civil society members of the Czech Govt Council on Roma Minority Affairs say Křeček is unacceptable as Public Defender of Rights
- Outgoing Czech Public Defender of Rights says her former deputy is not a good choice to succeed her
- Czech President to nominate former Deputy Public Defender of Rights candidate for next Public Defender of Rights
- Czech Social Democratic Party has new candidate for President to nominate as ombudswoman after his first choice declines due to pressure over her past
- Some Czech minorities, NGOs consider nomination of Human Rights Commissioner as ombudswoman a good choice
- Czech President nominates current Human Rights Commissioner as candidate for ombudswoman, opposition not enthusiastic
- Czech Deputy Public Defender of Rights is now Monika Šimůnková, a former Human Rights Commissioner
- Czech ombudswoman: Haters online frequently refuse to admit to themselves that they could be breaking the law
- Czech Senate nominates former Human Rights Commissioner for Deputy Ombudswoman role
- Czech President and Senate may both nominate former Human Rights Commissioner for Deputy Ombudswoman
- Czech Govt Roma Council, Public Defender of Rights release handbook on how Czech citizens can return from Britain
- Czech lower house rejects controversial candidate for Deputy Public Defender of Rights
- Czech lower house to elect new Deputy Public Defender of Rights
- Czech Public Defender of Rights: Segregating Romani children in the schools obstructs integration
- Czech Public Defender of Rights recommends 10 measures to improve Romani integration into mainstream schools with non-Romani children
- Czech Public Defender of Rights will help launch new publication about Romani political and social engagement
- Czech ombudswoman supports fundraising campaign for school whose first-graders were racially abused online
- Czech elections won by the Spolu (Together) coalition, who could form a majority with the Pirates-STAN coalition, communists out after 100 years in the national legislature
- Czech Spolu (Together) coalition: Education is the path to better integration of Roma, "inadaptables" don't want to conform
- Six Romani men and women are running in Czech elections to the lower house, one for ANO and Levice, two for the Greens, two for ultranationalist party
- Fire in Czech town destroys building where bereaved relatives of Stanislav Tomáš, the Romani man who died in police custody in June, were living
- Romanian town must finally compensate some members of a forcibly evicted Romani community
- Pope's words at Romani housing estate in Slovakia gave hope to those attending
- Vojtěch Lavička: Czech law on housing benefit-free zones was an attack on human dignity
- LIVE AT 16:00 CET: Pope Francis meets Romani people at Košice's Luník IX housing estate in Slovakia
- Czech Deputy Public Defender of Rights discusses compensation procedure for forced sterilizations in interview for ROMEA TV
- Czech mayors regret abolition of housing benefit-free zones, one alleges the move will "cause extremism"
- Czech Labor and Social Affairs Minister proposes "expropriating" residential hotels after housing benefit-free zones declared unconstitutional
- BREAKTHROUGH DECISION: Czech Constitutional Court overturns part of law that allowed municipalities to declare "housing benefit-free zones"