Update to CZE31563.E of 14 April 1999 on organized crime activities and corruption in the police force; government response to these activities and state protection available to witnesses who testify against corrupt police officers [CZE38677.E]

A 14 April 2000 CTK news agency report quotes Czech Deputy Interior Minister as saying that "organized crime concentrated in 1999 on the production and smuggling of drugs, car theft, organization of prostitution and illegal immigration." He also mentioned that 75 criminal organizations comprising 2,000 members operated in the Czech Republic in 1999 and that most of them were foreign in origin.

A 28 June 2000 CTK report quotes a government report on the situation of organized crime in 1999 as saying that criminals have been trying to give a legal cover to their activities either by increasing their influence on the public administration or by having some of their own people placed in central government organizations. In order to attain these goals, they will use "all forms of corruption, blackmail, sponsorship of interest associations and individuals" (ibid.). The CTK article stated that the report provides the following breakdown of criminal gangs operating in the Czech Republic in 1999:

The most active are criminal groups from the former Soviet republics. They particularly aim at buying out real estate in the west Bohemian spa of Karlovy Vary...
Russian speaking mafias are particularly responsible for financial crime and illegal trafficking in weapons...
The Ukrainian gangs which specialise in bank robberies also stepped their activities in 1999 and the number of illegally employed Ukrainians in the Czech Republic increased...
Bulgarian, Albanian, Yugoslav and Italian criminal groups operating in the Czech Republic concentrate on running erotic salons, car theft, trade in prostitutes and drugs, people smuggling and violent crime.
Gangs from Asia specialise in economic and property crimes. The Vietnamese, a crushing majority of whom arrive in the Czech Republic from Germany, concentrate on organising illegal migration and goods smuggling.
The Chinese for their part operate casinos and brothels, they launder money, engage in illegal trafficking of narcotics as well as "brand goods" and kidnap migrants to subsequently blackmail their relatives...

A special police squad for exposure of serious economic crime (SPOK) was quoted as saying that corruption among civil servants was on the rise (CTK 15 Feb. 2001b) and was rampant in all areas of life in the Czech Republic (ibid. 15 Feb. 2001a). There were reportedly 803 criminal charges laid against police officers in 2000, the highest number in recent years, most of whom being accused of falsifying reports on traffic accidents in order to keep money paid as fines (ibid.; Mlada Fronta Dnes 28 June 2001).

A 28 June 2001 Mlada Fronta Dnes report quotes a survey conducted by Transparency International (TI) which reported that the Czech Republic ranked 47th among 91 countries in 2001, 42th in 2000 and 37th in 1999 in terms of the perception of analysts and the business community of corruption in the state administration. The executive director of Transparency International in the Czech Republic stated that corruption was rampant "in the police, the public administration offices, the judiciary, health care, and education" (ibid.). He also indicated that in 2000, "36 district office chairmen, mayors and other local officials were prosecuted" (ibid.).

In its assessment report on the state of the Czech Republic's preparedness to join the European Union (EU), the European Commission stated that the anti-corruption Clean Hands campaign failed to achieve its goals and that efforts to fight corruption and economic criminality in public administration and the judicial system remain unsatisfactory (CTK 7 Nov. 2000). The Clean Hands campaign was lauched in 1998 (ibid. 31 May 2000). An improvement in the situation would not only depend on improved legislation but also on an increase in the number of judges and state attorneys (ibid. 7 Nov. 2000).

In a November 2001 country assessment, the EU points out that:

The Czech police are not sufficiently equipped as regards people and material to efficiently fight economic crime. Organized crime in the Czech Republic focuses on prostitution, illegal migration, drugs, car thefts and money laundering.
The growing penetration of criminal organisations to legal economic activities hampers the development of the Czech economy and undermines foreign investors' trust.... [the EU] calls on Prague to strength fight against corruption, economic crime and embezzlement (CTK 13 Nov. 2001).

