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Government approves creation of Children's Ombudsman and National Human Rights Institution (NHRI)

April 11, 2024 News

Following the Government's meeting on the amendment to the Ombudsman Act, the Public Defender of Rights Stanislav Křeček welcomed the Minister for Legislation's position on the institution of a Children's Ombudsman. The establishment of the Children's Ombudsman along with the expansion of the Ombudsman's mandate in the protection of human rights was approved by the Government on Wednesday April 10th.

Reinforcing human rights protection in the Czech Republic: The Defender draws on Norway’s experience

March 18, 2024 News

The Defender, Stanislav Křeček, and his deputy, Vít Alexander Schorm, introduced today the preparations made by their office with regard to the possible further expansion of their competence in the field of human rights protection. Over the past four years, the Defender has utilised 38.25 million Czech crowns under the Norway Grants project [1] to enhance his activities in the area of human rights with a number of surveys, reports and recommendations, as well as other activities aimed at experts and the general public. Thanks, among others, to the partnership with the Norwegian National Human Rights Institution, the staff of the Defender’s Office have gained experience in working methods typical of institutions with a broad human rights protection mandate. They already put the experience to use in their current work, and will benefit from it especially if the Public Defender of Rights assumes the role of a national human rights institution (NHRI) and a children’s ombudsman. Both are envisaged by the forthcoming amendment to the Public Defender of Rights Act, discussed by the Legislative Council of the Government on Thursday, 29 February.

Tranquilisers instead of individual support: even such cases are encountered during the Defender’s visits to residential facilities for people with disabilities

December 3, 2023 News

The stories of two men with mental disabilities recorded by employees of the Defender’s Office during their visits illustrate a phenomenon which has been mostly overlook so far: some people with mental disabilities, especially those with challenging behaviour, receive high doses of tranquilisers. According to the Deputy Defender, this practice has to change. Behaviour is often the only possible form of communication for people who cannot otherwise make contact with others. It is therefore necessary that the latter understand the unmet needs behind the patient’s challenging behaviour and be able to respond accordingly. Tranquillisers must not be the first, let alone the only and permanent “solution”.

According to educational plans designed for pupils with mild mental disabilities more Romani children are still being taught than would correspond to the representation of Roma among all schoolchildren

November 6, 2023 News

As in previous years, current data from the Czech Ministry of Education show that Romani pupils are roughly 10 times more likely to leave psychological counseling centres with a diagnosis of mild mental disability than their non-Romani classmates. According to the Ombudsman, in the three years when he has been monitoring this topic, the situation in Romani education has not improved much. On average 3.5% of primary school pupils are of Roma origin. However, over a quarter (26.2%) of pupils educated according to the rules with reduced requirements, designed specifically for children with mild mental disabilities, are Roma. Such a disproportion raises questions about whether equal treatment of Roma in access to and provision of education is ensured.

The Crimea Platform connected ombuds from all over the world, their online meeting was co-hosted by the ombudsmen from Czech and Ukraine

October 24, 2023 News

Before the start of the The Second Parliamentary Summit of the Crimea Platform held in Prague, ombuds and representatives of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) from more than sixty countries around the world met at an online conference entitled "The Battle for Crimea — The Battle for Human Rights". The Ukrainian Ombudsman — Commissioner for Human Rights of the Ukrainian Parliament — Dmytro Lubynets asked his Czech counterpart, Ombudsman Stanislav Křecek, to co-organize the conference. Together with the participants, they discussed current problems and human rights violations in occupied Crimea.

In a joint statement, the representatives of the ombuds institutions of the Visegrad Four countries stressed that any extension of their powers requires adequate funding and staffing

October 23, 2023 News

The joint declaration was initiated by Polish Ombudsman Marcin Wiącek as this year's host of the annual meeting of V4 ombudsmen. Ombuds institutions in all four countries have experienced the gradual broadening of their mandate and competences. For example, the Slovak Ombudsman is currently beginning to oversee the rights of people restricted in their personal freedom. In the Czech Republic, the forthcoming amendment to the Ombudsman Act includes the establishment of a children's ombudsman and foresees that the ombudsman would also exercise the mandate of the National Human Rights Institution (NHRI).

The handling of claims for compensation for unlawful sterilizations is accompanied by errors at the Ministry of Health, the Ombudsman has found

October 20, 2023 News

According to the Ombudsman's findings, the Ministry of Health does not process requests for compensation for unlawful sterilizations within the legal deadline. In some cases, it has exceeded the prescribed 60 days three times. Moreover, it has not been helpful in communication with the applicants, neither it has sufficiently informed them about their rights. The Ombudsman informed the Minister of Health of his conclusions and recommended the Ministry to make several adjustments to the instructions to the applicants for compensation.

It is good that the Government wants to establish a Children's Ombudsman and a National Human Rights Institution. But we can't do it without people, warns Ombudsman

July 18, 2023 News

The Ombudsman has sent his comments on the draft law amending the Ombudsman Act to the Minister for Legislation. The Government's proposal aims to establish a Children's Ombudsman and a National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) under the Office of the Ombudsman. This will entail many new responsibilities and tasks. The Ombudsman therefore advises the Government that adequate funding and staffing are needed to carry out the new mandates with dignity.

