Fidest – Agenzia giornalistica/press agency

Quotidiano di informazione – Anno 31 n° 301

Posts Tagged ‘human rights’

World Jewish Congress demands UN Human Rights Council remove anti-Israel Item 7 from its agenda

Posted by fidest press agency su martedì, 19 marzo 2019

Geneva – The World Jewish Congress has renewed its calls on the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to remove once and for all Agenda Item 7 targeting Israel, the only permanent item on the Council’s agenda against a particular country. The UNHRC is meeting now in Geneva for its 40th session.
During a debate on Item 7 on Monday, the Special Rapporteur on the Palestinian Territories and a Commission of Inquiry accused Israel of perpetuating human rights abuses in those territories. The United States has withdrawn from the Council over its ongoing bias.
“The UNHRC has again shown its blatant discrimination and double standards, spending approximately eight critical hours of debate scapegoating Israel rather than taking the opportunity to expose the accountability of the Palestinian leadership for the deterioration of human rights in the territories under their control,” said WJC CEO and Executive Vice President Robert Singer. “This one-sided approach will only contribute to the exacerbation of Palestinian suffering, as it absolves both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority of any wrong-doing, placing the blame erroneously and detrimentally on the State of Israel.”“Item 7 is only part of the problem at this Council. Later this week, member states will debate five egregious resolutions against Israel that fully ignore the realities and complexities on the ground in the region. They attack Israel and demand accountability without even a single mention of Hamas, the rulers of the Gaza Strip which indiscriminately uses civilians, including women and children, as human shields, and which routinely impose violence and stifling restrictions against its own people,” Singer said. “The UNHRC has become nothing more than a theater of the absurd. The World Jewish Congress will continue to speak out against this Council as long as the bias against Israel remains. We look forward to the day when the UN Human Rights Council resumes its focus on protecting human rights worldwide.”
In Geneva, WJC Jewish Diplomat Philippe Assouline spoke on the UNHRC floor against the Commission of Inquiry’s report accusing Israel of crimes against humanity in Gaza, calling it a “a flagrant disregard for the facts and basic decency” and a “manipulative lie.”
“Hamas’ march was a propaganda exercise to create heartbreaking images with which to abuse western compassion and indict Israel. Hamas understands well that their jihadi aggression will be eagerly supported by this body if enough children are killed for the cameras,” Assouline said. The report disregards the fact that the sole aim of the so-called March of Return last spring was to incite Palestinian civilians against their Israeli neighbors and ignores that Hamas “carefully planned this violence and ensured that children and civilians would take part – busing them in and encouraging them to attack border guards,” Assouline said.“Hamas is reported to have shot its own citizens last week for protesting the price of food. The Report would have us believe this government – a terrorist group known for targeting children and murdering dissidents — had no active hand in masses of its people violently storming an international border far from their homes, to murder families living peacefully beyond it,” Assouline added.Furthermore, the report “castigates Israel as an occupying power –revealing the anti-Israel psychosis that animates it. Gaza has been under Palestinian rule since 1994 and Israel completely vacated the territory in 2005! What a reward this report is for that brave step,” said Assouline. Assouline concluded: “This report is not merely irresponsible and embarrassing, it is dishonest. It is a blank check to terrorist groups. And its abject unfairness is why Israelis have no absolutely zero trust to the UN.”

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CEC commemorates Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Posted by fidest press agency su mercoledì, 12 dicembre 2018

