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Czech diplomacy rejects UN criticism of migrant rights violation

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Prague, Oct 23 (CTK) – Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek has dismissed United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein’s criticism of the Czech government for systematically violating the migrants’ rights, the Foreign Ministry said Friday.
Zaoralek invited Al-Hussein for an excursion to Czech facilities for refugees.
On Thursday, the criticism was rejected by President Milos Zeman, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and Interior Minister (both Social Democrats, CSSD).
“Zaoralek has informed the U.N. commissioner for human rights that the Czech authorities are ready to accept him in the Czech Republic in order to speak together about human rights questions,” the ministerial press release has said.
“The high commissioner will have the chance of being personally acquainted with the local human rights situation, including the detention centers,” it added.
The ministry said the Czech Republic was taking part in dealing with the migrant wave abroad.
In the past two days, the interior and foreign ministries prepared three humanitarian deliveries of tents to help the countries on the Western Balkan route where the refugees are often forced to spend the night without any shelter.
“We believe that the United Nations will actively join the urgent help in the escalating situation in many European countries,” the press release said.
Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein accused the Czech Republic of systematic violation of refugees’ rights, voicing concern over the xenophobic public discourse, including Islamophobic statements by Zeman.
Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein argued that it was common for Czech authorities to hold the refugees for 40-90 days, making their strip searches in order to gain money from them for the payment of their costs of their stay in the refugee facilities.
A campaign against the Czech Republic over its attitude to refugees is being stepped up, while it is quite out of place to harshly criticise it over violating refugees’ rights, Zeman’s spokesman Jiri Ovcacek said in reaction to the statement.
Sobotka said the Czech Republic was trying to observe all laws and that refugees had decent conditions.
Last week, conditions in the refugee centres were criticised as being “worse than in prisons” by Ombudsman Anna Sabatova and by Czech NGOs working with refugees.

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