Press Releases

25. 5. 2009 16:10

Government endorses parliamentary amendment to the Rules of Criminal Procedure

At its meeting today, the Government discussed a parliamentary proposal for an amendment to the Rules of Criminal Procedure (Press No 815) concerning a law which the media in particular have taken to dubbing the “Muzzle Act”.

The draft amendment was tabled by a group of MPs comprising Kateřina Jacques, František Bublan, František Laudát, Martin Bursík and Přemysl Rabas. These MPs are proposing that, in the future, the media should legally be allowed to publish information, for example, about tapping where this is in the public interest. Depending on the nature of the information, these cases will mainly involve information concerning public servants (such as politicians).

The Government agrees with the proposal, albeit with a few reservations. It believes that, at the very least, the proposal is a significant step towards opening a parliamentary debate on the extent to which the public should be informed of ongoing criminal proceedings. Presumably the same conclusion would be reached over time in the practical interpretation of the law.

The purpose of this professional and political debate must be to strike a balance between the protection of privacy (particularly for victims of crime) on the one hand, and the public right to information on the other. In a situation where the constitutionality of the legal norm is about to the assessed by the Constitutional Court following a petition from a group of Senators, the proposal is a relatively important compromise, especially as the Government’s observations will be taken into account in the upcoming legislative process.

The Government’s observations seek to improve the proposal and maintain the increased protection of victims who are under 18 years of age, as well as victims of procuration or the dissemination of pornography, crimes against life, health or human dignity, and crimes against families and young people.

The purpose of the Government’s observations has been to maintain the standard of protection afforded to children who are victims of crime, as well as other victims where the crime has directly affected their lives, health or human dignity. Placing such details in the media spotlight could further deepen the negative effects of the crime on the victims, often for the rest of their life (secondary victimization).

The Government is also convinced that all published information, even if published in the public interest, must always strictly respect the requirement of objectivity and the principle of the presumption of innocence.

Roman Prorok, Press Officer of the Government of the Czech Republic

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