IWB for Refugees: Czech Republic

Summary of the national legislation on refugees

Is the country following all the European/ International legislation on this matter? Note on terminologies used: Asylum is understood as a protective stay which is provided to other state nationals or persons without nationality in connection with their persecution typically for political reasons in their home countries (in the Czech Republic, the reasons for granting asylum are specified in the Asylum Act 325/1999 Coll.). Another term used within this context is “international protection”. This is a term used in the Asylum Act to refer jointly to asylum and subsidiary protection. The application for international protection has to be submitted by the migrant at the first State of entry into the European Union. In November 1991, the then Czechoslovak Federative Republic acceded to the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (the Geneva Convention), which was adopted in 1951 in Geneva, and to the Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees (also known as the New York Protocol)adopted in 1967 in New York. No geographical limitation was applied. After the partition of Czechoslovakia in 1993, the newly formed Czech Republic declared that it is bound by international obligations arising from the Geneva Convention. The basic guarantee in the Czech legal system is Article 43 of the “Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms”, which constitutes a part of the constitutional order of the country. The Article 43 stipulates the obligation of the country to grant asylum to those persecuted for the pursuit of political rights and freedoms (Kopecká 2008). The basic international legislation being followed in the country is represented by: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948; the Dublin Convention; the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989; the European Convention on Human Rights; the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (the Geneva Convention), and the Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees (MoI 2015). Further international legal documents which are to be applied when dealing with refugees, are the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 1966; the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination of 1965; the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women of 1979; and the Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989. From the European legislation, the key legal norms are the Qualification Directive (Directive of the European Parliament and Council Directive 2011/95/EU of 13th December 2011 on standards which have to be met by third country nationals or stateless persons to enjoy international protection, on a uniform status for refugees or persons who are entitled to subsidiary protection, and on the content of the protection granted); the Regulation of the European Parliament and Council Regulation (EU) Nr. 604/2013 of 26th June 2013, establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national or a stateless person (the Dublin Regulation); the Council Directive 2013/32/EU of 26th June 2013, on common procedures for granting and withdrawing international protection status; and, the Council Directive 2013/33/EU of 26th June 2013, laying down standards for the reception of asylum seekers. The transposition of the Directive 2011/95/EU however, has not been ideal as there are some slight differences in the Czech legislation concerning the reasons for granting additional protection (e.g. differences in the definition of a serious injury). Additional protection is granted as a subsidiary measure if asylum is not granted (Tetourová et al., 2015). The national law has been also influenced by the directive on family reunification (Council Directive 2003/86/EC of 22 September 2003 on the right to family reunification), by the Council Directive Nr. 2001/55/EU on minimum standards for giving temporary protection in the event of a mass influx of displaced persons and, on measures promoting a balance of efforts between Member States in receiving such persons and bearing the consequences thereof. Of importance for the national legislation are also the Council Regulation(EC) Nr.343/2003 of 18th February 2003 which establishes the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining applications for asylum filed by a third-country national in any EU Member State; and the Regulation of the European Parliament and Council Regulation (EC) Nr. 562/2006 of 15th March 2006, establishing a Community Code on the rules governing the movement of persons across borders (the Schengen Borders Code).

