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TITLE:  CZECH REPUBLIC HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1993                         
DATE:  JANUARY 31, 1994
AUTHOR:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

                     CZECH REPUBLIC


The Czech Republic came into existence on January 1, 1993, when 
the constituent republics of Czechoslovakia became independent 
following the dissolution of the Czech and Slovak Federal 
Republic.  The victorious parties in the June 1992 Czechoslovak 
elections negotiated arrangements for the split during the 
latter half of 1992.  The new Czech Constitution was ratified 
on December 16 of that year.

The Czech Republic is a parliamentary democracy.  The coalition 
Government is led by the Civic Democratic Party, a conservative 
secular free market-oriented party whose leader, Prime Minister 
Vaclav Klaus, is the architect of the country's economic 
reform.  The Czech Republic adopted the democratic civil 
structures created in the 3 years following the 1989 revolution 
in Czechoslovakia.  Vaclav Havel, President of the Czech 
Republic, is an internationally recognized advocate of human 
rights and social justice.

The Ministry of the Interior oversees intelligence and police 
matters.  The security structures are currently in flux, as the 
Government redefines the tasks and reduces the number 
(currently four) of intelligence agencies.  Two of these 
agencies, the Intelligence Service of the General Staff and the 
Military Counterintelligence Service are integrated into the 
Ministry of Defense.  The External Intelligence and Information 
Service is an integral part of the Ministry of the Interior.  
Parliament supervises the Internal Security and Information 
Service, which is independent of ministry control.  During 
1993, the press criticized this latter agency, casting doubts 
on the competence and loyalty of its leadership and focusing 
especially on purported organizational and managerial 
shortcomings.  

Economic reforms continued to transform the Czech Republic in 
1993, although the split from the Slovak Republic had a 
short-term negative effect, primarily in the volume of trade.  
Privatization of small enterprises was completed, but some of 
the most difficult challenges in restructuring large industrial 
firms remained.  By the end of 1993, the private sector 
contributed approximately 45 percent of gross domestic product, 
up from less than 5 percent in 1989.  The Government followed 
firm macroeconomic policies, resulting in a stable currency and 
a budget surplus.  During 1993, the economic decline that had 
been a result of the transformation to a market economy 
bottomed out, and analysts foresaw slow but steady growth with 
continued low unemployment in the years ahead.


A number of independent human rights monitoring groups, as well 
as the Government, conducted studies of human rights issues, 
including the situation of the Roma (Gypsy) minority.  Human 
rights abuses identified by these institutions--as well as by 
the press--included discrimination against the Roma minority; 
perceived attacks on press freedom; and the continued presence 
in Czech law of screening requirements aimed at those accused 
of collaborating with the pre-1989 Communist regime.  Questions 
about women's rights, including violence against women, are 
still relegated to the margins of social and political debate.

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

No political or extrajudicial killings were known to have 
occurred.  

     b.  Disappearance

There were no reports of abductions, disappearances, secret 
arrests, or clandestine detentions.

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

There was no evidence of any such practices.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

The Czech Republic assumed Czechoslovak laws governing arrest 
and related rights.  Courts issue arrest warrants.  Persons may 
be held without charge for 24 hours, during which time the 
arrestee has the right to consult with counsel.  There was no 
evidence of any incommunicado detention or protective 
detention.  A person charged with a crime has the right to 
appear before a judge for arraignment.  At arraignment, if 
charges are formalized, the judge determines whether custody is 
necessary pending trial.  Pretrial custody may not exceed 1 
year, and in such cases monthly appearances before a judge are 
required.  Counsel and family visits are available.  These 
guidelines are followed in practice.  There is no exile in law 
or in practice.


     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

The court system consists of district, regional, and high 
courts.  A Supreme Court, the highest court of appeal, was 
established early in 1993.  In addition, a Constitutional 
Court, which rules separately on the constitutionality of 
legislation, was created early in the year and began 
deliberations in December.  Military courts, which have 
jurisdiction over police, intelligence, and military matters, 
were abolished at the end of 1993, and their functions were 
taken over by the civil courts.  

The judiciary is impartial and independent.  Justice Ministry 
officials and press observers noted that the shortage of 
qualified judges (a problem under the Czechoslovak Federation) 
is slowly being overcome.  

