Category Archives: Human Rights

MEPs support Magnitsky Act

Members of European Parliament (MEPs) backed a resolution calling for European Union for a new wave of human rights sanctions to punish state and non-state actors responsible for gross violations of human rights.

 

In a resolution adopted on March 14, the Europarliament demands a new sanctions regime to be established at EU level to impose asset freezes and visa bans on individuals involved in grave human rights violations. The list should include state and non-state actors who have contributed, physically, financially or through acts of systemic corruption, to such abuse and crimes, worldwide.

MEPs state that the decision to list and remove from the list individuals concerned should be based on clear, transparent and specific criteria, directly linked with the crime committed, in order to guarantee a thorough judicial review and redress rights. They also urge EU members to come up with a mechanism to enforce sanctions and have a European oversight, since over the past months, there have also been cases in which European companies and countries have violated EU sanctions.

The new sanctions regime would strengthen the EU’s role as a global human rights actor and should symbolically carry the name of Sergei Magnitsky, MEPs say. Mr Magnitsky was a Russian tax expert investigating corruption who perished in Moscow prison in 2009, having endured inhumane conditions and torture. Similar legislative frameworks are already in place in the United States, Canada, and several EU countries, namely in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the United Kingdom.

European Parliament has also repeatedly asked for a mechanism for sanctions to be introduced to punish individual culprits of human rights atrocities, and the proposal is now gaining momentum, after the Dutch Government initiated a discussion on it among EU member states in November last year. The proposal is currently being considered, at working group level, in the Council.

MEPs finally welcome the proposal made by the President of the Commission to move beyond unanimity voting, in Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) areas in Council decision-making. In this context, they urge EU member states to adopt this new sanctions instrument so that a qualified majority in the Council may adopt human rights sanctions.

The sanctions regime, under discussion, is encouraged by the US Magnitsky Act, which was signed by President Barack Obama in December 2012.

 

#8March: Europarl employees protest against inequality

#InternationalWomenDay European Parliament staff went on strike, protesting against inequality in the European parliament. In 60 years only two women reached the positions of speaker, however they both were elected last millennium.

at the European Parliament main entrance at Simone Veil Agora: “We demand that women no longer have to bear the consequences of policies that don’t respect us”. The organisers of the event are the only gender-balanced group in the European Parliament. “We stand up for workers, environment, feminism, peace & human rights. Another Europe is possible!” says the European United Left/Nordic Green Left group, on its Twitter micro blog page.

International Women’s Day

“Europe ranks among the safest and most equal places for girls and women in the world”, says the statement of the European Commission issued on the occasion of the 8th of March International Women’s Day.

“…Also in Europe women are still facing challenges, inequalities and threats in their everyday lives: abuses and harassment, lower wages, fewer job and career opportunities. And that is unacceptable. […] Many of the remaining inequalities are linked to the place of women at work. The EU’s new rules on Work-Life Balance will contribute to getting more women at work by giving families a real choice on how to organise their professional and private life. […] Women remain underrepresented in politics. In the upcoming European elections, we would like to see more women across the EU not only voting, but standing and succeeding as candidates.

“The Commission also calls for more women to be represented in the highest level of all EU institutions, including as Commissioners. This Commission has been leading by example: today we have 9 female Commissioners and women account for almost 40% of our managers.

“…Gender equality is also at the core of our continuous engagement with partner countries worldwide. […] We are committed to giving all women and girls equal access to health services, education and economic empowerment, and the opportunities to shape their own future.”

The Commission has also published its 2019 report on equality between women and men in the EU, under the responsibility of First Vice-President Timmermans and Commissioner Jourová. n in law enforcement. For more information on the Commission’s action in the field of gender equality, click here. Eurostat data on the gender employment gap is available here, on women in managerial positions here, and statistics on women in national parliaments and governments here.

MEP: Catalan trials reminiscent of comrade Stalin ‘justice’

The Calalan trials in Madrid are reminiscent of ‘Vishinky justice’  of comrade Stalin style dealing with his political opponents“, said Indrek Tarand, Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from Estonia, while commenting on the accusations of the Catalan politicians. MEP is definite about the status of all the Catalans accused at High Court in Madrid as ‘prisoners of conscious“, and he also sees the sinister parallels between Spain’s political system oppressive methods and the extinct USSR.