Refugee life in the Czech Republic

Number of people with refugee status (give or take)? As at the end of 2014 (data as of 31 December 2014), there were 2 556 people with asylum status (i.e. with asylum already granted) in the Czech Republic. From this number, 1 044 were women (CZSO 2015). The development of the number of asylum seekers since 2005: YearNumber of asylum seekers 2005 4021 2006 3016 2007 1878 2008 1656 2009 1258 2010 833 2011 756 2012 753 2013 707 2014 1156 2015 1525 MoI (2016): Počty žádostí o mezinárodní ochranu v jednotlivých letech. Online at: http://www.mvcr.cz/soubor/cs-stat-prosinec-2015-1-pdf.aspx Note: Granting of asylum is by no means automatic and in most cases, the decision is negative. In 2015, asylum was granted to 71 migrants. In addition, International protection was granted to 399 persons. The number of decisions made by the Ministry of Interior was 1 363 (MoI 2016). It also has to be noted that the current (as of 2015) number of asylum seekers cannot be perceived as something entirely extraordinary for as recent as in the 1990s, many citizens of the former Yugoslavia sought asylum. In most cases, they were granted the so-called temporary shelter allowing them to stay in the Czech Republic for the duration of the conflict in their homeland. When the war ended, most of the refugees returned back to their countries of origin (e.g. to Kosovo returned 903 people out of 1034). Between 1998 and 2000, over four thousand Afghani refugees applied for asylum (asylum were granted to 57). A significant number of applications for asylum were filed between 2003 and 2004 when over 15 thousand migrants from the Caucasus region applied for protection. The asylum was granted in 1-2% of the cases (People in Need 2015). Top 5 countries they are coming from? In 2015, the top 5 countries of origin of the applicants for asylum were: Ukraine (694 applications); Syria (134 applications); Cuba (128 applications); Vietnam (81 applications); Armenia (44 applications) (MoI 2016). The refugee status granted on the grounds of: The reasons for granting asylum are mainly those defined by the Geneva Conventions (§ 12 Asylum Act). In other cases, refugee status can be granted based on family reunification (§ 13 Asylum Act). Another option is granting refugee status on humanitarian grounds (§ 14 Asylum Act). If the migrant does not meet the requirements for granting an asylum, subsidiary protection can be granted if she/he would face a real risk of serious harm in the country of which she/he is a citizen or in the country of her/his permanent residence (in the case of stateless persons); and if she/he is unwilling or unable to enjoy the protection of that state because of this risk (§ 14a Asylum Act). Subsidiary protection can also be granted on the grounds of family reunification (§ 14b Asylum Act). The once granted asylum may be in some cases withdrawn, e.g. if it appears that false information was provided by the refugee during the asylum procedure; the refugee voluntarily accepted the citizenship of the state he left; acquired new state citizenship and can enjoy the protection of this state; or there are reasons to consider the refugee dangerous for the state. Also the additional protection can be revoked after the circumstances which led to the granting of subsidiary protection ceased (§17 Asylum Act). The international protection is terminated by death of the migrant; by granting citizenship; or the migrant gives it up by her/himself. The supplementary protection expires after the period for which it was granted (Act Nr. 325/1999 Coll., §18). How much state allowance does a refugee receive a month? An asylum seeker is entitled to pocket money of 30 Czech Crowns per day (i.e. approx. 1.10 EUR/day) (Act Nr. 376/2005 Coll.). What are the living conditions of refugees (for example housing)? In the Czech Republic there are three types of asylum facilities, classified as: reception centres, residence centres, and integration asylum centres. At the reception centres, entrance procedure is conducted and asylum seekers are not allowed to leave the centre. However, families with children, pregnant women, physically disabled persons or persons who had been subject to torture or other forms of violence should not be kept at the reception centres for a longer time period. At the residence centres, the asylum seeker awaits the decision on the granting of international protection. The asylum seeker can leave the centre (having met the legally set requirements) even for a longer time period. The last type of facility – the integration asylum centre – serves as temporary housing for those persons who have been granted international protection. The asylum seeker has – legally speaking – the same rights as Czech citizens in access to the labour market and social security. The stay in the integration centre is based on a lease contract and is timely limited with the maximum length of stay being 18 