Persons charged with criminal offenses are entitled to fair and 
open public trials.  They have the right to be informed of the 
charges against them and of their legal rights, to retain and 
consult with counsel, and to present a defense.  If a defendant 
cannot afford a lawyer, the State provides one.  Defendants 
enjoy the presumption of innocence and have the right to refuse 
to testify against themselves.  Defendants may appeal any 
judgments against them.  These rights are observed in practice.

The Czech Republic adopted, with some modifications, the 1991 
federal "lustration" law, and the Czech Parliament retained the 
commission created in 1992 to enforce its provisions.  The law 
bars many former Communist party officials, members of the 
People's Militia, and secret police collaborators from holding 
a wide range of elective, nominative, and appointive offices, 
including appointive positions in state-owned companies, 
academe, and the media for a period of 5 years.

Late in 1992, the Czechoslovak Federal Constitutional Court 
eliminated the so-called Category C list (those listed as 
collaborators but who in fact may only have been intelligence 
targets).  The Czech Republic accepted this federal ruling in 
1993.  Although the screening law is still on the books, it is 
rarely used.  Many observers--including Communist party members 
and human rights monitors--consider the law a dead letter, 
though parliamentarians still claim that it can limit careers 
and affect the structure of public office.  One Communist party 
official asserted that the most significant result of the 
screening legislation at present is that it hurts the 
international image of the Czech Republic.


The screening process was criticized because it was based on 
the records of the Communist secret police, records many 
suspected were incomplete or unreliable.  There is no judicial 
mechanism for appeal of screening decisions, though the 
Interior Ministry retained an internal board of appeals to 
review those decisions.  The screening law was criticized, both 
domestically and internationally (it was cited in reports by 
the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) and 
the Council of Europe) as a violation of human rights 
principles prohibiting discrimination in employment and 
condemning collective guilt.  Foreign ministry officials claim 
that in 1993 both the CSCE and the Council of Europe informed 
them that neither organization viewed lustration as a serious 
human rights problem in the Czech Republic.  Similarly, labor 
ministry officials note that in 1993 the International Labor 
Organization did not renew its previous criticism of lustration 
with the advent of the new Czech State.  

In a July law, Parliament defined the pre-1989 Communist regime 
as criminal and expressly lifted the statute of limitations for 
crimes committed by the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia 
during its 40-year rule.  The law was criticized by human 
rights activists for adopting the principle of collective 
guilt.  In late November, Parliament passed a new Criminal Code 
containing provisions forbidding defamation of the State and 
the Presidency.  The Constitutional Court in December upheld 
both these controversial laws.  There were no known political 
prisoners.

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
         Correspondence

Electronic surveillance, the tapping of telephones, and 
interception of mail require a court order.  The Government 
complied with this requirement.  In September the press 
reported that listening devices had been found in the Justice 
Minister's office.  There were no reports of arbitrary or 
unlawful interference with privacy.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

Czech law provides for freedom of speech and press.  
Individuals may, and do, speak out on political and other 
issues and freely criticize the Government and public figures.  
A wide variety of newspapers, magazines, and journals continued 
to be published in 1993.  As an illustration, Prague, with a 
population of 1.25 million, is home to at least a dozen dailies 
with national distribution, as well as a variety of 
entertainment and special interest newspapers.  Some newspapers 
are associated with the interests of political parties, but 
even most of these were sufficiently independent to criticize 
their main ideological backer on occasion.  The print media 
enjoyed the right to publish without censorship or fear of 
government persecution, though the ruling Civic Democratic 
Party in public statements often criticized what it called the 
immaturity and lack of ethical behavior among print 
journalists.  

The electronic media are independent.  Some television channels 
are privately owned.  A parliamentary commission has broad 
oversight and power to approve or reject candidates for the 
independent Television and Radio Council.  The Council has 
responsibility for policymaking in television and radio as well 
as granting licenses.  Since January 1993, under the media law 
the Television and Radio Council granted 1 television license, 
more than 10 radio licenses, and over 30 television cable 
licenses.  

The Civic Democratic Party was critical of the electronic media 
as well.  In January party figures criticized a decision by the 
Television and Radio Council to award a broadcast license to 
the Cet-21 firm for a Czech television channel.  Some Civic 
Democrats had apparently hoped another bidder would win the 
contract and protested the decision.  This lack of distinction 
between public and private interest was apparent in the stated 
desire of Prime Minister Klaus to acquire a government station 
so that the Government "has enough space to explain to the 
people what it deems necessary to explain."  

