In the News 9.2.09

In the News 9.2.09

Written by Naďa Straková
Aktuálně.cz CzechNews



This week’s news digest could be easily titled Journalists versus politicians, or Politicians versus journalists. You choose.

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PRESS FREEDOM IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC. Judicial and police harassment of journalists is a major issue not just in authoritarian countries. Czech journalists have been lately busy trying to protect their own fundamental rights – source protection and right to publish wiretaps.

Last week saw Czech MPs overturning a Senate veto on a bill that bans publishing police wiretapped recordings of people without their consent. If president Václav Klaus signs the bill, breaching the law would send journalists to prison or impose a multi-million fine on them.

As soon as Czech lawmakers overturned the Senate’s veto, the first journalist has been fined for protection of her source.

Prosecution handed a CZK 20,000 fine to reporter Sabina Slonková after she refused to disclose the source of a controversial CCTV footage aired by internet online daily Aktuálně.cz.

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RATH AS HITLER, HITLER AS DANGEROUS PHENOMENON. It seems like Czech politicians fail to appreciate satire. Weekly magazine Reflex reporters have to defend their right to use satire to ridicule a Czech senior MP David Rath (Social Democrats).

Central Bohemian governor David Rath asked Reflex to apologize for depicting him as Adolf Hitler. He also plans to consult further action with his lawyers.

Reflex believes that Rath deserves nothing else for openly praising Hitler’s economic policies and “behaving the way he does”.. Reflex also says that Rath as Hitler captures a dangerous phenomenon.

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CASTRATION AS A MEANS OF PREVENTION. Europe’s leading human rights watchdog called on the Czech Republic to stop surgical castration on sex offenders.

The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) visited the Czech Republic last year in March to inquire about the surgical as well as chemical castration on psychiatric patients and prisoners.

“It [castration] is an intervention that has irreversible physical effects, and direct or indirect mental health consequences,” says the report which was written based on an ad hoc visit of two psychiatric hospitals and two prisons.

It also transpires that the Czech Republic is the only country in Europe that uses castration to prevent sex offenders from more crime.

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MORE DIGNIFIED PLACE FOR ROMA PEOPLE. New HRs minister Michael Kocáb is starting to fulfill one of the promises he made to the public when he assumed his new position. He is working hard on building more dignified memorials to Roma people died in concentration camps.

Kocáb visited first Hodonín u Kunštátu in order to negotiate the purchase of a recreational facility that sits on a property that housed a Romani concentration camp between the years 1940 and 1944.

Should he reach an agreement with the current owner, the Ministry will try to get money for their grand plan – an education centre focusing on Romani culture.

But the situation in Hodonín is much easier than in the other concentration camp in Lety u Písku. The management of the pig farm in Lety, on the other hand, is asking for CZK 300 million.

You can have a look at what Lety looked like 60 years ago and what it looks like now here.

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IF THESE WALLS COULD TALK. If you find spare CZK 100 million by any chance, despite the credit crunch hitting the whole world, you can soon live in a chateau that has the world of famous or infamous Czech politics imprinted in its walls.

The baroque chateau in Štiřín, linked to the era of former PM Miloš Zeman (Social Democrats) with a top-level blackmail and wire-tapping affair will apparently soon be for sale.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry, which administers Štiřín chateau, just a few kilometers outside of Prague, is very seriously considering getting rid of the property. The chateau serves as a conference hall, so the walls have undeniably witnessed the sea of big and/or small ideas. One wishes if the walls could talk…



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