Accessibility links

Breaking News

Czech Town Bars Gypsies From Municipal Swimming Pools

Kladno, Czech Republic, June 14 (RFE/RL) -- Municipal authorities in the Czech steel mill town of Kladno, east of Prague, have issued a ban on Romany (Gypsy) children using the town's public swimming pools due to what they say is a hepatitis epidemic.

Today's editions of the Prague daily, Mlada Fronta Dnes, quotes Kladno's deputy mayor, Slavomir Cirnfus, as saying he issued the ban in response to data from the district public hygiene office showing that Romanies up to the age of 18 account for 95 percent of the 140 hepatitis-infected inhabitants of the district. Cirnfus says 2,000 Romany residents have been issued what he terms quarantene orders due to the hepatitis outbreak. But he says the Romanies are ignoring the quarantene. A district public hygiene official in Kladno told the paper the ban is unlikely to influence the spread of hepatitis since the pool water is heavily chlorinated.

A Czech Justice Ministry spokesman told RFE today the Czech Republic's independent judiciary can neither influence nor prejudge a matter that he says is the domain of the Interior Ministry. An Interior Ministry official speaking on condition of anonimity tells our correspondent that the ban is unacceptable, since it is being applied to a specific ethnic group rather than to the general public. However, for the municipal ban to be lifted, a citizen or group must appeal to the district authorities, who are subordinate to the Interior Ministry. Only then could the Interior Ministry order the district authhorities to lift the ban.