The Conference of European Churches commemorates today the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) adopted by the United Nations in Paris on 10 December 1948.The CEC Governing Board with the Executive Committee of the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe marked this occasion recently by issuing a statement All are born free and equal. “This historic milestone in international human rights law continues as a source of inspiration for states and people in the fight for the dignity of all,” reads the statement.“The 70th anniversary of the declaration reminds us that human rights are universal, belonging to every human being. This same yearning is found throughout the deep and rich traditions of Christianity. The opening passages of our Holy Scriptures affirm this equality in dignity and support the idea of rights that all enjoy by virtue of their common humanity as all are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27),” it reads. In this statement, the CEC Governing Board “joins with all people of goodwill in working to promote, engage, reflect on, and advance the achievements of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We recall in all our work, as simply stated in Article 1, ‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and right’.” The CEC statement also puts emphasis on freedom of religion or belief in Europe and beyond, as well as migrants and refugees. “Our human rights horizon also extends beyond European borders, with repeated calls for migrants and refugees to have safe passage and warm welcome here. Human rights exist for all humanity and can only be effectively advanced when we see ourselves as part of this bigger picture,” reads the statement. CEC is deeply committed to the promotion and protection of human rights and dignity. In this area, CEC recently produced a short documentary Justice for Spanish Pastors, shedding light on the case of Protestant pastors seeking justice and equal treatment in Spain. Another documentary released by CEC is Standing UP for Minority Rights, where young adults of the Serbian minority in Croatia and of the Croatian minority in Serbia met and visited the European institutions and their representatives.CEC’s work in its various programmatic areas – economy, social equality, climate change, bioethics, digitalisation, theological and inter-religious dialogue – is closely related to an understanding of human dignity inspired by the Gospel, and the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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Churches debate human rights within European Union

Posted by fidest press agency su domenica, 9 dicembre 2018

Human rights and religious freedom within the European Union was the focus of a debate organised by the Conference of European Churches. The event was held on 5 December at the Chapel of Europe in Brussels, celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. CEC Member Churches from EU member states shared their struggles related to violations of freedom of religion or belief, from both majority and minority church perspectives. It was stressed that violation of human rights and religious freedom is a hindrance in the mission of the churches. It is the first time CEC brought the issue of freedom of religion or belief within the European Union into the public debate in Brussels. Metropolitan Porfirije of Zagreb and Ljubljana of the Serbian Orthodox Church shared reflections from the minority church perspective. He said “the Universal Declaration of Human Rights presents us with the difficult, yet in no way hopeless, task of striving together to find the balance between progress in the area of respect for the rights of persons and minorities, on one hand, and the preservation of the national, cultural and religious identity of individual nations, on the other hand.” “I cannot but express my concern about the deviation from, and even the forsaking of, human rights in our European countries, on the Balkan Peninsula, in some of the former Eastern Bloc countries, and in various parts of the world engulfed in war,” Metropolitan Porfirije added. Another example from a minority church perspective was highlighted by Rev. Marta López Ballalta, Vice -President of the Spanish Evangelical Church. She shared their struggle related to the case of pastor Manzanas Martín and the discrimination faced by him and many other ministers. She explained how there was a difference in treatment for other priests and Evangelical clergy in public pensions scheme. “In such a situation it seems fundamental for a Church to work for justice,” she added.Coming from a majority church in the EU facing longstanding challenges, Bishop Porfyrios of Neapolis of the Church of Cyprus spoke about religious freedoms in Cyprus. He reminded the audience that “in July 1974 Turkey invaded Cyprus with a large military force, as a result of which, Christian monuments and those of other faiths, sacred and archaeological sites were desecrated, looted and destroyed.” “Church of Cyprus is working closely with the other religious leaders of the island to bring an end to what is an unacceptable situation in an EU member state and to gain the total restoration of religious freedom for all the legal residents of Cyprus,” said Bishop Porfyrios.
During the debate it was emphasised that Europe finds itself in times of rising populism and intolerant nationalism. On 4 May 2018, three major parties in the Bulgarian Parliament introduced changes to the Law on Religion, which if adopted will limit religious freedom for religious stakeholders. Rev. Dr Daniel Topalski of the United Methodist Church in Bulgaria and Romania said that he sees such proposals as “an attempt from the state side to nationalise religious communities, which in some respects surpasses the restrictive provisions of the Religious Law during the Communist Regime.”
CEC will continue to assist Member Churches coming from inside and outside of the European Union, facing violation of human rights that limits their mission in European society. As a results of the 70th Anniversary of UDHR churches in various forums expressed their commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights with various stakeholders as distinctive part of the civil society. Facilitated by CEC, these speakers also participated in a seminar in the framework of Article 17 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union on 4 December at the European Parliament. The seminar addressed the theme “Religion and Human Rights within the EU – A Shared Responsibility” hosted by Mairead McGuinness, First Vice-President of the European Parliament.

