Category Archives: Human Rights

EU humanitarian assistance to Ukraine

Brussels 13.05.2022 Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 has created one of the largest humanitarian crises in Europe’s recent history, with the ongoing war causing increasing numbers of casualties, destruction and displacement within and outside Ukraine’s borders.(Image: Roberta Metsola, archive)

Ukraine’s civilian population is being subjected to shelling and violence and an estimated one-third of Ukrainians have been forced from their homes, either within the country or to neighbouring states. As of 6 July, more than 5.6 million Ukrainian refugees have been recorded across Europe, including Poland (1,207,650), but also Germany (867,000), the Czech Republic (388,097), Turkey (145,000) and Italy (141,562) . About 90% of them are women and children, who are also at a higher risk of violence and abuse, including human trafficking, smuggling and illegal adoption.

The numbers keep changing, but more than 2.5 million Ukrainians have returned home since the beginning of the Russian invasion. Some are returning to areas which were threatened by Russian forces at the beginning of the war but are now considered safer.

Assange at edge of extradition

Brussels 18.06.2022 Wikileaks founder Julian Assange extradition to the U.S. has been approved by UK Home Secretary Priti Patel.

Mr Assange has 14 days to appeal over the decision, the Home Office confirmed.

Previously the British courts found extradition would not be “incompatible with his human rights” and that while in the U.S. “he will be treated appropriately”.

Julian Assange is wanted by the American authorities over documents leaked in 2010 and 2011, which the US says broke the law and endangered lives.

The Wikileaks documents related to the war crimes during Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

The Australian is being held at Belmarsh prison in London after mounting a lengthy battle to avoid being extradited.

Extradition allows one country to ask another to hand over a suspect to face trial.

Responding to the home secretary’s order, Wikileaks confirmed it would appeal against her decision.

Assange’s spouse, Stella, said her husband had done “nothing wrong” and “he has committed no crime”.

“He is a journalist and a publisher, and he is being punished for doing his job,” she declared.

In a press conference outside the British Embassy in New York, his brother Gabriel Shipton said they would take his appeal to the European Court of Human Rights if not successful in the UK’s High Court.

Media company Wikileaks is a whistle-blowing platform that publishes classified material provided by anonymous sources.

Malta: MEPs delegation visit

Brussels 22.05.2022 On 23-25 May, six MEPs of the Civil Liberties Committee will assess progress in the investigations, trials, and reforms that followed the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Two and a half years after the last visit of an EP delegation to the country in the context of ongoing efforts to strengthen EU values, MEPs will return to Malta on 23-25 May.

The aim of the visit -organised upon the recommendation of the Monitoring Group on Democracy, Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights (DRFMG) is to take stock of the latest developments as regards the rule of law, recent judicial reforms, safety of journalists, anti-corruption measures, and citizenship and residence by investment schemes. Communication between Maltese authorities and the DRFMG, as well as the group’s work in this area, continued throughout the pandemic.

The delegation comprises the following MEPs:

Vladimír BILČÍK (EPP, SK)
Franco ROBERTI (S&D, IT)
Sophie IN ‘T VELD (Renew, NL), Delegation Chair
Gwendoline DELBOS-CORFIELD (Greens/EFA, FR)
Nicolaus FEST (ID, DE)
Konstantinos ARVANITIS (The Left, EL).

They will meet with:
the President of the Republic of Malta Dr George Vella
the Prime Minister Dr Robert Abela and Cabinet Members
Chief Justice Mark Chetcuti (tbc)
Attorney General Dr Victoria Buttigieg
the Speaker of the Parliament of Malta Hon Anġlu Farrugia
Members of the Parliament of Malta.
They will also hold discussions with commissioners and senior civil servants, representatives of Europol (the EU’s police agency) and regulatory bodies, as well as NGOs, civil society, journalists and representatives of the Daphne Project, and the family of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Azovstal troops humanitarian corridor

Brusssels 17.05.2022 Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky confirmed in his video address that an evacuation of national troops from Azovstal steelmaking complex in Mariupol had started.

“… We cherish a hope that we will be able to save the lives of our boys,” Zelensky said. “There are severely wounded ones among them and they need medical attendance.”

The Ukrainian President said that Kiev hoped to return all of them home as soon as possible.

“The work is underway to return boys back home, but this work is very delicate and time-consuming,” he explained.

The Russian Defense Ministry announced on Monday, May 16, that an agreement was reached to evacuate wounded Ukrainian troops from the Azovstal steel plant and subsequently a humanitarian corridor was opened.

