Page last updated at 15:38 GMT, Monday, 6 July 2009 16:38 UK

Canada 'to stem Czech migration'

By Rob Cameron
BBC News, Prague

Demonstration by Czech Roma in April 2007
Czech Roma have demonstrated in the past against alleged discrimination

Canada is considering measures to deal with the large number of people seeking asylum from the Czech Republic.

They are almost all members of the Roma or gypsy minority, fleeing what they say is persecution at home.

Czech officials say Ottawa is considering re-imposing visas, which would be a major setback for Czech tourists and business people.

Last year 860 Czechs applied for asylum. This year, the figure has already exceeded 1,000.

Bomb attack

Critics say they are economic migrants, simply heading to Canada in search of a better life.

Roma groups angrily deny that, pointing to a sharp rise in far-right extremism in the Czech Republic, including a petrol bomb attack that left a baby girl in hospital.

Neo-Nazi marchers have been deliberately targeting areas with large Roma communities, something that Roma groups say is adding to a climate of fear.

Reports say Canada has granted asylum to around 40% of the claims filed by Czech Roma, meaning that the requests met Canada's stipulation of a "well-founded fear of persecution".

Czech officials have confirmed that the Canadian visa threat is real, but stress that they have not been notified of any final decision.

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