War declared! (kind of)

September 22nd, 2009 | by Andrew Ó Baoill |

Well this could be awkward. (Are we expected to cut off all communications?) The EU is threatening a visa war with Canada, because of its withdrawal of visa waivers from visitors from the Czech Republic. That decision, in turn, had been prompted by a large number of applications for asylum by visiting members of the Czech Roma community, who face significant discrimination within that country.

The Canadian decision has been criticized by groups such as Amnesty, who point to that pattern of discrimination:

“Last year there was a big pogrom against Roma in the north of the Czech Republic in Janov. And the whole incident has still not completely been resolved and there are no conclusions yet,” Dasa van der Horst, the head of the Amnesty International branch in Prague, told Czech Radio.

And now – as expected for a while – the EU has weighed in. However, one hopes that apart from putting pressure on Canada to reinstate the visa waiver, member states (and the Commission) are taking the opportunity to put pressure on the Czech government, and push for greater action to combat discrimination and prejudice against the Roma community.

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