months (OPU 2010, 28). There are certain limitations concerning the free movement of the asylum seekers. Usually, exit is not permitted at the reception centre. However at the residence centre, the applicants for international protection can leave the centre for a maximum of 10 days in a calendar month. The Ministry of Interior may allow an extension allowing the asylum seeker a longer stay outside the residence centre if this does not obstruct the asylum procedure. The asylum seekers have to submit a notification in writing when planning to leave the centre for more than 24 hours. In this notification, the asylum seeker shall state the address where he/she will be staying and the length of stay outside of the residence centre. In leaving the centre for more than 3 days, the asylum seeker has to hand in a written notification no later than 24 hours before leaving the centre (OPU 2010, 30). These limitations do not hold for the integration centres when the asylum or supplementary protection has been granted. Each applicant for international protection is obliged to observe the accommodation regulations of the asylum facilities. The applicant for international protection has the right to request the assistance of a legal or natural person engaged in the provision of legal assistance to refugees and she/he also has the right to contact that person. An applicant may seek further legal advice on the condition that the costs associated with its provision are born by the applicant her/himself (§ 21 of the Asylum Act). Every applicant for international protection receives a monthly package covering the basic hygienic needs. Other (additional) needs related to the hygiene have to be paid for by the applicants (OPU 2010, 29-30). If an asylum seeker is a woman is a nursing mother, she is entitled to a basic layette that includes diapers, a set of clothes and a baby bottle. To receive further accessories, she has to contact an NGO or purchase it from her own resources (ibid.). Concerning special dietary requirements (related e.g. to the religion of the asylum seekers), there are provisions for individual selective dietary considerations at the reception centres. The food is prepared so as not to conflict with the religion of the asylum seeker. At the residence centres, asylum seekers can prepare their meals themselves for which they will receive a financial allowance (ibid., 30). With respect to the facilities of the MoI, especially the detention centres are highly criticized and compared to prisons (Kamenická 2010). Concerning the asylum procedure, this concerns also the reception centre at the Ruzyne Airport in Prague. The outdoor area here is considered very problematic due to the proximity to the international airport (i.e. noise pollution). The lack of fresh air and sound conditions were reported as problematic, especially the lack of a quiet conversational atmosphere. Also, there are no plants or other greenery. The interiors are air conditioned and the natural daylight is available in several rooms only (ibid., 7). Generally, the conditions at the detention centres are worse off when compared with asylum facilities. Are the people with an official refugee status allowed to work? If yes, is there assistance for finding employment? Are refugees offered language lessons? The applicants for asylum cannot have a gainful employment during the first year of the asylum procedure. After 365 days from the date when the asylum procedure commenced, the asylum seeker has the right to gainful employment. In order to work, a work permit is needed, and is issued by the Labour Office. The procedure to issue the work permit takes approximately one month. It also has to be noted that the permit is always bound to a particular employer and is issued for a limited period (two years, unless the work contract is shorter). For example, if the asylum seeker works in a restaurant with a legal work permit and then decides to change the job as a salesperson with another employer, she/he has to apply for a new work permit for this position (OPU 2010, 41). The work permit is needed also for part-time and seasonal jobs. After having the asylum granted, no work permit is needed and the asylum seeker can enter the labour market. Asylum seekers often complain about the limited possibility to work; in practice, it is not easy for them to find employment, or legally join the labour market. The administration concerning the issuance of work permit is challenging as such, obtainance of work permit is not automatic. As this situation represents an administrative (and financial in case of the social insurance) burden also for employers, illegal employment could sometimes represent a tempting option (Gűnterová, undated). After spending a year at the asylum centre, asylants face difficulties finding employment and being independent. Though a number of NGOs seek to address this problem, a comprehensive system (e.g. of requalification