Sunday, 26. May 2013 - 09:05
31. 08. 12. - 09:00
The Czech Helsinki Committee (CHC) have released in Czech a fact-containing Supplement to its Statement, "Employment of Foreigners in Radio Free Europe," issued earlier. The CHC Statement published June 4, 2012, branded the treatment of Croatian Snjezana Pelivan and other foreign employees working for American Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Prague, as "immoral."
Snjezana Pelivan, a Croat who has resided in Prague since 1995, claims the Czech Republic failed to safeguard her rights to non-discrimination and a fair trial and now the Czech Republic is charged with human-rights violations at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.
CHC is headed by Anna Sabatova, former Vice-ombudsman (Human Rights Defender) of the Czech Republic, winner of the United Nations Human Rights Prize – along with Eleanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Jimmy Carter, and such organizations as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.
Financed by U.S. Congress via Federal agency Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) is the largest American civil institution abroad. Ex officio, BBG includes the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and, according to U.S. International Broadcasting Act of 1994, "makes all major policy determinations governing the operations of RFE/RL." At the meetings of BBG, Hillary Clinton is represented by Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, presently Tara Sonenshine.
From Prague, RFE/RL broadcasts in 28 languages to 21 countries -- of the former Yugoslavia and Soviet Union, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Hundreds of foreign editors, producers, broadcasters, and other specialists constitute the bulk of RFE/RL editorial personnel.
RFE/RL Mission Statement proclaims:
"To promote democratic values and institutions," " strengthen civil societies by projecting democratic values," " provide a model for local media."
However, in its recently published fact sheet, Czech Helsinki Committee notes that RFE/RL labor policies and actions place its foreign employees in legal vacuum and represent an "act of fraud":
"RFE/RL provides its foreign employees with standardized employment agreements stating: "Conditions of employment are governed by the applicable laws of the United States, the laws of the District of Columbia or the policies of the Company." In fact, hundreds of foreign employees of RFE/RL are -- as the foreigners working for American employer abroad -- exempt from whatever protection provided to Americans by U.S. labor laws, civil and human rights regulations (…) RFE/RL commits also another act of fraud: not a single foreign employee of RFE/RL has been acquainted with or orally informed of RFE/RL’s employment, disciplinary and the termination-of-employment policies at the time of hiring procedure: "RFE/RL's relationship with its employees is governed by an "employment-at-will "philosophy. This means that either party may terminate an agreement at any time for any reason."
Facts for the Supplement to the Statement, "Employment of Foreigners in Radio Free Europe," issued by CHC as its official document, were provided by two former RFE/RL employees, Croatian citizen Snjezana Pelivan and Armenian national Anna Karapetian, fighting in courts for
their human and labor rights. Employment relations with both women were terminated by RFE/RL without providing any reason. Both were not warned, had enviable performance reviews, and were never disciplined. Both refused to accept without appeal the unmotivated terminations and, in response, were stripped of their contractual compensations for the years of service. Their cases are typical for RFE/RL practice called by the prominent Czech senator Jaromir Stetina "patiently indecent, unfair, cynical and hypocritical."
The Karapetian’s case against RFE/RL is in Czech Supreme Court. Pelivan’s lawsuit against Czech Republic – as the country allowing violations of human rights on its territory by American RFE/RL – is in European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Condemning Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty for immoral and fraudulent placement of its foreign employees into legal limbo, CHC is at the same time critical of Czech courts:
"Czech courts take inconsistent decisions as to what laws shall be used for foreigners working for RFE/RL– either Czech laws, which expressly exclude arbitrary terminations and protect RFE/RL Czech employees, or the Policy Manual of RFE/RL permissive to employer. That "pro and contra" ping pong with human fates goes on in Czech courts for years. It is the sixth time that the case of Anna Karapetian, an Armenian journalist, mother of three minor children, will be considered by Czech judges. Case of Snjezana Pelivan was heard four times."
In its final section, "Factual situation: Political dimension," the document issued by CHC puts a blame for that intolerable situation on Czech government:
"Present Czech government, just as the previous governments of this country, is perfectly aware of that legal vacuum created and maintained on the Czech territory by American RFE/RL. Already twice, on June 11, 2009 and February 4, 2010 Czech Parliament discussed the abhorrent RFE/RL’s labor policies (...) The following letter Senator Stetina, Vice-chairman of the Senate caucus of the TOP 09 party addressed to the head of that party, Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs Karel Schwarzenberg personally: "…Your personal appeal to Mrs. Hillary Clinton who is the member of U.S. Federal agency Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) and also of RFE/RL Board of Directors, will put an end to violations of human rights at American RFE/RL and to the court cases caused by those violations: the case by Croatian journalist Snjezana Pelivan v. Czech Republic in European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg; and the case of Armenian citizen Anna Karapetian (…) They may and must be ended immediately by direct order from Washington." The Czech government did nothing, however. In fact, Czech government consciously abstains from political appeal to Washington concerning RFE/RL practices at the territory of Czech Republic."
Croatian Times reported earlier that Snjezana Pelivan officially requested the Croatian government to support her human-rights claim against Czech Republic. She was also quoted as saying:
"Our next complaint, mine and Anna’s, will be to Geneva, to UN Human Rights Council. There, Prague and Washington together, will get a hearing and a lecture from the real experts in human rights – Cuba, Russia, Congo, China, Iran…"
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