The October 2001 Transparency International Global Corruption Report 2001, states that:

in the Czech Republic, another of the regions's Leading Countries, a Clean Hands' campaign sponsored by the Social Democrat government produced some results. Brady Clough, Vice-Chairman of TI-Czech Republic, said that 'less than two or three [corruption] cases have been prosecuted. This is alarming when contrasted with the 1,000 or more criminal complaints issued by the government's anti-corruption investigative offices.' But he added that 'the first real victory for the Clean Hands campaign was high-level and bittersweet for the Social Democrats: their Finance Minister, Ivo Svoboda, had to resign along with a colleague on charges of investment and shareholder fraud'. (130)

The report also mentions that:

in the Czech Republic during 2000-01, long-awaited charges were brought against officials and businessmen for corrupt actions in the 1990s. ... In December 2000 and early 2001, over a dozen prominent Czech bankers and businessmen were either charged or convicted of bank fraud, insider trading and other corruption-related crimes. Several had close political ties, including contributing funds to some of the country's largest parties. Such connections may have shielded them in the past, but no more. (126)

On February 2001 the lower house of the Czech parliament passed a law that allows witnesses to be given a new identity or to be move abroad or to another location in the Czech Republic should their lives be under threat after providing evidence against criminals (CTK 1 Mar. 2001). Provisions of the bill as adopted by the lower house allow that

protection can also be requested by family members of witnesses, interpreters and defence lawyers. The decision on whether a witness will be provided with protection would be made by the Interior Minister on a proposal by the police, judges or state attorneys (ibid.).

The bill was approved by the senate at the end of March 2001 (Radio Prague Online 30 Mar. 2001) and came into force on 1 July 2001 (Radio Prague 2 Jul. 2001).

According to the Radio Prague report,

crown witnesses will be assigned body guards around the clock, the state will give them and their families new identity, a new life abroad and - if that is their preference - even a new face. (ibid.)

On 8 September 2000, the Czech Republic signed the Council of Europe Criminal Law Convention on Corruption (CTK 8 Sept. 2000).

A 17 January 2002 CTK report states that British police experts were about to provide training to their Czech counterparts on how to fight organized crime and corruption. The course, sponsored by the Czech Ministry of the Interior and the British Home Office, would last 18 months and be attended by 200 persons, and would take place in both the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom (ibid.). According to the report,

the project will have three phases. The first phase will focus on the development of government's policy in fighting organized crime and data protection. In the second part police officers will learn how to protect witnesses or how to fight Internet crime. The third part will include the training of Czech lecturers who would then train other police staff in the Czech Republic.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


CTK [Prague, in English]. 17 January 2002. "British Experts to Train Czech Police in Fighting Organized Crime." (FBIS-EEU-2002-0118 17 Jan. 2002/WNC)

_____. 13 November 2001. "EC Points to Insufficient Limiting of Migration in Czech Republic." (NEXIS)

_____ . 1 March 2001. "MPs Pass Bill on Protection of Witnesses." (NEXIS)

_____. 15 February 2001a. "Corruption is Widespread in Czech Republic - Daily." (FBIS-EEU-2001-0215 15 Feb. 2001/WNC)

_____. 15 February 2001b. "Czech Interior Ministry Confirms Growing Corruption in Politics, Business." (FBIS-EEU-2001-0215 25 Feb. 2001/WNC)

_____. 7 November 2000."Czech Anti-corruption Campaign a Failure - European Commission Report." (FBIS-EEU-2000-1107 7 Nov. 2000/WNC)

_____. 8 September 2000. "Czech Republic Ratifies Council of Europe Convention on Corruption." (FBIS-EEU-2000-0909 8 Sept. 2000/WNC)

_____. 28 June 2000. "Czech Press Notes Growing Aggression of Criminal Groups." (FBIS-EEU-2000-0628 28 June 2000/WNC)

_____. 31 May 2000. "Government Disbands Anti-corruption Working Group." (FBIS-EEU-0602 31 May 2001/WNC)

_____. 14 April 2000. "Czech Official says Trade in Women, Corruption Hot Issues in Organized Crime." (BBC Worldwide Monitoring/NEXIS)

Mlada Fronta Dnes [Prague, in Czech]. 28 June 2001. "Daily Examines Deterioration of Czech Republic's Record on Corruption." (FBIS-EEU-2001-0629 28 June 2001/WNC)

Radio Prague Online. 2 July 2001. Daniela Lazarova. "Several New Laws Take Effect." http://www.radio.cz/news/GB/2001/02.07.html [Accessed 13 Mar. 2002]

_____. 30 March 2001. Dita Asiedu. "Senate Approves Law on Witness Protection." http://www.radio.cz/news/GB/2001/30.03.html [Accessed 13 Mar. 2002]

Transparency International (TI), London. October 2001. Global Corruption Report 2001. http://www.globalcorruptionreport.org/ [Accessed 13 Mar. 2002]

Additional Sources Consulted

IRB databases

Resource Centre Country Files: Czech Republic

Internet sites including:

Country Reports 2001

International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF)

OECD. "Fighting Bribery and Corruption"

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). "Crime, Corruption and Terrorism Watch"