The Ministry added that a ceasefire had been introduced in the surrounding area of the embattled plant and a humanitarian corridor was opened to provide exit for wounded Ukrainian soldiers to be taken to a medical facility in Novoazovsk in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR).

The Ukrainian authorities announced earlier that 53 severely wounded Ukrainian military servicemen were evacuated on May 16 from Azovstal plant in Mariupol to Novoazovsk (in DPR), while 211 more Ukrainian troops were evacuated from the plant through a humanitarian corridor to the city of Yelenovka (also in DPR).

MEPs protect Ukraine women

Strasbourg 05.05.2022 The European Parliament (pictured) debated and will vote on how to protect women fleeing Ukraine from violence and trafficking, and on granting them access to essential health services.

On Thursday, MEPs are set to strongly condemn the use of sexual and gender-based violence as a weapon of war and to express their deep concern about the growing number of reports of human trafficking, sexual violence, exploitation, rape and abuse faced by women and children fleeing Ukraine. They are expected to call for trafficking networks that profit from sexual exploitation of women refugees to be identified and prosecuted.

MEPs are also set to urge the EU and all host and transit countries to ensure access to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), particularly emergency contraception and abortion care, including for victims of rape, as well as obstetric care.

According to the UNHCR, more than five million refugees – 90% of whom are women and children – have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion started on 24 February. A further 7.1 million people are internally displaced within Ukraine, including women and children in need of medical care.

AMENDMENT: The European Parliament adopted a resolution (462-19-89) calling on the EU to protect Ukraine women refugees from violence and sexual exploitation.

Daphne Caruana Galizia Prize for Journalism

Strasbourg 04.04.2022 Observing the World Press Freedom Day on May 3, the European Parliament officially launched the call for submissions for entries to the Daphne Caruana Galizia Prize for Journalism.

The Prize rewards on a yearly basis outstanding journalism that promotes or defends the core principles and values of the European Union such as human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, rule of law, and human rights.

European Parliament President Roberta Metsola said: “The European Parliament’s message is clear: Europe stands with those seeking the truth. Daphne’s pen was silenced because she was uncovering the truth, and we should never allow journalists to become targets or victims. With this prize the European Parliament will continue defending free speech, media plurality and quality journalism, and help transmit these values to future generations.”

The Prize is open to professional journalists and teams of professional journalists of any nationality to submit in-depth pieces that have been published or broadcast by media based in one of the 27 European Union member states. The aim is to support and highlight the importance of professional journalism in safeguarding freedom, and equality.

An independent jury composed of representatives of the press and civil society from the 27 European member states and representatives of the main European Associations of Journalism will choose the winning entry. The awards ceremony will take place each year around 16 October, the date Daphne Caruana Galizia was assassinated.

The prize and the €20 000 prize money demonstrates the European Parliament’s strong support for investigative journalism and the importance of free press. Over the last few years, Parliament has warned about attempts both in the EU and beyond to undermine media pluralism. MEPs have denounced the attacks on journalists, particularly from politicians, and called on the Commission to table legislation against abusive lawsuits. On 27 April, a proposal was announced to tackle malicious litigation against journalists and activists.

Journalists can submit their article(s) online at https://daphnejournalismprize.eu/ by 31 July 2022, 12 PM (CET).

Daphne Caruana Galizia was a Maltese journalist, blogger and anti-corruption activist who reported extensively on corruption, money laundering, organised crime, sale of citizenship and the Maltese government’s links to the Panama Papers. Following harassment and threats, she was murdered in a car bomb explosion on 16 October 2017. The outcry over the authorities’ handling of her murder investigation ultimately prompted the resignation of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. Critical of failings in the investigation, in December 2019, MEPs called on the European Commission to take action.

Contacts:
Daphne Caruana Galizia Journalism Prize secretariat
info@daphnejournalismprize.eu
Further information
The Daphne Caruana Galizia Journalism Prize

EU deplores Russia closure of NGOs

Brussels 11.04.2022 “The European Union deplores the decision of the Russian Ministry of Justice to revoke the registration of 15 widely recognised organisations, among them a large number of prominent European non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and foundations as well as international advocacy groups, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International” reads the statement by the spokesperson on the revocation of the registration of 15 NGOs in Russian Federation.

“Nothing in the activities of these organisations, focused on protecting citizen’s rights and freedoms, justifies such a step. With this ban, the Russian political leadership continues to deny the Russian population their freedom of expression and freedom of thought. This cynical move to silence public scrutiny seeks to cultivate intolerance to any opposing views and further reinforces Russia’s isolation”.

