NAROD MA PRAVO SE BRANIT
środa, 10 czerwca 2009
CZECH COORDINATING OFFICE, International non-governmental Czech organization: Violations of Human Rights in the Czech Republic

Following the ordeal to which the Czech nation was subjected during the German occupation, the people sought a world order akin to the First Republic (1918-1938), free of concentration camps, forced labour and mass executions. Many thought that Communism would provide the answer. Although people were warned about the gulags and executions in Soviet Russia, they thought that nothing similar could happen in their country. The Nazi occupation was still a recent memory and it was difficult to imagine anything equally terrible occurring again so soon and also, how could it possibly happen in a civilized country like Czechoslovakia? After 1948, they learned that the cruelty of the Communists easily surpassed that of the Nazis. Concentration camps, forced labour, political executions and killings of citizens on the border became daily occurrences. In addition, theft of public and private property took place on a massive scale. The scum of society now came to power. They enjoyed putting down their fellow citizens, ruining their lives and seizing their property.  This often happened by means of court sentences, which not only routinely handed down 20 or 30 year prison terms or the death penalty but also involved confiscation of all property. Hundreds of families were forcibly evicted from their homes.

Shortly after the “Velvet” revolution, on April 23, 1990 the Czechoslovak Parliament adopted Act 119/90 on Judicial Rehabilitations, which states in its par. 1:
The purpose of this act is to overturn decisions which have been made by the courts for actions that the law defined as punishable in the past. These decisions were inconsistent with the principles of a democratic society. This act enables a prompt review of cases where people were unlawfully sentenced in criminal proceedings, secure them social and material rehabilitation and at the same time draw conclusions and consequences from the findings against persons who knowingly and grossly violated  laws which were in effect at that time (text shortened).
 §2:  Final judgments pronounced by courts in the period from February 25, 1948 to January 1, 1990 which were related to acts committed after May 5, 1945 (a list of the laws used by the Communist regime to repress the population follows) as well as any subsequent decisions regarding the same acts are hereby overturned as of the date they were pronounced.
This law came into force on July 1st, 1990. It restored all unlawfully confiscated properties to their original owners and we therefore insist that these properties be officially registered to the original owners as of that date.
However, two more laws were passed in 1991, Act 87/1991 on extra-judicial rehabilitations  and Act 229/1991 on the land ownership, which excluded from restitution of property all owners who fled the Communist reign of terror and in the process lost their Czech citizenship. These laws were at variance with the spirit of Act 119/90 in that they transferred the burden of proof onto the victims. For example, they required the person whose property was wrongfully confiscated to sue the current occupant, often an influential Communist Party official, and to prove that the latter had acquired it unlawfully. Out of tens of thousands of cases, a mere handful were able to meet these criteria. Acts 87/1991 and 229/1991 have been designated by the United Nations Committee for Human Rights as being in violation of article 26 of the International Covenant for Civil and Politicial Rights, ratified by the Czech Republic. These two laws were signed by Communist Party members Čalfa and Dubček, together with President Havel, who surrounded himself with Communists and became their supporter. He assured them immunity from prosecution and allowed them to keep the loot they accumulated during the 40 years of Communist rule.

Article 10 of the Czech Constitution states:
International Treaties ratified by Parliament are part of the legislative system; the Czech Republic is bound by them and if an international treaty is in disagreement with Czech law, the international treaty takes precedence.
The Czech Republic violates this article by the discriminatory conditions in both laws and violates thereby its own constitution.  Both laws are therefore unconstitutional and invalid.
The Czech Republic ratified the International Covenant and the related Optional Protocol on February 22, 1993 as the successor state after Czechoslovakia, which had signed both these documents in the seventies.
 The UN Committee for Human Rights has received a large number of complaints due to violation of several articles of the Covenant. The most frequent complaints concern article 26, which prohibits all discrimination and several are regarding contravention of article 14(7), which disallows that someone be prosecuted twice for the same offence. Czech restitution laws exclude its former citizens, who were able to escape from Czechoslovakia and had acquired the citizenship of another country, thereby losing Czech citizenship, from receiving their property back. The largest category is Czechs who settled in the United States and lost their Czechoslovak citizenship on becoming  U.S. citizens. The reason for the loss of citizenship was that Czechoslovakia and later the Czech Republic exploited a treaty about reciprocal loss of citizenship signed with the US back in 1928. (This treaty had no contemporary relevance; it was enacted to protect new American immigrants from military service and other possible persecution when they visited their country of origin). There are similar cases in Germany and elsewhere, where Czechs lost their former citizenship and thereby were automatically prevented from receiving their property back.  
In the great majority of cases the Committee has ruled against the Czech Republic whose response typically is that the Czech Constitutional Court has ruled that the CR did not break any article of the International Covenant. The United Nations Committee for Human Rights declared, however, that neither the Czech Constitutional Court nor any other institution has the right to pass judgement with regard to the contraventions of the treaty. According to the Optional Protocol, only the UN Committee for Human Rights determines what constitutes a violation of the Covenant.  
It is obvious that the Czech Republic violates a treaty which it ratified, contravenes its own constitution and consequently, is not the law-abiding  state it pretends to be. It protects occupants of the wrongfully seized property against the original, rightful owners. It continues in the criminality of the Communist regime. Its politicians, officials and judges, especially Constitutional Court judges who conduct affairs and render decisions based on this policy are complicit in these crimes.
The European Union is not trying to resolve this problem and is turning a blind eye because it incorporated article no 295 into the Agreement about European Communities which proclaims that the EU will not interfere in any property disputes in its member states. The same article appears as no. 345 in the Treaty of Lisbon. This was another reason why the European Court for Human Rights refused the claim for the return of property to Czech Americans and never ruled against the CR in property disputes.
This has made it possible for the Czech Republic  to seize property which had already been restituted to the rightful owner and for which that owner was paying property taxes for many years. These are properties occupied by prominent members of the Communist Party who do not want to relinquish them and who have the full support of the Ministry of Justice in maintaining the status quo. This is a precedent welcomed by thousands of former Communist officials who succeeded in seizing valuable properties thanks their former political position.   
Act 198/1993 on the illegality of the Communist regime was passed on July 9, 1993. Article 1 (d) observes: The Communist regime and those who actively embraced it, used all possible means in the persecution of the citizens: they executed, murdered, imprisoned in labour camps and arbitrarily deprived them of their property, flouting their property rights.
The Czech government ignores this law, never refers to it nor applies it. This, too, is a crime by all politicians, officials and judges, especially judges of the Constitutional Court.
It is unacceptable and sad that the CR espouses additional discriminatory laws which even exclude war heroes of the fight against Nazi Germany, if they lost Czech citizenship. These include Act 217/1994 on the provision of a one-time monetary award to some victims of Nazi persecution,  Act 39/2000 on a one-time monetary award to members of Czechoslovak foreign and allied armies from 1939-1945 and Act 261/2001 on a one-time monetary award to members of the national fight for freedom, political prisoners and persons sent to labour camps for racial or religious reasons. Act 172/2002 on compensation of persons deported to the Soviet Union or to camps run by the USSR in other countries. All persons who lost their Czech citizenship are barred from these benefits, as are the widows and orphans they left behind.
We can send you any of the documents referenced here upon request. We insist on the return of property seized as of July 1, 1990 to their rightful owners or to their heirs.
This will be the most expedient and simple way of dealing with the criminal past.

Jan Sammer, Secretary,
February 2009
1103-100 Antibes Drive, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M2R 3N1
T 416-665-7324
jan.sammer@sympatico.ca

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