Despite criticism from the Prime Minister and members of his 
party, the media, both print and electronic, continued to 
express a wide variety of views on most topical issues.  There 
was no official censorship.  

Universities have the authority to decide their internal 
affairs, including pedagogic and academic orientation and 
internal structure.  Academic freedom is provided for by law, 
though the same law forbids activities by established political 
parties at the university.  


     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

Czech law provides for the right of persons to assemble 
peacefully.  Permits for some public demonstrations are 
required by law but are rarely refused.  Police generally do 
not interfere with spontaneous peaceful demonstrations for 
which organizers lack a permit.  Such police behavior is 
perhaps due to sensitivity about the actions of police against 
peaceful assemblies in the not-too-distant Communist past.  

The right of persons to associate freely and to form political 
parties and movements is also protected by law and respected in 
practice.  Organizations, associations, foundations, and 
political parties are required to register with local officials 
or at the Interior Ministry, but there is no evidence that this 
registration is coercive.  The Communist Party is represented 
in Parliament and in local government and continues to own 
considerable assets throughout the Republic.  

     c.  Freedom of Religion

The Czech Republic enjoys religious freedom.  There is no 
official religion, and no religion is banned or discouraged by 
law.  The Government has not yet resolved the problem of the 
restitution of church property, though the issue has been the 
subject of considerable debate inside the ruling coalition, 
which includes two Christian Democratic parties.  Claims for 
the restitution of Jewish property are still outstanding as 
well, but a law has been drafted that would grant the Jewish 
community some property previously owned by Jews, not as a 
precedent for restitution, but as a gift from the State.

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

The Czech Republic has no restrictions on domestic or foreign 
travel, emigration, and repatriation.  Passports are readily 
available to all wishing to travel abroad.  Czechs who 
emigrated during the period of Communist rule frequently return 
to visit, or even to settle, and are able to regain Czech 
citizenship if they wish, though to do so they must relinquish 
claim to any foreign citizenship.  Citizenship is not revoked 
for political reasons.  A few localities have issued ordinances 
requiring nonresidents to prove that they have a place to live, 
a job, and no criminal record.  These ordinances, specifically 
aimed at minorities (Roma or Asian) in the towns of Jirkov, 
Dubi, and Brandys nad Labem, have received extensive press 
coverage and criticism from human rights groups (see Section 
5).  

Refugees and asylum seekers are treated according to 
international norms.  With the exception of over 2,000 refugees 
from the former Yugoslavia, most migrants used the Czech 
Republic as a transit route toward the West.  (The number of 
migrants crossing Czech territory en route to Germany peaked at 
midyear and fell drastically after the implementation of a new 
asylum law in Germany in July.)  Those granted refugee status 
are given permission to reside in the Czech Republic for 5 
years, followed by a formal review whereby they may obtain 
permanent residence.  A lengthy procedure to apply for 
naturalization is also open to them.  Nongovernmental 
organizations work closely with Interior Ministry officials to 
ease refugees' transition into Czech society.  In practice, 
however, most potential refugees choose to apply for permanent 
settlement elsewhere.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

Citizens of the Czech Republic have the right to change their 
government by democratic means.  Citizens over the age of 18 
are eligible to vote in republicwide and local elections.  
Voting is carried out by secret ballot.  Opposition groups, 
including political parties, function openly and participate 
without hindrance in the political process.

The ruling four-party right-of-center coalition was formed in 
June 1992, at the time of the last election in Czechoslovakia.  
There are also a number of left-of-center opposition parties 
and one party of the radical right.  The Czech Constitution 
mandates elections at least every 4 years to the Parliament, 
based on proportional representation within eight large 
electoral districts.  There is a 5-percent threshold for 
parties to enter the Parliament.  The Constitution also calls 
for an upper house of Parliament, the Senate, which in 1993 had 
yet to be constituted; the first senatorial election should 
take place in 1994, although legislation defining its 
procedures remains to be adopted.  The President, who is 
elected by the Parliament, serves a 5-year term.  The President 
has limited constitutional powers but may use a suspensive veto 
to return legislation to Parliament, which has the right to 
override the President's veto.  


There are no restrictions, in law or in practice, on women's 
participation in politics.  Women appear to participate less in 
the public sphere, both in the work force and in public office 
since the overthrow of the Communist regime.  Relatively few 
women hold high public office in the Czech Republic, though 
women serve as mayors and parliamentary deputies.

