Category Archives: Human Rights

Review: RULE Of LAW culture in EU

Brussels, 30 September 2020 The European Commission has today published the first EU-wide report on the rule of law. Today’s report includes input from every Member State and covers both positive and negative developments across the EU. It shows that many Member States have high rule of law standards, but important challenges to the rule of law exist in the EU. It also reflects relevant developments stemming from the emergency measures taken by Member States due to the coronavirus crisis. The report covers four main pillars with a strong bearing on the rule of law: national justice systems, anti-corruption frameworks, media pluralism and freedom, and other institutional issues related to the checks and balances essential to an effective system of democratic governance.

The aim of the new Rule of Law Report is to enlarge the existing EU toolbox with a new preventive tool and kick-start an inclusive debate and rule of law culture across the EU. It should help all Member States examine how challenges can be addressed, how they can learn from each other’s experiences, and show how the rule of law can be further strengthened in full respect of national constitutional systems and traditions.

“The rule of law and our shared values are the foundation of our societies. They are part of our common identity as Europeans. The rule of law protects people from the rule of the powerful. While we have very high rule of law standards in the EU, we also have various challenges. The European Commission will continue working with the national authorities to find solutions, to guarantee people’s everyday rights and freedoms,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.

“Today we are filling an important gap in our rule of law toolbox. The new report for the first time looks at all Member States equally to identify rule of law trends and help to prevent serious problems from arising. Each citizen deserves to have access to independent judges, to benefit from free and pluralistic media and to trust that their fundamental rights are respected. Only then, can we call ourselves a true Union of democracies,” Vice-President for Values and Transparency, Věra Jourová, said.

“The new Rule of Law Report is the start of an open and regular dialogue with every Member State, a way in which we can share good practices and pre-empt challenges before they become entrenched. The goal is to instil a real rule of law culture across the European Union, and trigger a genuine debate at national and EU level,” Commissioner for Justice and Consumers, Didier Reynders, said.

Hungary official refused word by German press

Hungary State Secretary Zoltán Kovács’s response to Der Tagesspiegel – has been refused the publication of his response ot Der Tagesspiegel, and started to share it via social media:
“In an article published last week in German daily Der Tagesspiegel entitled “Why nationalism doesn’t help against the pandemic,” Judith Langowski and Jonas Bickelmann claim that instead of organizing an effective defense against the coronavirus, Prime Minister Orbán and his government are using the virus to achieve ideological goals.” (Image: illustration).

I asked for an opportunity to respond but was refused with the reply that “It will not be possible at this time, neither in the online, nor the print edition.” Langowski did also write that she would “gladly” talk to me the next time they cover the topic. How generous!”

“In an article published last week in German daily Der Tagesspiegel entitled “Why nationalism doesn’t help against the pandemic,” Judith Langowski and Jonas Bickelmann claim that instead of organizing an effective defense against the coronavirus, Prime Minister Orbán and his government are using the virus to achieve ideological goals.

I asked for an opportunity to respond but was refused with the reply that “It will not be possible at this time, neither in the online, nor the print edition.” Langowski did also write that she would “gladly” talk to me the next time they cover the topic. How generous!

In their most recent piece, the authors recall that in late March, the Hungarian Parliament passed a piece of legislation, the so-called “Coronavirus Protection Act,” that allowed the government to “issue decrees indefinitely”; and while this law had already been lifted by the end of June, Tagesspiegel notes that it could be reintroduced “very easily.”

But there’s really no need to get into the details; we all know what these critics are trying to say: Instead of saving human lives, PM Orbán’s government allegedly harnessed the pandemic for political gains. This is not just overly biased, but also completely wrong.

Here are the facts:

This past spring, numerous mainstream, liberal news outlets were sounding the alarm over the “erosion of [Hungarian] democracy” (The Independent) and claiming that PM Viktor Orbán would supposedly “rule by decree, alone and unchallenged” (The Guardian).

These fears, however, were proven to be groundless.

Contrary to what these biased sources would have had you believe, the Hungarian government never received “unlimited powers.” The special powers the government did receive could be exercised only to prevent, treat, eradicate and remedy the harmful effects of the coronavirus. Similarly, the extraordinary measures were never intended to last “indefinitely”; they were meant to expire with the threat or be lifted by the National Assembly. And this is exactly what happened at the end of May, when the government proposed to hand back the extraordinary powers it had received under the state of emergency, which had been put into effect solely to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Today, we know that the Coronavirus Protection Act has, in fact, served the country well. It enabled the government to take swift action, closing borders, enacting movement restrictions, and equipping our national healthcare system and healthcare providers with the equipment necessary to treat all those who required care — all of which served to slow down the spread of the disease. Thanks to this legislative package, with 39.04 confirmed cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 inhabitants by early June, Hungary ranked among the top performers in Europe in terms of managing the pandemic. As Prime Minister Orbán has recently said on several occasions: In managing the first wave of the epidemic, Hungary scored among the top 20-25 countries globally.

