Friday, 15 December 2017

Mock prize goes to effort to punish defamation of president

ČTK |
4 October 2017

Prague, Oct 3 (CTK) - A group of Czech MPs headed by Communist (KSCM) Zdenek Ondracek received the mock award for the restriction of freedom for their attempt to reintroduce the crime of public defamation of the head of state, the organising Open Society group announced on Tuesday.

The reinstatement of the president defamation law, in form of an amendment to the Penal Code, was supported by 60 MPs, mostly Social Democrats (CSSD), Communists and members of the ANO and Dawn movements last year. If the crime of defamation of the president were committed, this would be punishable with up to a 12-month prison term, according to the proposal. The leaders of the CSSD and ANO, who form the government, distanced themselves from this plan.

Ondracek said it was a pity he was not invited to the award-giving ceremony.

"I would like to accept such a mock prize. I do not give a damn for the babble of some NGOs," he told CTK.

Lawyer and a member of the jury Hana Marvanova warned of the latent threats to the freedoms guaranteed by the constitution.

"If we lose the freedom of speech, we will gradually lose other freedoms, too," she added.

The Chamber of Deputies did not even start debating the proposed legislation. However, Ondracek still wants to submit it again if he is re-elected to the Chamber of Deputies.

Another mock prize went to the Presidential Office for its refusal to provide the text of a letter in which U.S. President Donald Trump wrote about his postponement of a meeting with Czech President Milos Zeman.

Oldrich Kuzilek, who specialises in transparent state administration, said Zeman's Office argued that the letter was a piece of information produced without using public finances and that the letter was handed to it by a person to whom the law on free access to information does not apply.

Zeman's spokesman Jiri Ovcacek told CTK that the organising group had joined an anti-Zeman campaign and that it ridiculed itself because the letter was not published.

Ovcacek pointed to an article of the server Blesk.cz which quoted from the letter.

The Chamber of Deputies received a mock prize for the passage of an amendment to the construction law that prevents the public from taking part in the construction procedure through civic associations, which was possible until then.

On the contrary, the Open Society praised the Foundation of independent journalism for its support for investigative journalists. It also praised the Brno City for its project of a participative budget and the Senate for rejecting exemptions from the online register of public contracts.

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