The two significant minorities--Roma and Slovaks--are not 
represented as such in Czech politics.  The government- 
sponsored Council on National Minorities, which has 
representatives from all minority groups, plans to release a 
comprehensive minority policy paper early in 1994.  No minority 
leader holds significant elective office at the republic or 
local level.  Slovaks, of whom there are an estimated 300,000, 
are primarily "Czechoslovaks" who elected to live in the Czech 
Republic after the split, and who for the most part define 
their interests in the context of Czech politics, not along 
ethnic lines.  Many serve in high positions in the civil 
service.

Not all the estimated 200,000 Roma have integrated into Czech 
society, and the party that represented their interests 
immediately following the demise of communism, the Roma Civic 
Initiative, is in disarray.  Other local Roma political 
groupings have not gained republicwide prominence.  The 
political culture of the Czech Republic generally defines Roma 
as outsiders, and the Roma themselves have been unable to unite 
behind a program or set of ideals that would allow them to 
represent their interests in the democratic structures of the 
country (see Section 5).

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

The Czech Republic encourages the activities of domestic and 
international human rights organizations.  The Presidency of 
former dissident and human rights monitor Vaclav Havel serves 
as a powerful moral magnet for these groups, which work without 
government interference or difficulty.  Czech officials 
generally cooperate with official and unofficial visits by 
foreign human rights monitors or human rights officials 
representing countries or multilateral organizations.  A study 
of human rights in the Czech Republic by the CSCE concluded 
there were no significant violations of international human 
rights standards, and a Council of Europe report determined 
that there were no human rights obstacles to Czech admission to 
the Council.  

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status

The law provides for the equality of citizens and prohibits 
discrimination.  Health care, education, retirement, and other 
social services generally are provided without regard to race, 
sex, religion, disability, or social status.  In practice, Roma 
sometimes face discrimination in such areas as educational 
opportunity.  

     Women

Women are equal under the law and receive pay equal to that of 
male colleagues for the same job, though the median wages for 
women in 1993 lagged significantly behind those of men.  In the 
Czech economy, women appear to be concentrated in professions 
in which the median salary is generally low:  medicine, 
teaching, white-collar clerical jobs.  Women enjoy equal 
property, inheritance, and other legal rights with men.  Public 
debate about violence towards women remains nearly nonexistent, 
despite the efforts of a handful of women's groups to bring 
this and other issues to the attention of the public.  Police 
and human rights groups sometimes link violence toward women 
with economic hardship and excessive drinking but without any 
hard facts.  Justice officials claim that laws against violence 
are effectively enforced, and human rights groups do not 
contradict them.  

A more public issue--and one that has gained considerable 
attention in the press--is the growth of prostitution, which 
has become increasingly visible.  For the most part, 
prostitutes are in business for themselves, but underground 
elements, often also involved in smuggling and petty crime, 
coerce some women into prostitution.  The law does not 
explicitly protect prostitutes against trafficking and sexual 
exploitation.  

     Children

Government expenditure on children's welfare is adequate.  
Children generally receive sufficient health care, compulsory 
education, and basic nutrition.  Some Roma children do not 
receive these benefits, but this is less the result of 
government policy than of cultural differences and instances of 
social prejudice.  Child abuse as a social problem began to 
receive attention in the press in 1993.  

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

By far the most significant minority in the Czech Republic is 
the Roma population, estimated at about 200,000.  Roma live 
throughout the country but are concentrated in the industrial 
towns of northern Bohemia, where many of them were settled more 
than 40 years ago in the homes of Sudeten Germans transferred 
to the West.  They suffer disproportionally from poverty, 
crime, and disease.  Efforts by foundations and by persons in 
the education and health fields to improve their living 
conditions, especially the conditions of Roma children, have 
had only minimal impact.  Efforts by local leaders to mobilize 
local Roma communities, especially in the north, generally have 
failed.  