“It is yet another example of the ongoing internal repression that accompanies Russia’s unprovoked, unjustified and illegal military aggression against Ukraine”.

“The EU applauds NGOs, think tanks, independent media and individual journalists that defend democratic values and principles, the rule of law and universal freedoms while building bridges and strengthening relations between our people”.

Belarus 1000 political prisoners

Brussels 28.01.2021 Anna van Densky “The number of political prisoners in Belarus has now reached 1000, and continues to grow. This shameful milestone reflects ongoing crackdown of the Lukashenko (pictured) regime against his own population. In addition, many thousands of protestors have fled the country to avoid persecution” reads the Statement by the EEAS Spokesperson on the political prisoners in Belarus.

“In today’s Belarus, the space for democratic political opposition and free and independent media activities has been drastically closed off . The Lukashenko regime continues detaining and imprisoning people in appalling conditions, exposing them to ill-treatment and torture and have them condemned to long prison sentences in political trials conducted behind closed doors.

“Legally defending political prisoners has become dangerous, with more than 40 lawyers reported to have their licenses revoked.

“Belarus must adhere to its international commitments and obligations within the UN and OSCE. The EU reiterates its demand for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners. The EU will continue to work for justice for victims and accountability for perpetrators.

Dutch police use attack dogs

Brussels 02.01.2022 Riot police with batons and shields broke up a crowd of several thousand who had gathered in Amsterdam on Sunday, December 2, to protest against COVID-19 lockdown measures and ongoing vaccinations with six doses in view.

Public gatherings of more than two people are prohibited under restrictions in an effort to prevent the Omicron variant of the coronavirus overwhelming of the healthcare system, indicating that the previous measures of mass vaccination of the population were not effective.

At least 30 people were detained after scuffles, during which four officers were injured, police said in a statement. However there was no explanation why attack dogs were used against demonstrators.

Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema issued an emergency ordinance, instructing police to clear the central Museum Square, after the thousands of protesters defied a ban on public gatherings.

The Netherlands went into a lockdown abruptly on December 19, with the government ordering the closure of all restaurants, hairdressers, gyms, museums and other public places until at least January 14, with exception of the essential stores.

Under the new sanitary rules, only two people may meet outdoors, with an exception for burials, but no travel restrictions were imposed.

Persecution of Christians at rise

Brussels 25.12.2021 Anna Van Densky Global persecution of Christians has massively increased throughout the pandemic, according to various human rights monitor groups. Intolerance and massacre of Christians in countries like Nigeria or India has only led to more political outcry. Every day, 13 Christians worldwide are killed on grounds of their faith. And every day, 12 Christians are unjustly arrested or imprisoned, and another 5 are abducted.(Image: illustration).

The 2021 World Watch List (WWL) report, the latest annual accounting from Open Doors of the top 50 countries where Christians are the most persecuted for following the word of Jesus Christ.

However the process of the persecution of Christians has spread viral, and causing the UK to become one of the ‘most intolerant’ countries in Europe towards Christians. That’s the extraordinary claim of a report published this week by Observatory of Intolerance Against Christians in Europe (OIACE).

The report identifies the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Sweden as the top five countries driving what it describes as a “rising phenomenon” against Christians.

Last year, 45 nations scored high enough to register “very high” persecution levels on Open Doors’s 84-question matrix. This year, for the first time in 29 years of tracking, all 50 qualified—as did four more nations that fell just outside the cutoff.

Open Doors identified three main trends driving last year’s increase:
“COVID-19 acted as a catalyst for religious persecution through relief discrimination, forced conversion, and as justification for increasing surveillance and censorship.”
“Extremist attacks opportunistically spread further throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, from Nigeria and Cameroon to Burkina Faso, Mali, and beyond.”
“Chinese censorship systems continue to propagate and spread to emerging surveillance states.”

Open Doors has monitored Christian persecution worldwide since 1992. North Korea has ranked No. 1 for 20 years, since 2002 when the watch list began.

The cruel treatment of Christians minorities are common in countries such as Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Pakistan, Yemen, Iran, North Korea, China, and Nigeria, and they deserve serious political consideration. This year’s #RedWednesday campaign did a meaningful job of highlighting the persecution faced by millions of Christians, not least the Chrisitan girls and women living under the constant threat of abduction, sexual violence and forced conversion.

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