News of Radio Prague

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Controversy over UN human rights report

The Czech government's human rights commissioner, Jan Jarab, has accused the Budapest-based European Roma Rights Centre of portraying the Czech Repubic as if it were Nazi Germany in 1939. He said that the centre had grossly misinterpreted a new United Nations report on human rights in the Czech Republic. According to the Roma Rights Centre, the UN report stated that the Czech government was not pursuing a proper human rights policy, especially concerning the Roma minority. Mr Jarab described such an interpretation as propaganda, saying that the report praised the Czech government in its attempts to solve the problems faced by Romanies. He was particularly critical of the centre's claim that public officials were actively involved in spreading racism.

Storms wreak havoc

Violent rainstorms that swept across the Czech Republic claimed the life of a teenager on Friday night. The young man had been camping with his parents near the southern Czech town of Chlum u Trebone, and his body was found on Saturday morning after a tree had fallen on him during the storm. Elsewhere a children's summer camp near Prague had to be evacuated as violent rain and hailstorms caused the local stream to burst its banks. Near the town of Jihlava, south-east of Prague, a train was derailed by a fallen tree, but there were no injuries.

Further controversy over Roma at airport

A report by the television station TV Nova has led to a new wave of controversy over Czech Romany families being prevented from flying to Western Europe. According to the report the Czech national airline CSA refused to fly several Romany families to Ireland on Thursday. Airline employees allegedly took the families aside and prevented nine people from boarding a plane for Dublin because they did not have enough money to cover their stay. CSA officials said that they were acting on an agreement with the Irish immigration authorities, but the Irish Chargé d'Affaires in Prague, James O'Connell, said that there was no agreement between Ireland and the Czech Republic instructing airlines to carry out such checks.

Compensation for forced labourers

Around ten thousand Czech citizens sent to Austria as forced labour during World War Two have applied for compensation from the newly established Austrian Fund for Reconciliation, Peace and Cooperation. The Czech Foreign Ministry's special commissioner for the compensation of Nazi victims said that the payments had now begun, and that those forced to work in Austria would receive almost identical sums to people sent to work in Germany itself. Compensation was originally delayed because of long-running legal battles in the United States.

Major Czech and Slovak conference takes place in Lincoln, Nebraska

The need to keep Czech and Slovak traditions alive through the younger generation was the main focus of a major three-day conference of Czech and Slovak organizations in the United States that ended this weekend in Lincoln, Nebraska. People of Czech and Slovak origin from all over the country took part in a series of panel discussions, and one issue raised was the future of historic buildings associated with the Czech and Slovak minorities. The Czech cultural attaché in Washington, Ivan Dubovicky, pointed to the problem of the long-neglected Czech National Building in New York. He said that all participants agreed that the best solution would be for the Czech state to buy and renovate the building and make it available to émigré communities.

Weather

Sunday will be cloudy with showers and the occasional thunderstorm and temperatures between 18 and 22 degrees Celsius. The weather will remain showery on Monday, although in the course of the week, temperatures will again creep up to the mid twenties.