Concluding observations of the Committee against Torture : Czech Republic. 05/14/2001.
A/56/44,paras.106-114. (Concluding Observations/Comments)

Convention Abbreviation: CAT
COMMITTEE AGAINST TORTURE
Twenty-sixth session
30 April – 18 May 2001


Czech Republic

106. The Committee considered the second periodic report of the Czech Republic (CAT/C/38/Add.1) at its 466th, 469th and 476th meetings, held on 7, 8 and 14 May 2001 (CAT/C/SR.466, 469 and 476), and adopted the following conclusions and recommendations.


A. Introduction

107. The Committee welcomes the excellent quality of the State party’s second periodic report, which is in conformity with the guidelines, its frankness and its exhaustiveness, while observing that it was submitted more than two years late. It greatly appreciates the extensive additional update provided by the delegation of the Czech Republic both orally and in writing during consideration of the report and the clear, earnest and transparent answers to the questions raised by the Committee.


B. Positive Aspects

108. The Committee welcomes the ongoing efforts by the State party to reform its legal system and revise its legislation on the basis of universal human values in order to safeguard fundamental human rights, including the right not to be subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, including:

(a) The adoption of the new Aliens Law and the new Asylum Law, both effective from 1 January 2000;

(b) The amendment to the Citizenship Law adopted in September 1999, which resolved most problems of statelessness that had disproportionately affected the Roma population;

(c) The amendment to the legislation and the introduction of a special detention facility for foreigners, which resolved the problems arising from the detention of foreigners prior to expulsion.

109. The Committee welcomes the creation of the post of Government Commissioner for Human Rights and the Council of Human Rights, as well as the institution of Ombudsperson.

110. The Committee notes the efforts described by the representatives of the State party to comply with the recommendations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (A/55/18, paras. 271-288).

111. The Committee welcomes the compensation provided to 208,000 former political prisoners.

112. The Committee welcomes the declarations made on 3 September 1996 recognizing the competence of the Committee under articles 21 and 22 and the withdrawal of the reservation on article 20.


C. Subjects of concern

113. The Committee expresses concern about the following:

(a) Instances of racism and xenophobia in society, including the increase in racially motivated violence against minority groups, as well as the increase in groups advocating such conduct;

(b) While welcoming the measures taken to address the problems faced by Roma, the Committee remains concerned about continuing incidents of discrimination against Roma, including by local officials, and particularly about reports of degrading treatment by the police of members of minority groups; and continuing reports of violent attacks against Roma and the alleged failure on the part of police and judicial authorities to provide adequate protection and to investigate and prosecute such crimes, as well as the lenient treatment of offenders;

(c) Allegations of the excessive use of force by law-enforcement officials during and after demonstrations, particularly alleged instances of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of persons arrested and detained as a result of the demonstrations during the International Monetary Fund (IMF)/World Bank meeting in Prague in September 2000;

(d) The lack of a mechanism of external control of the work of the police;

(e) The lack of adequate guarantees of the rights of persons deprived of liberty to notify a close relative or third party of their choice, to have access to doctors of their choice and to have access to counsel from the outset of their custody;

(f) The lack of legal regulation of external inspections of the prison system, in particular the rescinding of the legal provisions on civil inspection without replacement during the period under review, as well as the lack of an effective mechanism for processing prisoners’ complaints;

(g) Inter-prisoner violence and bullying in various institutions, including prisons, the military and educational institutions, as well as the presence of male guards in prisons for women where that may lead to an abuse of their authority.


D. Recommendations

114. The Committee recommends that:

(a) The State party continue its efforts to counter all forms of discrimination against minorities and to implement its long-term policy aimed at the integration of the Roma population through legal as well as practical measures and, in particular, to increase efforts to combat and adequately sanction police ill-treatment of minorities and the failure to provide adequate protection;

(b) The State party ensure the independence and thoroughness of investigations of all allegations of ill-treatment in general and in connection with the IMF/World Bank meeting in September 2000 in particular, and to provide the Committee in its next periodic report with information on the findings and measures taken, including prosecutions and compensation to victims, as appropriate;

(c) The State party take appropriate measures to ensure the independence of investigations of offences committed by law-enforcement officials by introducing a mechanism of external control;

(d) All persons deprived of their liberty be guaranteed the right to notify a close relative or third party of their choice, the right to have access to a lawyer of their choice from the very outset of their custody, and the right to have access to a doctor of their choice in addition to any medical examination carried out by the police authorities;

(e) The State party set up an effective and independent system of control over prisoners’ complaints and for the external and civic inspection of the prison system;

(f) Information be provided about the possibilities for redress and the rehabilitation services available for victims of torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;

(g) The State party accede to the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness;

(h) The Committee’s conclusions and recommendations, and the summary records of the review of the State party’s second periodic report, should be widely disseminated in the country.


1996-2001
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Geneva, Switzerland