Česky English Deutsch Francais
Amnesty International calls on Canada to drop visa requirements for Czechs
26-08-2009 - Rosie Johnston
Amnesty International has criticized Canada’s decision to reintroduce visas for Czechs. On Tuesday, the Czech and Mexican branches of the organisation sent a joint letter to Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney calling on Ottawa to scrap tourist visas for both countries’ citizens. In the letter, the NGO drew attention to what it called ‘serious human rights concerns’ in both the Czech Republic and Mexico. The head of the Czech branch of Amnesty International, Dáša van der Horst, says that Canada’s decision has affected the Czech Republic’s Roma community in particular. Earlier today, I asked her what exactly prompted her organisation to speak out:

“There are actually a couple of reasons. One of the reasons is that this is actually a political decision, which makes various states unequal within the same system. So this is one thing, the second thing which is actually even more important is that we have evidence that human rights are violated in both the Czech Republic and Mexico, and we think that people should have the right to ask for asylum.”

Making the statement that there are human rights violations in the Czech Republic – it is obviously something that you at Amnesty International look at a lot, but nonetheless, it is a strong statement. Can you give me some concrete examples of human rights violations, especially against this country’s Roma minority?

Dáša van der Horst (Photo: Alžběta Švarcová, “When speaking about right-wing extremism, there was last year a big pogrom against Roma in the north of the Czech Republic in Janov. And the whole incident has still not completely been resolved and there are no conclusions yet. We think that this is very important and that the Interior Ministry should take steps to prevent this from happening again.

“When we talk about state-imposed barriers, we have evidence that a lot of Roma children are more or less automatically sent to special schools. So they are outside the mainstream education system, which makes their life more difficult, because if you are not educated then you don’t get a job, if you don’t get a job then it is difficult to get housing, and so on and so on, so it is kind of a vicious circle.”

What would you say to the suggestion that everything you have just outlined makes life for the Czech Republic’s Romany minority more difficult than it would be otherwise, but that it is not for Canada to solve that problem?

“No, it is true, this is not the problem of the Canadian government, but Canada has a sort of system which works for all countries. And it is very strange to put repressive and actually preventative methods in place and not allow our citizens in but allow other countries citizens in. Maybe there is something wrong with the Canadian system – I don’t want to judge it, it is actually their problem. Amnesty International just states that there are human rights violations here, and that those people have the right to seek a life somewhere else.”

Related articles
14.11.2013Canada lifts visa requirements for Czech nationalsNews
18.10.2013Canadian PM confirms visa free entry for Czechs soonNews
17.10.2013Canada to lift visa requirement for Czechs soonNews
17.10.2013Canada confirms lifting of visas for Czechs 'imminent'News
15.09.2010Nečas to raise question of Canadian visas for Czechs at EU summitNews
21.04.2010EU to call again on Canada to drop visa requirements for Czechs, Romanians and BulgariansNews
25.08.2009Amnesty International condemns Canada’s decision to reintroduce visas for CzechsNews
14.08.2009Canada rejects three visa applications in first monthNews
29.07.2009Z§vůle práva: Unsuccessful asylum seekers have somewhere to turnNews
All related articles
Format for printing
Send as e-mail

Also in section "News"
31.10.19  Roma children’s choir Chavorenge and members of the Czech Philharmonic to perform in UK
13.09.19  Archaeologists discover graves of Roma persecuted during WWII in Lety camp
02.06.19  Ida Kelarová and her Romany children’s choir Chavorenge
29.05.19  Two Roma activists to receive Charter 77’s František Kriegel Award
07.04.19  Romany music from the Czech Republic
13.03.19  Czech singer Věra Bílá, dubbed the Ella Fitzgerald of Gypsy music, dies days before her comeback tour
21.11.18  Roma social worker from Ostrava listed on BBC 100 Women list
12.10.18  Why are there so few Roma politicians?
17.09.18  Virtuoso pianist Tomáš Kačo: When I tell somebody I’m a Gypsy in the US, they’re excited about it
06.06.18  Study indicates ethnic hate is contagious
Archive of the section

Most popular articles
3153053   26.02.00 Some Basic Information about the Roma Population in the Czech Republic
290319   27.01.05 The 'Devouring': A look at the Romani Holocaust
184516   26.02.00 The History and Origin of the Roma
141463   26.02.02 The Language of the Roma
107706   13.06.00 The History of the Roma Minority in the Czech Republic
105260   26.02.00 The Traditional Family Life of the Czech Roma
103929   02.06.03 The Roma Holocaust
88238    World famous Roma Personalities
88174   21.02.04 Extreme right activists demonstrate for skinhead in jail
74801    Photographs by Romani Children
Copyright © Český rozhlas / Czech Radio, 1997-2023
Vinohradská 12, 120 99 Praha 2, Czech Republic