Roma suffer from serious popular prejudice in the Czech 
Republic.  Roma leaders claim that Roma are discriminated 
against in employment, housing, and everyday life.  A 
significant example was the passage late in 1992 of decrees in 
the town of Jirkov (northern Bohemia), which assessed fines 
against those who had not gained prior permission from the 
owner to live in an apartment and gave the town council the 
right to evict apartment occupants without a court order, if 
the council determined they were in violation of hygienic rules 
and local regulations.  Furthermore, the decree required those 
who could not prove they belonged in a residence to leave 
town.  The town council openly admitted the ordinance was aimed 
at dealing with the overcrowding of apartments by Roma.  The 
district prosecutor in the Jirkov area said that the ordinance 
violated Republic law and should be rescinded.  They were in 
fact ruled invalid by the courts but not explicitly rescinded 
by the municipality.  These decrees were followed later in the 
year by similar proclamations in the towns of Dubi and, closer 
to Prague, Brandys nad Labem.  In Brandys, local officials told 
the press that the decrees were aimed at regulating the influx 
of Asian immigrants who illegally occupied local housing.

Another celebrated incident took place in March at the Miss 
Czech Republic beauty pageant, at which one aspirant for the 
crown described her goal as ridding her (North Bohemian) town 
of dark-skinned people.  Such attitudes were encouraged by the 
rightwing SPR-RPC (Republican) Party, which offered an 
expensive sports car to the authorities of any city hall who 
rid their town of Roma.  In some instances, fighting has 
occurred, and, in at least four cases, an ethnic Czech or Roma 
has been killed.  Newspapers reports often link such violence 
with skinhead provocations.  Such was certainly the case in 
incidents in Plzen and Pisek in the fall, in each of which a 
young Roma died as a result of skinhead violence.  There are 
credible reports that police ignore or condone incidents of 
violence against the Roma, although the Government has 
denounced such violence.  

Roma protest the Czech Republic's citizenship law, which 
prevents persons who have had a criminal conviction in the last 
5 years from gaining citizenship.  The central issue, as in 
most issues affecting Roma, is cultural:  ethnic Czechs see 5 
years as reasonable, Roma see it as punitive.  Roma comprise a 
disproportionate percentage of those arrested, charged, and 
convicted of criminal offenses.  Roma leaders protest that this 
provision of the law is designed to discriminate against Roma.  
The Czech Government in 1993 established a Commission on 
Minorities, which is widely regarded as ineffective in dealing 
with problems facing the Roma.  The Government is not overtly 
anti-Roma, although domestic policies tend to neglect the 
seriousness of the Roma issue.  In a well-known incident, one 
high official, Prosecutor General Jiri Setina, publicly 
criticized Roma.  (Setina lost his job later in the year for 
reasons unrelated to his statements about the Roma.)  

     Religious Minorities

The Jewish community in the Czech Republic numbers a few 
thousand.  Legal charges of slander and infringement of the 
rights of others, brought against the editor of the openly 
anti-Semitic magazine Politika, which ceased publication late 
in 1992, are still pending in a local Moravian court.  In 
November a Brno man was sentenced to prison for extortion and 
scaremongering for telephone threats against Jewish citizens 
and community buildings.  There was little additional evidence 
of public anti-Semitism, and the leaders of the Jewish 
community enjoyed close relations with government officials and 
other political leaders.

     People with Disabilities

A heretofore generous government policy of support for the 
disabled is being reduced for financial reasons.  Standards for 
receiving disability pensions are reportedly applied more 
strictly to Roma than to other citizens, though anecdotal 
evidence suggests that in the past a higher percentage of the 
Roma qualified for disability payments than of the population 
at large.  The Government has not placed a high priority on the 
issue of ensuring access for the disabled, nor has 
discrimination against the disabled been the subject of 
significant policy or public debate.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

The Czech Republic preserved legislation passed by the 
Czechoslovak Parliament between 1990 and 1992 guaranteeing 
workers the right to form and join unions of their own choosing 
without prior authorization.  Trade union leaders protested a 
law drafted by the Government that would have forbidden civil 
service workers from joining unions, claiming that such a law 
violated not only International Labor Organization (ILO) 
statutes but the Czech Constitution as well.  At year's end, 
the draft law had not yet been debated in Parliament.  More 
than 60 percent of the work force is unionized, though the 
number of workers who are members of labor organizations 
continued to fall steadily.

Most workers are members of unions affiliated with the Czech-
Moravian Chamber of Trade Unions (CMKOS), which took over the 
central union role held by the Czech and Slovak Confederation 
of Trade Unions (CSKOS) following the dissolution of the 
federation.  CMKOS is a democratically oriented, republicwide 
umbrella organization for unions not affiliated with political 
parties.

