News of Radio Prague

Respekt editor-in-chief responds to government charges

The editor-in-chief of the Czech journal Respekt says he plans to approach international institutions, as well as the constitutional court, in response to the Czech government's filing of charges against the weekly on Monday. The government filed charges of libel against the newspaper, in reaction to an article which appeared earlier in the year, criticising the government's inability to crack down on corruption. Cabinet members say they will sue for slander individually, for up to 10 million Czech crowns, or almost 280,000 USD each in damages. The editor says that the government's charges are an attack on the freedom of speech. Prime Minister Milos Zeman's remarks that he wanted the libel suits to force the paper to shut down have drawn criticism from journalists worldwide.

In related news, a representative of Transparency International, the world wide anti-corruption organisation, said today that the Czech government's charges against the journal Respekt were extreme. In an interview with the Czech news agency CTK, he said he believed that the government and the press should find a common ground, and join forces in the fight against corruption.

Same-sex law rejected

The Czech parliament has once again rejected a proposed law that would have officially recognised same-sex partnerships in the Czech Republic. The proposal was voted down in a first reading, with 85 members of parliament for and 65 against out of a total of 166 present. The proposed law was meant to raise the legal status of same-sex partnerships to the level of regular marriages on many points. Under the proposal, gay partners would have been given the right to marriage ceremonies performed by mayors, or other town hall representatives. The proposed law would not have granted gay couples the right to adopt children.

Amendment to the Czech Republic's asylum law returned by the senate

The Czech senate has returned a proposed amendment to the country's asylum law to the Czech parliament for further consultation. The amendment, aimed at making it more difficult for foreigners to seek asylum in the Czech Republic, was found wanting by members of the senate, who did not agree with proposed changes to laws on policing, and the rights of the country's counter-intelligence service the BIS. The amendment proposed the right of police and the B.I.S. to monitor suspicious individuals' phone calls, as well as allowing greater room to manoeuvre in general information gathering. The senate says that these articles are out of place in relation to the asylum law, and need to be changed before the amendment is passed.

Two men to receive medals for heroism

The Czech capital city Prague plans to award two men bronze medals for their role in saving three children from a fire in July. The fire, which took place in a home for single mothers and their children, consumed twelve apartments and damaged forty others. One three year-old child was seriously injured. Mirolsav Luczk, an employee of the home, and Milan Kroscen, who was a visitor, risked their lives by entering a burning apartment and pulling out the children, along with their mother. Both will receive medals for outstanding bravery, along with financial rewards of 50,000 Czech Crowns. Prague's Town Hall plans to renovate the damaged home at the cost of 18 million Czech Crowns, or approximately 500,000 USD.


And finally a look at the weather. Friday will be another cloudy and rather damp day, with showers forecast for most areas in Moravia and Silesia. Daytime temperatures will reach highs of 14 degrees Celsius, falling at night to lows of four degrees.