News NGOs call on government to renew its commitment to human rights

09-07-2014 17:53 | Daniela Lazarová

Ten Czech human right groups and NGOs have written an open letter to the prime minister, foreign minister and minister for human rights asking them to renew the country’s commitment to supporting human rights around the world. Among the signatories are Czechs in support of Tibet, the Czech branch of Amnesty International, the Vaclav Havel Library and People in Need. The centre-left government of Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has been accused of downgrading support for human rights in return for furthering the country’s business interests. Czech and Chinese officials recently signed an agreement on boosting trade, which included a passage saying that the Czech Republic respects the territorial integrity of the People’s Republic of China and does not support the independence of Tibet.

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August probably the hottest in history, meteorologists say

03-09-2015 18:51 | Ruth Fraňková

This year’s summer holidays were one of the hottest and sunniest on record, according to the Czech Hydro-Meteorological Institute. The average temperature recorded for July was 20 degrees Celsius, which is 3.2 degrees more than the long-term average. The average temperature in August reached 21.2 degrees Celsius, 4.5 more than the long-term values. According to the institute’s spokesman, this year’s August was very probably the warmest in the history of measurements. The summer months were also exceptionally dry, with precipitation in July reaching 40 percent of the long-term average. 

Czech asylum facilities are 90 percent full

03-09-2015 17:52 | Ruth Fraňková

The capacity of asylum facilities in the Czech Republic is currently 90 percent full, Interior Minister Milan Chovanec said at a press conference on Thursday. He also said that the Czech Republic is at the moment able to master the migrant crisis. The minister said he planned to visit some of the reception centres to find out more about the situation there. At the moment, the Czech Republic has three asylum facilities, in Zastávka near Brno, in Bělá pod Bezdězem, central Bohemia, and Vyšní Lhoty in north Moravia, with a total capacity of 1100 places. The Interior Ministry previously announced that it would like to increase the total capacity to 1400 places. 

A third of Czechs would vote for president Zeman in future poll for head of state

03-09-2015 16:59 | Ruth Fraňková

One third of Czechs would vote for Miloš Zeman if he stands in the 2018 presidential elections, according to a poll carried out by ppm factum agency in August. The Czech head of state was elected two years ago in the second round of elections with 32 percent of the vote; the poll suggests he would currently get 33 percent of the vote. When asked about the likely candidates for the next presidential elections, president Zeman was mentioned by 10 percent of respondents, followed by the current Finance Minister Andrej Babiš with seven percent and former Prime Minister Jan Fisher with six percent. Among the other names mentioned were Zeman’s previous election rivals Karel Schwarzenberg and Dawn Party leader Tomio Okamura. 

Two people charged over throwing eggs at Czech president

03-09-2015 15:34 | Ruth Fraňková

Police have charged two people who threw eggs at President Miloš Zeman at a commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution last November, police spokesman Tomáš Hulan said on Thursday. The incident at Prague’s Albertov was previously treated as a misdemeanour, which could have been punished with a fine, but the state prosecutor ordered the police to investigate it as disorderly conduct. If found guilty, the offenders could face up to two years in prison. The head of state had angered critics by some of his comments in support of Russia and his use of offensive language on state radio. 

Police presidium to set new rules on identifying migrants

03-09-2015 13:54 | Ruth Fraňková

The Czech Police Presidium will set rules on how to identify migrants arriving in the Czech Republic, the Ministry of Interior announced on Thursday. The announcement came in reaction to foreign media and Jewish organisations criticising Czech police officers for writing numbers on the hands of 214 migrants at Břeclav railway station on Monday night. In its report on Wednesday, the BBC noted that the ink marks carried an unfortunate visual resemblance to the Holocaust. The Interior Ministry said that it was not a standard procedure, adding that the officers were under pressure of time and tried to keep family members together. 

Blanka tunnel to open on September 20

03-09-2015 13:16 | Ruth Fraňková

The newly-built Blanka tunnel in Prague is set to open on September 20, deputy mayor Petr Dolínek said on Thursday, adding that no special ceremony was planned for the event. The tunnel, which has been under construction since 2007, was originally scheduled to open in 2011 but has been dogged by problems. The latest deadline in April had to be postponed after it turned out that hundreds of kilometres of electric cables had to be replaced after being damaged by rainfall. The tunnel, which has come under criticism for massive cost overruns, has cost Prague nearly 37 billion crowns. It is currently undergoing final testing of technologies and security systems. 

Czech President Zeman holds talks with Vladimir Putin

03-09-2015 11:50 | Ruth Fraňková

Czech President Miloš Zeman held talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Beijing on Thursday. The two heads of state are in China attending the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in the Pacific. The two officials discussed security issues and the Czech president called on Russia to join the international effort to stop Islamic State terrorism. On the subject of bilateral relations, Mr Putin said he hoped that the trade exchange between Russia and the Czech Republic, now affected by sanctions, would improve. Miloš Zeman met with Vladimir Putin for the second time this year. In May, they conducted talks in Moscow on the occasion of the end of war celebrations. 

Czech Post issues stamp in honour of Nicholas Winton

03-09-2015 11:50 | Ruth Fraňková

The Czech Post office has issued a special edition of stamps in honour of Sir Nicholas Winton, who saved the lives of 669, mostly Jewish children, by arranging their evacuation from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia before the outbreak of WWII. Sir Nicholas died on July 1 this year at the age of 106. The 13-crown stamp, entitled Tribute to Sir Nicholas, was designed by graphic artist Zdeněk Netopil. It was issued in 750,000 pieces and went on sale on Wednesday. 

Czech Republic stops detaining Syrians headed for Germany

03-09-2015 09:06 | Jan Velinger

Czech police officers will no longer detain Syrian migrants, claiming asylum in Hungary but trying to reach Germany, the foreigners’ police department has revealed. The Czech Republic has seen a growing number of refugees travelling from Hungary to the Czech Republic to try and reach their German neighbours. As of now, the Czechs will offer Syrians already registered in Hungary asylum in the Czech Republic as well; Syrian migrants who decline are to be escorted to railway stations from where will be allowed to continue their journey. 

Prague preparing to help up to 200 refugee families

03-09-2015 08:54 | Jan Velinger

Prague City Hall is preparing plans to help up to 200 refugee families, Deputy Mayor Petr Dolínek has said. The idea was presented at a council meeting on Wednesday but the city will still have to draw up details for debate. The deputy mayor indicated that security was not the only factor in the current migrant crisis but also human decency. The aim is to especially help those with the very youngest children; families would not all be located in one area but across a number of city districts. 

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