Czech Republic 2022
The Czech Republic hosted the third highest number of registered Ukrainian refugees in the EU and the highest number per capita. Hundreds of Roma refugees from Ukraine were subjected to discriminatory treatment. There were concerns over discriminatory remarks by the Public Defender of Rights. Thousands of Roma women unlawfully sterilized in the past had still not been fully compensated. Sterilization was still a requirement for legal recognition of gender change. Concerns remained over a deal to end a long-running dispute over expansion of the Turów coalmine near the Czech/Polish border.
There was no progress towards ratifying the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention).
Refugees’ and migrants’ rights
As of 31 October, the Czech Republic had granted temporary protection to 453,725 refugees from Ukraine. The country continued to register new arrivals, but the number fell considerably from March onwards. Of the refugees entering the Czech Republic 47% were women and 33% children. The country had the world’s highest number of displaced Ukrainians per capita. However, thousands of people who received temporary protection status subsequently returned to Ukraine. The Czech Republic, in line with the decision of the EU, extended temporary protection for Ukrainian refugees until March 2023, but reduced financial aid.
Ukrainian Roma faced both systemic and individual racism on arrival in the Czech Republic. Ukrainian Roma were forced to wait much longer than other applicants before being assigned temporary protection. Hundreds were stranded for several days at train stations after their arrival in Prague and Brno in April and May as they were not recognized as refugees. They were denied help from the authorities for several weeks.
The Public Defender of Rights, Stanislav Křeček, continued to make discriminatory remarks against Roma. He blamed the problems of socially excluded neighbourhoods and informal settlements on their inhabitants, claiming they had not tried to change their situation. He said that his duty was not to defend human rights but to protect citizens from unfair decisions by the Czech authorities. In August, in an unprecedented move, he removed all portfolio responsibilities from his deputy, who subsequently resigned.
Sexual and reproductive rights
Roma women who had previously been forced or coerced into sterilization were still awaiting reparations following the August 2021 passing of a law, based on the recommendations of the previous UPR, that women sterilized between 1 July 1966 and 31 March 2012 without their consent were entitled to a one-off compensation of CZK 300,000 (around EUR 12,000). Only 30 of 260 applicants received compensation.
LGBTI people’s rights
Attacks on LGBTI people were rarely recognized as hate crimes. Legislation did not recognize hate crimes against LGBTI people.
The stipulation under Czech law that anyone seeking legal recognition for gender change must first undergo sterilization remained unchanged.
Although civil partnerships were an option for same-sex couples, they were still not allowed to marry. A bill to recognize equal marriage, which failed a vote in parliament in 2018, was reintroduced in the new parliament in 2022 but had not yet been debated by the end of the year.
Corporal punishment for children remained legal, contrary to calls by the UN and the Council of Europe to ban it, and the government did little to combat its use or to promote alternatives and non-violent parenting practices.
In September, the European Court of Human Rights published the details of a settlement between the Czech government and a Roma man who filed a school segregation application, having been enrolled in a special school as a child due to his ethnicity rather than his abilities. The government agreed to pay him EUR 4,000 compensation.
Irresponsible arms transfers
The Czech Republic continued to supply Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates with arms, which were likely being used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in Yemen.
The Czech and Polish governments agreed in February to end a long-running dispute over expansion of the Turów open-pit coal mine on the Polish side of the border, which had reached the EU Court of Justice in 2021. The court ordered Poland to halt mining because it contributed to an increase in CO2 pollution, and polluted water in villages in the Czech Republic located close to the Polish border. The government deal was heavily criticized by environmental groups for lack of transparency, and local people were still fearful about lack of access to clean water.