Yes, it may be true that the number of active coronavirus cases and, sadly, the number of deaths have been climbing during the last few weeks in Hungary, but this is not due to any “populist strategy.” In fact, in a national consultation survey that ended on August 31, we collected the views of more than 1.7 million Hungarians. Based on this vast data, the Hungarian government concluded that while the defense against the coronavirus is a top priority for our citizens, we must simultaneously keep the country functioning.

This is why, in the middle of the second wave, we cannot adopt the same, strict restrictions that proved so successful during the first wave of the crisis. But don’t worry, Hungary will be fine. We have a war plan in place for managing the second wave of the crisis and our healthcare system has been properly prepared. We have all the necessary equipment, hospital beds, ventilators and healthcare professionals we need.

In Prime Minister Orbán’s own words: “Together we will succeed in defeating the second wave of the pandemic”.

Crimea water supply prospects

The Head of Crimea, Sergey Aksenov, claims that the situation with the “water shortage” in Simferopol will be resolved in March 2021 thanks to new wells. As reported by “Interfax”, he made this announcement at a meeting of the operational headquarters for the city’s water supply. The Human Right to Water and Sanitation (HRWAS) was recognised as a “human right” by the United Nations General Assembly on 28 July 2010.

“We are drilling three wells, which can provide additional 10 thousand cubic meters per day now, and another 40 thousand cubic meters per day from three underground water intakes. This will be January-February 2021. We will definitely provide the water supply system for Simferopol … Starting point when our situation should be defused, even if there will be no precipitation, this is approximately March 2021, “Aksenov has underlined.

According to the Head of Crimea, underground sources will be used before the construction of the desalination station. “At underground sources, including at a certain stage, we will hold out until technologies are built,” Aksenov said.

As for the desalination plant, it “is being developed by the Ministry of Industry and Trade on behalf of the president, and within the next two weeks the federal government will propose a solution related to the construction of a desalination plant in the city of Simferopol. The plant will be built in the village of Nikolaevka, on the seashore … no one has ever implemented projects. In fact, the decision to be made here will be unique, “Aksenov said at a meeting of the operational headquarters on the issue of water supply to Crimea on Friday.

As reported, water scarcity is observed in Crimea in 2019 and 2020 and may, according to forecasts, last in 2021.

Rigid water supply schedules by the hour were introduced in August this year in Simferopol and 39 other settlements nearby. Residents massively complain in social networks about the poor pressure of water or no water at all, as well as the color – from red to black. From September 23, the water began to be turned off at night in the resort Alushta in the south of the peninsula.

According to Rosvodresursy, water losses in the networks in Simferopol exceed 50%, in some places they reach 80%, the department considers such a situation unacceptable in a water-deficient region.

The North Crimean Canal, intended to supply the arid zones of Crimea and agricultural lands with Dnieper waters, was blocked by Ukraine for the peninsula, disagreeing with its status after the referendum (2014). The Permanent Commission on International Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights of the Presidential Council for the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights (HRC) asks the UN and the Council of Europe to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe in Crimea, complained about Ukraine.

Kiev says that the water from the Dnieper will return through the canal to Crimea only in the event of “de-occupation of the peninsula.”

In the meantime, the main hope of the Russian authorities in Crimea is precipitation, which should fill the reservoirs and solve the problem of water shortage on the peninsula. To do this, officials in cooperation with Roshydromet are planning to induce artificial precipitation. The first such experiments are promised to be implemented by the end of 2020.

Navalny leaves Charité hospital

Berlin’s Charite hospital announced that the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been discharged, and that have added an optimistic prognostics of a possibility of complete recovery. Several military laboratory results confirmed Navalny had been poisoned with a powerful nerve agent “Novichok”. (Picture above: Navalny courtesy Instagram).

Alexei Navalny left the Berlin’s Charite hospital on September 22 after 32 days of treatment for “severe poisoning,” the hospital said in a statement released next day.

“Based on the patient’s progress and current condition, the treating physicians believe that complete recovery is possible. However, it remains too early to gauge the potential long-term effects,” the statement said.

