Archive for the ‘Law’ Category

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Firefighters without high school diploma fired

In Law on January 4, 2012 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged:

Some time ago, men who wanted to be firefighters did not have to have a high school diploma, which is associated with the passing of a complex leaving examination. Due to some recent changes the qualification requirements have changed as well, so any prospective firefighter must have a high school diploma. The problem is that the conditions were changed retroactively to apply to all active men in the force. They were granted a grace period of ten years, during which they were obliged to “go back to school” to complete their secondary education. Many schools offer “evening” or “weekend” classes for this purpose because there are many adults who realize that they need to have the diploma. However, the firefighters who have failed to do so were fired on December 31, the Liberecky denik daily writes.

No school teaches split-second decisions. There are no classes in willingness to risk one’s life to save other people’s lives. There are men in the force who had been firemen for decades when they were laid off and the absence of their high school diploma has never been a problem. Yes, they saw it coming and they knew they had ten years to do something about it, so the fact that they had to leave did not come as a surprise. However, professional website Pozary.cz (Fires) tells a story of a firefighter who could not enroll and complete his secondary education because of family-related issues. Even though he wanted to. He had to leave the force after twenty years of service!

There are specific cases where retroactivity in law should apply (and it often does) and there are other cases where it is strictly forbidden and/or unconstitutional. The latter shall apply to professions like firemen. (Photo: Hasici Liberec)

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VIDEO: Illegal fireworks detonated in downtown Brno

In Law on January 3, 2012 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged:

Czechs like to celebrate the start of a new year with fireworks. Every city has a few public places where people who have purchased fireworks like to gather and detonate their rockets and all kinds of other pyrotechnic devices. Many of these people are extremely dangerous because they do so while intoxicated. Just like these young men (and I think I can see one girl there) in Brno who are seen detonating an illegal device which can only be purchased by a licensed specialist. In addition, it can only be detonated in a special protective “bucket”.


The police are investigating the incident because these idiots could have seriously injured or killed bystanders. According to a January 1 police blotter paramedics were dispatched on December 31 to treat a 31-year old man who sustained serious injuries after a pyrotechnic device detonated in his hand. Of course, most of these devices can only be purchased by adults, but since “adult” means 18, which is the age of essentially all high school seniors, any kid can ask an older and irresponsible friend to make the purchase.

UPDATE Tuesday afternoon: The suspects have been identified thanks to testimonies by people who know the suspects personally. They were summoned to testify this afternoon. The public prosecutor will decide whether to prosecute them or not based on expert reports. If convicted, they may spend eight years in prison…

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Czech town to fine clients of street prostitutes

In Law on January 2, 2012 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: ,

The town of Chomutov, Czech Republic has had huge problems with street prostitution since the 1990’s. As of the first day of this year it has had a municipal ordinance in force, pursuant to which anyone caught soliciting a prostitute will pay a fine. Before the ordinance was adopted, only the street prostitutes could face fines if caught. Deputy Mayor of the city told a local daily newspaper that the city administration hopes the ordinance will discourage most potential clients and the women will disappear from the public streets and places. According to the ordinance, the soliciting of a prostitute is a misdemeanor “of a very sensitive nature” which is “investigated” by the municipal authority, i.e. something most men would prefer to avoid.

In addition, Chomutov Municipal Police decided in 2008 to publish photos of drivers soliciting roadside prostitutes near main roads, where doing so resulted in road rule violations and related problems. However, since the applicable law did not allow the immediate identification of the drivers (clients), this measure proved ineffective.

Most women in the Czech Republic who offer sex for money have their own tiny apartments (sometimes shared by more girls/women). Naturally, they pay no income taxes because there is no way of proving that their encounters with men actually constitute prostitution. Chomutov is near the Czech-German border where foreign truckers and German citizens were the most common clients of the local prostitutes. In the recent years, however, the demand for these services has decreased rapidly.

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Counterintelligence: a gate wide open

In Law,Politics on October 18, 2011 by Petr Bokuvka

(c) Petr Bokuvka

The Brno bureau of the Czech counterintelligence agency (BIS – http://www.bis.cz/en) is located right next to a Brno Transit Authority terminal which is served by one tram line and seven bus lines. One might find it odd that there is graffiti on the wall and the rear gate often remains open and unguarded for five minutes.

