Austrian police this week busted a huge international pornography network involving more than 2,360 suspects from 77 countries. Sixty-three Czechs were among those who downloaded child-porn from paid-web sites but shockingly enough the Austrians can expect little cooperation from the Czech police. The Czech Republic is one of the few countries in Europe where it is not a criminal offence to download or possess child pornography which means that the suspects will get off scot-free.
The regional court in Ostrava has sentenced sixty-four year old Ladislav Kovalsky to eight and a half years in prison for sexually abusing his niece for close to seven years, making her pregnant and later abusing the fourteen-month old baby as well. His niece Aneta came from a broken home and her relatives would often put her in her uncle's care. The abuse started when she was twelve. Even at 18 the girl refused to say whose child she was carrying, giving Kovalsky the opportunity to abuse his own baby daughter as well. Police officers working on the case said it was one of the worst cases of sexual abuse they had ever come across.
According to statistics, criminality among Czech youth has been decreasing: in general, children under the age of fifteen committed fewer serious crimes - such as murder - in the year 2005. On the other hand the number of other offences - for example cases of pick pocketing by children rose by some two hundred cases.
The government has said it wants to see the number of abused children and children in institutional care reduced. On Wednesday, it approved a plan by the Social Affairs Ministry which proposes to boost cooperation between state bodies, NGOs and the public to fight child abuse. According to a report published by the ministry, some 7,500 new cases of child abuse were reported last year and the number has been increasing. Some 20,000 children are in institutional care in the Czech Republic, a fact regularly criticised by NGOs both in the country and abroad.
For a relatively small central European country of over ten million, the Czech Republic is doing its share to help needy children in Africa. Over the past four years, Czechs have donated over seven million crowns ($321 000 USD) to UNICEF, and Czech donations make-up three percent of the annual $12 million UNICEF budget in Rwanda. Although the wounds of the genocide in Rwanda are slowing healing, over 60% of the country's 8.2 million inhabitants live below the poverty line, and more than half of Rwanda's total population is younger than eighteen.
About 40 children born in the Czech Republic have been adopted into families beyond this country's borders each year since 2000. But now, after the death of a Czech-born child entrusted to the care of a family in Sweden, international adoptions have been temporarily halted until the procedures undergo a review. Petr Sedlak, from the Brno-based Office for the International Legal Protection of Children, explains the history of international adoptions of Czech children.
Investigators of an organized crime unit in the west Bohemian city of Cheb have arrested three Czech men suspected of trying to sell a ten-month old baby girl on the black market. One of the suspects is the little girl's father. Police say that the baby girl was to be sold to the United Kingdom for about 100 000 Euro, or 2.8 million Czech crowns. Police searches of the suspects' homes uncovered evidence including a forged birth certificate. If found guilty, the suspects face up to eight years in prison. The western border region near Cheb has a history of problems with prostitution, including incidents of child prostitution.