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“Human Rights in the Contemporary World: Achievements, Omissions, Negations”

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 1 dicembre 2018

Roma 10-11 dicembre 2018 a partire dalle ore 9 si terrà presso la Pontificia Università Gregoriana Piazza della Pilotta, 4 in occasione del 70° anniversario della Dichiarazione Universale dei Diritti Umani, e del 25° anniversario della Dichiarazione e del Programma d’Azione di Vienna per la tutela dei diritti umani nel mondo, una conferenza su gli “Human Rights in the Contemporary World: Achievements, Omissions, Negations”. Si parlerà delle fondamenta dei diritti umani, dal punto di vista teologico e del diritto internazionale; dell’azione diplomatica della Santa Sede, delle Nazioni Unite e delle agenzie internazionali nel campo dei diritti umani; dell’applicazione degli stessi nei più vari contesti, con particolare attenzione alle aree di guerra, come la Siria, e a quelle colpite dal terrorismo, e ai temi della libertà religiosa e del diritto universale alla salute, nel rispetto delle diverse culture e dei contesti particolari.
Apriranno i lavori Sua Card. Peter K.A. Turkson, Prefetto del Dicastero per il Servizio dello Sviluppo Umano Integrale, e P. Nuno da Silva Gonçalves, S.J., Rettore della Pontificia Università Gregoriana. L’evento è aperto alla stampa, mentre per il pubblico la partecipazione è consentita solo su invito.

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Global Women in Music for Human Rights

Posted by fidest press agency su lunedì, 28 Mag 2018

The UN Human Rights Office celebrates the 70th Anniversary of the Adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (10th December 1948) and has launched a worldwide campaign to promote, engage and reflect on human rights. Gender inequality in the field of music is a worldwide challenge. Sustaining the women creating music will influence public opinion and stimulate their full participation in cultural life. Fondazione Adkins Chiti: Donne in Musica has organised a “Global Call for New Music” for women composers and creators of music of all ages, nationalities and musical backgrounds. Participants will compose/create a song, choral or instrumental work inspired by the struggle for Human Rights. Ten works, chosen by an international Reading Commission and publicly announced at the end of July, will be performed and recorded in a Gala Concert in the Teatro Argentina, Rome, Italy on the 5th November this year. GLOBAL CALL FOR NEW MUSIC for HUMAN RIGHTS
1. This call is open to (a) girls from 8 to 18 (b) women from 19 years of age.
2. Composers may submit works in any musical idiom or genre (contemporary, classical, traditional, popular, jazz, etc).
3. Texts (where applicable) must be accompanied by an English language translation.
4. Music must be written in traditional notation.
5. Works submitted may be new or previously performed and in PDF files.
6. Do not send recordings.
7. Each composer may send only ONE score.
8. Duration of work: maximum 6 minutes
9. Categories for submissions:
· Solo instrument
· Solo voice with one to four instruments
· Choir s.a.t.b with or without pianoforte
· Group/ensemble of 8 to 12 instruments
10. Please include, in WORD file (Times New Roman 12), a 10-line curriculum with nationality, date and place of birth, residence and contact (email).
11. Girls of 18 years of age or younger must accompany application with a signed letter from their family, school or teacher authorizing the participation, and confirming this is the composer’s own original work.
12. Deadline for submission: 30th June 2018
13. There is no submission fee
14. Please send scores to: marking submission – GWIM4Human Rights
Donne in Musica (Women in Music) born in 1978 as a movement became an international non-profit Foundation in 1996. It promotes and mainstreams music by women composers, songwriters and music creators of all ages and nationalities working in all genres while coordinating a network of over 27,000 composers, affiliate organisations, performers, pedagogues, and musicologists in 113 countries. The Fondazione Adkins Chiti: Donne in Musica encourages excellence in contemporary music and intercultural dialogue worldwide. It’s pioneering role in the affirmation of the concept of the uniqueness of women as creators of music has been recognized by the Italian government, UNESCO, EUC, EUP, Arab Academy and UNESCO’s International Music Council. Its daily work includes:
– Promoting knowledge and respect for women’s cultural diversity, creativity and rights
– Advocacy and recommendations to protect and assist composers.
– Capacity Building
– Research and Publication of books and scholarly papers
– Music for the Mind – supplying music for Conservatories in need
THE UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS (UDHR) is a milestone document in the history of human rights. Drafted by representatives with legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, it set out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected. The Declaration was adopted by the UN General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948.Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status. We are all entitled to our human rights without discrimination. These rights are interrelated, interdependent and indivisible.

