The Senate approved an amendment to the country’s asylum law on Wednesday, tightening the conditions under which asylum can be granted. Under the new legislation, authorities would have the right to reject asylum if the applicant has been convicted of a serious crime or presents a security threat. The bill was approved despite the opposition from Green Party senators, who wanted the legislation to be more favourable towards migrants. On the other hand, the amendment requests the Refugee Facilities Administration to provide migrants released from detention facilities with 400 crowns to cover their travel expenses and food. The legislation has yet to be approved by the President.
The Czech Defence Ministry plans to offer requalifying courses to military veterans in state firms related to the ministry, defence minister Martin Stropnický said on Wednesday at a press conference on the occasion of Veterans Day. Soldiers, who served on foreign missions, could work for instance as technicians to service military equipment. The ministry has also launched a website with a list of firms offering discounts on their products and services to veterans. The Defence Ministry currently registers 817 WWII veterans and over 12,000 more recent veterans who served on foreign missions over the past 25 years.
The first wine of the season, the so-called Saint Martin’s wine, goes on sale on Wednesday in the Czech Republic. The day of Saint Martin, which is celebrated in the country on November 11, has become an occasion for winemakers to present their young wines. First bottles of Saint Martin were opened at 11 am on Wednesday at events all over the country. In Prague, the main festivities are being held in Náměstí Jiřího z Poděbrad. Over two million bottles of Saint Martin’s wine have been produced this year.
More than 40 refugees at a detention facility in Drahonice in northwestern Bohemian have gone on hunger strike, the Czech News Agency said. Cleric Mikuláš Vymětal, who works with detainees at Drahonice, said the hunger strikers, almost all of whom are from Iran, had launched the protest over the fact they are being held in a prison facility and because of fears they will be deported to their country of origin. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights recently criticised conditions at Czech detention camps.
As he closes in on the record for caps for the Czech Republic, goalkeeper Petr Čech says he doesn't dare to predict how many international appearances he will eventually make. The 33-year-old is set to equal Karel Poborský’s record of 118 appearances for the national side in one of two friendlies against Serbia and Poland due to take place in the next week; he will sit out the other game under an agreement with coach Pavel Vrba. The Arsenal player made his international debut in 2002.
Information campaigns should be held in states from which the most migrants leave for Europe in order to prevent their number growing further, says the Czech minister of foreign affairs. Lubomír Zaorálek made the comment at a gathering in Prague on Tuesday of Czech ambassadors from 22 countries affected by the migration crisis. Mr. Zaorálek said his officials had been informed by diplomats that reports were spreading in migrants’ countries of origin that Europe could absorb up to three million refugees.
The group Bloc Against Islam is planning a demonstration in support of President Miloš Zeman at Prague’s Albertov on November 17, a state holiday. Exactly a year previously people whistled and threw missiles at the head of state in the same spot in protest at his bad language in a radio interview and views on foreign affairs. Mr. Zeman’s spokesman said the president would lay a wreath commemorating the November 17 events of 1939 and 1989 and would not himself demonstrate against Islam. However, he has nothing against citizens meeting at Albertov as “we live in a free society,” said the spokesman.
The Czech Republic will insist that the principle of the free movement of people within the European Union be maintained, the country’s prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, said on Tuesday. He was reacting to proposals from his UK counterpart David Cameron to reform the bloc. Czech Finance Minister Andrej Babiš made a similar statement, describing Mr. Cameron’s ideas as unacceptable. The Czech state secretary for European affairs, Tomáš Prouza, said that Prague supported that which moved the EU forward and could not support that which divided it.
The Constitutional Court has ruled in favour of a Cameroonian man who said he had been treated in a humiliating manner by the Czech police. In trying to expel the man from the country, officers used tear gas and handcuffs on him and transported him around the airport on a luggage cart. The police’s internal affairs unit had previously found that the treatment had not been unjustified; it has been ordered to reconsider the matter. The court said the man had not been informed of the exact date of his flight, which had evidently led him to employ passive resistance.
The coalition of ANO, the Social Democrats and the Four Coalition governing Prague has definitively collapsed, the Social Democrats said on Tuesday. The party’s councillor Karel Březina said the split had occurred as the Social Democrats had lost faith in the Three Coalition after it voted against a policy agreed in the coalition deal. Since four of Prague’s 11 councillors were voted out last month the three groupings had been holding talks on the future. The Three Coalition includes the Green Party, the Christian Democrats and the Mayors group.
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