or re-education of the asylum seekers) does not exist (ibid.). The situation of asylants (i.e. when asylum is granted) is considerably better than those freshly starting the asylum seeking process as they can stay at integration centres, have right to request integration flats and frequent Czech language courses for free. However, the situation is not entirely easy as integration centres are situated in less accessible location which makes the integration process more challenging (ibid.). National and cultural background is brought to bare at this stage as prejudices on the side of potential employers evident. Is there a maximum amount of time that a refugee can stay in the country in which it seeks asylum? Also receiving a legal refugee status? During the asylum procedure, the applicants remain in the Czech Republic legitimately until the end of the procedure (regardless of whether asylum or supplementary protection is granted or not, including the potential appeals as indicated above under the legal procedure section). One of the problems is the length of the asylum procedure. Unless the application is processed in an accelerated procedure (i.e. the application rejected on grounds of stating solely economic reasons, intentionally providing false information, or coming from a listed safe country), the procedure may last for several years. Do refugees or their children have the right to attend schools, universities, etc? Yes. Refugees and asylum seekers are in accordance with the current legislation considered pupils with special educational needs and are entitled to a teacher’s assistant and an individual education plan. Money for the language training, learning aids, teachers’ training, leisure activities and the reduction in the number of children in the classroom can be applied from the Development Program for Refugees (Meta 2015). Is the state obliged to provide asylum seekers with healthcare? Yes. At the reception centre, all applicants for international protection are registered with the General Health Insurance Company for a specified period. Under this health insurance, the asylum seekers (as well as those who have already been granted international protection), are entitled to the same care as citizens of the Czech Republic. After moving to a residential centre, they receive an official confirmation of payment for and the validity period is specified (typically for the duration of the visa). Consequently, it is the duty of everyone to prolong the health insurance with the General Health Insurance Company her/himself. It is possible to ask for an advice a social worker at the residence centre (OPU 2010; Meta 2015). Do refugees experience obstacles with regard to issues like social life, personal well being, freedom, etc ? One of such issues is access to information, especially in the new environment information where it is crucial for understanding asylum procedures and, consequently, for integration into the society. According to one research, asylum seekers feel well informed about the asylum procedures but do not understand the reasons for particular steps, including the long waiting times. One of the reasons might also be the formal language of the legislation which is used here other than the ones understood by migrants (Kamenická 2010). Another research shows the lack of information on the side of public administration institutions. This is then linked with a rather poor communication among the institutions which makes the life of asylants more difficult (Krchová, Víznerová 2008). The unwelcoming attitude of Czechs towards foreigners has created stereotypes and prejudices towards migrants in the wider Czech society (see section on employment above). To further elaborate on the issues of the integration into the labour market, the ban on asylant employment in the first year of the asylum procedure (a measure to avoid the misuse of the asylum for economic purposes) makes migrants dependent on the state and foster illegal work. According to a research conducted in 2008 by the NGO Evropská kontaktní skupiny (European Contact Group, EKS), such situation leads to a psychological loss of obligations and routines (Krchová, Víznerová 2008). According to the aforementioned research, the following aspects related to the work and employment of asylants should be improved: the cooperation among the labour offices and employers, tackling discrimination in the access to employment, and easing entrance ito the labour market through assistance and respecting special needs of asylants during the requalification courses offered by the labour offices (ibid.). Integration is made more difficult by the fact that some integration centres and integration flats are located in cities with higher unemployment rates. The recognition of the academic and professional qualifications also comes with unique difficulties – e.g. for the recognition of certificates the original documents are needed.

