The Human Rights Chief of the United Nations, Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein, accused the Czech Republic of crimes against humanity in the handling of the current European refugee crisis. On Thursday, the UN leader revealed that the Czech Republic committed human rights violations by detaining refugees for up to 90 days, doing strip searches and forcing refugees to pay them for the cost of their detention, according to Reuters. Al-Hussein called this behavior “systematic,” as he discovered that this was considered acceptable and legal behavior in the Czech Republic.
Stating that the human rights crimes “appear to be an integral part of a policy by the Czech Government designed to deter migrants and refugees from entering the country or staying there,” the UN Human Rights Chief goes on to reveal more shocking facts about how the Czech Republic handles its migrants.
After detaining refugees for months at a time, the Czech Republic deports them to countries other than their own. Once released, many refugees leave the Czech Republic for places like Germany. Reportedly, very few migrants claim asylum in Czech because of its disregard of human rights and because it’s mostly just a pit stop in their journeys.
Despite the fact that most refugees have no intention of remaining in the Czech Republic upon arriving, Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein spoke out to instigate a response from the country on their human rights practices. In response to that demand, Interior Minister Milan Chovanec spoke to reporters about the issue.
“We are improving conditions for refugees and we do not think that we are breaching any directives or rules that bind us by international treaties. I expect that we will get a written report from the U.N. from which we will be able to define what the criticism is about.”
Though in his statement Chovanec appears oblivious to the human rights violations and what exactly Al-Hussein is accusing the Czech Republic of, the UN Human Rights Chief was quite clear about it in his original statement. This possibly proves that the Czech Republic is just responding to keep the media satisfied. To be clear, what the UN is accusing the Czech Republic of is breaking international law on the subject of human rights as Al-Hussein mentions in his press statement.
“Many of these people are refugees who have suffered horrendously in their countries of origin as well as during their journey to the Czech Republic. International law is quite clear that immigration detention must be strictly a measure of last resort. And as for children, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has emphasized that detention of children on the sole basis of their migration status, or that of their parents, is a violation, is never in their best interests, and is not justifiable.”
What may get the Czech Republic in bigger trouble are that Al-Hussein’s statements are not mere accusations. Based on reports made by the United Nations, many refugees have fought against the country in court and earned their release from detention. The same report revealed that more refugees have not come forward because the Czech Republic failed to inform them of their right to free legal aid. With additional slamming from the UN, the Czech president was urged to speak out, and his response was in favor of his own policies and against those from foreign lands. His spokesperson recently told BBC News where the Czech Republic stands on human rights.
“He stands by his opinion and he will not change it under pressure from abroad.”
Awaiting the expected detailed report from the United Nations about the human rights violations that the Czech Republic has committed against it’s refugees, migrants continue to pour into the country. The Czech Republic is one of many European countries who have an overwhelming amount of refugees, which causes speculation of the human right practices in those nations as well.
[Image via Anadolu Agency/Getty Images]