The Czech president, Václav Klaus, says he will not veto a bill that
would bar the media from publishing or broadcasting police wiretaps. In a
letter to the chairman of the Czech Syndicate of Journalists, Miroslav
Jelínek, the president said he did not see any way in which a new law on
the subject contravened the Czech constitution. A number of Czech and
international journalists’ groups have called on Mr Klaus not to sign the
bill, which they say would be an infringement on the freedom of the press.
Speaking in response to the president’s letter, Mr Jelínek said the
matter should now go before the Constitutional Court.
Last week MPs from most parties in the Chamber of Deputies voted to overturn a Senate veto on the law. If it comes into effect, journalists who publish wiretaps could face up to five years in jail.
Six hundred types of toys were banned by the Czech Trade Inspectorate last year. The organisation’s Jana Příhodová told the radio station Impuls that in total over 90,000 toys and other products for children were seized in 2008. However, she said trade inspectorate had little success in tracking down the producers or importers of the faulty goods, especially if they were on sale at markets.
A brothel owned by a former Social Democrats regional boss received over CZK 5 million in state grants from ministries run by MPs for the party, the newspaper Mladá fronta Dnes said on Thursday. Miroslav Mrština was the head of the Social Democrats in the Hradec Kralové region and was a member of the party’s leadership. His brothel in the town of Náchod is alleged to have received CZK 1.3 million from the Ministry of Regional Development when it was headed by Radko Martínek and a further CZK 4 million from the Labour Ministry under the helm of Zdeněk Škromach. The leadership of the Social Democrats have denied the charges, saying they may take legal action over the matter.
Four Burmese families granted asylum by the Czech Republic have arrived in the country. The 16 Burmese citizens, including four children, were immediately taken to an integration centre in south Bohemia after landing in Prague on Thursday. The group, who were expelled from Burma, will join another 23 refugees from their country who arrived in the Czech Republic in October.
Police are questioning an 18-year-old who left her three-month old daughter in an anonymous “babybox” at a hospital in Ostrava and now wants the child back. Aneta Tokarcíková said she had abandoned her baby Barbora because of straitened circumstances. The child’s father is now in prison for burglary after being placed on a nationwide wanted list. Police conducted a search for the parents after doctors discovered the baby had suffered a broken arm; the matter is being investigated as a possible case of bodily harm.
Radko Martínek is one of three Social Democrat MPs who have said they are giving up their seats in the Chamber of Deputies after being named regional governors. Michal Hašek and Martin Tesařík are also quitting the lower house, though David Rath – who is governor of Central Bohemia – is retaining his post as an MP.
The Czech EU presidency will call an extraordinary EU summit in May on the
continuing economic crisis and its impact on unemployment. European
Commission President José Manuel Barroso made the announcement after
meeting with Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek in Brussels on
Wednesday. The Czech prime minister said that the meeting of
and government leaders would be held in Prague and would be informal. The
aim: to streamline and put into practice measures aimed at buoying
employment during the economic downturn. The Czech Republic alone saw more
than 40,000 lose jobs in January.
Another extraordinary summit, to discuss the impact of the crisis on the European economy, has been set for March 1 in Brussels. On Wednesday Czech President Václav Klaus repeated earlier criticism that he did not think the summit would prove effective.
The Czech President Václav Klaus has poked fun at his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy, saying the French president aspired to be Europe's “permanent chairperson”. The AFP news agency reported that Mr Klaus made the joke on Wednesday during a foreign policy debate in Paris. During France's six-month EU presidency, Mr Sarkozy was seen as highly active on numerous fronts but on occasion the French leader has since raised the ire of Czech officials. Most recently he drew criticism from the Czech Republic – now heading the EU presidency - over his suggestion that French automakers should shut down factories in central Europe and relocate to France. The idea has sparked fears over protectionism.