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UN Blasts Czechs Over 'Degrading' Detention of Migrants

  • VOA News

Guards walk past a razor wire fence securing a former prison in Drahonice, Czech Republic, Friday, Oct. 2, 2015. Anticipating a possible influx of migrants in the country, the Czech Republic is turning the prison into a new detention center for up to 240 of them.

Guards walk past a razor wire fence securing a former prison in Drahonice, Czech Republic, Friday, Oct. 2, 2015. Anticipating a possible influx of migrants in the country, the Czech Republic is turning the prison into a new detention center for up to 240 of them.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights is accusing the Czech Republic of detaining migrants and refugees in “degrading" conditions.

Zeid Ra'ad Al-Hussein says credible reports from various sources indicate “the violations of the human rights of migrants are neither isolated nor coincidental, but systematic” in the country.

He says the Czech Republic routinely detains migrants and refugees for 40 days, and in some cases reportedly up to 90 days. They are often strip-searched for money to pay the daily cost ($10.46) of their detention.

FILE - U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.

FILE - U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.

Al-Hussein says the Czech measures appear to be designed to deter migrants and refugees from entering or staying in the country.

He cited a Czech Republic's ombudsman report released last week that conditions in a detention facility violated the U.N.'s Convention on the Rights of the Child and the European Convention on Human Rights.

Al-Hussein voiced great concern that the Czech Republic detention policy was accompanied by xenophobic public statements by top government officials, including "Islamophobic" statements by Czech Republic President Miloš Zeman and a public petition "Against Immigration" initiated by his predecessor Václav Klaus.

President Zeman and his Interior Minister Milan Chovanec have rejected Al-Hussein’s criticism of their country's policy of detention and treatment of migrants and refugees.

Zaman's spokesman, Jiri Ovcacek, said that the president dismissed the criticism as a campaign against the Czech Republic. Ovcacek also said that Zeman is not ready to change his critical views of Islam and the refugees.

The U.N. estimates, more than 600,000 migrants and refugees, fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, have arrived in Europe this year. About 3,000 have died in the process.

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