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Czechs defend children’s rights during their CE chairmanship

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Prague, Nov 15 (CTK) – The Czech Republic attracted attention to the problem of child detentions and defended children’s rights in this way during its six-month chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, Association for International Affairs (AMO) analysts told CTK.

Denmark took over the chairmanship from the Czech Republic on Wednesday.

Protection of rights of endangered and disadvantaged groups was among the priorities of the Czech chairmanship.

One of the first steps taken within its chairmanship was the approval of the Action Plan on Protecting Refugee and Migrant Children.

A conference on child detentions was held in Prague in September. In the opening speech, Czech Justice Minister Robert Pelikan rejected this practice as something that does not belong to the 21st century.

“In context of the heated debate on migration and related disputes between the Czech Republic and a number of European countries, I see this step as an important promotion of the values of defence of human rights and a democratic rule of law,” AMO analyst Tomas Jungwirth said.

The Czech chairmanship also focused on improved enforceability of law, support for civil service reforms and increased awareness of respect for human rights.

However, the event related to the Czech chairmanship that attracted the highest publicity was the speech which Czech President Milos Zeman had in the CE’s Parliamentary Assembly in October. Zeman called on Ukraine to start talking with Russia about a possible compensation for Crimea. He said the sanctions imposed on Russia did not work and Russia cannot be forced to return Crimea to Ukraine.

AMO director Vit Dostal said it was sad that Zeman’s words about the compensation for Crimea is the event of the Czech chairmanship that media covered the most.

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and other Czech politicians strongly criticised Zeman for these statements and said they were in conflict with the official Czech stance.

Dostal told CTK that Czech diplomacy cannot control what the president says, yet Zeman may be considered its representative.

The Czech Republic chaired the Committee of Ministers from May. Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek then remembered that the country occupied its chair already in 1995 and the CE then contributed to the symbolic return of the Czech Republic among democratic states.

Jungwirth said the Czech membership of the CE was a step preceding the joining of the European Union then. He said the CE still has importance especially for countries aspiring for EU membership, such as the countries of the West Balkans and Caucasus.

Jungwirth said some CE bodies keep playing an irreplaceable role, mainly the European Court of Human Rights seated in Strasbourg.

One of the advantages of the CE is that it associates all European countries except for Belarus, he said.

The CE has 47 member states which rotate in chairing the Committee of Ministers, its statutory decision-making body, in alphabetical order.

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