Different Approach Towards Lustration Social Policy Essay

After 1989, several post-communist states, Czechoslovakia among them, had to confront its communist yesteryear. The chief quandary: to forgive or to revenge to those who contributed to forty old ages long subjugation of cardinal human rights was non an easy 1. As many statements were for as many against both, revenge and forgiveness. Lack of grounds, load of corporate guilt raised inquiries about revenge. However, forgiveness entailed hazard of sabotaging delicate democracy.

Czechoslovakia decided for revenge ordaining the lustration jurisprudence in 1991. Although, started from the same point, after the split of Czechoslovakia in 1993, each state pursued wholly different attack in covering with its Communist yesteryear. In the Czech Republic, the lustration jurisprudence has been prolonged twice, enforced purely. In Slovakia, it expired in 1996.

The essay nowadayss different Czech and Slovak attack in order to turn out that none of them led to satisfactory results. It assumes understanding evidences of these attacks, its strengths and failings can assist us hold on the state of affairs in which the Czech Republic and Slovakia find themselves now. The essay argues the lustration jurisprudence could be utile if it was formulated more exactly, enforced on a individual footing.

Common Starting Point

While being a common province, Czechs and Slovaks pursued the same attitude in get bying with their Communist past. First, in January 1991, the Czechoslovak Federal Assembly passed a declaration in conformity with all members of parliament, curates, their deputies, and civil retainers had to be screened for coaction with State Secret Police ( hereinafter referred to as StB ) . Ten months subsequently, the Czechoslovak Federal Assembly enacted the lustration jurisprudence as the first station communist authorities. This jurisprudence stated exactly who can and can non keep certain public places. A individual who was: “ member of StB, occupant, agent, proprietor of “ confederacy level ” , betrayer, ideological or witting confederate of StB, high-ranked functionary of the Communist Party, member of People ‘s Militias, pupil, or researcher at one of the KGB universities for longer than three months, ” was excluded from public employment ( Act on Lustration 1991 ) .

The jurisprudence was valid in Czechoslovakia until its disintegration in 1993. After 1993, the Czech Republic has kept the jurisprudence, whereas Slovakia let it expired in 1996. In order to understand better, why Czechs and Slovaks pursued wholly different attacks in covering with its Communist past, it is of import to recognize that this yesteryear, even though was common, and yet had some little niceties.

Manner to the Lustration Law in the Czech Republic

Comparing desire of Czechs and Slovaks for the lustration jurisprudence, Czechs decidedly insisted on it more than Slovaks did. Further development, when Czechs prolonged and Slovaks abandoned the lustration jurisprudence, merely confirms it. Czechs were the instigators of the lustration jurisprudence. As Nadya Nedelsky, political scientist specialising on human rights and transitional justness argues there are several grounds explicating diverged attacks in covering with the Communist yesteryear. She states that the government was non every bit tough in both states. As the chief ground why both states were non treated equally, she declares the different degree of dissent. Harmonizing to her, high degree of dissent in the Czech Republic led to stronger subjugation of Czechs, which after 1989 led of course to stronger protagonism for the lustration jurisprudence. ( 2004, 81 )

Furthermore, the character of political scene played an of import function. Even though many new Czech political leaders were instead ambivalent in their sentiments on the lustration jurisprudence, no 1 was strongly against it. Vaclav Klaus, the Czech Prime Minister from 1993 to 1998, several times expressed his belief that looking back into the yesteryear can forestall from traveling frontward in the present and future, but he ever voted for the lustration jurisprudence. Therefore, holding political support, the jurisprudence was successfully drawn-out twice, in 1995 and 2000, though Vaclav Havel vetoed its protraction. Last, the lustration jurisprudence was amended in 2000, allowing an freedom to individuals born after the 1st December 1972. These, if holding involvement in public employment are non obliged to subject either lustration certification or statutory declaration any longer ( Amendment of Lustration Act 2000 ) .

