Rape and Domestic Violence: The law prohibits rape, including spousal rape, and provides a penalty of two to 15 years in prison for violations. The government effectively enforced these provisions.
NGOs noted in particular the underreporting of violence against women in immigrant communities, where victims often feared losing their immigration status. Some NGOs continued to offer increased social, legal, and psychological services to rape victims.
Domestic violence is punishable by up to three years in prison, with longer sentences in aggravated circumstances. Police have the authority to remove violent abusers from their homes for 10 days. The law limits to six months the total time, including extensions, a removal order can remain in effect. The Ministry of Interior reported that, in the first six months of the year, police removed 1,022 offenders from their homes.
The law also provides protection against domestic violence to other persons living in the household, especially children and seniors.
Sexual Harassment: The antidiscrimination law prohibits sexual harassment and treats it as a form of direct discrimination. Penalties for conviction may include fines, dismissal from work, or imprisonment for up to eight years. Police often delayed investigations until the perpetrator committed serious crimes, such as sexual coercion, rape, or other forms of physical assault.
Offenders convicted of stalking may receive sentences of up to three years in prison.
Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion, involuntary sterilization, or other coercive population control methods. Estimates on maternal mortality and contraceptive prevalence are available at: www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/monitoring/maternal-mortality-2015/en/.
Discrimination: The law grants men and women the same legal status and rights, including under family, religious, personal status, labor, property, nationality, and inheritance laws. Women sometimes experienced discrimination in the area of employment (see section 7.d.)
Birth Registration: Children derive their citizenship from their parents. Any child with at least one citizen parent is automatically a citizen. Children born to noncitizens, such as asylum seekers or migrants, retain only the citizenship of their parents. Authorities registered births immediately.
Child Abuse: NGOs estimated that 40,000 children experienced some form of violence each year. According to police and the Ministry of Interior, there were 259 cases filed in the first six months of the year, including for sexual abuse and commercial sex exploitation. Nine children died due to abuse or mistreatment in 2016. The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs reported that in 2016 authorities removed 892 children from families and placed them in children’s homes due to abuse or mistreatment.
Prison sentences for persons found guilty of child abuse range from five to 12 years in the case of the death of a child.
Early and Forced Marriage: The minimum legal age for marriage is 18. Some members of the Romani community married before reaching legal age. The law allows for marriage at the age of 16 with court approval; no official marriages were reported of anyone under 16.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law prohibits commercial sexual exploitation of children and the possession, manufacture, and distribution of child pornography, which is punishable by imprisonment for up to eight years. The minimum age for consensual sex is 15. Sexual relations with a child younger than 15 is punishable by a prison term of up to eight years or up to 18 years in the case of the death of the child. The law prohibits all forms of trafficking and prescribes punishments of up to 16 years’ imprisonment for violations. These laws are effectively enforced. There were reports of children subjected to sex trafficking in the commercial sex industry.
In addition to strict punishments, the Ministry of Interior combats sexual exploitation of minors through seminars and lectures at schools and programs on public radio and television.
International Child Abductions: The country is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/legal/compliance.html.
The country’s Jewish population numbered approximately 10,000. Public expressions of anti-Semitism were rare, but small, fairly well-organized right-wing groups with anti-Semitic views were active around the country. The Ministry of Interior continued to monitor the activities of such groups, increase cooperation with police from neighboring countries, and shut down unauthorized rallies.
In 2016 the Ministry of Interior recorded 28 criminal offenses with anti-Semitic motives compared with 47 in 2015. A well-known anti-Semitic blogger continued his internet postings, including statements denying the Holocaust. In March he was sentenced to one year in prison with a two-year probation for incitement to hatred.
The Ministry of Culture designated as items of cultural heritage 12 tombstones and tombstone fragments from a former Jewish cemetery in Prostejov (in Eastern Czech Republic) which was designated as a cultural monument in 2016. A foreign philanthropist led efforts to restore the cemetery, which the Nazis had destroyed and which was later turned into a public park. A local school director’s messages to parents, which mischaracterized the proposed restoration, alarmed them and led to 10 percent of the city’s voters signing a petition against the project. The local mayor supported the petition, claiming the park provided needed access to a nearby school and residential parking. Soon thereafter, anti-Semitic hate speech appeared in social media and a local tabloid characterized the dispute as an orthodox Jewish attack on the city. Prime Minister Sobotka appointed his chief advisor, Vladimir Spidla, to mediate the dispute. In April a group of minors vandalized a symbolic tombstone of Rabbi Zvi Horowitz at Prostejov Cemetery; the case was dismissed due to the age of the perpetrators.
The government had an antiextremism strategy emphasizing prevention and education to combat hostility and discrimination toward the Romani community as well as address anti-Semitism and Holocaust education.
