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Havel’s former spokesman warning of human rights abuses

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Prague, Oct 11 (CTK) – Human rights in some countries should not be ignored over economic interests, Michael Zantovsky, spokesman for former president Vaclav Havel and a former Czech ambassador to Britain, said at the beginning of a conference on the Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize on Wednesday.

Overlooking that some countries do not observe their international obligations in the sphere of human rights protection can have worse consequences than trade losses, Zantovsky said.

He said the observance of human rights was conflicting with the demands of preserving security, some principles of democracy and trade policy.

Zantovsky mentioned the problem of economic sanctions with which the international community exerted pressure on the countries not respecting human rights.

“In this country, too, one can often hear that we harm our trade relations, that we are stupid and naive and that other countries will profit from maintaining trade relations with those who abuse human rights,” he added.

A government that is in charge of a nation’s welfare has the duty to deal with the problem, Zantovsky said.

“However, one has to ask the question of what price we will have to pay if we put up with the violation of human rights,” he added.

This year, the Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize, awarded by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the Vaclav Havel Library, was given to Turkish judge Murat Arslan.

At the conference, he is substituted with the chairman of the International Association of Judges, Christopher Regnard.

Arslan was arrested last October, after what the Turkish government calls an abortive coup.

Arslan chaired the Turkish non-governmental association of judges and prosecutors that criticised the regime of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and was dissolved.

He always fought for the idea of democracy, the separation of powers and human rights. Now he is paying with his freedom for the fight, Regnard said.

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