Tag Archives: Human Rights

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.”

 

 

 

Europarliament Human Rights week

The European Parliament is organising a week of events for the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A High Level Conference will focus on how to integrate human rights in business, sustainable development and external actionBetter social security for cross-border workers is on the table. The aim is to allow them to receive unemployment benefits and health services even when they’ve changed country. (Image above: Catalan protests).

Members vote to better protect whistle-blowers acting in the public interest. They would have legal and financial aid and help protecting their identity. Members vote on rules to limit workers’ exposure to new cancer-causing chemicals, particularly in laboratories, construction work and the textile industry. Parliament debates clear regulations on autonomous vehicles like self-driving cars and automated aircraft. It wants to promote real-life testing and new research, while ensuring data protection and consumer safety.

“Absurd” accusations against Hungary

This morning, Hungarian Minister Gergely Gulyás  (pictured) made it clear that the pro-immigration political parties in the European Parliament will stop at nothing to push their ideological agenda. In an information note on the Article 7 procedure Minister described their action as a ‘political accusation disguised as rule of law concerns’.

As a result of a political decision, there is an ongoing political procedure against Hungary, despite the many attempts to disguise them as rule-of-law concerns.” said Gergely Gulyás, Minister in charge of the Prime Minister’s Office, at a press conference this morning,

The European Parliament takes positions on matters, which don’t belong under the European Union’s competence” he added. “We believe that the accusation stating there is a systemic threat to rule-of-law in Hungary is completely absurd,” Gulyás concluded. “… The European Parliament’s adoption of the decision is not valid,  and we are challenging it in the European Court of Justice“.

On Monday, November 12  the Council of the European Union will assess the Sargentini Report, examining the European Parliament’s recommendation to pursue an Article 7 procedure against Hungary based on the MEP Judith Sargentini  research findings. Since its publication, the Report was criticized by the Hungarian government, pointing at its highly subjective vision, and a deliberate omittance and distortion of reality.

Earlier this month at the Congress of the European People’s party in Helsinki Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban warned about the risks illegal mass migration imposition on sovereign nations represents for  the future of the European project.

MEPs vote cutting Turkey accession funds

This week the European Parliament decided to cancel €70 million in pre-accession funds earmarked for Turkey, as conditions to improve the rule of law were not met.

Last November, during the budgetary negotiations, Parliament and Council intended to place in reserve €70 million in pre-accession funds for Turkey (€70m in commitments and €35m in payments), under the condition that “Turkey makes measurable, sufficient improvements in the fields of rule of law, democracy, human rights and press freedom, according to the annual report of the Commission.”

However, the European Commission annual report on Turkey published on 17 April 2018, concluded that “Turkey has been significantly moving away from the European Union, in particular in the areas of the rule of law and fundamental rights and through the weakening of effective checks and balances in the political system”.

The condition set by the budgetary authority has therefore not been met, MEPs underline.

They accordingly support the draft amending budget 5/2018, in which the Commission proposes transferring the €70 million earmarked for Turkey to reinforce the European Neighbourhood Instrument. This would be done through commitments– to cover actions linked to the Central Mediterranean migratory route and to fulfil part of the EU pledge for Syria – and to boost Humanitarian Aid by €35 million.

The report by Siegfried Muresan (EPP, RO) has been adopted with 544 votes, 28 against and 74 abstentions.

Orban blames EU witch hunt

Prime Minister Viktor Orban denounced the EU “witch hunt” in an open debate over democracy and the rule of law in his country, which took place this week at European Parliament Plenary in Strasbourg.

MEPs will vote on September 12 whether the launch a reprimand against Hungary in what would be the most significant attack on Orban’s right-wing anti-illegal immigration government by the EU. It would also mark the first time Parliament has invoked Article 7, the EU tool  designed to denounce human rights abuses.

Article 7 of the Treaty of European Union is a procedure in the legal endeavor of the EU to suspend certain rights from a member state.While rights can be suspended, there is no mechanism to expel a member.

