The Chamber of Deputies has voted to lower the age of criminal
responsibility from 15 to 14. The age of consent is also set to drop from
15 to 14. The changes are part of a new Penal Code which also lengthens
prison terms for murder and other serious crimes; it must now go before
the Senate and the president.
The Communist Party voted against the new legislation, as it also includes a provision to make denial of "communist genocide" a crime like denying the Holocaust.
Meanwhile, the Chamber of Deputies has rejected a proposal to extend until the end of 2009 the deadline for the return of property confiscated under communism. The current deadline for the filing of restitution claims is the end of next month. The Social Democrats and the Communists, who together hold a majority in the Chamber, voted against the extension.
The governing Social Democrats have agreed to introduce rent
deregulation at a faster tempo than previously planned, with rents set
to rise by an average of 14.2 percent a year. Rents will increase at
the beginning of January in the years 2007 to 2010.
The Social Democrats decided to quicken the pace of deregulation after holding talks with the two smaller parties in the coalition, the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union.
Britain, which now holds the rotating EU presidency, is set to propose cuts to the union's 2007-2013 budget proposed by the previous presidency. Britain is expected to suggest slashing the proposed EU budget by three percent in part by lowering regional aid to newcomers like the Czech Republic and rural development funds to several old member states. Prime Minister Tony Blair is due to meet central and east European leaders on a trip to Estonia and Hungary on Thursday and Friday, and the proposed cuts are certain to top the agenda. The Czech Prime Minister, Jiri Paroubek, appealed to Blair in a letter on Monday to reconsider the matter.
The opposition Civic Democrats have called on Health Minister David Rath to resign over suspected corruption. When Mr. Rath was president of the Medical Chamber his advisor Eva Klimovicova allegedly demanded huge bribes from pharmaceutical companies in exchange for preferential treatment. The health minister has distanced himself from the scandal, saying he had no knowledge of such activities.
Ombudsman Otakar Motejl says the police crackdown on a techno music rave in July of this year, which left several dozen people injured, was legal. The Ombusdsman's Office undertook an investigation into the affair, following widespread criticism of the police who used brute force, water canon and tear gas to disperse the participants. In his report the Ombudsman says that the police acted within the bounds of the law since the rave had spilled over onto private property. On the other hand he expressed the view that the officers present failed to take adequate preventive measures that might have helped to avoid the later use of force.
The Czech crown could join the European Exchange Rate Mechanism II in the second half of 2007, the finance ministry said in a statement Monday, stressing that the timetable would not affect plans to adopt the euro at the start of 2010. Two years of ERM II membership is a condition for joining the so-called Eurozone. During that time the currency is pegged to the euro and can fluctuate within a very narrow band. Slovakia this weekend became the fifth post-communist European Union member state to join ERM II, after Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovenia.