The parliamentary Human Rights and Ethnic Minorities committee on June 17 didn’t pass any resolution on the Nationwide Human Rights Strategy submitted by Foreign Affairs Minister Miroslav Lajčák.

Lajčák said, as quoted by the TASR newswire, that the preparations of the document have taken three years and reached their final stage, as the document is expected to be debated by the cabinet by the end of this month. Beginning in June, it was opened for inter-department debate which ends on June 19. The final version should go to the government’s Human Rights Council on June 26, and by June 30, it should be on the government agenda for debate, the SITA newswire wrote.

Foreign minister described the process of drawing up the document as open and transparent. “The opinions of all who wanted to contribute to the discussion were listened to,” he said, according to TASR. Committee member Béla Bugár (Most-Híd) disagreed with Lajčák by claiming that even though proposals were allowed to be sent to the preparation group, nothing has been accepted. He pointed to the appendix of the strategy which deals with ethnic minorities and contains a number of inaccuracies, he said.

Bugár, echoing committee chairman Rudolf Chmel (Most-Híd), wondered why the extensive 14 appendices haven’t been made an integral part of the strategy. Lajčák responded, according to TASR, that they have only an informational character, and can’t be part of the document, as otherwise consensus throughout society on the issue would never be achieved. He claimed that the document would then “cause an explosion” and another 10 years would be needed to reach consensus. Chmel noted that it should be stipulated clearly who is responsible for implementing the strategy, what are the tasks of ministers and what is the time-frame for the strategy’s implementation.

Lajčák also touched on the criticism that has been levelled by certain NGOs, saying that the criticism was focused on only one issue, more specifically the LGBTI rights, while no attention is paid to the remaining issues. He added that he misses wider knowledge about human rights, and more should be invested in education on this matter.

The Centre for Bio-ethical Reform last week voiced criticism of the appendix on LGBTI, pointing out that the strategy, among other novelties, introduces carrying out sex-change operations on public health insurance, TASR wrote. It also criticises the appendices, which it claims will infringe the freedom of speech, conscience and religious liberty of those who would disagree with the introduction of new LGBTI rights.

The strategy is a document reflecting the needs of vulnerable groups in society and the situation of human rights protection in Slovakia, Lajčák told SITA. It thoroughly studies respecting and protection of human rights across Slovakia, making it an umbrella document for this whole issue.

(Source: TASR, SITA)
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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