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More justice for victims of business-related human rights abuses

Posted by fidest press agency su mercoledì, 12 aprile 2017

justice for victimsBusinesses, their subsidiaries and suppliers in what they do or do not do can affect the rights of workers, clients and the public. This can infringe workers’ rights, the right to privacy, be discriminatory, can lead to ill-health, or have an impact on many other human rights. Access to justice, a right in itself, can also be jeopardised. This is being increasingly recognised by European and international bodies from the UN to the Council of Europe and the EU who have developed guidance, strategies, policies, and laws.
To explore what more the EU can do, the EU Council asked the Agency to provide its Opinion on improving access to remedies when it comes to business and human rights. Some of the suggestions include:
Making judicial remedies more accessible: Victims often turn to courts when it comes to seeking justice. However, issues such as deciding which court to turn to, costs, the complexity and length of proceedings, can cause obstacles. To make it easier for victims, the EU should create minimum standards for legal aid and improve funding for legal support, particularly for vulnerable people such as children or people with disabilities. The burden of proof should also be shifted from victims to companies with clearer minimum standards on what evidence businesses should make accessible.
Supporting cross-border cases better: As globalisation and the EU’s Single Market has made cross-border business more common, it is harder for victims to seek redress from companies based elsewhere or when rights violations happen abroad. To help, the EU should provide guidance so that there is a common understanding across Member States on how to proceed with cross-border cases. This could include drawing on how environmental cases are treated, by allowing exceptions to existing rules. This would ensure high enough EU-level damages are awarded to deter businesses from abuse in countries that can be more lenient towards business.
Using criminal justice systems: Although EU laws cover corporate crime in relation to business and human rights, they are rarely used. The EU should therefore promote the greater use of existing laws. This could include EU-wide data collection on complaints and compensation, training, improving the human and financial resources of law enforcement to tackle such crime as well as guidance for victims in claiming for damages in criminal procedures. Providing alternatives through non-judicial remedies: Non-judicial mechanisms can be more accessible, quicker and cheaper. The EU should therefore strengthen such mechanisms by creating minimum standards that also allow collective redress, by establishing well-resourced national contact points to advise victims on remedies and by encouraging companies to create their own grievance mechanisms.
Improving transparency and data collection: Different Member States take different approaches when it comes to access to remedies for business and human rights which makes it difficult for companies to operate and victims to seek justice. National action plans are often lacking and vague. The EU needs to encourage Member States to develop action plans that also include access to remedies and clear indicators to measure achievement. The EU should also provide information on available remedies, how they work and perform, possibly with comparative assessments and coordination across the region. This would provide greater transparency and would aid understanding among the public, legal practitioners and ultimately victims. Establishing EU-wide networks to share knowledge, guidance and best practices would also help. In addition, the EU should publish information from companies which must disclose the impact of their work on rights under EU law. It could also encourage Member States to oblige companies to systematically assess the impact on human rights of new activities as part of their planning.
This Opinion provides a range of advice on how the EU could improve access to remedies for victims of rights abuse by businesses. It aims to contribute to growing awareness of the need for the EU to do more to strengthen access to judicial and non-judicial remedies.FRA issues Opinions on specific thematic topics, following requests for advice from the European Parliament, the EU Council or the European Commission. These Opinions are part of the agency’s fundamental rights assistance and expertise that it provides to EU institutions and Member States. (photo: justice for victims)