“In democracy, debating and talking about everything is normal and logical. In democracy, voting is not a crime. We have made it very clear” said the former speaker of the Catalan parliament, Carme Forcadell to the judges in Spain’s Supreme Court in Madrid.

Spain’s public prosecutor has requested prison 17 years of sentence for her. Forcadell, is the first of among  accused of rebellion Catalan politicians  to take her case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg.

Her lawyers have already presented her appeal to ECHR arguing  the gross disproportion of her pre-trial detention. Forcadell has been under this restriction since 23rd March 2018.

Before the arrest Forcadell used to be the president of the Catalan parliament when lawmakers passed referendum laws and voted on the declaration of independence, perceived as a “rebellion” by Madrid.

In her testimonyForcadell underlined that it was not within her competences to assess the “constitutionality” of parliamentary proposals, and said that “censorship can’t be allowed in parliament.” Former speaker Forcadell denied that the declaration of independence actually passed, as it was included in the preamble of a resolution and was therefore just a “political statement.

The first phase of the Catalan independence trial is completed, after 12 politicians and activists charged for calling a referendum and declaring independence in 2017 gave their testimony.

The accused, including former members of the Catalan government, defended themselves against accusations such as violent rebellion, sedition, misuse of public funds, and disobedience.

 

 

Catalan trial aggravates crisis

Spain riot police clashed with pro-independence Catalan protesters in Barcelona on while some activists burned tires and blocked highways across northeast of the country as part of a day of protests against the trial of 12 politicians.

A total of 28 people, including twelve police officers, were wounded and four people were arrested, police informed.

In spite of the rising tensions in Barcelona  the European Commissioner on Human Rights Frans Timmermans prefers to keep silence, insisting the trail is the issue for Spanish justice.

Gomes MEP on “political prisoners” in Spain

Ana GOMES MEP (Portugal, S&D) raises concerns about the policy of Pedro Sanchez government, dealing with the Catalan independence issue as if it is a legal problem, instead of acknowledging its political nature. Gomes promotes dialogue between Madrid and Barcelona, breaking the deadlock through talks. She is also concerned about the methods of repressing of Catalan politicians, reminiscent of times of General Franco regime. “Yes, I have to acknowledge it, there are political prisoners in Spain“, Gomessaid. She criticises the position of the Human rights Commissioner Frans Timmermans, who prefers to ignore the existence of political prisoners in SpainGomes questions the freedom of press in Spain, and inquires if there is a practice of self-censorship among mass media journalists in covering Catalan issue. Among the prisoners is the former colleague of Ana Gomes – MEP Raül Romeva i Rueda appointed later the Minister for External and Institutional Relations of Catalonia.

Strasbourg judges order Italy to pay Knox

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR)  has ruled that Italy the right to defence of Amanda Knox was violated when she was questioned in November 2007 in relation to the brutal murder of Meredith Kercher (21), the British flat-mate in Perugia (Italy). It ordered the Italian State to pay a total of over €18,000 in damages and legal costs.

However the Court made it clear that it did not find any evidence corresponding to Ms.Knox complaint she had been subjected to mistreatment during the procedures.
The Court took the view that the Italian Government had not succeeded in showing that the restriction of Ms Knox’s access to a lawyer, at the police interview of 6 November 2007 at 5.45 a.m. – when there was a criminal charge against her – had not irreparably undermined the fairness of the proceedings as a whole,” a statement read.

The EHRC verdict has highly symbolical value for the complainant, claiming the innocence, although the sum is considered insignificant for Ms.Knox, who has collected over the years from interviews, magazine photo spreads, book deal, fundraisers and donations approximately $15 million, not including private donations which are unreported. One million donation was received from Donald Trump to “cover her legal costs”.

Ms Knox and her boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, who were imprisoned shortly after the gruesome crime, were found guilty of the murder and sexual assault of Ms Kercher in 2009, but were acquitted at a second trial in 2011, and Ms Knox left Italy for home in Seattle, to continue the procedures against Italian state, with different claims on breaches of procedures.

Mishandling evidence or dropping something, or not wearing gloves may cause difficulties, but it does not mean that Amanda Knox didn’t take part in the murder.  Her own words show that she did”, writes Peter Hyatt, criminologist, Deception Detection Instructor, referring to her initial four pages statement made for Perugia police.

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