Tag Archives: Human Rights

Mélenchon: Assange French citizenship

Brussels 19.06.2022 Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of France’s left coalition NUPES: “If I’m Prime Minister on Monday, Julian will be a naturalised French citizen and we will ask for him to be sent to us. Mr. Assange should be decorated for his services to the French people.”

While the UK Home Secretary Prity Patel approved the extradition of the WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange to the US, France’s far-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon promises grant him French nationality if he’s appointed Prime minister.

The British Home Secretary Priti Patel on Friday, Juin 17, approved the extradition of WikiLeaks founder and whistleblower Julian Assange to the U.S.

Last December, the U.K. The High Court in London ruled that Assange could be extradited from Britain to the U.S. to face espionage charges. This week the Home Office has signed the extradition order for Assange, which means that he could be sentenced for 175 in the State of Virginia, and as political prisoner vanish forever behind the barbed wire in “gulag”.

In a statement, a Home Office spokesperson said: “In this case, the UK courts have not found that it would be oppressive, unjust or an abuse of process to extradite Mr Assange. Nor have they found that extradition would be incompatible with his human rights, including his right to a fair trial and to freedom of expression, and that whilst in the US he will be treated appropriately, including in relation to his health.”

EU diplomacy office vandalised

Brussels 23.01.2022 Belgian police resorted to firing powerful water cannons and using tear gas to disperse mass demonstration in Brussels against the European sanitary strategy earlier today.

The protest gathered up to 50,000 people, according to police, and 100,000 according to the organisers, demonstrating in the capital of the European Union, including many who had travelled from France, Germany, The Netherlands, and other European countries to take part in the event.

Protesters chanted slogan ‘Liberty!’ as they marched through the streets of Brussels, by the end of the march a number of incidents caused violent clashes with police, while videos emerged of black-clad protesters attacking a building used by the European Union’s diplomatic service, hurling projectiles at its entrance and smashing windows. The EU top diplomat Josep Borrell posted a photo on his Twitter micro blog, demonstrating the damages to glass at the facade of the building. The head of the European diplomacy “strongly condemned” the “senseless destruction and violence” at the manifestation in Brussels today, including actions against the EEAS premises. He also thanked the federal police for their service.

White-helmeted police riot officers later sought to disperse protesters, who ignored instructions broadcast over loudspeakers, and drones, that the demonstration has ended and that they should leave.

Police water cannons fired powerful jets at protesters, while thick clouds of smoke and snaking trails of tear gas filled the air.

Brussels police said 70 people were detained and three officers and 12 demonstrators required hospital treatment.

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.

European Parliament December agenda

Brussels 11.12.2021 The European Parliament will award the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, discuss the pandemic situation and gender equality in the EU in December plenary in Strasbourg.

On Wednesday, December 15, the Parliament will award the 2021 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to the imprisoned Russian opposition leader and anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny. The prize will be received by his daughter Daria.

Parliament Vice-President Heidi Hautala announced the 2021 laureate in the Strasbourg plenary chamber on Wednesday afternoon, following an earlier decision by the Conference of Presidents (President and political group leaders).

Parliament President David Sassoli said: “The European Parliament has chosen Alexei Navalny as the winner of this year’s Sakharov Prize. He has campaigned consistently against the corruption of Vladimir Putin’s regime, and through his social media accounts and political campaigns, Navalny has helped expose abuses and mobilise the support of millions of people across Russia. For this, he was poisoned and thrown in jail.”

Gender Equality and Gender-based cyber violence
On Monday, December 13, MEPs will debate two reports addressing gender equality and gender-based violence. The first report proposes measures for combatting increased gender-based harassment in cyberspace. The second report calls on member states to remove existing inequalities between men and women in the EU and make sure women are treated equally. MEPs will vote on both reports on Wednesday.

European Year of Youth
MEPs will vote on Tuesday, December 14, to mark 2022 as the European Year of Youth. This initiative takes into account the difficult situation of young people during the pandemic, which affects their education, employment, social life, mental health and wellbeing.

Covid-19
On Wednesday, December 15, in the morning, in view of the upcoming EU Summit on 16-17 December, MEPs will debate the coordination of measures to contain the Covid-19 pandemic and the spread of new virus variants in Europe. Later the same day the MEPs, the Commission and the Council, will discuss the implementation of national recovery plans, which are a key part of the EU response to the pandemic.

Discrimination of EU companies on foreign procurement markets
The proposed International Procurement Instrument (IPI) introduces measures to limit the access of non-EU companies’ to the open EU public procurement market if their governments do not offer similar access to public tenders for EU companies. MEPs will vote on their position on Tuesday, which will form Parliament’s mandate for further negotiations.