Navalny shared a picture of himself on a park bench after his discharge, and said he plans to undergo physical therapy every day at a rehabilitation centre to fully regain his motor skills, including the full use of his left hand.

#SOTEU: Leyen on FOREIGN POLICY

On 16 September, the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, in her first State of the Union speech, shared her vision for a stronger Europe and a better world after the coronavirus pandemic. Every year in September, the President of the European Commission delivers the State of the Union address before the European Parliament, Strasbourg. However this year the event took place in Brussels due to the coronavirus restrictions in France. Part of the speech, although significantly reduced, was devoted to foreign policy and human rights.

Be it in Hong Kong, Moscow or Minsk: Europe must take a clear and swift position. I want to say it loud and clear: the European Union is on the side of the people of Belarus. We have all been moved by the immense courage of those peacefully gathering in Independence Square or taking part in the fearless women’s march” president von der Leyen said.

“The elections that brought them into the street were neither free nor fair. And the brutal response by the government ever since has been shameful.The people of Belarus must be free to decide their own future for themselves. They are not pieces on someone else’s chess board.

“To those that advocate closer ties with Russia, I say that the poisoning of Alexei Navalny with an advanced chemical agent is not a one off. We have seen the pattern in Georgia and Ukraine, Syria and Salisbury – and in election meddling around the world. This pattern is not changing – and no pipeline will change that.
Turkey is and will always be an important neighbour. But while we are close together on the map, the distance between us appears to be growing. Yes, Turkey is in a troubled neighbourhood. And yes, it is hosting millions of refugees, for which we support them with considerable funding. But none of this is justification for attempts to intimidate its neighbours.

“Our Member States, Cyprus and Greece, can always count on Europe’s full solidarity on protecting their legitimate sovereignty rights.

“De-escalation in the Eastern Mediterranean is in our mutual interest. The return of exploratory vessels to Turkish ports in the past few days is a positive step in this direction. This is necessary to create the much needed space for dialogue. Refraining from unilateral actions and resuming talks in genuine good faith is the only path forward. The only path to stability and lasting solutions”.

EU condemns Belarus arbitrary detentions

“We strongly condemn the unabating arbitrary and unexplained arrests and detentions on political grounds in Belarus that have been taking place since the start of the pre-presidential election campaign. Most recently, Maria Kalesnikova, Andrei Yahorau, Irina Sukhiy, Anton Radniankou, and Ivan Krautsou have all been targeted, while 633 people were detained following Sunday’s peaceful Unity March. It is clear that the State authorities in Belarus continue to intimidate or allow intimidation of its citizens in an increasingly lawless way and crudely violate both their own domestic laws and international obligations” reads the statement by the head of the EU diplomacy Josep Borrell on arbitrary and unexplained arrests and detentions on political grounds in Belarus.

“The EU expects the Belarusian authorities to ensure the immediate release of all detained on political grounds before and after the falsified 9 August presidential elections.

“Civil society and actors engaged in discussions on the future of Belarus, including members of the Coordination Council, must be protected from intimidation, forced exile, arbitrary arrest and violence. The rule of law and justice must prevail and a thorough and transparent investigation into all alleged abuses must take place, in order to hold those responsible to account.

“We expect the authorities to stop political persecution and engage in an inclusive national dialogue, in full respect of the Belarusian people’s democratic and fundamental rights.

“The EU will impose sanctions on individuals responsible for violence, repression and falsification of election results”.

Navalny attacked with Novichok

German government made an announcement on September 2 that Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent, the same type of chemical used in Britain against ex-double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. The discovery raised tensions between Berlin and Moscow.

Tests carried out by the German military experts on Navalny, who is being treated in a Berlin hospital Chairité, have provided “unequivocal evidence of a chemical nerve agent from the Novichok family,” German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement.

“It is a shocking event that Alexei Navalny has become the victim of an attack with a chemical nerve agent in Russia.

“The government condemns this attack in the strongest terms. The Russian government is urgently requested to provide clarifications over the incident,” he added.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Germany had called in Russia’s ambassador to demand answers on the case.

Navalny, 44, fell ill after boarding a plane in Siberia last month. The pilots took a decision of an urgent landing to deliver him with ambulance to a local hospital in Omsk. Navalny received the first aid at the Omsk hospital near airport, before being flown to Berlin for treatment.

The nerve agent Novichok is a military-grade poison that was developed by the Soviet government towards the end of the Cold War and can be deployed in an ultra-fine powder, liquid or vapour.

The Charite hospital last week reported “some improvement” in Navalny’s condition but he nevertheless remains in a medically induced coma and on a ventilator.

