The Czech Republic is accused of “systematic” rights violations in their treatment of refugees and migrants.
According to the UN’s human rights chief, Czech authorities were holding refugees in “degrading” conditions for up to 90 days.
Zeid Raad Al Hussein said refugees had been strip-searched to find money to pay for their detention, and protested about “Islamophobic” statements by Czech President Milos Zeman.
Milos Zeman’s spokesman said the president “stood by his opinions”.
While other European countries had implemented policies to restrict the movement of refugees, the Czech Republic was “unique” in its routine detention of migrants for long periods, Zeid Raad Al Hussein said in a statement.
He said the measures taken appeared to be “designed to deter migrants and refugees from entering the country or staying there”.
Zeid Raad Al Hussein said one detention facility in Beza-Jezova has been described as “worse than a prison” by the Czech justice minister.
The UN rights chief added that he was alarmed by the “xenophobic public discourse” accompanying Czech government policy.
Milos Zeman frequently courts controversy with Islamophobic remarks.
While visiting a butcher shop on a recent visit to southeast Moravia, Milos Zeman told reporters that Muslim refugees would not respect Czech laws and customs.
Milos Zeman said that on the contrary, they would stone women to death for adultery and cut thieves’ hands off.
The president’s spokesman said the UN’s criticism of Milos Zeman was part of an intensifying campaign against the Czech Republic over its stand on the refugee crisis.
The US ambassador to Czech Republic, Andrew Schapiro, has been barred from Prague Castle, President Milos Zeman says.
Prague Castle is the president’s official residence and office.
The apparent snub follows remarks by Andrew Schapiro seen as critical of Milos Zeman’s decision to attend forthcoming World War Two commemorations in Moscow.
Several world leaders are boycotting the ceremony over Russia’s role in the Ukraine conflict.
Milos Zeman is considered more sympathetic to Russia on the issue.
Andrew Schapiro had “overstepped the mark” by criticizing the decision to attend celebrations in May marking the anniversary of the end of WW2, news portal Parlamentni Listy quotes President Milos Zeman as saying.
Because of this “the doors of the castle were closed” to Andrew Schapiro, Milos Zeman continues.
“I cannot imagine that the Czech ambassador in Washington would advise the US president where he should travel. And I will not allow any ambassador to have a say in my foreign travel plans.”
Milos Zeman’s spokesman Jiri Ovcacek later sought to downplay the president’s comments, saying that Andrew Schapiro could still take part in social events at the Castle.
Andrew Schapiro is quoted by Czech media as having said in March that it would “be awkward” if Milos Zeman was the only statesman from an EU country on the platform on Red Square.
The US embassy has declined to address Milos Zeman’s comments.
Milos Zeman is known for his outspoken views on a range of issues, often at variance with those of the Social Democrat-led government, correspondents say.
The presidency is largely ceremonial in Czech Republic, but Milos Zeman became the first man directly elected to the post when he took office in 2013.
Czech President Milos Zeman has been pelted with eggs by angry protesters on the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, which ended communist rule.
Thousands of people carried football-style red cards as a warning to Milos Zeman, while others threw eggs. One accidentally hit the German president.
Many are angry with Milos Zeman, who they see as too sympathetic to Russia.
The Velvet Revolution began on November 17, 1989, when police attacked a student protest.
A wave of demonstrations followed across the now Czech Republic, toppling the communist government and replacing it with one led by dissident playwright Vaclav Havel.
Some Czechs feel that certain aims of the revolution, such as the promotion of human rights, have been sidelined by Milos Zeman.
They also worry that the president, a former communist, is too close to both Russia and China.
On November 17, demonstrators carried banners reading “down with Zeman” and “we do not want to be a Russian colony”.
As the president unveiled a plaque to the students involved in the 1989 protest, he was booed, jeered and pelted with eggs.
Czech President Milos Zeman has been pelted with eggs by angry protesters on the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution
Though Milos Zeman appears not to have been hit, German President Joachim Gauck was struck during the attack.
Milos Zeman angered many Czech citizens when he defended Russia’s stance on Ukraine, declaring the conflict there “a civil war between two groups of Ukrainian citizens”.
