Audit: Czechia lacks a system to protect soft targets from terrorist attacks

The Interior Ministry rejects the criticism from the Supreme Auditing Office, and says that Czech practices are in line with those of other EU countries. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 11.07.2022 11:58:00 (updated on 11.07.2022) Reading time: 3 minutes

The Czech Republic still lacks a complete system for protecting soft targets against terrorist attacks, the Supreme Audit Office (NKÚ) stated after auditing the Czech ministries of Interior, Health, and Culture.

The audit focused on how the ministries spent money on measures to protect soft targets such as schools, public areas, hospitals, and cultural facilities against terrorist and other attacks. It examined not only how money was allocated but also how the ministries set goals and assessed the effect of the subsidies used between 2015 and ’21.

“Although the Czech Republic has dealt with the issue since 2010, ministries still have not started boosting the investments in the protection of soft targets that would enable them to react, in case of an attack, in a way that would minimize the damage,” the NKÚ wrote.

A state concept for soft targets protection for 2017–20 was approved in 2017. It was supposed to create a functioning system to make it possible to respond flexibly and quickly to threats of attacks.

It was not until two years later that the three ministries began providing financial support for programs. Intended to create security analyzes and documentation to increase the protection of soft targets, and tp organize training, seminars and exercises.

“From 2021, concrete investments were to follow up on this. All this was to lead to the creation of a national comprehensive system for the protection of soft targets. However, this has not yet happened,” the NKÚ stated.

The NKÚ said the problems go back to the start of the Interior Ministry’s concept for 2017-20, which set no measurable goals to be pursued. Furthermore, the ministry neither assessed the concept's effect nor did it outline the planned next concept for 2021–23, the NKÚ wrote.

Interior Ministry's spokeswoman Klára Dlubalová rejected the NKÚ’s criticism. “In its approach to the protection of soft targets, the Ministry of the Interior does not deviate in any way from the normal standards of other EU states and proceeded fully in accordance with valid government resolutions,” she said on the ministry website.

“The anti-terrorist policy of the state must always be focused on a real positive shift for the safety of citizens, and not on indicators that are easily measurable but are not relevant for security in any way,” she added.

“The soft target protection system consists of a whole set of activities and measures … that are intended to help counter a potential terrorist or serious violent attack. Subsidy support is therefore only one of the articles of this system. By equating the entire system with the subsidies themselves, as the NKÚ did in its report, it creates a false impression in the reader about the non-existence of a system for the protection of soft targets.” she said.

Setting concrete measurable goals, in accordance with what the NKÚ requires, would require the government to state that a certain number of attacks on soft targets is acceptable and that it wants to reduce it to a certain concrete number. "This is at variance with the security policy goals, and it is mainly unacceptable in terms of humanness," Dlubalová said.

The soft target protection concept for 2017–20 contains permanently valid principles that can be applied in soft target protection regardless of the document's time limitation, she added.

The NKÚ also criticized the lack of spending by the three ministries. They only spent CZK 194 million out of the planned CZK 347 million from 2019 to 2021.

“The Interior Ministry distributed the money regardless of the actual needs identified in advance. Although the ministries of Culture and Health initially created a plan to increase the protection of selected priority soft targets according to needs, when they selected 46 hospitals and 57 cultural facilities for the programs, they later abandoned this plan by expanding the number of beneficiaries. Nevertheless, in the end, a total of CZK 153 million remained unused from the prepared money,” the NKÚ said.

The ministries still do not know the number of soft targets that need to be protected, the NKÚ concluded.

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