Category Archives: Human Rights

Puigdemont attends Strasbourg Plenary

In spite of the arrest warrant issued in Madrid, on January 13 Catalan independence leader Carles Puigdemont attended Plenary session in Strasbourg in his right of a Member of the European Parliament (MEP), due to immunity guaranteed by the status.
The former Catalan president has been elected to the European Parliament upon the political programme aiming at independence referendum for Catalonia, legally exiting the Kingdom of Spain.

Upon his arrival to the court of the Europarliament, Puigdemont called for an immediate release from a Spanish jail of Oriol Junqueras, the fellow Catalan MEP

“Mr.Junqueras should be here with us. He has the same rights,” Puigdemont said, backed by the group with posters “Free Junqueras.”

Puigdemont arrived together with the other Catalan MEP, Toni Comín.
Both politicians are wanted in Spain for their role for the 2017 independence referendum, considered ‘illegal” by Madrid. They have narrowly escaped the arrest and persecution in Spain, by fleeing to Belgium, where they continued their activities, struggling for the interests of their electorate.

In a statement made in four languages Catalan, Spanish, French and English, Puigdemont underlined the problem of Catalan protracted argument with Madrid is not a regional, but “European affaire“, because in spite of being the EU member state, Spain does not respect fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens. He also mentioned the extraordinary resources behind the attempts of Spain to prevent him to enter his MEP office. Puigdemont added that he feels no fear in France, because his MEP immunity is respected there. He expressed hope that Spanish judiciary will also respect the decision of the European Court of Justice ruling on 19 December 2019, clearly stating that Junqueras had parliamentary immunity as he was an elected MEP and should have been released from prison.

Junqueras is currently serving a 13-year prison sentence after being convicted in Madrid of sedition and misuse of funds by Spain Supreme Court for his engagement in organising the October 2017 referendum, considered “illegal“. Furthermore he was accused for the subsequent unilateral declaration of independence passed in the Catalan parliament. At the time of the events in 2017, Junqueras was deputy regional president, while Puigdemont was president and Toni Comín a minister in the regional government.

Two Kazakhs risk extradition to China

Kazakhstan should not forcibly return two Chinese citizens fleeing Xinjiang or prosecute them for illegal border crossing while their asylum claims are pending, according to Human Rights Watch.

On January 6, 2020, court hearings against the two ethnic Kazakhs, Kaster Musakhanuly and Murager Alimuly, on charges of illegal border crossing began in the eastern town of Zaysan. The hearing was adjourned after only two hours, although dozens of witnesses and supporters had traveled there to testify on their behalf, and the case was postponed to January 21.

If returned to China, the men would almost certainly face detention and a real risk of torture.

“The government should immediately drop charges of illegal border crossing, halt these proceedings, and guarantee that these men will not be sent back to China as long as their refugee claims are pending,” said Laura Mills, Europe and Central Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch.

“Kazakhstan can take this opportunity to demonstrate that, unlike in the past, it is a country that upholds its international legal obligations, respects refugee rights, and won’t return people to risk of torture.”

EU prepares Magnitsky Law

The human rights were high on the agenda of the EU foreign ministers gathering in Brussels for December Council.

The EU top diplomat Josep Borrell underlined that the issue of human rights remains a clear priority for Europeans and this trend will continue during his mandate. It is “very timely” to talk about it at eve of the International Human Rights Day, he added.

“The important thing is that, under the request of several Member States, we have agreed to launch the preparatory work for a global sanctions regime to address serious human rights violations, which will be the EU equivalent of the so-called Magnitsky Act of the United States. I was asked on this issue in my presentation at the Parliament last week and today we have decided, with strong consensus, to launch the preparatory work – and the European External Action Service will prepare the documentation for this – in order to prepare the equivalent of this Act. This will be a tangible step reaffirming the European Union’s global lead on human rights” the diplomat announced.

The Member States have also been informed about – and they have showed broad support for it – a new Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy that will be prepared by EEAS services for the next five years, Borrell explained. “The EU diplomacy will present the proposal early next year, a reference document on human rights in the world” he declared.

Answering questions of press during the conference, he added that there have been consensus on Magnitsky law already.

“Had there been an opposition from just one Member state, we could not be acting the way we have decided to act, because as you know, it requires unanimity in the Council. So there is a strong consensus”, Borrell ensured.

“Some Member States who were opposing have abandoned the opposition and joined the broader consensus. Others may still have some collateral questions and some concerns, but as Chair of the Council, I think it could be considered that [there was] consensus in order to launch the technical process of preparing [the legislative acts] to address [the matter] to the relevant bodies of the Council, in particular the working group on human rights and RELEX. We will prepare all the papers and we will launch the process.

