Human Rights watchdog, the Czech Helsinki Committee, says that extremism and xenophobia continued to rise and the rights of the children of Roma, foreign workers and families of prisoners remained limited in the Czech Republic in 2009. This was true as regards access to education and healthcare. The findings form part of the local committee’s annual report. It also criticised the country for only paying lip service to anti-discrimination measures and failing to live up to international human rights commitments. It also highlighted the lack of provision of social housing and legal aid to the weakest members of society.
Kooky, the newest film by Oscar-winning Czech director Jan Svěrák, had a successful premiere in Prague on Wednesday night. In early July, the feature film will have its international premiere at the Karlovy Vary film festival, where it will be taking part in the main competition. Kooky features puppet sequences and should be enjoyable not only to children, according to the director, who is best known for Kolja. Kooky tells the story of a boy who imagines that his favorite toy, a red teddy bear named Kooky, goes on an adventurous journey after being tossed out by the boy’s mother. The movie goes on general release in the Czech Republic on Thursday.
River levels started to go down in most parts of Moravia overnight as rain held off. But third degree warnings still apply at two locations in the south of the region. As flooding eased, around a dozen cases of subsidence have been notified with at least three houses demolished as a result. Hundreds of people evacuated from their homes have been allowed back in northern and central Moravia, including the town of Troubky. It was the symbol of the devastating 1997 floods in Moravia. Power companies have called off their state of emergency with supplies being connected again. The floods have claimed one victim to date, a 69-year-old woman who died in her garden when the River Olše burst its banks at Třinec on Sunday. The Ministry of Regional Development promised up to 30,000 crowns to households that suffered flooding and 150,000 crowns to those whose homes had been destroyed.
The Czech upper house, the Senate, has voted for a change in the law aimed at allowing local councils greater power to prevent gaming machines being sited on their territory. The councils currently have powers to block old hand operated machines but not the new-style video terminals. The amendment, already passed in the lower house, has been subject to heavy lobbying and threats from gaming companies that they could site their operations outside the Czech Republic or start legal proceedings against the country for loss of investment.
In related news, the Czech ice hockey team played Finland on Thursday
afternoon for a place in the semi-finals of the ongoing World
in Germany. The match started badly with the Czechs conceding a goal after
55 seconds but equalising at the start of the third period. There was no
more scoring in regulation or extra time. The Czechs won 2:1 on penalties.
The Czechs had not got beyond the quarterfinal stage since 2007. The result is a revenge for the 0:2 defeat inflicted by the Finns in the quarterfinals of the Olympic Games earlier this year. The teams shared victories in their previous two encounters.
The family of the young Roma girl who was almost killed during an arson attack on their home at Vítkov near Opava in April 2009 started to give evidence at the trial of four men accused of the attack. The grandmother of Natálka, the not yet two-year-old who was in hospital for months with severe burns, said it could clearly be seen from outside that the light in her room was on and the television switched on. She said she saw a dark vehicle leaving the scene after the attack and heard a cry "burn gypsies". One of the accused said that the attack would not have happened if they had seen movement inside the house. The mother of the young girl asked to give evidence in the absence of the defendants. The prosecution says the four who took part in the attack were members of an extreme right-wing group and intended the attack to mark the 120 years since the birth of Adolf Hitler.
Children aged less than 10 will have to have their own travel documentation or passports from 2012 according to a change in the law passed by the Czech upper house, the Senate, on Thursday. The move will remove the possibility of young children travelling on their parents' passports. The change meets European Parliament demands aimed at curbing the possibility of children being kidnapped or victims of child trafficking. The amendment still has to be signed by the president.
Czech President Václav Klaus drew a distinction between the way Latvia and Greece have handled their deep economic problems on a visit to the Baltic state on Thursday. While Greece faces ongoing public protests against a tough austerity programme aimed at curing its public debt, Latvia has pushed through similar measures with little reaction. The Czech head of state said the difference was that Latvia had experienced Communism. The country appreciated the advances made in the last 20 years and saw the current sacrifices as a step that had to be taken to consolidate them and then progress, he said. Latvia has been one of the worst hit EU countries with the economy shrinking 18 percent last year and unemployment climbing beyond 20 percent
A Czech bid to host the ice hockey world championships in 2015 will be debated at a two-day meeting of the International Ice Hockey Federation starting on Thursday. The Czech Ice Hockey Association has fixed on 2015 because the competition is likely to be stronger than in 2014, when the Winter Olympics are also taking place. The only other candidate to host the 2015 championships is Ukraine. A factor in favour of the Czech bid is likely to be the near unblemished performance of the Czechs in hosting the 2004 World Championships.
The Czech Insurance Association said on Thursday that companies have already fielded around 4,000 demands for flood damages adding up to around 500 million crowns, around 24 million US dollars. A spokeswoman for the association told Czech Radio that demands were expected to reach around 10,000 with claims amounting to around 1.0 billion crowns. This compares with the around 34 billion crown insurance bill for damages during the 2002 floods which mainly hit Bohemia and the capital, Prague.