Mistreating migrants?: Czech Republic Migrants

Published: October 22, 2015

Mistreating migrants?: Czech Republic Migrants, The United Nations accused the Czech Republic of violating the rights of hundreds of migrants, mostly from Syria, who were detained in “reprehensible” and “degrading” conditions, in a statement released Thursday.

Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, said in the statement that “the violations of the human rights of migrants are neither isolated nor coincidental, but systematic: they appear to be an integral part of a policy by the Czech government designed to deter migrants and refugees from entering the country or staying there.”

It is at least the third time in recent months that the Czech government has been criticized for its treatment of asylum seekers traveling through the country. In September, rights groups expressed outrage at Czech border police officers for marking the forearms of migrants with numbers reminiscent of the tattoos the Nazis gave to concentration camp detainees. And the Czech president, Milos Zeman, was criticized this week for claiming that migrants who settled in the country would “respect Shariah instead of Czech laws.”

The statement released Thursday by the United Nations human rights agency said that migrants, many of them children, has been subjected to treatment in the Czech Republic beyond what they had endured in other Central and Eastern European countries. The agency’s statement included the following examples:

• Migrants have been detained for 40 days, and in some cases up to 90 days.

• The Czech Republic’s own justice minister, Robert Pelikan, has described conditions at the detention centers as “worse than in a prison.”

• Migrants are “routinely strip-searched by the authorities looking to confiscate money.”

• Migrants are charged $10 a day each to pay for their own detention, a practice described as “particularly reprehensible.”

• Though they are entitled under international law to challenge their detention in court, migrants do not receive information about free legal representation.

• Anna Sabatova, the Czech ombudswoman, has said parents are treated in a “degrading way” in front of their children. And children are “traumatized” by the presence of armed officers.

• Migrants have their cellphones confiscated, making it impossible for them to communicate with their families.

The Czech Republic has received more than 800 asylum requests through September, a relatively small number compared with other neighboring countries, such as Germany, which is expected to receive 800,000 this year. Thousands of migrants are traveling through countries in Central and Eastern Europe with the aim of settling in northern Europe, where asylum seekers receive more generous benefits and better treatment.


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