News Wednesday, MAY 31st, 2000

Hello and a very warm welcome to Radio Prague. I'm Rob Cameron, and we start the programme with a brief news bulletin. First the headlines:

Those were the headlines, now for the news in more detail.

Lower house passes amendment to Commercial Code

The lower house has passed a comprehensive amendment to the Commercial Code. The draft law aims to make Czech commercial law fully compatible with European Union norms. The Justice Minister Otakar Motejl, who threatened to leave his post if the law was defeated, expressed his satisfaction with the approval after the recent rejection of his amendments to the Criminal code and the Constitution. The new law proposes to strengthen the position of minority shareholders and creditors, reduce the potential abuse of their functions in statutory bodies, increase transparency and facilitate easier company mergers and divisions. The draft law must still be approved by the upper house and the President.

Police detain 22 illegal migrants on Czech-German border

Police have detained a group of 22 people attempting to cross the Czech-German border illegally. The citizens of Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and India were attempting to enter the German province of Saxony in a goods vehicle. Police returned six of the migrants, who had applied for asylum in the Czech Republic, to the refugee camp where they had been stationed. The remaining migrants, who were on Czech territory illegally, were escorted to temporary holding facilities. On the same day, German authorities turned over 14 Afghan refugees who had crossed the border illegally from the Czech Republic into Bavaria. The Czech authorities have ordered all of the illegal migrants to leave the country by July 17.

Report shows increase in economic crime

The number of crimes committed in the Czech Republic last year remained unchanged from 1998. However, the share of economic crime and the extent of damages caused by it has grown. The results stem from a report on the state of security in the Czech Republic for 1999. Losses from economic crime last year exceeded 21 billion crowns. The report has been approved by the State Security Council and must still be approved by the government and Chamber of Deputies.

Chamber of Deputies passes law on organic farming

The Chamber of Deputies has also passed a law on organic farming. The law lays down regulations and control procedures for the production, processing, import and distribution of organic food products. Farmers violating the conditions or misusing organic labelling can expect fines of up to a million crowns. According to the Agriculture Minister, Jan Fencl, there are currently 473 organic farmers operating in the Czech Republic. The new law should come into effect on January 1, 2001.

Opposition calls for talks on central bank law

The chairmen of two small right-of-centre opposition parties have called for talks with the Prime Minister Milos Zeman, to discuss a proposed amendment to the law on the Czech National Bank. Christian Democrat leader Jan Kasal and Freedom Union chairman Karel Kuehnl say the amendment would distance Czech law from that of the European Union and threaten the central bank's independence. The law has been criticised by representatives of the Czech National Bank and several politicians.

Havel criticises changes to electoral law

President Vaclav Havel has criticised changes to the electoral law, which were approved recently by the lower house and are currently being discussed in the Senate. The new legislation would replace the current proportional system with a mixed system favouring larger political parties. President Havel told reporters the changes would threaten the country's bicameral system, which he said rested on the principle of an upper chamber founded on a majority system and a lower chamber functioning on a proportional system. The President questioned the motivation behind the changes. He said that if too many elements of a majority system were introduced, the spirit of the proportional system, which he said respected minorities, would be disturbed.

Drugs raid in Hradec Kralove Police have raided six home laboratories for the production of the drug Pervitine in the eastern city of Hradec Kralove. Seven people between the ages of 22 and 44 have been charged with drugs offences.

Internet use on the rise

The number of Internet users in the Czech Republic appears to have grown rapidly over the past six months. A survey conducted by the GfK agency suggests that 16 percent of Czechs between the ages of 15 and 80 use the Internet, a rise of 60 percent since December last year. However, some 80 percent of respondents said they had never used the Internet.


And I´ll end as usual with a look at Thursday's weather forecast. It will be a partly cloudy day with patches of fog, and temperatures reaching up to 21 degrees Celsius in the daytime and dropping to lows of 4 degrees in places at night.

I'm Rob Cameron, and that's the news.