Russia, Ukraine and the dissolution of the Soviet Union
MEPs will debate the Russian military build-up along the Ukrainian border with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Tuesday afternoon and will vote on a resolution on Thursday.

The 30th anniversary of the dissolution of the Soviet Union will be marked with statements from President Sassoli and political groups on Monday afternoon.

Among the other highlights of the agenda in Strasbourg are the following:
Address by the President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo
Situation at the EU-Belarus border
EU aid for Croatia after earthquakes, and for dismissed workers in Spain and Italy
Weapons of Mass Destruction
Rule of law and media freedom in Slovenia
Possible EU ban on the use of wild animals by circuses

Threats to fundamental rights in Poland.

Swiss referendum on COVID19 law

Brussels 28.11.2021 Swiss vote on COVID-19 law amid steep surge in infections in Confederation. Voters casting ballots in the referendum will decide whether Switzerland should impose strict sanitary restrictions.
Swiss voters are having an opportunity to express their opinion on legislation to impose the use of a COVID-19 certificate QR-codes that allow only people who have been vaccinated, recovered, or tested negative attend public events and gatherings.

The vote on the Swiss COVID-19 law, which has unlocked billions of Swiss francs in aid for workers and businesses hit by the pandemic, comes as the Confederation amid a steep rise in coronavirus cases.

The Swiss federal government, unlike others, has not responded with new restrictions, awaiting free hand from the people to move on imposing restrictions. Analysts are united in their opinion, explaining this atypical for Europe situation by the growing opposition to its anti-COVID-19 policies before they face Sunday’s approval at the ballot box.

Polls suggest a solid majority of Swiss, who are vaccinated will approve the measure, and after the referendum with the cart blanche from the citizens of the Confederatio the government will move along the other nations in Europe, imposing QR codes and other strict measures, discriminating unvaccinated population in name of the health protection.

A group called “Friends of the Constitution” filed a referendum against the Covid-19 Act, saying the legislation gives the authorities too much political power, “deprives people of their rights”, and is “useless and dangerous”.

However, previously on June 13th, 60.2% of voters endorsed the law, which granted the federal government broad powers to manage the pandemic — including the ability to curtail public life by imposing various bans and restrictions including the Certificate with the QR-code — as well as the ensuing economic crisis, especially in regards to various forms of financial aid for businesses and individuals.

The use of the Covid-19 certificate in Switzerland is now limited to statutes related to the coronavirus vaccination, however, as the Re-Check research showed, powerful commercial and government players are eager to transform this device into a digital identity wallet (e-ID). The Re-Check survey shows that this shift is underway, and induces a profound change of paradigm which calls for an urgent social debate. Unfortunately, it is stifled by the regime established in the name of the crisis, the group underlined. Finally, an exclusive from Re-Check shows that the Swiss authorities do not quite manage the sensitive data of COVID certificates as they claim.

In the summer of 2021, many industrialised and emerging countries introduced a Covid-19 certificate system. Depending on the country, this device is also called health pass, green pass, health pass or vaccine passport. Equipped with a QR code, it is reserved for people who have received a Covid-19 vaccine, people who have recovered from a SARS-Cov-2 infection, and people who have tested negative for SARS-CoV- 2.

Re-Check then published “Democracy in pandemic mode: the strange case of the COVID certificate”. Almost six months later, they have returned to this theme with a series in three episodes. Its objective: to explore in detail the issues linked to these certificates with researchers specialising in the critical analysis of surveillance and technologies, but also to highlight the ghost-management systems that certain interest groups have developed to advance an agenda where the Covid-19 certificate plays a key role.

Cyprus blocks EU anti-Lukashenko sanctions

Cyprus vetoed attempts by the EU member-states to impose sanctions against some 40 Belarusian officials, including incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko.

The measures were being considered in response to the sham election that saw Lukashenko elected to a sixth term in office, and the Minsk government’s tough response to protesters who dispute the result.

Cyprus has demanded the sanctions against President Recep Tayip Erdogan to be applied first, due to a dispute over gas drilling in the eastern Mediterranean.

The chief of the EU diplomacy Josep Borrell vowed during the press-conference following the foreign affairs Council to reach unanimity by the next meeting. He added, that it is also his personal commitment.

Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics condemned the actions by Cyprus in a tweet, saying that it “sends a wrong signal to Belarusians, our societies and the whole world.”