It is no secret that the building is used by BIS, even though there is no bronze sign on the front entrance or a warning do-not-enter sign on the five-foot fence. I interviewed the BIS spokesman for my article in the Metropol biweekly. He told me that the graffiti has been there for years and that it is possible that the vandal did not even know that it is in fact a BIS bureau.

On the other hand, several days ago the rear gate had remained open and unguarded for at least five minutes. Sure, the risk is very small – but it does exist theoretically. And the agency’s role is to pay attention to theoretical risks to the country as well. Its spokesman confirmed they were sure that the agency is still able to fulfill its legal role.

According to my information, due to the public budget cuts which are related to the global financial crisis the agency has been laying people off. In the case of this particular building, it should be about 30 percent of the original number of employees. Naturally, the agency cannot comment (confirm or deny) on the basis of the provisions of the act on the protection of classified information.

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Smokers stink, say vandals by their slogans

In Health,Law,Life on September 5, 2011 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: ,

They are all around the city of Brno. Spray-painted slogans that say “Hey, smoker, you stink”. Some of them link to a website of the same name. This one. Authors of this website claim their activities are sort of campaign against smoking, because, in their opinion, all previous campaigns have so far failed.

“Talking about cancer with eight year-old kids makes no sense. This topic is like World War I for them,” says the website administrator. “But many of them actually try their first cigarette at the age of eight to twelve,” he adds in one post on the website, which actually looks like a WordPress blog.

The spray-painted sign can be found near bus stops, on walls near crowded places, or even on an electrical installation one meter (!) from the fence of the premises of the Czech counterintelligence agency (under two surveillance cameras). “We never spray-paint new facade, historical buildings or public transportation vehicles,” the guidelines for wannabe vandals say, if they want to take part in the campaign.

“Not a bad idea as such. But the way it is realized is not acceptable, as it includes damage to other people’s or public property,” an advertising copywriter told me when I interviewed him for an article. “One has to admit that kids will spot writing on a wall rather than a poster,” he added. If arrested or tried in court, the campaign authors insist that their judge be a non-smoker.

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Croatian police vs Czech pot smokers on holidays

In Law,Travel on July 1, 2011 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: ,

It is the first day of the official summer holiday (July 1 to August 31) and thousands of Czechs are on their way to Croatia. It is still the most favorite holiday destination. Since the tourist season started in Croatia, almost 30 Czechs have had problems with the police, most of them were even charged with the possession of narcotics – meaning “pot”. Several years ago Croatia adopted very strict drug control legislation and the authorities have said repeatedly that it will apply to tourists and that the “I had no idea” excuse will not be acknowledged. Border patrols have started thorough inspections of vehicles, their occupants and their luggage. According to local news sources, cops have been instructed to focus “on young occupants in more expensive cars” who are thought to be the more wealthy youth who go on holidays without parents (duh, they are over 18) – but with money and recreational drugs. In the past, Croatian border patrols focused on the “poorer” tourists from the Czech Republic who wanted to save money and brought their own groceries, alcohol, canned food etc., so that they could avoid buying them in Croatia, or even spending money in restaurants. After many protests the Croatian government realized it was not that big a deal and that many Czechs would not go to Croatia at all, if they had to leave their food at home (similar protests from pot smokers are not expected).

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No fines for kids’ helmet rule violation

In Law,Sports on April 25, 2011 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged:

There are several traffic rules when it comes to biking in the Czech Republic. For example, kids under 18 must wear helmets at all times, even on special bike paths where there is no other traffic. The police are strict in enforcing road safety rules but they cannot fine anyone if their child is not wearing a helmet. According to their interpretation of the applicable legislation, it is each person’s responsibility that cannot be delegated, not even under the legal guardian principle (similarly, a parent will not go to jail for murder if his/her child kills someone).

In other words, if a police officer sees a family riding their bikes and a ten year-son is not wearing his helmet, the police officer cannot give him a ticket (as the boy has no legal liability). The father won’t pay a fine either (provided he is wearing his helmet).

I must say that I haven’t seen a kid without a helmet for a looong time. Even small babies on their first bikes (with support wheels) wear theirs. Plus, it has become a fashion item.

