Above the Law

The limits of the Czech legal system are all over the news today, with attention focusing on the inability of the courts to serve a summons to former national assistant police chief Miroslav Antl, who crashed into a car while driving with a 0.52 blood alcohol level.

Apparently the courts were unable to serve Antl with a summons for an entire year, and because of this, he is able to walk away from the entire affair.

Meanwhile, efforts to reform Czech parliamentary immunity are going nowhere, and will likely die, either in committee or on the Senate floor.

Even though it may appear so, I’m not an expert on Czech constitutional law. But my reading of the law on immunity is this: If you’re a Czech MP, you have complete immunity from all crimes; theoretically you could commit murder and only have your immunity taken away from you by a majority vote of your chamber of parliament. Only then would you have to face trial.

The reasoning for this is understandable. MPs shouldn’t be subject to criminal harassment for their political opinions. But the current system is a joke. Compare Czech MPs’ immunity to that in other EU states, and what you’ll see is that the Czechs’ system is being cynically abused.

When taken together with the story about Antl, it’s no wonder so many Czechs shake their heads and talk cynically about government. Then again, maybe de Tocqueville was right: People get the government they deserve.

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