COVI19: Italian military to control migrants

The Italian government will send soldiers to Sicily to stop recently arrived migrants leaving holding centers after a raft of breakouts in recent days, including some by people who had been quarantined to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

The government ensured citizens and toursists none of the escapees had tested positive for the virus and that most had been caught soon after breaking out of the facilities.

But the breakouts are adding to unease over rising numbers of migrants who have made their way across the Mediterranean in recent weeks. Italy largely tamed the virus after one of the longest and strictest lockdowns among Western countries. Everyday life is returning to something approaching normalcy. A requirement to wear masks in enclosed places is one of the few hints the virus is still circulating.

So far in July, 5,583 migrants have arrived in Italy, almost five times as in the same month last year, though fewer than in the crush who came during the height of the European migrant crisis. So far this year, around 12,500 have arrived, compared with about 180,000 who came in 2016 alone.

The government now plans to make it all but impossible for new migrants to break free from their initial quarantine by confining them for two weeks on a large ship that will lie off the southern coast of Sicily before transferring them to migrant centers on land. It isn’t yet clear when the ship will be in place and, meanwhile, migrants centers have filled beyond their capacity in recent days. Italian Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese has promised to transfer 500 migrants from Sicily to other parts of Italy by July 28.

The government has assigned soldiers to prevent migrants leaving the holding centers. The first soldiers were due to arrive in the area on Tuesday and their numbers will eventually reach about 400, according to an Interior Ministry official.

Italy eventually slowed the initial flow of migrants by striking an agreement with authorities in Libya, the main point of departure, to fund and train the Libyan coast guard along with the European Union.

From January to July this year, 4,537 Tunisians reached Italy, more than five times the number by the same timline last year.

EU-Georgia human rights dialogue

The EU and Georgia held the 13th round of their annual Human Rights Dialogue by video-conference on 2 July 2020. Reviewing developments since the previous dialogue in May 2019, the dialogue allowed as previously for an open, constructive exchange on the human rights situation in Georgia, on Georgia’s commitment to making sustainable progress in human rights protection and on the latest developments with the EU’s policy for the promotion and protection of democracy and human rights.

The sides stressed their commitment to the universality of human rights for all, regardless of religion or belief, ethnic origin, race, sex, language, sexual orientation, gender identity, ability or other. The EU and Georgia welcomed progress on human rights protection in Georgia, and acknowledged the particular challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic to international human rights protection.

The EU reaffirmed its support to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognised borders. The EU expressed concern about the deterioration of the human rights situation in the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, especially with regard to ethnic discrimination in particular towards ethnic Georgians, restriction of freedom of movement, including for health care and access to other social services, arbitrary detentions, violation of property rights and education in mother tongue, as well as about the persistent obstacles to the safe and dignified return of internally displaced persons and refugees to their homes.

The EU and Georgia reaffirmed that the Russian Federation has an obligation to implement the EU-mediated 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement, and stressed the need for tangible results in the Geneva International Discussions in order to solve the security and human rights challenges of people affected by the conflict. The EU expressed deep concern about the complete closure of the administrative boundary line in Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia since September 2019, which has led to critical humanitarian consequences in Akhalgori district particularly during the Coronavirus pandemic. The sides underlined the importance of ending impunity in the cases of deprivation of life of Georgian citizens Archil Tatunashvili and Giga Otkhozoria. The EU and Georgia stressed the need for unhindered access by international humanitarian and human rights mechanisms of the relevant international organisations, as well as the EU Monitoring Mission (EUMM), to both Georgian regions. The EU encouraged increased efforts in addressing the fate of missing persons with a view to giving closure. The EU reiterated its support to Georgia’s peace initiative “A Step to a Better Future” aimed at improving the socio-economic situation of conflict-affected people and at building confidence among the divided communities and welcomed its implementation

The EU welcomed the adoption of the constitutional amendments in Parliament on 29 June 2020 that establish a more proportional electoral system and will promote greater parliamentary pluralism. The EU raised the importance of adopting, with broad parliamentary support, ambitious electoral reform legislation arising from the OSCE/ODIHR recommendations as well as the importance of its timely adoption and effective implementation. Both sides agreed on the importance of maintaining a free and pluralistic media environment, and political pluralism as a prerequisite for the conduct of democratic elections, including in the context of the forthcoming parliamentary elections. The parties agreed on the importance of the fundamental freedoms including freedom of expression and freedom of assembly and committed to upholding them for all.

The EU welcomes progress on support to those belonging to ethnic minorities and ensuring civic integration processes in Georgia and encourages Georgia to continue efforts to improve the participation of women and representatives of those belonging to ethnic minorities in all areas of public life.

