The London-based human rights organisation Amnesty International has criticised the Czech Republic for ill treatment of its Roma minority and cases of degrading treatment of patients in mental hospitals. According to the Amnesty International annual report, released on Wednesday, the cases of ill-treatment of Romanies are not sufficiently investigated and their perpetrators are not sufficiently punished. The report also notes that Roma are affected by high unemployment and Romany children continue to be overrepresented in schools for children with learning difficulties. Amnesty International also points out that "cage beds" are still used in psychiatric hospitals to restrain patients. The organisation considers the use of cage beds in Czech mental institutions to be cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, violating international law and professional practice.
Finance Minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, has sacked his deputy Jaroslav Sulc after the Czech daily Hospodarske Noviny reported Mr Sulc had collaborated with the communist-era secret police. Mr Sulc allegedly worked as a holder of a "cover address," meaning he gave his postal address at the disposal of the secret police. The paper adds that Mr Sulc received a screening certificate, proving that he had not collaborated with the political police. Holders of "cover addresses" are not explicitly mentioned in the "lustration" screening law of 1991.
The Czech cabinet has approved draft legislation which abolishes thirteenth and fourteenth month salaries, a form of bonus given to civil servants in the summer and at the end of the year. Instead, the draft proposes to replace the two extra salaries with only 20% of one monthly wage, divided among the twelve salaries in the year. The cabinet also decided to deprive judges, MPs, ministers, and state representatives, of their fourteenth month salary as early as this year. Both draft laws are yet to be approved by parliament and signed by the president. Civil service unions, who oppose the draft, have said they are confident the proposed legislation would not make it through parliament.
Rescue Jesenik 2004, an international conference for rescue workers, has begun in the town of Jesenik. For two days, the world's experts in the fields of emergency health care, including rescue work following terrorist attacks, will share their experiences with some 300 rescue workers from all over the world, including Israel, the United States, and Turkey.
The Czech Republic offers the best living conditions for Slovak citizens who have decided to live abroad, Slovak President Rudolf Schuster said on Wednesday. Mr Schuster is currently in Prague for the last time as Slovak President. He will be succeeded by Ivan Gasparovic, when his term ends in June. At a meeting with Slovak residents in the Czech Republic, he expressed regret over Slovakia's failure to do more to support its citizens abroad.
Thursday should remain partly cloudy with occasional showers. Daytime temperatures are forecast between 14 and 18 degrees Celsius, with a maximum of 20 degrees Celsius in the south-eastern part of the country.
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