News of Radio Prague

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AI criticises racism in Czech Republic

In a new report published on Wednesday, Amnesty International has criticised racism in the Czech Republic. As in similar reports over the past few years, Amnesty International's report says the Czech authorities do not provide the Roma minority with sufficient protection and that the police do not take reports of racially motivated attacks seriously. Furthermore, Amnesty International says that Czech courts give sentences that are far too low to right-wing extremists who attack members of the Roma community.

Family of Roma murder victim asks public to not attend funeral

On a related note, the family of a thirty-year-old Roma man who was stabbed to death by a right-wing extremist on Friday night in the Northern Moravian town of Svitavy, have asked politicians and the general public to stay away from his funeral. A local official announced on Wednesday that the family intends to keep the date and time of the funeral secret, to keep politicians from using it as an opportunity to make speeches. The Czech government has condemned the attack, and the cabinet has reportedly urged the Interior Ministry to improve the way it deals with racially motivated attacks.

Freedom Party campaigns against Temelin

Austria's far right Freedom Party has launched a campaign to block Czech entry into the EU. The main aim of the campaign is to force the Austrian government to veto Czech EU membership if the Temelin nuclear power plant in Southern Bohemia is not closed down permanently. The Freedom Party has launched a petition on the issue of Temelin, and party representatives hope to gain enough signatures to be able to force the government to block Czech accession to the EU. Temelin is located just fifty kilometres from the Austrian border. There are widespread concerns in Austria, a staunchly nuclear-free country, over safety standards at Temelin.

Government rejects referendum bill

The government has rejected a Senate-proposed bill calling for a referendum on EU entry. According to government spokesman, Libor Roucek, the government ministers disagreed with the fact that the bill only dealt with this one referendum, and not referendums in general. According to the proposed bill, at least fifty percent of the electorate would need to participate in a referendum on EU accession, and if the population voted against entry, another referendum could not be held on the issue for two years. The Czech Republic's constitution does not require a referendum on EU accession, but there is a political consensus that popular backing should be obtained for such an important issue.

IMF warns of Czech public finance deficit

The International Monetary Fund estimates Czech GDP growth of up to 3.5% for 2001, but has repeated its warnings over the size of the country's public finance deficit. The GDP forecast has been reduced from previous estimates due to the economic slowdown in the EU, and in particular Germany. The IMF now estimates the Czech public finance deficit at 11.5 percent, two percent higher than its last forecast. The fund says that this is far too high, especially when the economy is doing well. The IMF says that at a time of prosperity, the Czech government should be cutting back on expenses, not increasing the national debt.

Government approves plan to extend consumer guarantees

The Czech government has a approved a bill that will, if it becomes law, increase the guarantee period on consumer goods from one year to two years. According to government spokesman Libor Roucek, the proposed bill is in line with current EU legislation for the protection of consumers.

Weather

And finally, a quick look at the weather forecast. Thursday in the Czech Republic should see partially cloudy to cloudy skies, with rain showers expected later in the day. Daytime highs should reach 26 degrees Celsius. Night-time lows on Thursday could drop to 12 degrees Celsius. The weather on Friday should be much the same, but with slightly higher temperatures, with daytime highs reaching 27 degrees Celsius. The weather at the weekend will brighten up, with clear to partially cloudy skies, with temperatures reaching up to 29 degrees Celsius.