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U.N. recognizes role of religion in protecting human rights

Posted by fidest press agency su martedì, 11 aprile 2017

meeting experts1BEIRUT, Lebanon — Too often, religion is portrayed primarily as a divisive force in society. The abuse of power by segments of religious and political leadership, the fueling of prejudice and superstition, and violations of human dignity and honor, are highlighted in popular media and discourse.”These distortions of religion undermine a powerful force that can help combat the very ills in society that are tearing it apart,” explained Diane Ala’i, representative of the Baha’i International Community (BIC) to the UN in Geneva. “This is true especially because religion speaks to the highest aspirations of human beings and inspires them to act for the greater good in a way that few other things, if any, can.”The challenge before us is to look at religion from a different angle and draw on those universal principles of love, of justice, of forgiveness, and of concern for our fellow human beings, all of which lie at the heart of religious belief,” she continued.
In his opening remarks, Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, attributed the root cause of human rights violations to an absence of a deep sense of justice. To address this void, he explained, religion must play a pivotal role in upholding respect for the dignity and equality of all humankind.In fact, in recent years, the UN has been appealing to religious communities to share in the responsibility of safeguarding human rights. “Religion and human rights are not in contradiction—quite the contrary,” said Ms. Ala’i.
Several of the participants at the meeting of experts on “Faith for Rights,” organized by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Beirut from 28-29 March 2017. Among those pictured are Ahmed Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, and Diane Ala’i, representative of the BIC to the UN in Geneva (fourth and fifth from the left, respectively).
meeting expertsSpeaking about the Faith for Rights meeting, she said, “There was this consensus about the need to show the unifying nature of religion—a force for peace, not for war; a force for unity, not for violence; a force for understanding, not for fanaticism.” Religious leaders and civil society actors, hailing from around the world, explored ways to cooperate in safeguarding human rights for all. The result was the preparation of two documents: the Beirut Declaration on “Faith for Rights” and 18 Commitments on “Faith for Rights.”
Among those sacred texts selected for the document is a passage quoted from ‘Abdu’l-Baha during a talk in New York City in June 1912: “The essential purpose of the religion of God is to establish unity among mankind. The divine Manifestations were Founders of the means of fellowship and love. They did not come to create discord, strife and hatred in the world. The religion of God is the cause of love, but if it is made to be the source of enmity and bloodshed, surely its absence is preferable to its existence; for then it becomes satanic, detrimental and an obstacle to the human world.” The passage is included in Article 9 of the 18 Commitments on “Faith for Rights.” The entire talk can be found in The Promulgation of Universal Peace.It is hoped that the Commitments and Declaration from the UN’s “Faith for Rights” meeting in Beirut will be read and endorsed by government officials in an upcoming conference to be held in Rabat, Morocco. (photo: meeting experts)

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A united front for security, a united front for human rights

Posted by fidest press agency su martedì, 15 novembre 2016

viennaVienna. High-level EU representatives gather on 14 November in Vienna at the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) to find ways of furthering a more effective security union that integrates a fundamental rights approach from the outset.
“Ensuring the safety of everyone in the EU is of critical importance. Security measures can only work if they are respectful of human rights and work with and not against all the communities that go to make up European society,” said FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty. “We very much welcome this opportunity to discuss ways of increasing our capacity to combat terrorism and radicalisation, while remaining true to the rule of law and the values of openness and respect on which the EU is based.”
“I am convinced that the only effective way to tackle terrorism is firmly rooted in the respect of fundamental and human rights. You need to have the widest and fullest possible support across the community for your efforts if they are going to work,” said EU Security Union Commissioner Sir Julian King. “The best way of securing that support is to show that your efforts are firmly rooted in the respect of people’s rights. That’s what we’re trying to defend.”
The discussions are taking place during the annual meeting of the network of EU Justice and Home Affairs agencies, which is currently chaired by the Fundamental Rights Agency.
Agency heads are meeting Commissioner King, European Commission Director Generals and representatives from the European Parliament, EU Council and current and future EU Presidencies to discuss the implementation of EU security and migration policies. Participants will also give practical examples of agency cooperation and how their collaboration can further support EU institutions and Member States.

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EU – Turkey deal should be taken to Court, French human rights ombudsman tells MEPs

Posted by fidest press agency su mercoledì, 19 ottobre 2016

turchiaThe EU- Turkey deal goes against all rules, said Mr Toubon, French Defender of Rights. He added that the deal should be taken to the European Court of Justice as it is against the Charter on Fundamental Rights.
MEPs in particular asked about the situation of unaccompanied minors living in the shantytowns in the refugee camps in Calais such as the “Jungle” which a delegation from the Civil Liberties Committee visited in July.
Mr Toubon, who described his role as Defender of Rights as a form of ombudsman with effective powers such as the power to make observations and give recommendations, shared their worries regarding the conditions in the camps and the protection of the children.
He stressed the responsibility of the UK for the children, and urged that some of the more stable structures remain as shelters for the minors when the Jungle is dismantled.
Mr Toubon also voiced concerns about some aspects of the French emergency law, introduced following the terrorist attacks, in particular in relation to the power to carry out house searches at night, based on administrative decisions, and the effect such searches might have on children who witness them.

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Europe’s human rights crisis surmountable, say participants at key conference to find ways forward

Posted by fidest press agency su venerdì, 24 giugno 2016

europeSuggestions to help tackle Europe’s pressing human rights crisis were captured at the Fundamental Rights Forum in Vienna. Over 700 leading experts from around the world contributed to the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights’ event. All the 100+ practical ideas that were generated are being distilled in the Forum Chair’s Statement.“Yes, we have a crisis of fundamental rights in Europe but also the goodwill, energy and ideas to overcome it. This is what we debated over the last four days in Vienna during the Fundamental Rights Forum 2016,” said FRA Director and Forum Chair Michael O’Flaherty. “Human rights cannot be viewed as an optional extra that can be sacrificed. They are the cornerstone of European identity; if we lose them we will lose Europe.” The EU has built up a strong fundamental rights system over the years. However, rights are in crisis. Trust in democratic institutions is falling, undermining rights protection and promotion that ultimately benefit us all. To move forward, Europe must work together, always mindful that Europe is not alone in today’s increasingly interdependent world. Areas that need joint action include:
Ensuring fundamental rights are not a niche issue but are instead mainstreamed in all policy discussions and decisions at the EU and national level, particularly in the social and economic sectors.Building a strong fundamental rights culture through rights education that is essential in today’s societies. This includes improving rights awareness among everyone in the EU.Strengthening the oversight by parliaments and rights watchdogs, the national human rights bodies, to better hold governments account of their fundamental rights obligations.Guaranteeing that everyone, including vulnerable groups, is involved in decisions on policy measures that affect them. The Forum focused on the three most pressing fundamental rights challenges facing the EU today: refugee protection, inclusion and the digital age. Three of the very many suggestions were:Broadening legal ways of reaching safety as an alternative to risky irregular entry. EU Institutions and Member States could consider enlarged resettlement schemes, as well as building public support for responsible asylum policies through political leadership and creating powerful counter-narratives to anti-refugee rhetoric.
National, regional and local authorities, the business sector, professional groups and civil society should work together to use EU funds to stimulate socially responsible and inclusive growth that fosters fundamental rights and respect for diversity.
A ‘traffic light’ warning system for users of digital technology, by IT companies and their regulators. Red lights would warn of the potential reuse of personal their data.
FRA will publish the full Chair’s statement of concrete suggestions in these three areas on 28 June. FRA pledges to use every opportunity to present and discuss these findings with stakeholders throughout the EU. Already FRA will present the statement to the EU Council in July.

