Czech Republic: the burden of the communist past

Robert Fremr will not become a Czech constitutional judge. As Vice-President of the International Criminal Court in The Hague from 2018 to 2021, he was considered a top candidate for the post. Now it has emerged that before 1989 he convicted opponents of the communist regime, and he has withdrawn his candidacy. According to the national press, the case shows how sensitive issues related to the communist past remain for countries like the Czech Republic.

Echo24 (CZ) /

Still an issue even after 30 years

Echo24 is disillusioned:

“The dispute over the past persists. It is indeed sad that even after thirty years our newly organised society is unable to produce persons for the highest constitutional positions who are not burdened by a past of service to the totalitarian communist regime. ... Is it really too much to ask, after 30 years, that the highest offices of state should not be held by former communists?”

Dalibor Balšínek
Lidové noviny (CZ) /

Constitutional Court is a symbol of the rule of law

Lidové noviny is relieved:

“Robert Fremr realised that with his candidacy he would only harm himself and the Constitutional Court and gave up. Is this fair? Perhaps not entirely, considering that other judges could also be compromised if the archives were more accessible. ... But the Constitutional Court is no ordinary court where Justitia blindly decides whether someone is guilty or not. It is a symbol of the rule of law and freedom gained 34 years ago. Which means that candidates are not chosen blindly but to a large extent under the public eye.”

Zbyněk Petráček
Seznam Zprávy (CZ) /

Pay attention to judges’ CVs

Seznam Zprávy says President Petr Pavel, who proposes the constitutional judges to the Senate, has also been compromised by this affair:

“A potential threat to trust in the decisions of the Constitutional Court was averted at the last minute. Petr Pavel and his advisers can learn a simple lesson from the Robert Fremr affair: don’t burn your fingers on the same stove twice. Careful attention must be paid to the professional past of candidates, especially those who worked in the judiciary before 1989.”

Jan Lipold