Orban, who won a third consecutive term in power this year, has been conducting a consequent policy of border protection, causing an argument with  the EU leaders over his country’s stance on illegal immigration policies and for the pressure on democratic institutions — including civic organizations, the media and academic centre while Orban consolidated power – accusations he vehemently denied, blaming EU lack of objective vision, based on individual trips of the rapporteur MEP Judith Sargentini to Hungary. No EU fact-finding mission has been send to Hungary so far.
Orban underlined that Hungary did not change, being loyal to European values, and protecting borders thus protecting citizens from traffic of illegal migrants. Ensuring security of its citizens is a prime obligation of a state his government conducted upon the democratic mandate, and in line with the EU laws.
AMENDMENT:
MEP Judith Sargentini report adopted by European Parliament:
The European Union parliament’s decision to start a punitive procedure against Hungary is the “petty revenge” of pro-immigration politicians against Hungary, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said, commenting on the outcome of the vote.

“Endemic” police torture in Azerbaijan

Torture in Azerbaijan by police and other law enforcement agencies is “systemic and endemic,” according to a report from the Council of Europe’s torture prevention body.

The report by The Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), based on six visits to Azerbaijan from 2004 through 2017, documented repeated cases of “severe physical ill-treatment” of detainees, including some as young as 15. The cases appeared to follow a consistent pattern: mostly occurring in police establishments, during the initial hours of detentions, to coerce confessions or other testimonies.

The torture methods ranged from slaps, kicks, and truncheon blows to beatings on the soles of a suspended victim’s feet and the use of electric shocks.

The CPT also found that perpetrators get away with torture because of a lack of effective investigations and insufficient legal safeguards. Human Rights Watch research has also shown that in Azerbaijan, detainees are often denied access to lawyers of their choosing, and even if complaints are made of serious ill-treatment, the investigations almost never result in anyone being held to account.

Publicizing police abuse can invite official retaliation. Mehman Huseynov, one of Azerbaijan’s most popular bloggers, is serving a two-year prison term on grounds that he “defamed” police officers because he went public about the ill-treatment he had suffered in custody. A group of disguised in civilian cloths officers attacked Huseynov, blindfolded and gagged him, forced a bag over his head, used an electroshock weapon on his groin, and punched him, bloodying his nose. The investigation into Huseynov allegations was swiftly closed after a summary finding that they were groundless.

While the Committee found some improvements, such as renovations of old and building of new prisons, many problems persisted, including overcrowding, lack of meaningful activities for inmates, inadequate medical care, rampant corruption, and a “generalized culture of violence” among prison staff.

Azerbaijan is party to multiple human rights treaties, including the UN Convention against Torture and the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibit torture and other forms of ill-treatment of detainees. Azerbaijan’s agreement to publish the Committee’s report – as is required – is an important step. But not enough. Azerbaijan’s leadership should make an unequivocal public statement of “zero tolerance” for torture and other forms of ill-treatment and ensure prompt and effective investigations into all such allegations.

Earlier this month the European Parliament expressed the opinion of MEPs, requesting improvement of human rights situation.

EU-U.S. cooperation on HR continues “whenever possible”

Reacting upon the decision of the United States decision to withdraw from the United Nations Human Rights Council, the European External Action Service issued a statement, regretting the move, and underlining that it “risks undermining the role of the US as a champion and supporter of democracy on the world stage”.
However the EU via a spokesperson ensured that it will “nevertheless” continue  to defend human rights and fundamental freedoms, whether in multilateral fora or around the world, also by cooperating with the US “whenever possible”.
“We will remain fully engaged and committed to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, of which we this year proudly celebrate the 70th anniversary, and whose values and principles are inseparable from those of the European Union itself” – the statement concludes.

The United States announced its decision to withdraw from the United Nations Human Rights Council, to which they were elected in 2016 for a three year mandate: “With members like China, Cuba, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Venezuela the Human Rights Council is not worth its name”- Ambassador Nikki Haley said, explaining the decision.

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