The Czech Republic’s prison system is on the verge of collapse, Justice Minister Daniela Kovářová told reporters on Wednesday. Czech prisons currently hold some 22,000 inmates, the highest number in nearly ten years. Meanwhile, another 7,500 convicts have not yet started serving their sentences. If part of them commenced serving them now, a crisis scenario would have to be to put in place. Inmates would have to be accommodated in areas that are not designed to that purpose, such as prison gyms, the head of the Czech Prison Service, Luděk Kula, said. The justice minister noted that Czech prisons were overcrowded, and inaction could lead to the collapse of the whole system.
Illegal aliens living in the Czech Republic will be able to join a
voluntary return programme as of September 2009, an Interior Ministry
spokeswoman said on Wednesday. Until now, only foreigners with work permits
could apply for such programmes, which provide them with a free plane
ticket home and financial assistance. Illegal aliens will however receive
no subsidies from the state.
In July and August, the Czech Interior Ministry will launch a campaign to inform people about the possibility. Those who apply will face no sanctions for illegally staying in the country. The People in Need NGO estimates that around 300,000 illegal aliens are currently living in the country.
The Czech Republic won a two billion international arbitration case
against a Luxembourg media company, a Czech Finance Ministry spokesman told
journalists on Wednesday.
The Luxembourg-based firm European Media Ventures demanded some two billion crowns, or more than 107 million US dollars, in compensation for their lost investment in a TV station in the Czech Republic.
The case is the second international arbitration the country has won in recent weeks. The Czech Republic still faces around ten such cases involving some 20 billion crowns, or more than 1.7 billion US dollars. Most of them deal with the alleged failure of Czech authorities to protect foreign investments.
The head of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso will discuss
Canada’s intention to reinstate visas for Czechs at the G8 summit in
Italy, Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout told a Czech radio station on
Wednesday. Canada is considering the move due to an increase number of
Czech citizens who apply for asylum in that country.
In 2008 and the first four months of 2009, Canada granted asylum to 132 Czech nationals, the ČTK news agency reported on Wednesday citing sources from the Canadian embassy in Prague. Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board dealt with 334 applications of Czech citizens over that period of time, which was only a fraction of the overall number of asylum seekers - nearly 3,000 applicants, mostly members of the Czech Republic’s Romany community.
The Social Democrats will gain millions of crowns from including former
Green MP Olga Zubová on their party’s Prague ticket for October’s
early general elections, the Czech daily Hospodářské noviny reported on
Wednesday. Ms Zubová comes with a wealthy sponsor, the adverting tycoon
Jaromír Soukup whose company is the Democratic Green Party’s biggest
Ms Zubová, who was expelled from the Green party after internal infighting, voted along with the then opposition Social Democrats in March to bring down the government. On Friday, the Social Democrats decided to put her on their Prague ballot for the early general elections.
President Václav Klaus handed out 15 pardons on Wednesday, four of them to foreign nationals. Mr Klaus cancelled the repatriation of two Vietnamese citizens who were going to be sent back to their country because of customs offences they committed more than 20 years ago. The Czech president has handed out around 270 pardons since assuming office in 2003.
Some 55 percent of Czechs approved in June of the caretaker government of Jan Fischer, which was nearly three times the number of people who trusted the previous cabinet of PM Mirek Topolánek, according to a new poll by the CVVM agency published on Wednesday. Only 28 percent of people trust the Senate and a mere 25 percent of Czechs trust the Chamber of Deputies. Approval ratings for both houses of the Czech Parliament are up four and six percent, respectively, compared to polls conducted in May.
The Liberec Region, in northern Bohemia, has ended negotiations with the firm České Radiokomunikace about the planned purchase of Ještěd hotel and TV tower, the deputy regional governor told the press on Wednesday. The region had earmarked some 100 million crowns, or more than 5.3 million US dollars, in its budget to this end, but regional council members decided to use the money to fund road repairs instead. The award-winning hotel and TV tower was built in 1973 at the top of Ještěd Mountain overlooking the city of Liberec. The region would like to have it included in the UNESCO list of world heritage sites but the building is in urgent need of renovation.
Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout said on Tuesday that Canada had not yet re-introduced visas for Czech nationals and that Prague continued to negotiate with Ottawa in a bid to curb the move. On Friday, Czech Television broadcast a report claiming that the Canadian authorities had already decided to re-implement visas for Czechs and would make a public announcement to this effect on Tuesday. Speaking on Tuesday, however, the Czech foreign minister said that he had ‘no indication’ that the Canadian government was about to make such a move. Canada is thought to want to re-introduce visas for Czechs after receiving over 1,000 asylum claims from Czechs, predominantly Czech Romanies, in the first four months of this year alone.