The legal process

Note: The Czech Republic is not a preferred country among the potential asylum seekers. One of the reasons might lie in the harshness of the system. Applications for asylum are assessed by the Department of Asylum and Migration Policy of the Ministry of Interior of the Czech Republic. There are no particular requirements for asylum seekers for admission. If a migrant, who is on the Czech land or at the border, applies for asylum, she/he cannot be automatically returned. It is impossible to apply for asylum outside of the country, for example at the embassy. The Czech Republic does not have a pre-screening system as some other member states of the EU. Neither is there any integration measures required before entering the country. A migrant may file a request for international protection at a border crossing (more precisely, in this case, first she/he shows an intention based on which she/he receives an entry visa and is then transported or travels herself/himself to the reception centre where she/he files the application for international protection). A request for international protection may be also filed at the Immigration Police, in a detention facility[1] or directly at the reception centre of the Czech Ministry of Interior(MoI) in Zastávka u Brna (a municipality close to the city of Brno). The application is submitted to the Department of Asylum and Migration Policy of the Ministry of Interior. At the reception centre, the applicants have to undergo medical examinations, after which they write the official request with an employee of the MoI, upon which they have to undergo an interview where they are asked about their reasons for requesting the international protection. There is always an interpreter present when writing the application and during the interview. The procedure in the reception centre takes three weeks to one month, thereafter; the applicants for international protection are transferred to one of the residential centres. After submitting the request for international protection, the migrants are required to hand over their passport to the MoI. They receive a card of an applicant for international protection and visa for the purpose of the procedure of granting international protection. The decision in this matter is issued by the MoI within 90 days from the beginning of the procedure. If the Ministry cannot, due to the nature of things, make the decision within this time-frame, it is possible to extend it adequately. As noted above, the first step takes place in the reception centres where there are a lot of restrictions. The most important of them: one cannot leave. The Czech reception centres are not alike – in Zastávka u Brna, it is a house in an area where also the detention centre is; at Prague airport, it is an area with bars with a view of a massive fence from the window. Unlike the detention centres, the reception centres are able to take care also of families with children. The aim of stay is the initial identification of migrants. Subsequently, the asylum processing procedure starts in which the migrants transferred to residential centres. From the migrants’ perspective, the second step is waiting for asylum, i.e. for the authorities to issue a decision. This takes place in residential centres. Compared with the reception centres, there are fewer restrictions in the residential centres as inhabitants can freely leave the centres or even move out. Every client is entitled to a bed, each room has a desk and a refrigerator, and all receive bed clothes. One of the reasons why asylum not granted is when the migrant’s origin is from a ‘so-called safe country’. In the Czech Republic, there is an official list of such countries. Although the list is not long, it differs e.g. from the German or British one. Countries regarded as safe are: all EU countries, Albania, Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Canada, Kosovo, Lichtenstein, Macedonia, Mongolia, New Zealand, USA, Serbia and Switzerland. After receiving asylum, the integration phase begins. Migrants can still stay at the residential centre after being granted asylum. The centre provides support to those who do not understand the Czech language, have not found a job yet or have not found an apartment. This support can last up to a year and a half. If the asylum, nor the supplementary protection is not granted, a lawsuit against the Ministry’s decision in the matter of international protection may be filed within 15 days upon the receipt of the decision. It is in the jurisdiction of the locally competent regional court in the region where the asylum seeker is registered. Against the regional court’s decision, an asylum seeker may file a cassation complaint with the Supreme Administrative Court. When the legal conditions are met, she/he can be granted a visa for tolerated stay (Meta 2015). [1] Currently, there are three detention centers: Bělá pod Bezdězem in the Central-Bohemian Region; Zastávka u Brna in theSouth-Moravian Region; and Vyšní Lhoty in theMoravian-Silesian Region.


With the help of Counselling Centre for Integration (note: “Poradna pro integraci” is an NGO active in the field since 1997), a series of questions was posed in a form of a brief questionnaire to two migrants who at that time took Czech language lessons as part of integration programme. The responses were promised to remain anonymous.

No 1

  • Which country do you come from?
    • Kazakhstan
  • Wat was the reason for applying asylum/international protection in the Czech Republic?
    • Friends in the Czech Republic
  • Did you have enough information on the asylum procedure and on what was expected from you?
    • Yes
  • What was the main source of information for you?
    • OAMP [note: OAMP = Department of Asylum and Migration Policy of the Ministry of the Interior, a body responsible for the agenda of international protection, refugees, foreigners' entry and residence, the concept of integration of foreigners, the state integration program and Schengen cooperation]
  • What was the most difficult thing for you in the whole process?
    • The long duration of the procedure
  • What did you do after you were granted asylum/international protection?
    • Search for housing
  • Did you have sufficient access to work and language tuition?
    • Yes, through the Counselling Centre for Integration [an NGO active in the field]; Department of Social Affairs and Health of the local municipality
  • Is there anything you lacked during the asylum procedure or immediately after it? Something you would recommend to change?
    • Accessibility of the OAMP services in the place of residency (in the regions). After having been granted international protection, I had always to go to the Prague headquarters as the services in the place of residency were not available.