Though Moscow has long denied any direct involvement in the Ukraine crisis, the EU, of which the Czech Republic is a member, has imposed sanctions on Russia, saying it has supplied separatist rebels there with weapons and Russian fighters.
The Czech president also used derogatory language when discussing Russian protest group Pussy Riot in an interview earlier this month.
In October Milos Zeman shocked some when he said he wished to learned how China “stabilized” its society.
In the run-up to Monday’s celebrations, Milos Zeman said the 1989 student protest had not triggered the Velvet Revolution.
Despite his participation in it, Milos Zeman said the historic protest had been just one of “any number of rallies” and he played down police brutality.
Milos Zeman still has the backing of many voters and his supporters were scheduled to hold a rally on November 17.
Czech PM Petr Necas has announced that he will resign on Monday after days of political turmoil.
Petr Necas’ ruling coalition will try to form a new government led by someone nominated by his Civic Democratic Party (ODS).
Pressure had been growing on Petr Necas to quit since prosecutors on Friday charged his chief of staff Jana Nagyova with corruption and abuse of power.
Two former MPs, an ex-minister and the current and former heads of military intelligence have also been detained.
All except one have been remanded in custody.
President Milos Zeman has said the charges, brought after armed police raids on government and private offices on Wednesday, are “serious”.
Up to 150 million koruna ($8 million) in cash, tens of kilograms of gold and large quantities of documents were seized during the raids.
Detectives have said Jana Nagyova was suspected of bribing the former MPs with offers of posts in state-owned firms. It is alleged this was in exchange for them giving up their parliamentary seats.
Jana Nagyova – a close colleague of Petr Necas for nearly a decade – is also suspected of illegally ordering military intelligence to spy on three people.
Czech PM Petr Necas will resign over Jana Nagyova corruption and spying scandal
Czech media reported that the targets included Petr Necas’s wife, Radka Necasova.
Petr Necas announced this week that they were divorcing.
The prime minister has rejected all the accusations against Jana Nagyova and the other five accused, saying: “I am personally convinced that I did not do anything dishonest and that my colleagues have not done anything dishonest either.”
However, Petr Necas told a televised briefing in Prague when announcing his resignation on Sunday evening: “I am aware of my political responsibility.”
“I will tender my resignation as prime minister tomorrow.” he said. “The entire government will therefore resign with me.”
The opposition Social Democrats had warned they would press for a no-confidence motion in parliament unless Petr Necas stepped down, and the two other parties in his centre-right coalition had signaled that they could no longer support him.
The prime minister said the coalition would try to form a new government, led by a different person, to rule until elections scheduled for June 2014. He is expected to stay on as caretaker until it is installed.
Under the Czech constitution, President Milos Zeman – a political rival – is under no obligation to respect the coalition’s wishes, and could name his own candidate to head an interim government until early elections are held,
Petr Necas also said on Sunday he would resign as his party’s chairman.
“I am fully aware how the twists and turns of my personal life are burdening the Czech political scene and the Civic Democratic Party,” he told the briefing.
The admission is the closest the prime minister has come to confirming that the woman at the heart of this scandal – Jana Nagyova – is more than just a colleague.
A video footage shows the new Czech president, Milos Zeman, clearly worse for wear, propping himself up against a wall at a public event, struggling to negotiate a step and being aided by a cardinal.
Milos Zeman, 68, makes no secret of his drinking. But on this occasion – a rare and highly-ceremonial public display of the Czech crown jewels last week – his office insisted he simply had a virus and subsequently needed a day or two of rest.
Since then, the video has prompted a storm of social media gags. Czechs – by far the biggest beer drinkers in the world per capita – have been posting pictures of themselves in bars getting drunk with slogans like: “Here I am getting a virus”, or “Heading out for a virus”.
Milos Zeman, a chain smoker and lover of fatty foods, often extols the virtues of booze. On one occasion, the president praised Winston Churchill for his love of whisky and pointed out that Adolf Hitler was a teetotaler and vegetarian – “and you know how he ended up”.
During a 1996 election campaign Milos Zeman said his campaign bus “drove on gas and Becherovka”, a popular Czech liquor. Two years later he became prime minister.
Footage shows President Milos Zeman clearly the worse for wear at a rare public display of the Czech crown jewels
A tabloid in the Czech Republic once claimed Milos Zeman told the paper he would drink on average six glasses of wine – plus three shots – on any given day.