Manner to the ‘Doing Nothing ‘ Approach in Slovakia

On the contrary, Slovaks did non pay much attending to the lustration jurisprudence. Many of them were more occupied with the thought of independent Slovak province at that clip. Here, Nadya Nedelsky once more comes up with the statement of unevenly tough government. She assumes that the deficiency of involvement in covering with past errors was due to low degree of dissent in Slovakia that led to lesser subjugation of Slovaks, and accordingly after the Velvet revolution to “ lesser involvement in transitional justness ” every bit good. ( 2004, 81 )

However, even more in Slovakia, the character of political scene played an tremendous function. Vladimir Meciar, the Slovak Prime Minister from 1993 to 1998 who gained his popularity for playing important function in a split of Czechoslovakia, did non hold an involvement in implementing the lustration jurisprudence. He was purely against it utilizing a counter-argument of human rights misdemeanor, even though it was under his authorities when Slovakia got to international isolation for ignoring the regulation of jurisprudence. Furthermore, Vladimir Meciar had personal involvement in abandoning the lustration jurisprudence as he was suspected to be confederate of StB. To large extent, thanks to him the lustration jurisprudence expired in 1996. Furthermore, the dependability of StB files suffered after he was accused of stealing and destructing those files that could discredit him. ( SME 2009 ) Since 1996, Slovakia has non adopted the lustration jurisprudence.

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Criticism of the Lustration Law

The first ethical concerns about the lustration jurisprudence were raised shortly after it was adopted. International community condemned it. The headlines of worldwide respected dailies called lustrations in Czechoslovakia “ Witch Hunts ” , “ Holman hunts for Villains ” ( New York Times 1991 ) or “ Grounds for New Injustices ” ( Le Monde 1992 ) , depicting them as menaces to democracy, delicate anyhow at that clip. Many bookmans province that new Czechoslovak political leaders used precisely contrary statement, supporting lustrations as a mean to construct and beef up democracy. They believed if leaders and confederates with former government were given public employment, it would sabotage democracy. ( David 2004, 795 ; Williams 2003, 2 ) In this respect, it is hard, if non impossible to make up one’s mind who was incorrect and right as Czech illustration proved that the lustration jurisprudence unjustly damaged repute of some people and on the contrary, Slovak illustration demonstrated that absence of the jurisprudence facilitated to switch Slovakia from democracy. However, it is impossible to simplify the lustration jurisprudence to be ‘bad ‘ or ‘good ‘ ; we can still specify its strengths and failings.

Political Rights Misdemeanor

The first ethical concern raised was that the lustration jurisprudence deprives leaders and confederates with former government of political rights. Roman David, expert on comparative transitional justness provinces that the International Labour Organisation criticized the jurisprudence for being prejudiced towards the look of political sentiment and engagement in public life ( 2004, 790 ) . He challenges this concern. Although the jurisprudence prevented leaders and confederates of former government from public employment, “ the right to public employment was intentionally omitted from the European Convention of Human Rights ” ( 2004, 797 ) .

Furthermore, he adds that the Communist Party in Czechoslovakia from 1948 to 1989 “ excluded resistance, prohibited treatment and did non let free elections ” ( 2004, 799 ) . It can non be considered standard political party as it does non carry through general standards of a political party recognized in democracy. Therefore, it “ can barely claim the same legal protection which is given to other parties. ” ( 2004, 799 )

Furthermore, public employment is identified with certain values. Roman David uses an illustration of USA where “ the Supreme Court has confirmed several makings for public employees, such as ‘trust ‘ , ‘integrity and competence ‘ , ‘fitness and trueness ‘ and ‘impartiality ‘ , ‘fairness and effectivity ‘ ” ( 2004, 797 ) . This shows that the public employment demands model behavior. The essay argues that person who contributed to subjugation of others can barely be an illustration for populace.

In add-on, when placing former government and its histrions, its offenses should non be overlooked. Harmonizing to the Czech Office for the Documentation and the Investigation of the Crimes of Communism, from 1948 to 1989, 205 486 individuals were imprisoned and 248 individuals were executed for political grounds, 282 individuals died when seeking to traverse western boundary lines, and 21 440 individuals were placed in forced labor cantonments from 1948 to 1953 in Czechoslovakia. Besides, these figures do non include amendss of those, who were deprived from possibility to analyze, work in their field, and were exposed to changeless chase of StB and regular questions, during which StB members were non loath to utilize violent patterns. The Communist Party non merely gave consent to these patterns carried out by the People ‘s Militias that was armed forces of the Communist Party and by StB, it encouraged them to utilize them. The essay argues that their former members could stand for a menace to unstable democracy in Czechoslovakia, if they were given a opportunity to take part in public determinations.