Photo: (c) Bikerumor.com

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[update]: Wikileaks.cz acquired by a private individual

In Internet,Language,Law on December 11, 2010 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: ,

Wikileaks (www.wikileaks.org) is probably the most discussed website (Internet address) of this year. It has been attacked, hacked, disconnected, re-connected… you name it. The authors know why they have several mirror sites and national versions. The Czech website, however, is a little odd… Just a few days ago, its “hello message” changed. And it seems like it will have nothing to do with the original…

If you typed www.wikileaks.cz on the day this post was first published, the following page appeared:

It means “Prepared for a customer of the Trustica company”. Trustica is an Internet security company that has had major business contacts with the Czech government, for example the Ministry of Industry and Trade or the Ministry of the Interior. The company has tested the ministry’s measures in place to prevent unauthorised access to the IT system.

Until last week, it was blocked by domain administrator Active24.cz for a private owner. DNSStuff.com had this to say:

domain:       wikileaks.cz
registrant:   GIGASERVER-1272477422
admin-c:      GIGASERVER-1272477422
nsset:        NSS:GLOBE-SGLO000001:1
keyset:       A24-KEYSET
registrar:    REG-ACTIVE24
status:       paid and in zone
registered:   09.12.2009 00:14:01
changed:      06.12.2010 21:34:42
expire:       09.12.2010

contact:      GIGASERVER-1272477422
name:         Luděk Kvapil
address:      Smetanova 1280
address:      Lomnice nad Popelkou
address:      51251
address:      CZ
e-mail:       ***********@gmail.com
registrar:    REG-SEONET
created:      28.04.2010 19:59:23
changed:      29.09.2010 10:37:52

nsset:        NSS:GLOBE-SGLO000001:1
nserver:      alfa.ns.active24.cz (81.95.96.2)
nserver:      beta.ns.active24.cz (81.0.238.27)
tech-c:       ACTIVE24
registrar:    REG-ACTIVE24
created:      01.10.2007 02:00:00
changed:      05.10.2009 14:06:12

contact:      ACTIVE24
org:          ACTIVE 24, s.r.o.
name:         ACTIVE 24, s.r.o.
address:      Sokolovská 394/17
address:      Praha 8
address:      186 00
address:      CZ
phone:        +420.234262000
fax-no:       +420.234262009
registrar:    REG-ACTIVE24
created:      29.04.2008 12:35:02
changed:      15.01.2009 12:07:49

UPDATE: Mr. Kvapil wrote recently and explained that it will be a website of an NGO and that it is his personal project.  In other words, the content will not be operated by the aforementioned company.

It would be naive to assume that an IT security company that has had business contacts with the government and that includes government server security testing among its achievements would want to be associated with the genuine website with its contents that mostly come from unauthorised and leaked sources. [UPDATE: well, what do you know, it might not be the case here]

UPDATE: As at December 17, 2010 the homepage included the introduction that says that the purpose of the website is to introduce materials that have been published on the main WikiLeaks server and are in some way related to, or associated with, the Czech Republic.

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Google Translate goofs: happy Czech is a gay Indian

In Law,Life on November 30, 2010 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , , , , ,

Google Translate is a useful tool if you have absolutely no idea what a certain foreign-language text is about. When it comes to synonymy, it crashes and burns. And it often offers ridiculous results that cannot be based on the analysis of texts made by people, as the “About” page suggests. “Miluju Cesko” is translated as “I love India”.

Trying the same text twice with different punctuation is also very interesting, as you can see above. The third sentence is supposed to mean “Are you happy?”. Unfortunately, Google Translate creators somehow included a very archaic version of the word (I have never heard anyone use the word “gay” in place of  “happy” due to contemporary connotations, of course).

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Missing Czech girl: Day 24

In Law,Prague on November 6, 2010 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , ,

It has been 24 days since Anna Janatkova, 9, from Prague disappeared. The girl vanished on the way home from school in Troja, which is a rather upscale neighborhood. The police searched the area several times and found the girl’s backpack and a water bottle she had in school. They even arrested a suspect whose DNA was found on the backpack. The man (who has a worrying criminal record) claimed to only have touched the backpack and the supervising judge ordered that the man be released from custody. The next day the man “vanished”, too.

No new clues so far. Except for the fact that Anna was not kidnapped for money. Her father offered CZK 3.5 million in a televised speech and so far no kidnappers have contacted anyone.

American readers might be surprised to hear that a nine-year old walks home from school alone (or with a friend). The answer is that this is totally normal in the Czech Republic. (1) Streets are pedestrian-friendly almost everywhere, let alone in neighborhoods like Troja in Prague. (2) We do not have schoolbuses here, so kids are not picked up outside their schools and brought to their doorsteps. There are special public transportation lines that are routed as schoolbuses, though (large cities only).

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