Czech government plans sweeping reforms to human rights legislation

Following Human Rights Day on Dec. 10, the govt. has announced amendments to domestic and sexual violence laws as well measures to protect children.


Written by ČTK Published on 11.12.2023 15:59:00 (updated on 11.12.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

The Czech government is preparing several amendments to laws and other measures to strengthen human rights in the country, Minister for European Affairs Martin Dvořák and Government Human Rights Commissioner Klára Šimáčková Laurenčíková said at a human rights conference in Prague today.

The planned steps aim to contribute to better protection against domestic and sexual violence, promotion of children's rights, and improvement of conditions for the disabled and their caregivers.

Šimáčková Laurenčíková said she believes the legislative steps will be taken during the current parliamentary term.

Today's conference commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Human Rights Day, which falls on Dec. 10.

"Thanks to cooperation with the nonprofit sector, public administration, companies, and academics, the government has been able to take several positive steps toward fulfilling the human rights of various groups," Dvořák said.

He mentioned the proposed establishment of a children's ombudsman and the enactment of a ban on the physical punishment of children. Bills against domestic and sexual violence are also at an "advanced stage of preparation," Dvořák added. Šimáčková Laurenčíková mentioned a change in the definition of rape.

The new law against domestic violence is to include several amendments. Domestic violence should be taken into account in the division of spouses' joint property and in child custody decisions after divorce. This is to be regulated by an amendment to the Civil Code.

The amendment to the misdemeanors bill aims to ensure victims' right to be accompanied by a confidant and avoid contact with the offender during misdemeanor proceedings. The amendment to the police law will extend the eviction of perpetrators of domestic violence from 10 to 14 days.

Parliament is expected to decide soon on ratification of the Istanbul Convention to combat violence against women and domestic violence. Dvořák said he believes both houses of the Czech parliament will support the document.

Dvořák also said he considers the promotion of disabled people's, seniors', and ethnic minorities' rights, as well as equalization of rights for same-sex couples and their offspring, important.

According to surveys, more than 10 percent of Czechs have experienced discrimination. Women earned on average 17 percent less than men and 11 percent less in the same positions.

Children's school performance depends highly on their parents' education and wealth. Hate speech targeting ethnic or religious groups and refugees is on the rise, Šimáčková Laurenčíková pointed out.

"Unequal treatment continues to affect the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in the Czech Republic," she said. She also recalled a forthcoming amendment to extend personal assistance for the disabled and support for their caregivers, as well as proposals for measures to eliminate segregation of Roma schoolchildren. She said she believes the bills and other steps will be adopted before elections.

Dvořák warned that human rights are becoming the target of questioning and belittlement. He pointed to the rise of populism, extremism, and anti-Semitism, as well as the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

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