Mayors from 51 communities across the Czech Republic met this week to discuss problems their constituencies are having with transients, loiterers and petty criminals, most of whom the towns say are Roma. The result was a letter to the government asking for greater local authority to dissuade and punish problematic citizens. The specific measures though are controversial.
Interior Minister Radek John has said that the government will name a new human rights and minorities commissioner in the coming days. The post has been empty for months, after the former commissioner Michael Kocáb was recalled. Speaking on Czech TV on Sunday, Minister John said he had been told a concrete name by the prime minster, as had Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, who reportedly gave his backing. According to reports, the candidate for the post is a woman. Last autumn, there was speculation the job could be given to former Green Party MP Kateřina Jacques, but that was flatly denied by Prime Minister Nečas.
The visual history archive of the Shoa Foundation of University of Southern California contains more than 50,000 testimonies of holocaust survivors. A year ago, Prague became one of three European locations where the complete database can be accessed. The database should soon be extended by testimonies from the genocides in Cambodia and Rwanda, that will also be made accessible from the Czech capital. In this edition of One on One, RP talked to the Czech filmmaker Martin Šmok, who works with the foundation and even shot filmed of the material.
Around 40 football hooligans clashed with the police in the northern city of Ostrava on Friday night. The police fired warning shots to disperse the crowd; two police officers we injured and four hooligans arrested, a spokeswoman for the Ostrava police said. The violence broke out after a police patrol entered an Ostrava bar, frequented by hooligans and neo-Nazis. The spokeswoman said the officers’ presence in the bar provoked an aggressive response from the crowd who pushed them out of the bar. The patrol called for reinforcements; when several dozen police officers arrived at the scene, they were attacked by some 40 hooligans. The situation calmed down only after one of the police officers fired warning shots, the spokeswoman added.
Interior Minister Radek John has said he will strengthen the police unit
in the town of Nový Bydžov in the Hradec Králové region in the case of
heightened crime incidence. The minister made a statement on Thursday
meeting with Mayor Pavel Louda and regional police chief Petr Přibyl.
Since last autumn, Nový Bydžov had claimed a rise in crime by Romany
residents, which led more than 3,000 local non-Roma to sign a petition for
security to be increased.
Tensions among the population reached a peak last November following the rape of a young woman. In response, the town hall issued a highly controversial statement regarding the local Roma community and said it would hire the services of a private security agency. The interior minister has tried to defuse tensions by saying that such a solution was not a good idea. He also pointed out that the statistics had not actually shown an increase in crime. Mr John, the local police chief and the mayor did agree local crimes needed to be properly investigated and prosecuted swiftly.
A sociological study, released by Gabal Analysis and Consulting, shows that a staggering 40 percent of Romany children drop out of elementary school and never go back, a figure that is eight times higher than the national average. The study, based on data collected from 14 elementary schools over the past five years, highlights one of the basic problems underlying an endless vicious circle of discrimination of the country’s Romany minority. Kumar Vishwanatan, a community worker who works with the Roma in one of the country’s poorest districts, says
Unusually cold weather has claimed 13 lives in Prague since October – 11 of them in December alone. A combination of hypothermia and alcohol played a role. With severe conditions expected to continue, the question now is how quickly help for the city’s homeless can be provided to try and stop what should be preventable deaths.
Cold weather may have claimed its 13th victim in Prague this winter, the Czech News Agency reported. The body of a man was found in Prague 10 on Sunday morning, and a spokesperson for the city’s rescue services said hypothermia was one possible cause of death. If that is confirmed, the cold will have killed 11 people in the capital since the start of this month alone.
Cold weather has evidently claimed its 12th victim in Prague this winter, the Czech News Agency reported. The body of a 48-year-old man who was believed to be homeless was found in a car on Vítězné náměstí square in the Dejvice district on Saturday, a police spokesperson said. The rescue services said a post mortem would determine whether he had frozen to death. The cold has killed 10 people in the capital since the start of December alone.
The regional court in Ostrava has handed suspended sentences to a teenage
boy and his mother over a petrol bomb attack on a Romany family’s home in
the Bedriška area of the city. The youth was found guilty of throwing the
missile, while the court said the mother was guilty of failing to prevent
him from doing so. Police were unable to prove a racial motive for the
attack, while a judge said intent to kill had not been proven, only intent
to start a fire. Nobody was injured in the incident, which took place in
In October four neo-Nazis got long jail terms for fire-bombing a house occupied by a Romany family in Vítkov, which is also in north Moravia, last year. A small child was severely burned in the attack and will suffer the physical and mental effects for the rest of her life.
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