The Framework of Criminal Law
Legislation on Bias-motivated Violence:
|Bias-motivated Violent Crimes as Specific Offenses||Bias as an Express General Aggravating Factor||Bias as an Aggravating Factor in Specific Common Crimes|
Bias Types Covered by Provisions on Aggravating Circumstances:
|Race/National Origin/Ethnicity||Religion||Sexual Orientation||Gender||Disability||Other|
The Criminal Code of the Czech Republic defines specific bias-motivated acts as separate offenses.
It also contains provisions by which racist or other bias motivations can be considered as a specific aggravating circumstance in the commission of certain offenses. A 1995 amendment to the Code increased all sentences for crimes with racial motives, extending the range of evidence for crimes such as murder, battery, intimidation, and damage to property. The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance’s (ECRI’s) second report on the Czech Republic, published in June 1999, notes that 1995 amendment followed a major increase in racially motivated violence, “affecting Roma/Gypsies particularly but also other visible minorities.”
Bias-motivated Violent Crime as a Specific Offense
Article 196 creates a separate offense punishing bias-motivated violence against a group of inhabitants or individuals. Article 196(2) provides for punishments ranging from six months to three years imprisonment for “using violence against a group of inhabitants or against an individual, or to threaten them with death, injury to health or infliction of serious injury because of their political conviction, nationality, race, creed, or lack of creed.”
Bias as an Aggravating Factor in Specific Common Crimes
There are also a number of crimes in which bias motivation can be considered an aggravating factor. In article 219 (Murder), article 221 (Injury to health), article 222 (Serious injury to health) and article 235 (Extortion), penalties are enhanced when the act is committed against an individual because of race, nationality, political conviction, creed, or lack of creed.
As reported by ECRI‘s Third Report on the Czech Republic, efforts have been made by authorities to better implement aggravating factor provisions. For example, the creation of the Commission Combating Extremism, Racism, and Xenophobia, which includes relevant state actors and acts as an advisory body to the interior minister The Commission collects information and develops a coordinated approach by the state administrative bodies in the fight against extremism, racism, and xenophobia. In October 2006, the Supreme State Prosecutor created General Instruction No. 4/2006, on the punishment of criminal offenses motivated by racial, national, political, or religious hatred, made these crimes a priority for public prosecutors.
ECRI notes, however, that “implementation of criminal law provisions devoted to racially-motivated crimes remains inadequate,” and “reports of racially-motivated violence continue unabated.” This conclusion is shared by the League for Human Rights, a Czech human rights organization, in its February 2007 report to the Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination for the Czech Republic. The report observes that “cases of racially motivated violence persist. Unfortunately, the cases are not always vigorously pursued by the relevant authorities. Sometimes the police play down the gravity of the violence.”
 ECRI, “Second Report on the Czech Republic,” adopted on June 18, 1999, and made public on March 21, 2000, para. 7.
 Criminal Code of the Czech Republic, http://spcp.prf.cuni.cz/lex/140-61.htm.
 ECRI, “Third Report on the Czech Republic,” adopted on December 5, 2003, and made public on June 8, 2004, para. 14.
 Interior Ministry, “Information on the Issue of Extremism in the Czech Republic in 2006,” Section 3.3.2 Supreme State Prosecutor’s Office, p. 28.
 ECRI, “Third Report on the Czech Republic,” para. 16.
 League for Human Rights, Shadow Report to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination for the Czech Republic, February 5, 2007, available at: http://www.fidh.org/IMG/pdf/LIGA.pdf.