Country Listing

Czechoslovakia Table of Contents


General Crime

Gypsies (especially in Slovakia) and young people were viewed as the primary perpetrators of crime, and alcohol was seen as a major factor. In Slovakia, for example, 65,869 offenses and petty offenses were registered between January and November 1983; this number was 52 percent more than in the same period of 1982. Gypsies reportedly were responsible for about 20 percent of these crimes, even though they made up less than 3 percent of the population of Slovakia (see Ethnic Groups , ch. 2). "Economic crime," a wide category including shoplifting and vandalism, accounted for Kcs116 million worth of damages. Losses due to burglary went up 37 percent between 1981 and 1985. In 1985, in the Czech Socialist Republic alone, the value of goods stolen was reported as Kcs43 million. Burglaries were a special problem in large cities, especially Prague. Property was inadequately protected, although security devices (such as security locks) were available in the stores.

In the mid-1980s, statistics were not available for rape and other violent crimes. In the 1970s, when statistics were published, the number of court cases involving rape and child abuse fluctuated between 1,623 and 2,475 a year, peaking in 1973. Rapists "on the prowl" appeared to be a common phenomenon, and young girls were warned not to hitchhike. The penalty for rape was three to eight years' imprisonment, which increased to fifteen years if death occurred. The penalty for child abuse was from one to eight years and up to fifteen years if death resulted.

Juvenile delinquency was on the rise in the 1980s and usually involved children from broken homes. Parents were held responsible for their children and could be prosecuted for allowing their child's truancy. Juveniles were believed responsible for about 21 percent of all crime, often vandalizing state-owned property. Youth gangs were not unknown; and drug abuse and alcoholism were major problems. Children convicted of crimes served terms in juvenile correctional and training facilities, apart from adults. They might also be placed in the protective custody of the state, but there was a shortage of institutions to provide such care.

The most common offense in Czechoslovakia was nonpayment of mandatory child support. In a country in which divorce was commonplace, this abuse had become a serious problem. In 1985 approximately 3,800 child support cases were prosecuted in the Czech Socialist Republic alone. In general, convicted parents were given the maximum sentence and were often sent to work camps.

Black-market money changing was also common in Czechoslovakia, as it appeared to be in all East-bloc economies. The black-market changer might be a taxi driver or someone on the street corner waiting for foreign tourists who needed Czechoslovak currency or for Czechoslovak citizens who needed hard currency. Such a money changer would exchange hard (Western) currency for Czechoslovak korunas at a far better rate than the State Bank of Czechoslovakia, often doubling that figure. This "speculation" was highly illegal, and the papers carried reports of such transactions. On occasion, these money changers were agents of the government who tried to entrap foreigners in a crime.

Data as of August 1987