United Nations Human Rights Committee urges Czech Republic to close pig farm at Lety
Agence France-Presse (AFP) reports that the United Nations Human Rights Committee has called on the Czech Republic today to shut down the pig farm that was erected by the communist regime in the 1970s on the site of a former concentration camp for Romani people. Czech Government Human Rights Commissioner Monika Šimůnková said she supports removing the pig farm, but the decision about its fate will be up to the new government.
The AFP reports that the Human Rights Committee, based in Geneva, said the Czech Republic should do much more to respect its own history and Romani culture through symbolic actions such as closing the pig farm, which was built on the site of a WWII-era concentration camp at Lety. "This recommendation should be respected even though it does not include any underlying mechanisms to sanction the government should it not comply," Šimůnková said, adding that the Czech Republic has been given one year in which to respond to the recommendation.
Šimůnková said she agrees the pig farm should be removed, as in her view it desecrates the memory of the remembrance site because of the farm's unpleasant odor (and not just during commemoration events). She also pointed out that she has no mandate to make a decision about the recommendation.
The new government must now express itself on the issue. The last cabinet postponed resolving the matter with the excuse that the country does not have the money to move the farm.
Tensions between the Czech government and the Romani community around the facility have been high for almost 20 years. The European Parliament called on the Czech authorities to relocate the controversial pig farm in 2005 and again in 2008.
The camp at Lety was opened in August 1940 as a disciplinary labor camp and subsequently became a concentration camp for Romani people. As of its closure in May 1943, 1 308 Romani people were recorded as having been interned there, 327 of whom perished there and more than 500 of whom were transported to the death camp at Auschwitz from there.
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