Current AffairsGovernment’s agency for social inclusion issues grim report on the situation of the Roma minority
The government’s agency for social inclusion on Wednesday presented the Rusnok cabinet with a grim report on the situation of the Romany minority, in which it claims that the problems in housing have deteriorated in an alarming way and little progress has been made in other areas. Coincidentally, on the same day, the Senate rejected a proposal by the EC on how to address these issues successfully. I asked the head of the government’s agency for social inclusion Martin Šimácek to outline the main areas of concern. More
The Interior Ministry has confirmed it aims to hire an additional 1,000 police to its roughly 39,000-strong force next year. According to the ministry, many would serve in districts in the country hit by high unemployment, growing crime and extremism and ethnic unrest. Officers are to receive special training to operate in sometimes difficult conditions, gaining knowledge of the local environment. In addition, the government aims to boost the number of crime-prevention assistants operating in areas, a programme which has already seen a good measure of success. More
The Interior Ministry wants to station specially trained police officers in the country’s slums, according to a report presented to the government on Friday. The move comes in the wake of rising petty crime in poverty-ridden areas of the country and growing tension between its inhabitants and the majority population. There are presently between 300 and 400 slums in the Czech Republic with an estimated 80,000 inhabitants, the greater part of them Romanies. It is not clear how many specialists would be needed but the ministry envisaged training around 50 a year.
In its quarterly report on national security the Czech intelligence service BIS recently warned of an alarming rise in anti-Roma sentiments among the public. The report referred to a growing number of anti-Roma marches in Czech towns and cities organized by ultra-right groups but openly supported by many ordinary citizens. There are concerns that the Roma are being made a scapegoat for the country’s social problems and that growing hostility towards the Roma minority will make coexistence even harder. More
The state of human rights in the Czech Republic deteriorated in 2012, the Czech Helsinki Committee said in its annual report released on Tuesday. The human rights group noted that unemployment, the negative effects of social reforms, lower accessibility of health care as well as rising anti-Roma sentiments were among the major trends registered last year. The group also warned that the situation of the Roma community was rapidly deteriorating as increasing numbers of the population see Romanies as scapegoats for various problems in the society. The Helsinki Committee criticized politicians for exploiting the situation, and accused some media of misleading coverage of anti-Romany riots.
A plethora of new political parties have formed in recent weeks ahead of early elections at the end of October. They include a new attempt at forming a party to defend the interests of the country’s Roma minority, woefully unrepresented at a political level. The initiative comes at a time when relations between Roma and majority society have perhaps never been worse, so what chance does it have of success? More
The police are ready for anti-Romany rallies expected in five Czech cities on Saturday, a spokeswoman for the police said. Anti-Romany gatherings, organized by far-right extremists, are to take place in Ostrava, Plzeň, České Budějovice, Jičín and Duchcov. The police have information about the expected turnout at the rallies, the spokeswoman said, adding that riot units of the police have prepared accordingly. In two places – in Ostrava and Plzeň, Romany and human rights groups are planning to stage their own protests against racism. The Czech Republic has seen a rise in ethnic tensions in recent months; experts say the phenomenon is fuelled by falling living standards of low-income strata of the society.
The week-long Prague Pride festival, which supports the LGBT community and tolerance towards all sexual orientations, began on Monday in Prague. This is the third year that a Pride festival is held in Prague and this year will feature many musical performances, public discussions, art exhibits and other events. On Saturday, the traditional Pride parade will take place in the center of the city. Last year, around 15,000 people attended the parade and organizers are expecting even greater attendance this year.
In recent months, a series of violent rallies targeting Romany communities have been seen in the Czech Republic. Besides known far-right activists, the protestors have included large numbers of ordinary locals frustrated with what they see as the authorities’ inability to deal with high crime levels and other problems plaguing Romany-dominated districts. Now, the Czech intelligence service has warned that anti-Romany sentiments in mainstream society could become a more serious threat than far-right extremism. I discussed the report with sociologist Ivan Gabal. More
In a quarterly report on national security, the Czech intelligence service BIS has warned of an alarming rise in anti-Roma sentiments among the public. The report pointed to the fact that in the recent protests and clashes in the towns of Duchcov and České Budejovice a large number of regular citizens joined small groups of right-wing extremists. BIS experts believe that frustrations with everyday petty crime and violence in combination with latent anti-Roma sentiments may prove to be a serious threat for the security of the country in the future. Until now, smaller groups of extremists were behind the major anti-Roma clashes, and did not present a significant threat. The security report said that the ethnic tension needs to be resolved an effective, pragmatic and unemotional manner as soon as possible.