Czech Ombudsman´s Advisory Body: Thousands of people with disabilities lack full legal capacity in violation with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

July 3, 2023 News

The Ombudsman's Advisory Body for people with disabilities is alarmed about the large number of people with disabilities in the Czech Republic restricted in their legal capacity. Members of the advisory body expressed their concern during their June session. As Ombudsman's research shows, the courts in the Czech Republic still prefer restrictions of legal capacity to other forms of support. People with restricted legal capacity cannot make independent decisions in important areas of their lives. For example, they cannot freely manage their own property, make decisions about their health, marry or vote. This is contrary to Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The UN Committee has previously criticized the new Czech legislation which continues to allow for restrictions of legal capacity.

At the Night of Dignity, we remembered not only Dorota Šandorová, but also the situation of other people with disabilities

January 6, 2023 News

Dorota Šandorova experienced many years of abuse by caregivers in a social services facility. Two years ago, one of them killed her on the night of 6-7 January. He straddled her, brutally twisted her arms behind her back and pushed her full force against her chest until she fell unconscious and suffocated. The court convicted the perpetrator of murder, then reclassified it as negligent homicide. The incident did not become public until last November and did not appear in professional case reports. Today, we at the Office of the Public Defender of Rights, along with people in other places across the Czech Republic, remembered Dorota Šandorová.

PF 2023

December 5, 2022 PF

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year full of health, peace and love

Mistreatment of People with Disabilities in Social Services has among others Systemic Causes as well, warns Ombudsman

November 28, 2022 News

"People with severe mental and combined disabilities are very vulnerable. They are often completely dependent on the care of those around them. It is all the more serious to find that they are exposed to mistreatment in what should be a safe home for them. This is unacceptable," says Ombudsman Stanislav Křeček, referring to a recent article published in the weekly magazine Respekt about cases of abused and even killed clients of several social services institutions.

Ombudsmen from the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland call for preserving the continuity of national ombudsman institutions and highlight their indispensable role in democies based on the rule of law

October 21, 2022 News

At the end of their meeting in Kroměříž, the three ombudsmen from the Visegrad Four countries stressed the importance of an active relationship between the state and ombudsman institutions. The importance of the ombudsman's mission, according to them, is particularly clear at a time of social change, such as the epidemic of covid and the war in Ukraine.

Ombudsmen from the Visegrad Four countries met in Kroměříž to share their experience of helping people fleeing the war in Ukraine

October 20, 2022 News

The Visegrad Four countries, as neighbours or as linguistically and culturally close countries, have become destinations and new homes for millions of people affected by the war in Ukraine. The experience and assistance of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia in the face of such a huge movement of people seeking a safe haven is being discussed today by representatives of the four Visegrad ombudsman institutions. Each year, their offices take turns to organise a conference focused on issues related to their work. This year's two-day meeting is hosted by the Czech Ombudsman Stanislav Křeček, who has invited his foreign ombudsman colleagues and experts from their offices to the moravian town of Kroměříž.

Current status of the project “Reinforcing the activities of the Public Defender of Rights in the protection of human rights (with the aim of establishing a National Human Rights Institution in the Czech Republic)”

September 27, 2022 News

The four-year project, which started on 1 January 2020, is now halfway through. It was introduced to the public at an opening press conference in January 2020 and its goal is to increase the protection of the rights of persons falling under the Defender’s mandate, especially vulnerable groups such as children, youth and victims of ill-treatment and discrimination, thanks to the reinforcement of the staff of the legal department and the secretariat of the Public Defender of Rights. The project itself comprises a large number of activities, which can be divided into six thematic areas for easier understanding the project’s essence. The project will continue until 31 December 2023.

Children found out at the Defender’s conference how the Defender could help them. In the meantime, politicians and experts discussed the role of a defender of the rights of children

June 15, 2022 News

At the first conference at the Office of the Public Defender of Rights dedicated directly to children, the young participants addressed topics such as participation of children in public life, where they sought help in solving various problems and what they thought a defender of the rights of children should do. At a working meeting with politicians and experts held on the same day, the Public Defender of Rights and his deputy discussed not only the Defender’s role in the protection of children’s rights, but also the position of a defender of the rights of children.

The quality of care for children in institutional care is often based on the individual approach of staff and management. Systematic visits to homes and institutions have once again shown that children, as well as directors of institutions, would benefit from having laws to lean on

June 10, 2022 News

The summary report from the facilities for children, who – due to various reasons — cannot be cared for by their biological or foster family, provides an overview of findings from systematic visits to twelve children's homes and educational institutions. Lawyers from the Office of the Ombudsman, together with experts on children's issues, visited them in 2019-2021 as part of the agenda for the prevention of ill-treatment of people deprived of their liberty. The Deputy Ombudsman Monika Šimůnková, who is in charge of this agenda, then formulated recommendations for both the Ministry of Education and the facilities themselves.

Have you worked in more than one European Union country? Don't forget to say so on your pension application

May 9, 2022 News

Every year, about 100 complainants turn to the Ombudsman because of pensions or benefits "with a foreign element". Cases involving EU countries are among the most easily solved — EU social law guarantees migrant workers benefits under the national legislation of their home country, ensures that people do not lose their entitlement to benefits because of working abroad and, last but not least, guarantees that benefits are paid to another Member State. Interconnection within the Union has also simplified communication between authorities on different sides of the border.