Who Should Be Dismissed? A Need for a Individual Footing

While one ethical concern was solved, another popped up. If this essay states that a dismissal from public employment was legitimate under given fortunes, so who to disregard was in inquiry. As nil is black and white, simple division on ‘bad ‘ and ‘good ‘ proved to be impossible for a whole assortment grounds. Surely, 1000s of people collaborated with former government voluntarily for personal additions, to the full cognizant of injuries their actions caused to others. However, with new lustrations going public, new life narratives disclosed proved it was non ever the instance. Some people seemed to be forced to hold on coaction. Simply, they had no other pick if they wanted to protect their households and friends, maintain their employment, survey at universities or even if they wanted to go on dissenting against government. Merely a smattering of Czech and Slovak dissenters could state they were in such state of affairs and decided non to join forces.

The political party Public against Violence ( hereinafter referred to as VPN ) , created after 1989 largely from dissenters was one of the number ones that decided to verify whether their campaigners ranked to this smattering and screened them for StB coaction. “ If they were positive ( intending, they had records in StB files as confederates ) , either they resigned or we withdrew them from their place. These were awful yearss. We saw life narratives of people who were broken in prisons, uranium mines, during their travels abroad or merely at work. Some of them were our long-time friends, ” Fedor Gal, Slovak dissenter and co-founder of VPN callbacks ( tyzden 2009 ) .

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Surely, there was no contention approximately high places in the Communist Party to be queued. Everyone who reached this hierarchal degree within the system non merely decided voluntarily, but besides had to set much attempt in order to make it. As Roman David argues, “ Merely devoted and loyal campaigners were granted rank. ” He stresses these were cognizant of illicit purposes of the Communist Party ( 2004, 802 ) . The StB confederates were besides witting members. However, in some instances StB members blackmailed them in order to do them subscribe the understanding on co-operation. The jurisprudence did non believe of these people. However, the biggest loophole occurred in the class of People ‘s Militias members. As Roman David emphasises, even though People ‘s Militias helped to suppress the resistance during the Communist putsch in February 1948, they did non needfully cognize this was its intent when they entered the organisation. Later on, when they realized it, they could non disjoin the organisation, as it was about impossible with any communist administration. ( 2004, 802 ) Furthermore, non everyone who entered the People ‘s Militias even after the Communist putsch shared its intents. The fortunes varied from instance to instance.

This essay brings the narrative of Milan Kuta, published in the New York Times. Milan Kuta was respected oncologist when he was offered to take the Oncology Centre in non really favorite Czech town Chomutov in 1985. In order to acquire this employment, he had to come in the Communist Party and supply the People ‘s Militias with first-aid classs. Never being active in political life before, he decided to accept the offer, as he knew it was the lone manner for the Centre to acquire appropriate fundss and for him to acquire more interesting occupation. However, in 1991, after the lustration jurisprudence was enforced, he as the manager of state-owned medical Centre found himself in unpleasant state of affairs. Coming under the class inconsistent with public employment, he had to vacate from his place. ( New York Times 1992 ) Nowadays, Milan Kuta still works in the Oncology Centre in Chomutov and is considered celebrated specializer in his field.

If a function of the lustration jurisprudence were simplified to being a mean bring downing penalty on confederates with former government for their past errors, it would be hard to state what Milan Kuta did incorrectly. Furthermore, in this instance, it would be besides hard to support the lustration as a mean to construct and beef up democracy. The essay argues maintaining Milan Kuta in his station would non jeopardize democracy. He was non active in the Communist Party, and he ne’er collaborated with StB. The lone unfavorable judgment could come from giving People ‘s Militias first-aid classs. The essay uncertainties this was inherently ‘bad ‘ and it could be compared to prosecuting people and suppressing their cardinal rights. A load of corporate guilt was excessively heavy for Milan Kuta. Not merely he loosed his station in the Oncology Centre, he had to confront a contempt of society. Furthermore, Milan Kuta was non the lone instance. Many people were harmed by imprecise definition of some classs inconsistent with public employment harmonizing to the lustration jurisprudence and by the rule of corporate guilt, it imposed. The essay argues the jurisprudence was imprecise and unjust step to justice people who occurred in StB files, as it did non seek to look beyond for the grounds why they occurred at that place.

