Romea.cz editor says Czech policy toward Roma full of chaos, poor concepts and populism
Michal Komárek, the editor of news server Romea.cz, discussed the degree to which the Czech Republic is managing to solve its "Romani problem" during a radio program on the ČRo Plus station yesterday. The discussion was occasioned by the current session of the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination reviewing the situation in the Czech Republic.
The other guest on the program was the head of the Czech Government's Office for the Inter-ministerial Commission on Roma Community Affairs, Martin Martinek. Komárek said the previous recommendations made by the UN Committee are very general and do not address the essence of the problem in the country.
"For example, in 2007 the Committee recommended we adopt the Anti-Discrimination Act and in 2011 recommended we do a better job of upholding it," he said. "The basic problem is not in our legislation. We are a standard democracy with the rule of law, functiong at the level of an EU Member State. Now we already have the Anti-Discrimination Act, but Romani people still have not been provided, for example, normal access to housing."
The problem lies in politicians' chaotic behavior, their poor concepts and their populism. As an example, Komárek discussed a recently-adopted amendment to the law on aid to those in material distress which has already essentially been abolished.
That amendment was approved by the existing governing coalition, the same one that also adopted a new Romani Integration Strategy and is drafting a social housing law. The amendment entrusted municipalities with deciding whether housing benefits should be disbursed to persons living in residential hotels.
Some municipalities rejected applications for such benefits across the board and thousands of people - a significant portion of whom were Romani - were in acute danger of ending up on the street. The amendment ran unequivocally counter to the intention of the social housing law and the principles of the Romani Integration Strategy.
According to Komárek, from the long-term perspective, the most important thing is to solve the problem of discrimination against Romani children in primary schools. During the entire period since November 1989 that has yet to happen.
This year an amendment to the Schools Act was adopted that is a step in the right direction. It remains to be seen how it will be implemented in practice.
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