Romani clients have difficulties in Czech pubs

15 May 1998

Mladá Fronta Dnes reported that on March 25, a Romani teacher of the Czech language was denied entrance to the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant on Kaprová Street in Prague. An employee of the security agency Group 4 Securitas, engaged by Kentucky Fried Chicken, did not let her into the restaurant. The deputy director of the restaurant, Mr Petr Bernard, confirmed that the racially discriminatory act by the employee had indeed taken place.

According to the daily, 57-year-old Hilda Pášová, a teacher by profession, stated, “The guard stopped me at the entry and said, ‘I won’t let you in.’” Ms Pašová and her colleague, Ms Alena Svobodová, filed a complaint with municipal authorities. MrBernard apologised and told Mladá Fronta Dnes that the guard would be fined by his employer, the Group 4 Securitas agency. Not one of the five officials of the Kentucky Fried Chicken in question would comment  to the ERRC on whether the man has paid the fine yet or not. Ms Pášová told the ERRC that Ms Darina Martinovská, deputy mayor of Prague, had promised to arrange a meeting with the director of the Kentucky Fried Chicken and Ms Pášová immediately after the event. According to the ERRC’s information, however, no such meeting has taken place. The ERRC contacted Ms Martinovská on April 23, but she refused to comment on the case.

Refusal to serve Roma was also reported in the village of Olbramov in the northern Czech Republic. Mladá Fronta Dnes reported on April, 17, 1998, that MrPavel Novák, the director of the trade inspection of Karlovy Vary, had completed deliberations in the case of pub opolwner Josef Vála from Olbramov, district Tachov, and resolved that Mr Vála had not violated the law when he refused to serve a Romani customer. An official of the trade inspection committee had evidently been present when the pub owner did not serve a Rom, who ordered a beer. Mr Vála owns the only pub in Olbramov, a village with a large Romani population.

According to ÈTK, Mr Novák stated that Vála did not serve the Romani man because he owed him money and, in addition, had previously destroyed the interior of the pub and attacked guests. The decision of Novák contradicts the former statement of Miloslava Flìglová, a spokesperson for Mr Novák’s office, who said that the pub owner had the right to refuse to serve a drunk customer but not someone with whom he had had problems a week previously. Mr Lubomír Horváth, a spokesman for the Roma in the Tachov district, expressed indignation at the decision: “If somebody made trouble in the pub, the owner can file a complaint against him. But he can’t decide on his own, whom to serve and whom not to serve.”  Mr Horváth stated that he wants to take the case to court.

Finally, ÈTK reported on May 7 that pub owner Ivo Blahout had been acquitted by a Rokycany appeals court. Blahout had been found guilty by a lower court in Plzeò of incitement to racial and national intol-erance under Article 198a (1) in February 1997 for refusing to serve Roma in his Na Železne pub in 1995 (see Roma Rights, Spring 1997). 

Allegations that pubs and restaurants refuse to serve Roma on ethnic grounds are widespread in the Czech Republic. A study by the non-governmental organisation HOST in Prague conducted in 1996 found that of forty restaurants surveyed, twenty-four refused service to Roma. In January 1998 the ERRC awarded a legal represent-ation grant to Dr Emil Šèuka to file complaints against a number of public establishments which had refused service to Roma.

(ÈTK, ERRC, Mladá Fronta Dnes)

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