“Well, it is important because we have some methods of this kind to deal with violations of another issue, cyber security, for example. And I think that to have a tool like this that gives across the board a method of reacting with an approval by the Council in general terms, gives us much more strength and much more capacity to react in front of serious human rights violations. We are talking about serious human rights violations. And many Parliamentarians where asking for that. And I put the question on the table of the Council of Ministers and there was enough consensus to go ahead.” 

https://twitter.com/billbrowder/status/1204349016844230656?s=21

Magnitsky Act is a bipartisan bill passed by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama in December 2012, aimed at punishment of Russian officials responsible for the death of Russian tax accountant Sergei Magnitsky (37) in a Moscow prison cell in 2009.There is a strong suspiction that Magnitsky was killed by the prison wards, refusting to accept the false accusations against him. Initially he was imprisoned after investigating a $230 million fraud of Russian tax officials, the crime was covered by prosection, twisting against Magnitsky.

Italy faces uninterrupted migrant flows

The ship Ocean Viking has docked in the Italian port of Messina, carrying 213 migrants collected at sea.The operation happened in parallel with the efforts of the other NGOs, also transporting groups of migrants to Italy from African coast. (Imqge: illustration).

A charity rescue NGO vessel brought 213 migrants to coast to Italy after being granted permission to dock in the port of Messina, motivating request by the poor weather conditions.
The migrants had been boarded by the Ocean Viking in three acts rescue operation.A pregnant woman with twins had already been evacuated from the ship by helicopter.

Taking into consideration the situation of the migrant flows to Italy, the government, long with Germany, France and Malta jointly applied to the European Commission to initiate the relocation of these migrants, according to the Italian Interior Ministry.

Italian authorities have also agreed to grant another NGO vessel – the Open Arms – access to a port to disembark 62 African migrants, the founder of the Spanish rescue mission said .

https://www.dw.com/en/key-eu-countries-agree-on-sea-migrant-redistribution-scheme/a-50549610

In spite of the seaosn rough conditions at sea, the flow of migrants from Africa has a steady growth.

“The NGOs orders and the Interior Ministry obeys: 62 immigrants land in Taranto and 78 others in Pozzallo. Government of incapable and calabraghe! With the ports open, more landings, more departures, more deaths at sea and more business for traffickers. Shame! #portichiusi” Matteo Salvini wrote in his Twitter micro blog.

After Lega leqder Matteo Salvini has left the government, the NGOs expericend a great releif, and dobouled their efforts to transport migrnats from Libyan coasts to Europe. According to the existing Dublin rules, the country which hosts the migrants first has full responsibility to provide for them in accordqnce with international obligations and standards.

Sentsov to receive Sakharov prize in Strasbourg

Ukrainian film director and human rights activist Oleg (43) will visit the European Parliament in Strasbourg on 26 November to receive in persona the 2018 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.

When Parliament’s Human rights prize was awarded last year, Sentsov was in prison in Russia serving 20 years, convicted of terrorism for setting fires to the doors of the offices of the ruling United Russia party in Crimea, and plotting to blow up a monument to Lenin. Sentsov became world famous due to 145 days hunger strike, which evoked a lot of sympathies, and reactions among public, supporting an international campaign for his release.

After serving five years he became one of thirty-five Ukrainian citizens released by Russia in exchange for Ukraine freeing an equal number of Russians.

EU calls Baku to release protestors

Dozens of people were detained on October 19 in Baku, Azerbaijan, following their attempt to rally peacefully.

Excessive and unprovoked force was reportedly used to disperse the crowds and arrest participants. Such incidents need to be investigated. We equally call on the authorities to release peaceful protesters remaining in detention”  says the Statement by the Spokesperson on the latest developments in Azerbaijan.

*Freedom of assembly is a fundamental human right and we expect Azerbaijan to ensure that it can be fully exercised, in line with the country’s international obligations.*

Police in Azerbaijan on Saturday detained scores of protesters, including the leader of the main opposition Popular Front, at the start of a planned rally against low salaries, corruption and a lack of democracy in the energy-rich ex-Soviet state. 

The protesters who attempted to rally in the streets of the capital had put forward demands of higher salaries for state employees and fair and independent elections. The human rights groups have been criticising Azerbaijan for a long time for a poor fundamental rights records. 

Popular Front leader Ali Kerimli said that some 50 people, mostly organizers of Saturday’s unauthorized rally, had already been detained earlier in the week, exact numbers of arrested are unknown.

Incumbent President Ilham Aliyev rules the country after death of his farther – the first President of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev (1993-2003) who previously was the First secretary of the Communist party of Soviet Republic (1969-1982), and member of the Politburo of the USSR. The spouse of the President AlieyvMehriban – is his first Vice-President of Azerbajan. (Image above: President and First Vice-President of Azerbaijan).

‘Ocean Viking’ migrants enter EU

The Ocean Viking vessel which has been navigating in the Mediterranean for fortnight with migrants from Libyan coast on board will dock in Malta after six EU countries reached an agreement, France‘s interior minister said on August 23.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said France would receive 150 out of the 356 migrants from board of the Norwegian-flagged ship. He added Germany, Portugal, Romania, Luxembourg and Ireland were taking part in the agreement.

Ocean Viking, was stranded at sea for fortnight awaiting port access after being denied entry by Malta and requests to Italy did not receive any response.

Castaner announces the arrival of 150 migrants from the #OceanViking boat. He is Minister of the Interior: his duty is to protect our borders, not to help the illegals to cross them!” wrote Nicals Bay (France, RN), Member of European Parliament in his Twitter micro blog.

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