Thursday

18th Jan 2018

UN: Czechs violate refugee rights to deter others

  • Some 147 children were being detained at Bela-Jezova, a former military facility in the Czech Republic (Photo: Bengin Ahmad)

The United Nations has accused the Czech government of deliberately violating the rights of refugees in order to deter others from arriving.

In a strongly worded statement, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, said Czech authorities are committing “systematic” violations.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

“They appear to be an integral part of a policy by the Czech Government designed to deter migrants and refugees from entering the country or staying there”, he said in a statement on Thursday (22 October).

Asylum seekers in the country are being strip-searched to confiscate money to pay for their own detention, he said.

“Many of these people are refugees who have suffered horrendously in their countries of origin as well as during their journey to the Czech Republic”, he said.

Zeid also spoke out against an “increasingly xenophobic public discourse” by Czech president Milos Zeman.

Zeman’s spokesperson on Facebook described the UN statement as a “verbal attack on the president” and said it was part of a larger campaign against the Czech Republic.

Refugee children in jail

Meanwhile, a report by the Czech ombudsman Anna Sabatova described detention conditions for asylum seekers in the country as "deplorable".

She said some 147 children had been sent to Bela-Jezova in August, a detention centre north of Prague.

"Bela-Jezova is a former military facility where the living conditions are, in many ways, much worse than those in Czech prisons", said Sabatova in her report.

The report states that basic hygiene is denied to infants and pregnant women.

It notes that parents are handcuffed in front of their children when transported and detained behind a 4-metre barbed-wire fence.

It states that police in full riot gear drag people out of their beds every night to count them.

It says that a family of four at Bela-Jezova will pay the state €1,075 for each month they are forced to stay.

It also notes that people are not informed of their rights and do not know why they are being locked up in the first place.

Because of it, Sabatova said the Czech government is infringing the European Convention on Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Zeman, for his part, in October told Czech media that conditions at Bela-Jezova are comparatively much better than the countries from which the asylum seekers fled.

“I think it is perfectly sufficient”, he said.

The Czech ‘Donald Trump’

71-year old Zeman was elected president in 2013.

A former centre-left prime minister, Zeman’s outspoken views has drawn harsh criticism from human rights groups.

At a butchers shop last week in Southern Moravia, Zeman said that refugees would pursue Sharia laws and ignore Czech rules.

“Unfaithful women will be stoned, thieves' hands will be cut off and we will be deprived of the beauty of women because they will have to have their faces covered. I can imagine that in some cases this might be beneficial, though”, he was quoted as saying.

He also recommended arming citizens to help police the country's borders and turn back refugees.

Jan Culik, senior lecturer in Czech Studies at the University of Glasgow, told this website, that “Zeman is the Czech Trump”.

The aging politician is popular among large swathes of the Czech population outside of Prague, said Culik.

He said that Zeman had started out as a respectful economist some 25 years ago before entering politics. After becoming president, he began issuing some of his most controversial remarks.

“A couple of days ago they organised an Islamophobic conference in the upper house of the Czech parliament. He [Zeman] is behaving absolutely outrageously”, said Culik.

“He’s really quite decrepit”, he added.

EU 'hypocrisy' condemns people to Libya, says NGO

Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, says the EU's key policy on returning migrants to Libya is condemning them to "nightmarish conditions", and is a hypocritical use of the Libyan coastguard to avoid direct responsibility.

Macron eyes France-UK border agreement

French president Macron wants the UK to take in more refugees as he revisits the 2003 Le Touquet agreement, which allows British border controls to take place inside French territory.

Showdown EU vote on asylum looking likely for next June

Divisions on relocating asylum seekers remain entrenched following an EU summit. The east-west divide opens up the possibility of relying on a majority vote for a key asylum in June, further exacerbating disputes among opposing capitals.

EU asylum debate reopens old wounds

EU leaders discussed asylum reforms in an effort to reach a consensus by next June, but divisions remain wide as concept of 'solidarity' becomes ever more elusive.

Macron eyes France-UK border agreement

French president Macron wants the UK to take in more refugees as he revisits the 2003 Le Touquet agreement, which allows British border controls to take place inside French territory.

Magazine

The asylum files: deadlock and dead-ends

The EU is reforming a number of internal asylum laws, but lack of staff, politics, and the sheer complexity of the bills means deadlines - like those announced by EU council chief Tusk - are likely to come and go.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Solutions for Sustainable Cities: New Grants Awarded for Branding Projects
  2. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersOresund Inspires Other EU Border Regions to Work Together to Generate Growth
  4. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  5. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Calls on EU to Sanction Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Expel Ambassadors
  6. Dialogue PlatformRoundtable on "Political Islam, Civil Islam and The West" 31 January
  7. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement and Same-Sex Couples in Romania – Case Update!
  8. EU2017EEEstonia Completes First EU Presidency, Introduced New Topics to the Agenda
  9. Bio-Based IndustriesLeading the Transition Towards a Post-Petroleum Society
  10. ACCAWelcomes the Start of the New Bulgarian Presidency
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li and President Tusk Stress Importance of Ties at ASEM Summit
  12. EU2017EEVAT on Electronic Commerce: New Rules Adopted

Latest News

  1. Nato prepares to take in Macedonia
  2. Taking full benefit of supercomputers in Europe
  3. Spitzenkandidat system 'difficult to get rid of', hopes lead MEP
  4. Rights NGOs face fresh threats across the EU, agency says
  5. EIB 'more sensitive' to fraud after Dieselgate, chief insists
  6. EU 'hypocrisy' condemns people to Libya, says NGO
  7. Next year's EU election at risk of Russian meddling
  8. Hungary to tax NGOs that 'help' migration

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressChair of EU Parliament Working Group on Antisemitism Condemns Wave of Attacks
  2. Counter BalanceA New Study Challenges the Infrastructure Mega Corridors Agenda
  3. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  4. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% Plastics Recycling Rate Attainable by 2025 New Study Shows
  5. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  6. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  7. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  8. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  10. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  11. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  12. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap