Tag Archives: rule of law

MEPs for suspension of Turkey accession talks

Following years of severe political and democratic backsliding, the European Parliament recommended suspending EU accession negotiations with Turkey.

MEPs remain seriously concerned about Turkey’s violations of human rights, the rule of law, media freedom and the fight against corruption, authoritarian trends .

However MEPs welcome Turkey’s decision, last year, to lift the state of emergency introduced after the failed coup attempt in 2016. However, they regret that many of the powers granted to the President and executive following the coup attempt remain in place, and continue to limit freedom and basic human rights in the country. MEPs express concern about the shrinking space for civil society in the country, as a large number of activists, journalists and human rights defenders are currently in jail.

Taking into account the human rights situation and the new Turkish constitution, the European Parliament recommends that the current EU accession negotiations with Turkey be formally suspended.

 

Despite the serious situation, MEPs express their will to stand behind Turkish citizens, and keep the political and democratic dialogue open. EU funds must be made available – not via Ankara, but to Turkish civil society – for human rights defenders, students and journalists to promote and protect democratic values and principles.

 

 

IS militants families ordered repatriation to Belgium

A Belgian judge has ordered the relevant government offices to repatriate six children of Islamic State (IS) militants and their mothers who have been detained in a camp in Syria, the national news agency Belga said reported.

Tatiana Wielandt, 26, and Bouchra Abouallal, 25, both Belgian citizens, and their children have been held in the Al-Hol camp in since the defeat of Caliphate in nearly all territory it once held in Syria and Iraq.

Belga quoted the court ruling as ordering the government to take all necessary and possible measures to ensure the six Belgium citizens and their mothers can return home.

After a series of terrorist attacks Belgium has changed the rules, ordering anyone returning from the Levant a pre-trial detention and a three–five-year (and sometimes longer) prison sentence. In jail, these individuals are spread among the general prison population with individual security measures and monitoring, as well as constant assessment of radicalisation behaviour by trained staff and special units.

Furthermore, inmates are offered tailor-made disengagement programmes and probation measures to facilitate their return to society. The security services and local agencies receive relevant information from the prison authorities to ensure continued monitoring and adequate counselling.

Belga news agency did not inform about the further procedures concerning the group of IS members of the family.

Countdown to Brexit

“The parliamentary approval process for Brexit is going to be complex and possibly lengthy, a new report by academic think tank The UK in a Changing Europe and the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law finds.The Brexit Endgame comes out on the day marking six months to Brexit. It leaves the politics to one side and looks at the Brexit process as it will play out in the UK Parliament and the EU” says the report of Researchers from The UK in a Changing Europe and the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law.

“It is almost certain the deal will not be ratified until 2019. As Article 50 can be extended, the real deadline is 18 April, when the European Parliament breaks up for elections.

 UK Parliament:

  • Parliamentarians do not face a simple deal/no deal choice, the report finds.
  • Parliament will vote on the Withdrawal Agreement and the future relationship as one package. It will be presented to Parliament (as a motion) after it has been agreed with the EU
  • MPs can make procedural amendments to the motion. Substantive amendments would amount to a rejection.
  • If MPs reject the deal, the government can resubmit an amended version for approval.
  • Once the Brexit motion is passed, Parliament then has to approve a bill turning the Withdrawal Agreement into UK law, giving MPs a second opportunity to reject the deal. Without this bill, the deal will not come into force in the UK or EU.
  • If a deal can’t be reached or it can’t get through Parliament, there are three ways to trigger a general election:
    • if a two-thirds majority of MPs support one;
    • if the government loses a confidence motion and can’t regain the support of the Commons within two weeks;
    • by overturning the FTPA.

 

 European Union

  • Once a deal is reached, the European Commission will recommend it to the European Council which will then pass it to the European Parliament
  • The European Parliament will wait for the UK Parliament to pass the deal
  • If this happens, the deal will go to the EP’s Constitutional Affairs Committee before being voted on by a plenary session of MEPs
  • A simple majority of those present on the day is needed for it to pass
  • Once that happens, the European Council will then vote. The deal will need the support of at least 20 member states representing at least two-thirds of the EU population.

Researchers from The UK in a Changing Europe and the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law wrote two versions of the report – A detailed guide to the parliamentary process of withdrawal from the EU and a short guide.

Anand Menon, Director of the UK in a Changing Europe, said: “Given that most attention has been focussed on Brussels, we have tended to overlook the complex processes that await any Brexit deal that is agreed.  “These reports lay out in painstaking and meticulous detail what those processes consist of, and provide a salutary warning that, even should a deal be struck with the EU, the Brexit process will still have a long way to run.”

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.

MEPs scrutiny of corruption allegations in Malta

On Thursday, January 25, MEPs from the Civil liberties committee and the Panama Papers special committee, which concluded its work by the end of 2017, will discuss the outcome of their recent visit to Malta to investigate the rule of law issues in the country as well as allegations of corruption and money laundering. The MEPs’ delegation led by Portuguese Socialist Ana Gomes (pictured) would now present its report and recommendations to the Committee of Civil Liberties and pursue “continued dialogue with the European commission in the run-up to an article 7 procedure”, a formal audit of the rule of law in an EU member state.

MEP Ana GOMES (S&D, Portugal) who led the delegation to Malta to draw the report, ahead of the hearing said:

From Strasbourg plenary

 

 

EU sets Poland on pariah track

The EU executive  Commissioner and First vice-president of the European Commission Frans Timmermans  launched an unprecedented process, triggering Article 7 of Lisbon Treaty to suspend Poland’s voting rights in the European Union after two years of dispute over judicial reforms that Brussels claims undermine Polish judiciary independence.

Polish government has three month ahead of them to abolish the judiciary reforms to avoid the so called “nuclear” opinion to lose voting rights within the EU. The visit of the incumbent Prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki to Brussels is forseen in January, however so far Polish government refused to bend to EU demands, insisting on their sovereign right to carve laws.  The move of the executive is largely interpreted as ‘anti-Polish’, and there are fears it will only deepen the growing gap between Brussels and Warsaw.

Many experts interpret the Commission’s selective application of Lisbon Treaty articles to fact of the growing longng of Poland for sovreignty, led by nationalist government of ight-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party.

Spain injustice to Kokorevs

Canary Islands – a symbol of paradise on earth – became a hell for Vladimir Kokorev  (Владимир Кокoрев) (65), and his family, who found themselves locked in jail for more than two years without a chance to stand a fair trial. A Spanish businessman of Russian origin Kokorev for 26 month had no opportunity to defend himself, his dignity and his business in absence of any accusations from behalf of Spanish prosecution.

“Sometimes I think they want him to die in jail to close the case” – says a long-standing family friend, Justino Obama Nve, a former minister of health of Equatorial Guinea, who came the whole way to Strasbourg in hope to find justice.

There was a presumption of guilt, not innocence, when Spanish judiciary locked Vladimir, his wife and son in Canary prison: ” My cousin learnt that he is going to become a father already in jail, and his daughter was born and raised for two years  without him. After two years released from prison he came to her as a stranger”, – said Inna Kokorev, the niece of Vladimir, lamenting wasted time, and damages. She came to Strasbourg European Parliament Plenary to search for justice for her family. Expecting a child herself, Inna did not hesitate to make a journey, worrying about the multiple stokes plagued her uncle in cell. “He was already a cardiac patient before being locked up, but there his state of health aggravated” – Inna Kokorev said. “My uncle is not a young man, we, the family are very concerned about the situation, when he has no adequate medical treatment every day his life is at risk”. (Below: European Parliament, Strasbourg, Inna Kokorev interview in Russian).

The hearing hosted by Member of the European Parliament Alberto Cirillo (EPP, Italy), assembled experts and close ones of Kokorev discussing the situation of the businessman in a custody protracted for more than two years.

“The European Parliament (EP) is a house of people of Europe, house of citizens, whose rights we are to defend” – said Cirillo, underlining that within the divisions of power the EP has an obligation to guarantee the respect of human rights of every EU citizen. “We are not challenging the judges, but assessing the respect for a fair trial enshrined in Charter of fundamental rights”. Convinced in the supremacy of the rule of law, Cirillo raises concerns about Kokorevs case leaving too many questions, and too little clarity in actions of Spain’s judiciary. “We have heard of the case recently, and we will study it carefully”, he ensured, also underlining that there is a framework to scrutinise the complaint through relevant European Parliament’s committee.

The actions of the judiciary are also questioned by leading Spanish expert on corruption, money laundering and embezzlement  Juan Carlos Galindo explaining that thorough analysis of Kokorev transactions did not reveal abnormality, or breach of existing legal framework for businesses: “When we talk about corruption, we mean public funds, not private ones Mr.Kokorev was dealing with”, the expert said.

Present at the hearing international press inquired about the possibility to address the  European Court of Human Rights, the Kokorev family responded that they are looking into every legal possibility to re-establish justice, and respect of fundamental rights: “The ECHR might be an option, however we hope that the reason, and respect of rule of law will prevail without delay” – said Inna Kokorev, who is convinced that nobody ever should be exposed for such an injustice as her uncle.

MEP Fulvio Martusciello (EPP, Italy), hosting the event, proposed to create a working group to investigate human rights abuses in Canary Islands, and also compliance with Spanish judiciary, and Acquis Communautaire. 

 

 

 

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