U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1997 - Czech Republic
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Publication Date||30 January 1998|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1997 - Czech Republic, 30 January 1998, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aa3930.html [accessed 16 September 2014]|
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, January 30, 1998.
CZECH REPUBLICThe Czech Republic is a parliamentary democracy. At year's end, an orderly transition was under way to form a new government following the November resignation of the minority coalition government led by Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus, which was formed after the June 1996 parliamentary elections. In mid-December, Josef Tosovsky was named interim Prime Minister, and in January 1998 he was sworn in. The bicameral Parliament elects the President for a 5-year term. The country has essentially completed the reform of political and economic structures initiated after the 1989 "velvet revolution." President Vaclav Havel is an internationally recognized advocate of human rights and social justice; he was elected to a second 5-year term in January 1998. The judiciary is independent. The Ministry of the Interior oversees the police. The civilian internal security service, known as the Security and Information Service (BIS), is independent of ministry control but reports to Parliament and the Prime Minister's office. Police and BIS authorities generally observe constitutional and legal protection of individual rights in carrying out their responsibilities. However, there were occasional reports of abuses by some members of the police. The Czech Republic has a market-based economy, with over two-thirds of gross domestic product (GDP) produced by the private sector. Devastating floods in July may reduce growth but could force increased investment and industrial restructuring. Although external imbalances caused a 10 percent depreciation of the currency in May, macroeconomic indicators remain favorable: Low national debt, a low budget deficit, strong foreign currency reserves, relatively low inflation, and low but rising unemployment. Worsening trade and current account deficits were financed by strong capital inflows. The work force was employed primarily in industry, retail trade, and construction. Leading exports were intermediate manufactured products and machinery and transport equipment. GDP per capita reached approximately $5,100. The Government generally respected the human rights of its citizens. Popular prejudice and skinhead violence against Roma remain problems. The discriminatory impact of the 1993 citizenship law was mitigated by the constructive implementation of a 1996 amendment, although other problems with citizenship persist. There is some violence against women. The law on lustration (screening) forbids certain pre-1989 Communist officials and secret police collaborators from holding certain positions. A law criminalizing defamation of the presidency was abolished.