No 2

  • Which country do you come from?
    • Kazakhstan
  • Why have you applied for asylum/international protection in the Czech Republic?
    • Repression in the country of origin
  • Did you have enough information on the asylum procedure and on what was expected from you?
    • I did not have any information about the procedure
  • What was the main source of information for you?
    • I did not have any information source
  • What was the most difficult thing for you in the whole process?
    • The interview
  • What did you do after you were granted asylum/international protection?
    • Search for housing
  • Did you have sufficient access to work and language tuition?
    • Yes, a language course (400 hours) within the State Integration Programme; a masseur course and a sewing course provided by NGOs
  • Is there anything you lacked during the asylum procedure or immediately after it? Something you would recommend to change?
    • Reduce the time of the duration of the procedure for granting international protection

Description of what happens if they do not receive the refugee status

Can they return to their country? Yes, they can. Can they go to a different EU country? No (Dublin system applies). Will they be deported? In a case whereby the application is rejected, the appeal is rejected, and at the moment when the decision treats into legal force, there is no longer valid any residence permit. A “deadline” is set for leaving the country and as such, an exit order is issued. The migrants are obliged to collect the exit order at the respective office of the MoI (MoI website). The MoI runs the voluntary returns programme and this is effectuated by the Police in cooperation with the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Based on § 54a of the Asylum Act, it is meant for those applicants for international protection who withdraw their application. The programme offers migrants a safe return to their home country or to another country. This however, has to be the country bordering the migrant’s home country as the option is only open if there are no serious obstacles such as; significantly higher travel costs compared with the home country or e.g. visa requirements. The costs of voluntary return are not borne by the migrants. In this case, the failed applicants for international protection avoid the risk of an irregular stay in the country (and its consequences, such as expulsion or deportation) (Refugee Facilities Administration, online). If the asylum seeker overstays the deadline for leaving the country, she/he becomes an irregular migrant. In such case, any detention by the Police might result in administrative expulsion. With administrative expulsion is associated the obligation to reimburse to the Czech state the expenses of the deportation (including the cost of board and lodging) and the transportation costs or the actual costs of the deportation. If the migrant fails to cover these costs and, if these are not covered by any other person, the migrant will be considered persona non grata for up to 6 years. This applies to any case of expulsion, incl. the overstaying of the exit order by failed asylum seekers. Here belongs also the deportation of those asylum seekers where – according to the Dublin Regulation (Dublin II) – another EU Member State is responsible for the application.

