Czech govt suspends visa issuing for Vietnamese

Vláda pozastavila víza pro Vietnamce

Prague 16.11.2008- The Czech cabinet has decided that the embassy in Hanoi will stop issuing visa for the Vietnamese going to the Czech Republic, in reaction to the rise in organised crime in the Vietnamese community and to alleged underworld practices accompanying the visa procedure, Czech Television reported today.

The visa issuing will remain suspended until the end of the year.

The Czech-Vietnamese Society and the Czech political opposition have protested against the measure.

An analysis the ministries of interior and foreign affairs have worked out for the government points to counterfeiting designer goods, tax evasion and large scale growing of marijuana in the local Vietnamese community.

In reaction to it, the government on the proposal of Interior Minister Ivan Langer decided in a secret procedure to temporarily suspend the issuing of visa for Vietnamese.

Langer told CTK that concrete measures must be taken "for us to be able to protect the Czech Republic from criminal activities."

The Czech-Vietnamese Society has protested saying that only a small fraction of the local Vietnamese community is involved in organised crime.

"This is international shame and unfortunately also a step proving that all of our state leaders who in the past and recently visited Vietnam and asserted they were interested in cooperation and friendship, were knowingly telling lies," Society chairman Marcel Winter told Czech Television.

The government's resolution authorises the ministers of interior and foreign affairs to stop the visa issuing any time in the future if the problems persisted.

The government also plans other measures. A foreign police officer is to go to work at the Czech embassy in Hanoi, Czech Television said.