His unsuccessful rival in this year’s presidential election, the nobleman Karel Schwarzenberg, couldn’t help but take a swipe at his opponent’s taste for alcohol.
“Milos Zeman was in my opinion one of the most intelligent prime ministers this country has ever had,” Karel Schwarzenberg said during the campaign.
“And had he not drunk so much he’d have been a really good prime minister,” he added.
Milos Zeman insists he’s so used to drinking that it never has any ill effects, and he has openly challenged anyone to prove otherwise.
“If anyone has ever seen me drunk in my life, tell me when,” Milos Zeman said during the presidential election campaign.
Miroslava Nemcova, the speaker for Parliament’s lower house and one of seven holders of the keys to the Czech crown jewels, was the only person at last week’s event to comment on Milos Zeman’s appearance.
“I saw what you saw,” she was quoted as saying on the Lidove Noviny daily’s website Friday.
Former Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman has won the presidential election – the first time the position has been decided by direct popular vote.
Milos Zeman won 55% of votes in the second-round poll, compared to Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg’s 45%.
Voters had braved freezing conditions to turn out in what was being seen as a nail-bitingly close poll.
Milos Zeman is seen as a hard-drinking, chain-smoking politician, known for his witty put-downs of opponents.
As president, Milos Zeman will represent the Czech Republic abroad and appoint candidates to the constitutional court and the central bank, but the post does not carry much day-to-day power.
Milos Zeman will replace the euroskeptic Vaclav Klaus, who steps down in March after ten years in office.
Both presidential candidates support deeper integration of the European Union.
The result is a triumphant return for a man many thought was finished in politics.
Former Czech PM Milos Zeman has won the presidential election, the first time the position has been decided by direct popular vote
Ten years ago Milos Zeman was humiliated in his first attempt to become president – even members of his own party didn’t vote for him.
He has spent much of the last decade in retirement at his country cottage, but he returns now to political life with a vengeance.
He seems to have won the support of many poorer, older voters from areas of the country that have suffered in the economic downtown.
Milos Zeman won 24.2% in the first round poll, with Karel Schwarzenberg winning 23.4%.
Although Czechs are generally disillusioned with politics, they turned out in their droves to choose between the two very different candidates – Milos Zeman, the acerbic former Social Democrat prime minister, and Karel Schwarzenberg, the elderly, aristocratic foreign minister.
The urban elite voted en masse for Karel Schwarzenberg – who was supported by many in the media and had a strong Facebook following.
A titled prince, 75 years old but wildly popularly amongst young, urban voters, in the early 1990s, he worked as chancellor to the President Vaclav Havel, the leader of the Velvet Revolution that brought down Communist rule in 1989.
For Karel Schwarzenberg’s supporters, this is a bitter defeat.
Czech voters have been casting their ballots in the presidential election, the first time the role has been elected by direct popular vote.
Former Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman faces Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg in the second round.
People have braved freezing conditions to vote in what is proving a nail-bitingly close election.
Milos Zeman gained 24.2% in the first round, with Karel Schwarzenberg 23.4%.
“It’ll be very tight,” Karel Schwarzenberg said after casting his ballot in the small village of Sykorice, south-west of Prague.
“I’m not nervous, far from it, I’m calm, we’ll see,” he added.
Former Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman faces Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg in the second round of presidential election
Milos Zeman said he had said all he wanted to say.
“Now it’s the turn of citizens,” he added.
Though Czechs are generally disillusioned with politics, they have been turning out in droves to chose the two very different candidates – Milos Zeman, the acerbic former Social Democrat prime minister, and Karel Schwarzenberg, the elderly, aristocratic foreign minister.
Milos Zeman is a hard-drinking, chain-smoking politician, known for his witty put-downs of his political opponents while Karel Schwarzenberg is a titled prince, 75 years of age but wildly popularly amongst young, urban voters, our correspondent says.
In the early 1990s, Karel Schwarzenberg worked as chancellor to the President Vaclav Havel, the leader of the Velvet Revolution that brought down Communist rule in 1989.
The vote is the first time the president is being directly elected by the public.
The new president will represent the Czech Republic abroad and appoint candidates to the constitutional court and the central bank, but does not carry much day-to-day power.