Czech police have detained 57 people suspected of organising illegal transportation of refugees since stepping up control on international trains and roads in the border areas three months ago, a spokeswoman for the foreign police said on Wednesday. Most of them were from Hungary, Sweden and Syria, but there was also a Czech national among the suspects. If found guilty, they are facing from two to twelve years in prison. Czech police tightened security measures in connection with the migrant crisis in June this year. Since then, it has detained over 2,800 people, who were staying in the country illegally.
The maximum speed on the Czech Republic’s motorways will remain 130 kilometres per hour, the lower house of Parliament ruled on Tuesday. The chamber of deputies had previously proposed raising the maximum speed on selected motorway sections to 150 kilometres per hour, but the plan was rejected by the Senate. The Minister of Transport, Dan Ťok, was also against it, arguing that the current state of the country’s motorway network was not ready for a speed increase. President Miloš Zeman has already said that he would veto the proposal if it was approved by the lower house.
The minister for human rights and minorities, Jiří Dientsbier, said that the Czech Republic, with the help of Czech firms, could currently accept from 7,000 to 15,000 refugees. Mr Dientsbier made the announcement at a press conference on Wednesday, adding that the country should express its solidarity with countries that are facing the biggest influx of refugees. The Czech Republic has repeatedly rejected the EU proposed quota on refugees, calling instead for an increased security on the EU’s outer borders. According to the quota, the Czech Republic should accept around 4,000 people, which Mr Dientsbier said should not be a problem for a country of ten million. According to a study published by the Czech Transport and Industry Association last week, Czech firms are able to immediately put to work 5,000 immigrants.
Around 1,500 Czech union members gathered in Prague’s Sparta Arena on Wednesday to prepare for upcoming talks on wage hikes for next year. The meeting was called by the Czech-Moravian Confederation of Trade Unions. Union representatives say wages in the Czech Republic are not increasing fast enough, adding that they should reflect the country’s fast economic growth. The unions recommend their members to demand a five-percent hike in wages from their employers.
Czech non-governmental organisations have criticised conditions in Czech facilities for refugees, primarily in detention centres. Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, the NGO representatives called on the interior, justice, and labour and social affairs ministries to issue joint instructions that would ensure safe and humane conditions for all stages of contact with migrants in the Czech Republic. According to the NGOs, the Czech Republic fails to provide refugees adequate protection, often depriving them of their liberties by limiting their movement, confiscating their money and placing them in detention centres where conditions are humiliating.
Czech kindergartens and other pre-school facilities will continue to enrol only children who have received the full range of recommended vaccinations. The Lower House of the Parliament on Wednesday rejected a Senate-proposed amendment, according to which pre-school institutions would only have the right to know what vaccinations their charges have received. The legislation has been surrounded by a lengthy debate and stirred controversy among parents who are against compulsory inoculation of their children.
The Czech Constitutional Court on Wednesday ruled in favour of a British national, whose Czech wife has abducted their child to the Czech Republic. A British court had ordered the mother to return the child to Great Britain, where the family previously lived, but the Brno Municipal Court failed to respect the verdict. The Constitutional Court said that in case of international child abductions, the Czech judiciary is required to respect previous verdicts of other EU state courts. The Municipal Court in Brno will now have to re-open the case.
The Czech Republic’s car production could be record-high this year and is likely to exceed last year’s 1.24 million units produced, president of the Czech Automotive Industry Association, Martin Jahn, said at the Frankfurt Car Show on Wednesday. Mr Jahn said he expected all three local producers, Skoda, Hyundai and TPCA to increase their production. According to the most recent figures, the Czech Republic’s passenger car production increased by four percent during the first six months of this year to 850.172 cars produced.
The daughter of the late Sir Nicholas Winton, who saved hundreds of Czechoslovak Jewish children from the Holocaust, has been presented in Prague with a large copy of a new Czech postage stamp dedicated to him. Barbara Winton said receiving the Czech Post stamp had been a very moving moment. Her father died in July at the age of 106. He arranged eight trains to carry nearly 700 children to Britain at the outbreak of war in 1939.
The average mortgage rate in the Czech Republic rose to 2.11 percent in August, up from 2.08 percent the previous month. July’s rise was the first seen after 15 months of decline. The average rate of 2.05 percent recorded in May and June was the lowest seen since 2003, when market analysts Fincentrum began keeping an index. It records the average mortgage rate without regard to duration of fixed interest period.