Press Review

Today's HOSPODARSKE NOVINY comments on the fact that Canadian citizens will need a visa for the Czech Republic as of April 1st. Czechs traveling to Canada have had to have visas since October 1997, when the Canadian government imposed them to combat an influx of Czech Romany asylum seekers. Having failed to have the restrictions lifted the Czech side has decided to impose the same conditions on Canadians.

HOSPODARSKE NOVINY quotes the foreign minister Jan Kavan, who claims that the step will have a minimal effect on the Czech economy, because the authorities, while heeding the law, will be very lenient towards Canadian businessmen and other professionals traveling to the Czech Republic.

"Census Suspicion" is the title of an article in MLADA FRONTA DNES, which reports on negative reactions to the national census planned for the end of February. Many people are protesting, because the questionnaires are to include names, dates of birth and identification numbers - those are the personal numbers every Czech citizen is given at birth and has for the rest of his life.

The Office of Statistics, which organizes the census every ten years, says it needs the information to make sure the census results are precise. But with our newly gained sense of the right to privacy, many Czechs are sensitive to having anybody know about their private affairs - why should I have to say how many TV sets or cars I have, why should I give information that could get into the hands of my business competitors?

MLADA FRONTA DNES quotes one lawyer who has made up his mind to refuse to fill in the form, regardless of the fine he'll have to pay. The whole idea, he says, is in breach of the Charter of Human Rights and Liberties.

LIDOVE NOVINY publishes a touching photograph of a little girl studying her school report. The exasperation in her eyes says it all. The last day of January was mid term report day in Czech schools and the paper writes about the distress and fear felt by children whose results did not meet parents' expectations.

In most schools children receive grades - ranging from one to the disastrous five. Some parents even punish their kids for a three and children's help lines have been busy advising children on how to cope with the problem.LIDOVE NOVINY quotes one psychologist who hopes that this time there won't be any cases of attempted suicides, motivated by bad grades. The paper also calls on parents to take school reports in their stride and pay more attention to children's school results throughout the term.

And still on the theme of punishment, today's PRAVO asks whether a new bill treating graffiti sprayers as criminals will keep them from defacing public buildings. Fighting graffiti is extremely difficult, and the current lenient law doesn't help.

The proposed bill is just the opposite, the paper writes, with a possible sentence of up to 8 years. But will that stop sprayers? PRAVO quotes experts, lawyers and psychologists, some of whom fear that it will bring just the opposite - sprayers are out to rebel against society and restrictions like this will only trigger a wider rebellion.

Author: Olga Szantová
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