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map courtesy CIA World Factbook; click for enlargement Constitution, Government & Legislation

The Czech Republic was the western part of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic. Formed into a common state after World War I (October 18, 1918), the Czechs, Moravians, and Slovaks remained united for almost 75 years. On January 1, 1993, the two republics split to form two separate states. Vaclav Havel, now President of the Czech Republic, is not affiliated with any party but remains one of the country's most popular politicians. As formal head of state, he is granted specific powers such as the right to nominate Constitutional Court judges, dissolve parliament under certain conditions, and enact a veto on legislation.

The legislature is bicameral, with a Chamber of Deputies and a Senate. With the split of the former Czechoslovakia, the powers and responsibilities of the now defunct federal parliament were transferred to the Czech National Council, which renamed itself the Chamber of Deputies. Chamber delegates are elected from seven districts and the capital, Prague, for 4-year terms, on the basis of proportional representation. The Czech Senate is patterned after the U.S. Senate and was first elected in 1996; its members serve for 6-year terms with one-third being elected every 2 years.

Source: U.S. Department of State

Courts & Judgments

The Czech court system consists of district, regional, and high courts. The Supreme Court is the highest court of appeal. The separate Constitutional Court has final authority for cases concerning the constitutionality of legislation. Under the terms of the new law, the President is the appointing authority for all judges, and judges who have at least 10 years' experience as lawyers will be eligible for appointment to the Supreme Court.

In December 2001 the Parliament passed a judicial reform package proposed by the Ministry of Justice that is scheduled to become effective on April 1, 2002. The new law includes term limits of 7 years for Constitutional Court judges, a continuing education program, and a mandatory retirement age of 70 for all judges, as well as measures to streamline the judicial process. On December 19, the President signed the bill into law.

Source: U.S. Department of State

Human Rights

The Czech Government generally respects the human rights of its citizens; however, problems remained in some areas during 2001. Occasional police violence and use of excessive force remained a problem. Lengthy pretrial detention and long delays in trials were problems, due to structural and procedural deficiencies as well as a lack of resources for the judicial system. The Government pursued libel and slander cases against a number of journalists. There are some limits on freedom of association for groups that promote racial hatred and intolerance. During the year, some Roma were prevented from emigrating. There is some violence and discrimination against women. Discrimination and occasional skinhead violence against the Romani community remained problems. There were reports that employers attempted to prevent the formation of collective bargaining agreements. Trafficking in women and children was a problem.

Source: U.S. Department of State

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