The Czech Republic has used its position on the U.N. Commission for Human Rights to praise Cuba for what it called "steps in the right direction," after condemning the country's human rights record for the past three years. The turnaround was reflected in remarks delivered to the commission this week by Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan. Prague had condemned human rights abuses in Cuba every year from 1999-2001, but this year the Czech Republic said Havana was slowly beginning to move towards democracy and international dialogue. Mr Kavan added, however, that Cuba still had "a long way to go".
The former Czechoslovak foreign minister Jiri Dienstbier has announced he will run for the post of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights when the current commissioner Mary Robinson steps down in September. Mr Dienstbier, who is 64, served as United Nations special envoy for human rights in the former Yugoslavia from 1998 to 2001.
A court in Hradec Kralove, East Bohemia has sentenced a neo-Nazi skinhead to 13 years in prison for the murder of a Roma man. Last July twenty-two-year-old Vlastimil Pechanec racially abused Romany Ota Absolon at a disco in the town of Svitavy before stabbing him in the stomach. Police intervened outside the court on Friday as a group of skinheads supporting Pechanec tried to attack human rights activists. On Thursday a court in Prague gave a skinhead seven years in prison for attacking three people, including a pregnant woman.
And police say the deputy mayor of the eastern town of Krnov will not be prosecuted for throwing stones at a group of local Roma youths. Jaroslav Vrzal is accused of racially abusing the youths and throwing stones at them during a scuffle, which arose after the youths were caught allegedly vandalising a traffic sign. He admits to throwing a handful of rubble at the youths, but denies making any racist comments. Police say they are treating the matter as a misdemeanour.
Labour officials are threatening to fine a Japanese company for placing job advertisements stipulating that applicants must be under 35. The adverts were placed by the Japanese car-parts maker Shimizu, one of several foreign companies building factories in a new industrial zone in the northern town of Liberec. Labour officials say the adverts violate laws banning discrimination on grounds of age, sex or race. The company faces a fine of up to 250,000 crowns, which is around 7,000 dollars.
Finally a look at the weather. And there'll be more bright and sunny weather on Sunday, with temperatures in the daytime reaching highs of 19 degrees Celsius. And there's more fine weather forecast for Easter Monday.
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