The severity of the poisoning meant that it was too early to determine potential long-term effects, the hospital warned.

Charite doctors said they believed the anti-corruption campaigner was poisoned with a substance that inhibits the cholinesterase enzyme, a feature of nerve agents.

AMENDED:

EU reacts on attack on Russian opposition blogger

The attack on Russian opposition blogger Yegor Zhukov, 22, did not pass unnoticed by the European diplomacy: «We wish Mister Zhukov a speedy recovery, and expect the reponsible for this brutal and coward attack will be brought to justice» the European External Action Service spokesperson said during the daily conference with Brussels press corps.
He added that on many occassion the EU proposed the resumption of the intrrupted human righs dialog, however it was rejected by the Russian counterparts.

On Sunday evening, August 30, Russian opposition blogger Yegor Zhukov has been attacked and severly beaten by two unknown by him individuals. His supporters posted a photo on Facebook of his bloodied and swollen face, later he was trasported to a hosptial to examin his head injuries. The attack happened near his home.

Shortly before the violent incident Zhukov informed via his YouTube channel that he had been rejected for a master’s course on cinematography at Moscow’s prestigious Higher School of Economics, after initially being accepted for it. He linked that rejection to this political activity.

Separately, Mr Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, said he was against linking the attack on Zhukov to the suspected poisoning of Russia’s most famous campaigner against President Vladimir Putin, the investigative blogger Alexei Navalny.

“This is a handsome guy Yegor Zhukov, a journalist of Echo.
He was beaten in front of his own entrance. Hardly by mistake. Now, apparently, opposition representatives can be poisoned, beaten, tortured. It is not yet allowed to burn on bonfires, I wonder?” Wrties on his Twitter Russian opposition politician Gennady Goudkov.

The first blow came from behind, to the back of the head, after which Yegor fell and they have beaten him mostly on the ground and aimed at the head, for 20-30 seconds. There are practically no injuries on other parts of the body, and the head and face are broken”, Yegor Zhukov lawyer Murad Musaev said. “The police officers took up this case quite actively and yesterday, practically all night long, various operational and investigative actions were carried out. We hope that the subject of a criminal investigation in this case will be not only yesterday’s attack, but also the attempted attack on July 24 this year,” he added.

EU expects Belarus to release journalists

«Belarus: the EU expects from authorities the immediate and unconditional release of detained journalists, along with ALL peaceful protesters. Let media do their jobs without intimidation. A FreePress is crucial to the democracy demanded by the people of Belarusé» the European External Action Service spokesperson wrote on his Twitter micro blog. (Image above: social media).

Belarusian police detained at least 20 journalists planning to cover a protest in central Minsk on August 27 and confiscated their telephones and identity documents, and other filming equipment Reuters news agency reported.

The interior ministry later on the same day said the journalists had been driven to a police station for officers to check if they had valid accreditation allowing them to exercise their profession.

The authorities explained that all those with official accreditation would be released.

There were numerious reports about the detention of press by riot police, however so far the situation of jounralists remains unclear.

Navalny hospitalised in Berlin

The operaiton of arilifing of Russian dissdent Alexey Navalny from Omsk was carried out as planned and a special medical planne has landed in Belrin Airport in the morning on Saturday, 22 august. The patient has been transported to the Charité hospital in Belrin as agreed previously with his wife Yulia, who accompanied him on the trip.

Rerportedly Alexei Navalny has been still in a coma after a suspected poisoning.

Navalny’s spokeswoman and a representative of the NGO that arranged the flight confirmed that the plane had landed.

“Navalny is in Berlin,” Jaka Bizilj, of the German organization Cinema For Peace, told The Associated Press.

Navalny, a 44-year-old politician and corruption investigator who is one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s fiercest critics, was admitted to an intensive care unit in the Siberian city of Omsk after the urgent landing of the plane on the caused by his dramtic collapse.

His supporters believe that tea he drank was laced with poison — and that the Kremlin is behind both his illness and the delay in transferring him to a top German hospital.

Navalny team claimed that he was kept hostage in the Omsk hospital to gain time for decomposing of the toxic agent, which was used to poison him.

The ban on the transportation of Navalny is needed only to gain time and wait until the poison in his body can no longer be traced. Moreover, every hour of delay creates a critical threat to his life” Navalny spokesperson Kira Yarmysh wrote.

The only purpose of retention of Navalny in Omsk hospital is in “décomposition of poison“, making it untraceable Lubov Sobol, the lawyer of Navalny anti-corruption Fund, tweeted.

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