Trafficking in Persons
See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.
Persons with Disabilities
The law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities. The government generally enforced these provisions. Nevertheless, persons with disabilities faced a shortage of public accommodations and were unemployed at disproportionately high rates. Most children with disabilities were able to attend mainstream primary and secondary schools and universities.
According to the law, only children with significant disabilities should attend special schools with specially trained teachers.
The ombudsperson is required to make regular visits to all governmental and private workplaces employing incarcerated or institutionalized persons, including persons with disabilities, to examine conditions, assure respect for fundamental rights, and advocate for improved protection against mistreatment. The ombudsperson’s office conducted such visits throughout the year. According to a report by the Ministry for Human Rights, during 2016 government ministries were not complying with the law that requires 4 percent of the staff of companies and institutions with more than 25 employees to be persons with physical disabilities. Only four of 25 government ministries and their branches met the requirement. Instead of employing persons with disabilities, many companies and institutions paid fines or bought products from companies that employed persons with disabilities, a practice that the National Disability Council criticized.
In the first half of the year, the Ministry of Interior reported 95 extremists were charged with criminal acts of violence or instigation of violence against national minorities, most often Roma. The authorities indicted 92 individuals.
The approximately 300,000 Roma in the country faced varying levels of discrimination in education, employment, and housing and have high levels of poverty, unemployment, and illiteracy.
In early 2016 a Romani NGO filed more than 10 criminal complaints against several social media sites for hate speech that targeted Roma and other minorities. The Prague 1 District Public Prosecution Office and police investigators opened investigations into four such cases; the cases are pending. According to the Ministry of Interior, Roma were the victims of 25 criminal acts in 2016, compared with 33 in 2015.
In June the Czech Constitutional Court rejected a complaint filed by the town of Vsetin over its protracted dispute with Roma whom it evicted and forced to take up residence outside of the Zlin Region. The Romani evictees were seeking compensation from the town. The case was pending.
A white supremacist webpage registered outside the country listed the names and addresses of Romani activists and several high-profile individuals who either worked on Romani issues or expressed support for Roma in the past.
Only 24.3 percent of Romani children attended mainstream elementary school. The remaining Romani children attended special schools, which effectively segregated them into a substandard educational system.
Approximately one-third of Roma lived in “excluded localities” or ghettos. According to a 2015 report by the Ministry for Labor and Social Affairs, the number of ghettos doubled to 606 since 2006, and their population grew from 80,000 to 115,000.
While the law prohibits housing discrimination based on ethnicity, NGOs stated that some municipalities discriminated against certain socially disadvantaged groups, primarily Roma, basing their decisions not to supply housing on the allegedly bad reputation of Romani applicants from previous residences.
The Agency for Social Inclusion is responsible for implementing the government’s strategy to combat social exclusion, mainly among the Romani population. The minister for human rights and the minister for labor and social affairs made public statements in support of socially disadvantaged groups, in particular Roma, and advocated policies favorable to them within the government.
In July the owners of a controversial pig farm located on the site of a WWII Roma concentration camp in Lety announced that they had come to an agreement with the government to sell the farm for an undisclosed sum. According to the Ministry of Culture, the Museum of Roma Culture will build a memorial on the site.
Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
The country has antidiscrimination laws that cover sexual orientation. In its report published in 2015, the European Commission against Racial Intolerance criticized the country for not having specific hate crime provisions covering sexual orientation and gender identity.
NGO contacts reported the number of incidents of violence based on sexual orientation was very low. Local LGBTI activists stated that citizens were largely tolerant of LGBTI persons.
HIV and AIDS Social Stigma
Persons with HIV/AIDS faced societal discrimination, although there were no reported cases of violence. The Czech AIDS Help Society reported a number of cases of discrimination, primarily in access to health and dental care, and wrongful termination of employment or discrimination during the hiring process. The government took no action in most cases, since individuals with HIV/AIDS often preferred to keep their status confidential rather than file a complaint. HIV/AIDS is classified as a disability under the anti-discrimination law, which contributes to the stigmatization of and discrimination against HIV-positive individuals.
Other Societal Violence and Discrimination
According to BIS (Security Intelligence Service) there were no violent anti-Muslim protests or demonstrations in 2016 or the first half of 2017. Anti-Muslim protests and sentiments largely shifted to social media. NGOs reported instances of hate speech related to migration. Some politicians, including the president, the deputy prime minister, members of parliament, senators, and local politicians across the political spectrum, used antimigrant rhetoric with Muslims the main target.
Although the government publicly condemned anti-Islamic rhetoric, President Zeman continued to criticize Islam, calling it a “religion of death, and Islamic anticivilization.”
NGOs actively worked to combat anti-Islamic attitudes, and several events promoting tolerance took place during the year.