Lower house passes bill to enable banishment of petty criminals

Controversial law would give municipalities powers to ban prostitutes, beggars and petty criminals for three months  

Politics & Policy|Society
Tom Jones | 21.03.2012
Initiator of the bill Ivana Řápková

The bill to grant powers to grant Czech towns powers to expel problem individuals for up to three months is aimed at protecting citizens from crime, its author, former mayoress of Chomutov in northern Bohemia Ivana Řápková, says. Following amendments, the lower house of parliament passed the bill on Wednesday, but some lawmakers claim the draft legislation is anti-constitutional.

Addressing the lower house on Wednesday, Řápková said the aim of the law is to prevent lawbreakers from returning to places where they committed crimes. “It’s about protecting citizens and their families, who are repeatedly assaulted physically and robbed and at present are not protected by any functioning sanction,” Řápková said.

Those who spoke against the bill said the proposed measure would simply serve to chase petty criminals elsewhere and not limit the potential for them recommitting. Jaroslav Škárka (unaffiliated) said, among other points, that the contradictions and shortcomings in the law on compulsory registry of domicile would render the public order unworkable.

All who spoke against claimed the bill would breach the Czech Constitution. “The proposed sanction is inadequate in relation to procedures that should implemented in cases of breaches of public order, crimes against property, or against civil harmony, and therefore in my opinion there is serious doubt about the proposed amendment’s compliance with the constitutional order of this country,” lawyer and MP from the opposition Social Democrats (ČSSD) Jan Chvojk told the lower house.

Of the 179 MPs present, 94 voted in favor of the bill following the third and final reading in the lower house, 77 against, and eight abstained. Almost all MPs who voted against were from the opposition ČSSD and Communist Party (KSČM). The bill will now be put to the upper house, the Senate. 

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