The EU recalled the importance of combating all forms of discrimination and of protection and better integration of those belonging to vulnerable groups including LGBTI persons. The EU welcomed Georgia’s efforts to continue ensuring the effective implementation of its anti-discrimination law and strengthening the policy framework. The EU also encouraged Georgia to progress on legislation and coordinated efforts to deliver real benefits in the lives of persons with disabilities.

The EU noted progress made in combatting domestic violence and all violence against women, hate crimes and discrimination, and ensuring victim-centred investigations. The EU recalled the importance of implementing commitments related to the Istanbul Convention.

The Georgian Inter-Agency Human Rights Council’s meaningful cooperation with civil society was recalled and the EU encouraged Georgia to continue integrating the voice of civil society into the policy making process. The valuable ongoing work of the Public Defender’s Office and the new State Inspectorate Service was also discussed and the important role of independent oversight bodies in holding governments to account and in shaping laws and policies.

The EU welcomed progress in the implementation of the Law on Occupational Safety to all sectors of the economy and again encouraged efforts to ensure that the labour inspectorate is transformed into a fully-fledged labour inspectorate. The EU welcomed the adoption of the Child Rights Code and progress with the Juvenile Justice Code as part of necessary efforts to address the situation of children in vulnerable situations and children in situations of extreme poverty. The EU stressed the importance of finalising the deinstitutionalisation process.

The EU noted the considerable progress made in and priority attached by Georgia to preventing torture and ill-treatment. The EU welcomed the ongoing reform of the penitentiary and crime prevention systems under the Ministry of Justice of Georgia and human-centred corona responses of the Special Penitentiary Service. The EU looked forward to the continued implementation of all recommendations of the Committee on the Prevention of Torture and of the National Preventive Mechanism.

The parties highlighted the importance of coordinated work to protect and promote human rights utilising national policy mechanisms, such as the National Human Rights Strategy and Action Plan. The parties also agreed to continue to identify ways to further strengthen their cooperation on human rights issues in multilateral fora, including the UN, OSCE and the Council of Europe and on the importance of strengthening multilateralism. The EU welcomed Georgia’s achievements under its Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. The EU also welcomed Georgia’s continued active engagement in the “Good Human Rights Stories” initiative. In line with its policy of consulting civil society ahead of its meetings on human rights, the EU drew on the valuable input of Georgian and international NGOs and international and regional organisations active in Georgia.

The Georgian delegation was headed by Mr. Vakhtang Makharoblishvili, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs while the EU delegation was led by Mr Richard Tibbels, Head of Division in the European External Action Service. The dialogue took place back-to-back with the Justice, Freedom and Security Subcommittee meeting on 1 July. The next Human Rights Dialogue between the EU and Georgia is scheduled to take place in Tbilisi in 2021.

EU prolongs Belarus arms embargo

Today the Council decided to prolong the restrictive measures against Belarus for one year, until 28 February 2021. These measures include an embargo on arms and on equipment that could be used for internal repression, as well as an asset freeze and travel ban against four people designated in connection with the unresolved disappearances of two opposition politicians, one businessman and one journalist in 1999 and in 2000.

The Council also prolonged the derogation to the restrictive measures to allow the export of biathlon equipment and limited number of specific-use sporting rifles and sporting pistols to Belarus, which remain subject to prior authorisation by national competent authorities on a case by case basis.

The restrictive measures against Belarus were initially introduced in 2004 in response to the disappearance of the four persons referred to above. Additional restrictive measures were adopted in 2011 against those involved in the violation of international electoral standards and international human rights law, as well as in the crackdown on civil society and democratic opposition. The arms embargo was introduced in the same year.

On 15 February 2016, the Council decided to lift the restrictive measures against 170 individuals and four companies, while maintaining the arms embargo and the sanctions against the four persons.

Image: illustration EU Council Europa building interior

Turkey remains candidate country

I will say a word on Turkey… which remains a candidate country, a key partner and a strategically important neighbour for the European Union, also given its proximity to a very volatile Middle East, whose stability is a key priority for both of us. The Turkish government states its commitment to European Union accession but we see the country continues to move further away from the European Union” EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini said, addressing Brussels press corps.

“We believe it would be beneficial for all and in particular for the Turkish citizens if this trend is reversed urgently, which we will obviously always welcome.”

“We also emphasize the importance of good neighbourly relations and avoiding tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean, and you have seen my recent statements in particular on this issue.”

 

 

 

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