The state of human rights in the Czech Republic deteriorated in 2012, the Czech Helsinki Committee said in its annual report released on Tuesday. The human rights group noted that unemployment, the negative effects of social reforms, lower accessibility of health care as well as rising anti-Roma sentiments were among the major trends registered last year. The group also warned that the situation of the Roma community was rapidly deteriorating as increasing numbers of the population see Romanies as scapegoats for various problems in the society. The Helsinki Committee criticized politicians for exploiting the situation, and accused some media of misleading coverage of anti-Romany riots.
Some 100,000 Czechs are threatened with homelessness, the Czech minister of labour and social affairs, František Koníček, told reporters on Tuesday. The current homeless population of 30,000 could rise dramatically, mainly in the most vulnerable groups such as young people leaving institutional care, handicapped people, single mothers and retired people, or those who lose their jobs shortly before retiring, Mr Koníček said. The minister also outlined a strategy to curb the rising numbers of homeless people: the state should provide social housing to those threatened with losing their homes; increase the scope of social services, and provide better health care to people living in the streets.
The European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday heard a case of two Czech women who complain about restrictions on home births. Judges heard arguments from attorneys of the women as well as a representative of the Czech Republic. The women filed their complaints to the court in 2011 and 2012; they were planning to give birth at home but say the Czech authorities prevented them from doing so. Their lawyer said the court should acknowledge that women’s rights in the Czech Republic are breached by denying assistance to home births. The court is expected to deliver a verdict in the case in the coming months.
The number of suicides registered in the Czech Republic in recent years is growing, the news agency ČTK reported quoting official statistics. Last year, 1647 Czechs took their own lives which was nearly 300 more than in the previous year. However, demographers say that despite the increase, the numbers of suicides are lower than in the past. The highest number of people who killed themselves – over 4,000 – was recorded in 1934.
Around 1,000 people received a free lunch on Prague’s Wenceslas Square on Tuesday in a campaign highlighting food waste. A group called Save Food handed out meals prepared from products that would otherwise have been discarded by supermarkets as they neared their expiry date. The ingredients were supplied by Makro and Tesco, the only supermarket chains cooperating with Czech food banks. The organizers said Czech legislation should allow retailers to hand out nearly expired foodstuffs to groups working with homeless and socially handicapped people.
Prague City Hall on Tuesday approved the city’s draft budget for 2014. The budget should be balanced with expenditures and revenues amounting to 44.2 billion crowns, or over 2.2 billion US dollars. Some 9.4 billion crowns have been earmarked for investments, a spokesperson for the city hall said. The budget is yet to be approved by the city council.
The former Auschwitz concentration camp hosts an exhibition on the fate of Czech Jews in the Terezín ghetto, the news agency DPA reported. The exhibit features diaries, photos and other artefacts secretly made by Terezín inmates, the head of the Auschwitz museum said. During the Holocasut, tens of thousands of Czech and Slovak Jews were transported from Terezín to Auschwitz. In 1943, the Nazis established a special section in the camp for families coming from Bohemia and Moravia but in July 1944, all of its 7,000 inhabitants were killed in what was the largest mass murder of Czechoslovak citizens during the war.
The Czech-based carmaker Škoda Auto revealed the pricing of its new Spaceback model at the Frankfurt motor show on Tuesday. The basic model Spackback Fresh will cost some 270,000 crowns, or around 14,000 US dollars. The car producer has also began accepting orders for the new model which will go on sale in early October in the Czech Republic and other European countries.
A test of stain removers carried out by the leading Czech consumer magazine dTest has revealed none of the substances actually work. The magazine tested eight stain removers available on the Czech market by using them to remove 17 stains of various origins. Only one substance was found to be satisfactory. The magazine said people should treat stains according to their origin rather than rely on universal stain removers that are expensive and burden the environment.
An appeals court in Olomouc on Tuesday confirmed a verdict of nine years in prison for a 38-year-old man convicted of growing large quantities of marihuana plants. The man, who was arrested in March 2012, ran several indoor plantations with more than 2000 plants of the illicit drug; he claimed he never sold the drug on the black market as he wanted to gain experience to be able to take part in a medical marihuana growing programme once it’s legalized for Czech growers. However, the court said the man grew the plants in expectation of financial benefits.