Czech Republic: Debate on migrant’s rights at the heart of review

Published on 29 Oct 2019, 03:59 PM

Human Rights Committee - 127th session - October 2019

Head of Delegation of the Czech Republic presents report to the Human Rights Committee.

On 17 and 18 October, 2019, the Czech Republic was reviewed by the Human Rights Committee on its compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The webcast is available here and here.

The Committee addressed several topics during Czech Republic’s review, particularly emphasizing it's concerns on the lack of implementation of the views adopted by the Committee. Moreover, it stressed the importance that the Czech Republic adopts measures to uphold the rights of migrants within the Czech Republic. It also expressed concerns on the rights of people deprived from their liberty, rights of people with disabilities and the rights of the LGBTI community. 

"Maybe we’ll need to agree to disagree on the question whether [Czech Republic] is acting in good faith or not."

- Yuval Shany - Vice Chair of the Human Rights Committee, concerning compliance with Committee’s view

Compliance with international decisions

The Committee raised concerns on compliance with international decisions, particularly, the lack of compliance of the Committee’s views concerning restitution of property after the fall of communism in the State, in 26 cases. Czech Republic has not provided restitution of land rights’ violations occurred during communism.

Czech Republic questioned the binding nature of the Human Rights Committee’s decisions and recommendations. Yuval Shany stressed that compliance with the ICCPR and with the Committee’s views has to be achieved in good faith, and good faith is an obligation under international law.  Thus, the ICCPR is “just as” binding as the European Convention on Human Rights, and exhorted the State to comply with its decisions.

Rights of Migrants

Moreover, Human Rights Committee also noted that there were allegations of discrimination against migrants, asylum seekers and refugees.

Hate Speech has been identified to be led against migrants, asylum seekers and refugees.  Allegations of speeches by public authorities through media that led to hatred and fear against these groups were raised in the Committee.

Moreover, the detention of migrants was also a concern of the Committee. There is information that leads to conclude that migrant children have been detained in spite of a legal prohibition of that. Furthermore, there are elements to believe that there is a practice of detention of migrants to send a message to other migrants not to come to the Czech Republic, based on the State’s asylum law.  The Czech Republic regretfully implied that its legislation would not be amended.

Recommendations

On 7 November 2019, the Human Rights Committee published its concluding observations to the Czech Republic. The Committee required that, by 8 November 2021, the Czech Republic has to submit a follow up report on the following three priority recommendations:

Racial Discrimination, Hate Speech and Hate Crimes

The State party should redouble its efforts, both through law enforcement and awareness-raising activities, to combat racial discrimination, hate speech and incitement to discrimination or violence on racial, ethnic or religious grounds, in accordance with articles 19 and 20 of the Covenant and the Committee’s general comment No. 34 (2011) on freedoms of opinion and expression. It should, inter alia:

  • (a) Take effective measures to prevent hate speech, particularly by politicians and high-level public officials, and firmly and publicly condemn such speech; and intensify efforts aimed at addressing online hate speech;
  • (b) Strengthen awareness-raising efforts, and conduct campaigns aimed at promoting respect for human rights and tolerance for diversity and targeted at revisiting and eradicating stereotypical prejudices based on ethnicity or religion;
  • (c) Investigate hate crimes thoroughly, prosecute suspected perpetrators where appropriate and, if they are convicted, punish them and provide victims with adequate remedies; and
  • (d) Ensure that adequate training on hate crimes continues to be provided to law enforcement officials, judges and prosecutors, and on the promotion of racial, ethnic and religious diversity to media workers.

Restraint in psychiatric institutions

27. The Committee reiterates its recommendations (see CCPR/C/CZE/CO/3, para. 14) that the State party take immediate measures to abolish the use of enclosed restraint beds in psychiatric and related institutions, as well as to establish an independent monitoring and reporting system and ensure that abuses are effectively investigated, prosecuted and sanctioned, and that redress is provided to the victims and their families.

Detention under the Foreigners Act

The State party should:

  • (a) Ensure that detention is only applied as a measure of last resort and is justified as reasonable, necessary and proportionate in the light of the individual’s circumstances;
  • (b) Ensure effective implementation of alternatives to detention in practice;
  • (c) Move to end the detention of all children, including children with families; and
  • (d) Revise relevant regulations to ensure that the benefit of the doubt in age assessment cases is afforded to young persons, in accordance with international standards.

Finally, the Committee indicated that the Czech Republic must submit its fifth periodical report by 2025.  The Committee pointed out that the next constructive dialogue with the State party will take place during 2027 in Geneva.

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