Analysis of how the media depicts the refugees in the Czech Republic

Is there national media attention for refugees and refugee issues? Before the current refugee crisis, there was very little media attention for refugees and refugee issues in the national media. From this perspective, the Lampedusa disaster in which a ship sank with more than 350 people on board in 2013 can be seen as a “milestone” after which the media started to pay more attention to refugee issues (Rozumek 2015). The frequency of refugee issues from then, accelerated after the EU Summit in April 2015 in which attention to the situation of refugees was top of the agenda. Thereafter, the European Parliament supported the idea of introducing quotas for taking in asylum seekers among the EU Member States after which the EU Commission came with a particular solution in May 2015 (Jüptner 2015). However, it has to be noted that the positives from this initiative is yet to be seen (see the further section on how the topic is presented by the media). How are asylum seekers presented by the media? The whole refugee crisis tends to be portrayed in a negative light. Rather, it has to be seen in a broader perspective of the context of migration in general. Based on media analyses carried out over the last years, there are mostly negative issues linked with migration in the media. In this respect, quite illustrative is an analysis done by the People in need organization (2011), in which 209 media outputs from October 2010 were analysed. Table: Media analysis of migrant-related issues Topics in the articles about migrants Criminality 57% Voluntary returns 9% Migrant issues (visa, insurance, work permits) 6% Integration projects, events, multicultural events, integration 6% Labour market, economic crisis 6% Culture and Society 4% Comments 3% Life stories, stories of migrants 3% The life of foreigners in the Czech Republic (their culture, customs, traditions) 2% Other 4% Source: People in need (2011) As can be seen from the table, the topic mostly written about is connected with crime and criminal behaviour. This was further divided into several subcategories. The most frequent being irregular stay and illegal work (44 %), followed by the topic of migrants as perpetrators of crime (32 %). On the other hand, the topic of migrants as crime victims was significantly less frequent (13 %) (People in need 2011, 21). There is only a little space given to the solidarity with the refugees in the Czech media. The refugees are typically presented by the media as an impersonal, anonymous mass of people, being typically shown on boards of ships heading to the EU. An example is the story of Antonis Deligiorgis who rescued an Eritrean refugee girl – a story which circulated the round the world in April 2015. The story might have hit the deadlines in many countries, but it found virtually no attention by the Czech media (Zabloudilová, 2015). The media discourse is quite in line with the presentations of the key political figures of the country, such as the Minister of Interior or the President. The refugee crisis is thus represented especially in terms of the need for better (EU) border protection and the strict rejection of quotas (binding EU quotas for taking in asylum seekers) by Central European countries. The typical discourse on refugees – both the political and the medial one – connects these either with irregular economic migration or, to a lesser point but also frequently, to terror threats by Islamists. It has to be noted that this contrasts with the low number of refugees coming into the Czech Republic (see above section on the number of asylum seekers). The dynamics of the media campaign was fuelled, firstly by synergy between the media and opinions of politicians and secondly, by linkages between media and public opinion. In 2015, refugee issues were not only a topic for the national media (as discussed above) but also for the online media, online blogs and journals. Quite surprisingly, internet publications rather strengthened the perception of refugees as an imminent threat to EU countries (Jüptner 2015). The media is under commercial pressure, thus accounting for its penchant to publish striking (and especially negative) news. At the same time, journalists lack sufficient understanding on this subject as different issues (asylum, irregular migration, etc.) are sometimes confused. According to a research conducted by Pánek in the first half of 2015, it was observed that the media has implanted refugee apathy among the populace. This situation has however has somewhat improved over the last few months as the media now presents positive or at least neutral stories about the refugee crises. Nevertheless,the negative perception of refugees will be very difficult to deconstruct and might play a role in the 2016 elections (ibid.). Is being a country of refuge presented in a negative, neutral or positive way? Being a country of refuge is definitively not presented in a positive way. Mostly, the negative aspects of migration are reflected. The national media closely follows the political debate by the country’s leading political figures and their strict rejection of the EU suggestion to establish quotas for taking in asylum seekers.

Follow-up on the refugee crisis

The Czech Republic has felt the rise in asylum seekers entering Europe as it went from 491 new applications in 2013 to 914 in 2014, 1,240 in 2015, 1,215 in 2016 and 1142 in 2017 (MoI 2016; MoI 2017). The structure of the refugees based on their country of origin does not differ much over the years. In 2017, the largest number of applications for international protection came from Ukraine (435), followed by Armenia (129), Georgia (129), Azerbaijan (127) and Vietnam (82). However, as mentioned earlier in this report, the number of individuals actually granted refugee status is rather low. In 2017, asylum was granted to 29 persons and subsidiary protection to 118 persons. At the same time, a negative decision was made in 632 cases and in 727 cases the procedure was discontinued (MoI 2017).

Additionally, the country accepted only 12 of the 2,691 individuals it was allocated via EU quotas in 2015 as the plan to relocate asylum seekers from Italy and Greece, and has since refused to relocate anyone at all. (Irish Times). In June 2017, the EU launched a legal case against the Czech Republic, along with Hungary and Poland, which could impose sanctions for non-compliance (Reuters). In December 2017, within the Dublin Proceedings, there were 31 transfers to the Czech Republic and 3 from the Czech Republic (MoI 2017). The allocation mechanism remains a strong political topic.

