U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2004 - Czech Republic
|Publisher||United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants|
|Publication Date||25 May 2004|
|Cite as||United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2004 - Czech Republic , 25 May 2004, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/40b459384.html [accessed 29 April 2016]|
At the end of 2003, the Czech Republic hosted some 3,900 refugees and asylum seekers in need of protection, including some 3,700 asylum seekers awaiting decision and 208 granted asylum during the year.
Approximately 11,400 asylum seekers filed new applications, up about 25 percent from the 8,500 in 2002. Major source countries included Russia (4,900), Ukraine (2,000), Slovakia (1,100), and China (850). In 2003, the approval rate for asylum was about 2 percent, the same as 2002. Applicants from Russia (62) had the highest acceptance rates, followed by Afghanistan (30), and Armenia (20). About 9,100 applications were denied and of these, about 2,500 were deemed manifestly unfounded and denied under an accelerated procedure. Most of the claims deemed manifestly unfounded were from the Ukraine (1,100) and Slovakia (773). The government terminated the applications of another 5,300 asylum seekers during 2003, mainly because they failed to report for an interview, and around 760 applicants withdrew their cases. In about 50 asylum cases mostly from Russia (42), the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) rejected the asylum claims, but determined that there were obstacles for departure for these individuals. These persons were eligible to apply for visa, which would prevent their deportation, similar to the former toleration visa. Only if the government was unable to deport them and they could prove their continuous stay in the Czech Republic for five years, will they obtain a residence permit.
In July, the government passed a law implementing EU standards for temporary protection for persons fleeing war or natural disaster. The government proposed amending the law to prohibit asylum seekers from expressing views on the grounds of decision. The government claimed that some asylum seekers had tried to correct information given earlier to improve their chances of gaining asylum. Minister of the Interior Stanislav Gross claimed there were an "enormous" number of claimants abusing the procedure. The Ombudsman and human rights bodies opposed the amendment.
During 2003, the Ministry of the Interior considered EU states, Hungary, Slovakia, and Poland to be safe countries. In August, the government concluded a readmission agreement with Moldova.
Although the government recommended that asylum seekers be released from detention after 90 days, generally asylum seekers spent about 6 months in detention. According to the Aliens police, they could not release asylum seekers because refugee reception centers were overcrowded. The government also recommended that asylum seekers be released pending appeal.
Chechen Asylum Seekers
Some 900 Chechens entered the Czech Republic from Poland in the spring alone, and in October some 1,500 Chechens applied for asylum. By the end of the year, the Czech Helsinki Committee claimed that the Chechens were being housed in garages, gyms, and cellars because there were not enough rooms in reception centers. The Minister of the Interior declared a state of emergency. The Chechens claimed that they abandoned their asylum claims in Poland due to the poor conditions in the refugee camps there. An estimated 75 percent abandoned their claims in the Czech Republic to go to Austria, as well as Belgium and France where recognition rates for Chechen asylum seekers are higher. The Czech government does not always take into account the non-availability of alternative flight alternatives and the lack of state protection for Chechen asylum seekers when adjudicating their claims.
Slovak Asylum Seekers
Since 1993, large numbers of Slovaks have claimed asylum in the Czech republic. In December, the Deputy Prime Minister, Petr Mres told the Slovak Deputy Prime Minister that "none of them will receive asylum." Refugee assistance agencies were quick to condemn his statement, stating it was impossible to reject groups of asylum seekers from one country across the board.
Skinheads and occasionally police continued to attack Roma. Courts gave only light sentences to perpetrators of racially motivated crimes against Roma. Although the government approved a draft of the comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation in September, the law had not passed by the end of the year. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination continued to note the social exclusion of, and de facto discrimination against the Roma community in the Czech Republic. Czech Roma made up the bulk of Czech asylum seekers abroad.