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Celebrating 50 years of freedom and human rights

Posted by fidest press agency su venerdì, 11 dicembre 2015

This year’s Human Rights Day celebrates 50 years of two landmark international human rights convenants: the International Convenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the International Convenant on Civil and Political Rights. To mark the occasion, the European Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) acknowledges their contribution in shaping and strengthening human rights protection worldwide.
The two Convenants and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights formed the International Bill of Human Rights, which established that every person is born with civil, political, cultural, economic and social rights. These rights were established with the belief that peace is not possible without a decent standard of living for everyone across the globe; and that a person’s economic security and independence grants each person their personal freedom. While much has changed over these last 50 years, the values in these two Convenants remain constant. They helped shaped the EU’s very own bill of rights, the EU Charter for Fundamental Rights. Today is a day to remind ourselves that the rights and freedoms enshrined in these two Convenants 50 years ago are as relevant now as they were then. They remind us of the need to continue to work towards open and inclusive societies, and to promote, respect and protect all people so they can live their life with dignity.

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Michael O’Flaherty to become new FRA Director

Posted by fidest press agency su lunedì, 28 settembre 2015

Michael“It is with great pleasure that FRA’s Management Board announces the appointment of Michael O’Flaherty as the next FRA Director,” said FRA Management Board Chairperson Frauke Lisa Seidensticker. “His profound human rights expertise and wealth of experience on the national, European and international stage will strengthen FRA’s role as a major player in shaping the fundamental rights landscape across the EU.”
FRA’s Management Board members interviewed the candidates during their meeting on 24-25 September. The final decision was then put to a vote. “It’s a great honour for me to take up this important position,” said incoming Director Michael O’Flaherty. “I very much look forward to working together with the staff and the Management Board to advance the protection and promotion of fundamental rights throughout the EU, particularly in these critical times.”Michael O’Flaherty is currently Professor of Human Rights Law at the National University of Ireland Galway, as well as Director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights. He has also been a member of the United Nations’ Human Rights Committee and has been active in the field of human rights for over 20 years, nationally and internationally. He has been a senior expert for Ireland as part of FRA’s multidisciplinary research network, FRANET, since 2014. (photo: Michael)

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Dorian Gray in Europe – The End of Shame and Human Rights

