The Czech Interior Ministry has rejected a report by Amnesty International criticising police brutality during the IMF/World Bank session in Prague last September. Amnesty International claims that the Czech police violated the human rights of hundreds of people. But, according to the Interior Ministry inspection department, which investigates offences committed by the police, the report is not objective and is not based on thorough knowledge of individual cases.
The Council of Europe has expressed concern over about the independence of public service broadcasting and regulatory authorities in Central and Eastern Europe, including the Czech Republic. The council is convinced that unsatisfactory economic conditions and insufficient democratic culture in this region seriously threaten the freedom of speech. These factors may prevent media from fulfilling their role as guardians of democracy and turn them into mercenaries acting on someone else's orders, the council warns in a report.
The performance of Czech industry has been improving. Industrial production in January rose by nearly 12 percent, as compared to the same period in the year 2000. Industrial sales in January increased by almost 17 percent. In the same period, the increase in labour productivity outpaced that of wages. According to the Czech Statistical Office, the rapid growth of industrial development was due mainly to a strong growth in the export-oriented processing industry, such as production of electronic and optical devices, vehicles and machinery. These industries have also reported increasing employment.
The Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister, Angelo Dalmau, has sharply condemned a Czech-sponsored proposal for a UN resolution criticising human rights violations in Cuba. On a visit to Slovakia, Dalmau said that Cuba takes the resolution as an act of revenge against Cuba. He also denied that Cuba has been opting for cooperation with Slovak rather than Czech companies in recent years for political reasons.
Meanwhile, the Czech Republic's Foreign Minister, Jan Kavan, has said that bilateral ties between Prague and Washington would not be damaged if the Czech government criticises economic sanctions against Cuba in the upcoming UN resolution. Czech and US diplomats held consultations on Monday regarding an addition to the resolution that describes economic sanctions against Cuba as counterproductive.
Czech prime Minister Milos Zeman is continuing his trip to India. During a visit to Bangalore, Mr. Zeman said that Indian companies could invest in the production of field and road vehicles in the Czech Republic. He also criticised trade barriers that Czech companies face when exporting to India. He identified a 50-percent customs duty on automotive parts as the main obstacle for the successful development of the Czech-Indian joint-venture Tatra-Udyog, which manufactures heavy trucks.
The Czech Republic and Germany have agreed to closely cooperate in fighting the sexual abuse of children in border regions. Representatives of the Czech and German interior ministries met on Tuesday to discuss the issue, which they see as very urgent and difficult to tackle. The Czech and German police already cooperate in investigating sexual tourism, which is widespread in North-Western Bohemia.
The dominant Czech telecommunications operator, Czech Telecom, is to speed up the digitisation of its network by half a year. To date, 86 percent of subscribers have been connected to digital exchanges. The digitisation is a pre-requisite for full liberalisation of the fixed-line telephone market in 2002, when subscribers should be able to freely select operators and keep their phone numbers independently of the operator they choose.
And finally, the weather forecast. We are expecting a cloudy day with rain showers, the highest daytime temperatures should range from 5 to 10 degrees Celsius. Thursday and Friday should be also cloudy with scattered showers, with afternoon highs between 4 and 9 degrees Celsius.
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