The Czech Senate’s immunity committee decided on Tuesday not to hand independent Senator Liana Janáčková over for prosecution. Mrs Janáčková stands accused of defamation, after saying that the country’s Roma population should, among other things, be ‘blown up’. The decision has provoked outcry amongst Romany rights groups, who say that the move gives a green light to public displays of racism.
The Czech Senate’s immunity committee ruled on Tuesday that independent senator Liana Janáčková should not be handed over for criminal prosecution. Mrs Janáčková was wanted on charges of defamation based upon ethnic origin and race after making comments about the country’s Roma minority, suggesting they should be ‘blown up’. Mrs Janáčková has apologised for her comments, saying they were ‘silly’ and ‘unfortunate’. The Senate will cast the final vote on whether Mrs Janáčková should be stripped of her immunity, but on Tuesday, the immunity committee recommended by seven votes to two that she should not.
“I’m standing in an area of Prague which is quite close to Prague’s main train station – Hlavní Nádraží. This is an area which has been described as one of the worst areas of Prague in terms of poverty and destitution, but looking round, it looks quite normal to me – there’s a hotel here; there’s shops; there’s all sorts of normal things that you’d expect. So the impression one gets is that poverty isn’t really an issue in Prague if this is as bad as it gets. But that doesn’t really paint the full picture. To the north and to the east of the country,
A Prague court has ruled in favour of the Foreign Ministry in a case involving a female employee over alleged discrimination. The decision comes after a lower-instance court awarded former diplomat Adriana Bašovská one million crowns compensation for unequal treatment at the ministry last year. In the case, she was stripped of authorisation in handling classified data by a superior. The ministry appealed the decision and the Prague municipal court found evidence that the steps taken were the same in the case of a male colleague. Mrs Bašovská worked at the Czech embassy in Libya; in 2002 she was recalled by the Foreign Ministry in Prague. Her superior claimed that she had breached security principles.
The minister for human rights and minorities Džamila Stehlíková is in hot water after making comments which have offended members of the country’s Roma population. In an interview for a local paper, Mrs Stehlíková said that the Czech Roma minority were prone to disrespect the property in which they lived, because they had not had to work for it. She was also quoted as saying that in the cases of Romany children underperforming at school, it was the parents who should be blamed, as they sent their children out to steal and not to learn. Mrs Stehlíková said that her comments had been misconstrued and that she was asked questions which set her up to answer in such a manner. She stressed that she did not think this was the case in all Roma households and apologized for sounding as if she was making generalizations.
Petr Torák is being touted as the ‘new face of British policing’. But he actually comes from Liberec, northern Bohemia. Having emigrated from the Czech Republic with his family in 1999 – following on from a racist attack - he is now working to accommodate the immigrant community in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire. His story has captured both the local and the foreign press. I caught up with him on a brief visit back to Prague:
Over 100 people gathered in Prague on Sunday to march against racism and anti-Semitism. The march started on Franz Kafka Square in Prague’s Jewish quarter and ended up in the Senate’s Valdštejn Gardens, where the crowds were addressed by the head of the Senate Přemysl Sobotka. The march was organized as a protest against recent neo-Nazi marches to have taken place in Prague and Plzeň. Isreali and Czech flags were waved throughout the march, and traditional Jewish songs were sung. European commissioner for Education and Culture Ján Figel’ also addressed those present.
April 8 is International Roma Day and several events are being held across the Czech Republic to mark the occasion. One of the biggest events is an exhibition of 30 racially-motivated murders since 1989, which is taking place at Prague’s Náměstí Míru. International Roma Day was first marked in 1971 and was introduced in the Czech Republic in 1990.
This week saw the launch of a new campaign aimed at raising awareness of the growing problem of right-wing extremism and neo-Nazism in the Czech Republic. The scheme, organised by the Czech based NGO People in Need and various partners, is called NeoNácek Chcete Ho?, which translates as Who wants a Neo Nazi? It involves several innovative initiatives as Jamie Brindley explains:
One community that’s borne the brunt of skinhead attacks are the country’s Romanies, 250,000 of whom live in a state of uneasy cohabitation with their white neighbours. Romanies make up half of the three dozen people killed in racially-motivated attacks since the fall of communism. April 8th is International Roma Day, which was first marked in 1971 and has been celebrated here in the Czech Republic since 1990. We spoke to Ivan Vesely, head of the Roma organisation Dzeno.
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