While hostility towards especially Muslim immigration has been very visible in the Czech Republic recently, some are also trying to present a positive and welcoming picture, as in the initiative ‘Emigrate to Czech Republic’ (https://emigratetoczechrepublic.wordpress.com/). The website provides information about the country as a place of safety where people feeling war and persecution can come for protection, complete with pretty pictures of Prague and the mountain side. However, as well-meaning as such campaigns may be, most NGOs depend on public funding which means that actual advocacy or aid work remains limited.


MoI of the Czech Republic (December 2016). Statistical report on international protection. Online: https://www.mvcr.cz/clanek/statisticke-zpravy-o-mezinarodni-ochrane-za-jednotlive-mesice-v-roce-2016.aspx

MoI of the Czech Republic (December 2017). Statistical report on international protection. Online: https://www.mvcr.cz/clanek/statisticke-zpravy-o-mezinarodni-ochrane-za-jednotlive-mesice-v-roce-2017.aspx


The subjective perspective

This report has found a number of problematic areas with relation to the situation for asylum seekers and refugees in the Czech Republic, two of which stand out as of utmost importance. Firstly, the topic is firmly embedded within an administrative-security discourse utilized both by the mainstream media as well as by the political representation, potentially leading to angst and increasing fear in the society which, in turn, hinders integration and translates into a growing demand for stronger security solutions. Secondly, on a more practical level, improving especially the long duration of the procedures and a restricted access to labor market would be beneficial.

It is regrettable to see that mistrust of immigrants and unwillingness to work along Union lines with other Member States have meant that the Czech Republic is coming in short of living up to its international responsibility to protect those in need. This seems to be connected to a general lack of understanding among the general public of the topic, which reaches all the way up to those working in the media who often misrepresent facts about refugees and asylum policy, even when intending to keep neutral. A case in point here is an analysis of media coverage of the refugee crisis in the Czech Republic conducted in 2015 (Macek 2015). This showed that a large room in the two most followed TV channels in the country was devoted to short-term impacts of the so-called migration crisis in the Czech Republic, abroad and in the whole EU. The most frequent topics were police-related, i.e. checks, border surveillance, detention facilities etc. Conversely, virtually no space was given to the root causes of the crisis giving the impression that the cause of the crisis is the refugees themselves. Generally, there is a strong administrative-security discourse broadly applied to the issue of migration in the Czech media as well as in the political arena. It is important to seek and to promote a more balanced view, including through education and education campaigns.

Additionally, more should be done to support the well-being and integration of those who apply for asylum, both while they wait for a decision and after asylum has been granted. While it is good that the Czech Republic provides some form of permission to work for individuals still in the process of seeking asylum, this could be introduced both at an earlier stage and with fewer restrictions. As noted, reception and residential facilities are lacking in several ways; poor conditions such as noise pollution and prison-like interiors are harmful, especially for children and survivors of torture, and remote locations hinder successful integration into Czech society. As for the asylum process itself, efforts must be made to reduce waiting times which cause despair for those affected and are a symptom of mismanagement within the system.


Macek, M. J. (2015). Analýza mediálního pokrytí uprchlické krize [Analysis of media coverage of the refugee crisis]. Nova, 34(5), 3. Online:

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/286454922_Analyza_medialniho_pokryti_uprchlicke_krize_vyzkumna_zprava [accessed Jan 02 2019].

Czech Republic1.jpg

Czech Republic

Capital: Prague
Location: Central Europe
EU-member since 2004
Currency: CZK (Czech krown)
Population: 10,516,100
Min. wage:
Poverty line:
Population under poverty line:

IWB researchers

Vera-Karin Brazova

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Vera-Karin Brazova.jpg



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