CSKOS continued to represent some elements of Czech (and 
Slovak) trade union interests, especially in contacts with 
international organizations, until it was disbanded in 
November.  Some small independent trade unions outside of CMKOS 
also exist, including one principally led by former Communist 
trade union officials and one based on Christian union 
principles.

Workers have the right to strike, except for those in specific 
professions whose role in public order or public safety is 
deemed crucial:  judges, prosecutors, members of the armed 
forces and the police, air traffic controllers, nuclear power 
station workers, workers with nuclear materials, and oil or gas 
pipeline workers.  The law also places some limitation on the 
right to strike of firefighting and rescue workers, 
telecommunications workers, and health workers.  The law 
requires that labor disputes be subject first to mediation and 
that strikes take place only after mediation efforts fail.  
Strikes were almost unheard of in 1993.  In one instance, CSKOS 
and CMKOS leaders alleged that the Government sought to 
intimidate subway workers who threatened to strike by 
publishing their names in the press.  The issues over which the 
strike was to occur were settled before it could take place.  
Railway workers threatened a major strike in December over 
government rollbacks of traditional union benefits.  The strike 
was averted at the last minute by the Government's decision to 
negotiate about these benefits.  

Czech unions are free to form or join federations and 
confederations and affiliate with and participate in 
international bodies.  This freedom was fully exercised.  The 
International Labor Organization's complaint against the 
Czechoslovak Federation--that the lustration law (which 
prevents former leaders of the Communist regime from holding 
high public office) represented an instance of employment 
discrimination--was dropped in 1993 with the accession of the 
Czech Republic to the ILO, according to Labor Ministry 
officials.  

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The law guarantees collective bargaining.  The basic collective 
bargaining instrument in the Czech Republic is the law on 
collective bargaining.  It is carried out in the tripartite 
system, a voluntary arrangement in which representatives of 
unions, government, and employers set the parameters of labor 
relations.  At various times throughout the year, CMKOS pointed 
to what it saw as Government violations of tripartite 
agreements.  Union and Government leaders generally settled 
such disagreements by negotiation.  Wages are set by free 
negotiation, though an upper limit was established by law in 
July, much to the consternation of some union leaders.  Charges 
of antiunion discrimination may be filed in court.  Labor 
Ministry officials were unable to say if court proceedings had 
led to reinstatement or other actions.  

The Czech Republic has one export processing zone.  Its workers 
have and practice the same right to organize and bargain 
collectively as other workers in the country.


     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

Legislation inherited from the federation, which enshrined 
elements of international human rights agreements, prohibited 
forced or compulsory labor.  There was no evidence that such 
practices occurred.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The Labor Code stipulates that children must be 15 years of age 
before they may work in the Czech Republic.  Those who have 
completed courses at special schools (that is, schools for the 
severely disabled) may work at the age of 14.  

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

The Government sets minimum wage standards.  The established 
minimum wage provides an adequate standard of living for an 
individual worker and, when combined with allowances available 
to families with children, provides an adequate standard of 
living for a worker and a family.  The minimum wage is roughly 
equal to $75 per month (thus around one-third of the average 
monthly wage of $220).  Major efforts at retraining, also 
carried out by district labor offices, seek to provide labor 
mobility for those at the lower end of the wage scale.  Because 
positive trends in the economy in 1993 led to a tight job 
market, the enforcement of minimum wage standards was rarely an 
issue.

The law mandates a standard workweek of 42 1/2 hours.  It also 
requires paid rest of at least 30 minutes during the standard 
8- to 8 1/2-hour workday, as well as annual leave of 3 to 4 
weeks.  Overtime may not exceed 150 hours per year or 8 hours 
per week as standard practice.  The Labor Ministry, responsible 
for enforcement of overtime regulations, said the phenomenal 
growth of the private sector, especially in small service 
enterprises, made it very difficult to assess overtime abuses.

Government, unions, and employers have agreed to advance worker 
safety and health, but conditions in some sectors of heavy 
industry remained substandard, especially in those sectors 
awaiting the process of privatization.  Industrial accident 
rates are not unusually high.  In contrast, the incidence of 
long-term health problems in areas suffering from heavy 
industrial pollution is, in fact, unusually high by 
international standards.  The Office of Labor Safety is 
responsible for enforcement of health and safety standards.



[end of document]

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