Friday, 18 April 2014

Presidential amnesty lacks philosophy, Supreme Court chairwoman says

3 January 2013

Brno, Jan 2 (CTK) - Every amnesty should have a clear and discernible philosophy, Iva Brozova, chairwoman of the Czech Supreme Court, told CTK yesterday adding that she is still seeking it in the amnesty President Vaclav Klaus declared in his last New Year's speech.

She said, however, granting an amnesty is one of the president's rights.

Klaus announced the amnesty on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of establishment of the Czech Republic.

This is the sole amnesty he has dispensed in his two five-year terms. His second and last possible term expires on March 7.

Brozova said an amnesty is an expression of compassion, but "every amnesty should have a clearly legible philosophy. I am still still seeking it there," Brozova said.

The amnesty, that will alleviate the overcrowded prisons, pardons some unsuspended as well as suspended criminal offences and halts criminal prosecution in some case. Some people who figured in protracted economic crime cases will probably also profit from it.

Brozova said the amnesty may affect people's respect for law in some cases. "It can dilute people's legal awareness," Brozova said.

The amnesty will partially ease the problem of the overcrowded prisons for a moment, Ombudsman Pavel Varvarovsky who has been dealing with the issue for a long time, told CTK.

But he said systemic changes are still needed because the amnesty will solve the problem for a short time only.

Employees of the ombudsman's office alerted previously to that prisoners cannot always take a hot shower due to the exhausted capacity of some facilities, for instance.

"Me as well as my predecessor Otakar Motejl, we repeatedly pointed to that prisons are overcrowded which may result in a bad treatment of the prisoners and violation of their fundamental rights. From this point of view the presidential amnesty can alleviate the situation in some prisons," Varvarovsky said.

He said a solution to the problems of overcrowded prison may be house arrest for less serious crimes if the perpetrator is not dangerous to society.

This is also financially more acceptable for the state than sending the convicts to prison.

There are some 23,170 prisoners in the 10.5 million Czech Republic, which makes an average of 230 prisoners per 100,000 inhabitants while the European standard is 130 to 150 prisoners per 100,000 people.

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