Prague City Hall plans to name an information Ombudsman to handle requests
within the context of the Free Access to Information Act passed in 1999.
Tapped to be Ombudsman is Oldřich Kužílek, a government lawyer and former MP who co-authored the Act along with then Senator Michael Žantovský.
In 2002 Kužílek and Žantovský wrote a book on how the law had been implemented since coming into force.
Prague councillors also have agreed to name a “night mayor” charged with overseeing issues related to nightlife in the Czech capital, especially in the historic centre.
The Czech ombudswoman, Anna Šabatová, has been presented with France’s
Legion of Honour in a ceremony at the French Embassy in Prague. The former
dissident was given the top accolade for her life-long work promoting human
rights and the rule of law.
France’s president, Emannuel Macron, bestowed the medal on Ms. Šabatová, who on Monday received it from the country’s ambassador to Prague, Roland Galharague.
She said had been honoured and gratified to get the award, which recognised that she had fought for human rights both prior to 1990 and in the present day.
The Czech ombudsman has taken up the case of dozens Chinese Christians who lodged asylum requests in the country on the grounds that they fear persecution at home. Examination of the cases appear to be taking a very long time and the watchdog says it has so far received no replies so far to its request for explanations from the Ministry of Interior.
The lower house of Parliament has approved an amendment to the law which
would give the Czech Ombudsman’s Office the power to check whether
foreign nationals from other EU states do not face discrimination at the
The amendment transposes an EU directive into the country’s anti-discrimination law. It will guarantee foreign nationals from EU member states equal opportunities on the labour market, including social and tax advantages.
The bill still needs to win approval in the Senate and be signed by the president.
Ombudswoman Anna Šabatová has criticised conditions in Czech police cells
and the manner in which body searches are carried out, Czech Television
reported on Tuesday. A new report conducted by her office on the basis of
complaints received in the last two years found there were no set rules for
conducting body searches. Such rules must be introduced to preserve
suspects’ dignity, it says.
Some cells only contain a wooden bed without a mattress, which the ombudswoman described as unacceptable. She also said that all cells must be equipped with toilet paper and other necessary hygiene projects.
Ombudswoman Anna Šabatová has said that the Czech police acted improperly in several incidents that happened during the visit of Chinese president Xi Jinping to Prague at the end of March. According to a press release issued on Wednesday, many people were arrested for no apparent reason. The police have been criticised for several incidents, including the removal of Tibetan flags and preventing a demonstration by human rights activists on Hradčanské náměstí which had been approved by Prague City Hall. According to an internal police investigation, they only made one mistake when two officers demanded that Tibetan flags be removed from the windows of Prague’s film and television academy FAMU.
The government on Thursday passed an amendment to existing legislation which lowers the age of castration for sexual offenders in the Czech Republic from 25 to 21 years. According to Health Minister Svatopluk Němeček, castration will only be performed based on a patient’s request. Ombudswoman Anna Šabatová was against the move, arguing that the effects of surgical castration are irreversible and can have negative health impacts. She also said younger people are not able to assess its consequences. The new legislation will also improve the system of supervision of people in protective therapy.
The ombudswoman says her office has found shortcomings in many cases involving state agencies tasked with child protection. Anna Šabatová said on Tuesday that 142 complaints linked to child protection agencies had been received in the last two years; malpractice was discovered in 77 of those cases. Most frequently this involved inaction, insufficient work with families, over-eagerness to take children into care and splitting siblings up.
The ombudswoman, Anna Šabatová, has asked the Constitutional Court to overturn a government decree setting a lower minimum wage for people on disability benefits. At present the minimum monthly wage for the disabled is CZK 9,300, CZK 600 less than for able-bodied employees. Ms. Šabatová described the state’s approach as pure discrimination. She called on labour inspectors not to wait for the verdict of the Constitutional Court but to immediately force employers to create equal conditions for all employees.