Dependability of StB files

Finally, besides the credibleness of StB files was questionable. Political leaders, old every bit good as new, in both states rapidly realized these could be utile tools for political blackmailing. Pavel Zacek, the Czech historiographer from The Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes in Prague claims, StB files were manipulated and 1000s of them perchance destroyed by StB, but besides the Communist Party, People ‘s Militias, and ground forces instantly after the Velvet revolution ( SME 2009 ) . This intuition puts another inquiry grade behind the legitimacy of the lustration jurisprudence in Czechoslovakia.

Adverse Consequences

Although, public considers the alteration of government in 1989 for one of the most of import mileposts, common experiencing prevailing in both, Slovakia and the Czech Republic is disenchantment. The lustration jurisprudence in the Czech Republic or its absence in Slovakia did convey instead dissatisfaction.

The Czech Republic

Eighteen old ages passed since the lustration jurisprudence in the Czech Republic has been in force. It surely played an of import function after 1989. A fright that leaders and confederates with former government could sabotage was apprehensible. However, this essay argues that the jurisprudence is non well-founded any longer as this fright is groundless in the Czech Republic being a portion of the European Union since 2004. In add-on to it, the lustration jurisprudence seemingly did non carry through its function in decommunisation. Harmonizing to the latest polls of STEM bureau, forty old ages of communist subjugation would non deter 12.3 % Czechs to vote for the Communist Party in following election.

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Furthermore, even though, the jurisprudence disqualified leaders and confederates of former government from keeping public places, and members of the current Communist Party who are MPs at the same clip were screened every bit good, the jurisprudence brought inauspicious effects of a comparable extent in other sense. Too wide and imprecise definition of the jurisprudence excluded from public employment excessively many people who did non play an of import function in former government. In add-on, some of them were accused of join forcesing unjustly. No compensation would convey these people their repute back.

Slovak republic

Thirteen old ages passed since the lustration jurisprudence expired in Slovakia in 1996. Absence of the lustration jurisprudence in Slovakia caused that leaders and confederates of former government pervaded into new political system easy, and now can be found in many other parties throughout the political spectrum, apart from the Communist Party. Thus, even though the figures speak about 3.1 % support for Communists, in fact these refer merely to the Communist Party ( FOCUS 2009 ) . Lack of public and political involvement in settling the yesteryear resulted besides in church being riddled by former Communists. The most known is the instance of Jan Sokol, former Roman Catholic archbishop accused of join forcesing with former government. Even though, his name popped up in StB files as of campaigner for coaction, and subsequently on as of agent, he ne’er admitted it or offered his surrender. ( Nation ‘s Memory Institute 2004-2009 ) Not holding the lustration jurisprudence, Slovakia did non hold any mechanisms to retreat Jan Sokol from his place. Again, likewise as in the instance of Milan Kuta, Jan Sokol is non an exclusion.

In add-on, Slovak political development after 1989 is the instance in point, what important function the lustration jurisprudence plays in democratization procedures. Slovakia with its ‘doing nil ‘ attack in covering with the Communist yesteryear, proved to be weak to protect its immature democracy, as Vladimir Meciar ‘s authorities seemingly did non follow with democratic rules.


Overall, both, Czech and Slovak attack towards lustration did non convey satisfactory results. The Czech attack being excessively rough unjustly punished excessively many people, even though helped to keep democracy. On the contrary, Slovak attack being excessively soft resulted in displacement from democracy and political relations riddled by former Communist. Therefore, the importance of the lustration jurisprudence is non a inquiry. However, in order to convey societal benefit, it needs to be more precise and case-by-case based.


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