Posted by fidest press agency su martedì, 2 giugno 2015

dorian grayOne prominent member and funder of the Council of Europe, Russia, suppresses civil liberties, makes a mockery of elections, undermines freedom of association and speech and invades another member state. The prime minister of another member state, Hungary, suggests it might be a good idea to have an open debate about reintroducing the death penalty. Yet another founding member, the United Kingdom, is threatening to ignore judgements from the European Court of Human Rights in Strasburg that it finds inconvenient. On 1 June, a government spokesman was quoted in the Guardian as saying:”The UK prime minister’s position on what needs to happen on human rights is set out very clearly in the Conservative manifesto. That is the approach that the whole government is behind. That is scrapping the Human Rights Act, breaking the link between the ECHR and here and making the supreme court in the UK the ultimate arbiter of human rights in the UK.All of this is happening at a moment when the Council of Europe is already weakened by its inability to call a dictatorship a dictatorship and to condemn clearly even the most outrageous and systematic violations of the European Convention in certain member states.The times call for clear messages and decisive actions, as human rights – and the international instruments protecting them – are challenged across Europe. And yet at the hour when it is needed most, Strasburg appears lost.A new essay in the summer 2015 issue of the Journal of Democracy puts the crisis of Europe’s oldest human rights institution into a larger contextToday, Europe has more human-rights treaties, employs more human-rights commissioners, awards more human-rights prizes, and is home to more human-rights organizations than at any point in dorianits history. And yet it was no great challenge for the autocratic regime of President Ilham Aliyev in Azerbaijan to paralyze this system. By capturing the Council of Europe, the Azerbaijani government managed to neutralize the core strategy of the international human-rights movement: “naming and shaming.”This crisis affects all European democracies and challenges the international human rights movement as it developed since the early 1960s:Ilham Aliyev, the son of a Soviet-era KGB general, was born the same year that Amnesty International and the modern international human-rights movement were launched. In May 1961, outraged by the news that two Portuguese students had been jailed for raising a toast to freedom, British human-rights lawyer Peter Benenson published an article in the London Observer. Alongside photos of six people jailed in different countries, he wrote about “forgotten prisoners.” Benenson appealed to international norms such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He put his trust in the power of public opinion: “When world opinion is concentrated on one weak spot, it can sometimes succeed in making a government relent… . Pressure of opinion a hundred years ago brought about the emancipation of the slaves.” In August 1975, European democracies, the United States, and Canada joined the leaders of the communist bloc in signing the Helsinki Accords. European democracies had pushed for human rights to be included in these talks. The United States was skeptical; Henry Kissinger famously said that the human-rights provisions of the Helsinki Act could be “written in Swahili for all I care.” … As historian Samuel Moyn put it: “It was not until the 1970s, with the emergence of dissident movements in Eastern Europe, that [human rights] entered common parlance. This is the period that historians need to scrutinize most intently—the moment when human rights triumphed as a set of beliefs … “This legacy and its achievements are now under threat, in Europe and in much of the rest of the world:Four decades after the signature of the Helsinki Final Act, human-rights discourse has been marginalized across Europe. Most governments have human-rights commissioners, but these are rarely positions of influence. The EU’s External Action Service created a special post for human rights, which so far has played no role in shaping policy. When foreign-policy think tanks convene gatherings to discuss the continent’s future, the issue of human rights seldom comes up. Academics largely ignore what is happening to pan-European human-rights institutions. There is, of course, a world of human-rights NGOs, but often these organizations end up talking mainly among themselves or to individual government officials tasked to “deal with” human rights.
In a March 2015 speech, Ilham Aliyev explained that international treaties are “only a piece of paper that aren’t worth anything … We see it and everyone else can see it too. We see this throughout the world—might is right.” There are no moral principles or international human-rights obligations. There is no voice for the powerless. There is no room for shaming. Once torturers are treated with respect, even torture will cease to be considered shameful.An illustration of how marginal human rights have become in European policy is the fact that the European Commission still gives substantial aid to oil-rich Azerbaijan. This is the very moment in which Nils Muiznieks, Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe, stated that “in no other Council of Europe country are all my partners in jail.” In a 10-minute clip posted on Youtube in May 2015 the EU presents itself as a proud partner to “reform efforts” and the “exchange of best practices” with Azerbaijan. It describes its budget support to Azerbaijan, which amongst other things is being used to modernise the justice and penal systems. It is time to reclaim the political symbolism in support of human rights. Personalized sanctions, travel bans and asset freezes against specific human rights violators might restore a sense of shame and honour. They might even give hope to those who languish in jail for promoting core European values. It would, however, take some political will for European leaders to put aside short-term political expediency. In Brussels, Strasburg and most European capitals, this will is currently missing. And this is a problem that goes much wider than Azerbaijan, and bodes ill for the future of human rights protection in the twenty-first century (Gerald Knaus) (photo: dorian gray)

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Migrants and the Mediterranean – UN rights expert visits Italy to follow up on EU border management study

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 4 dicembre 2014

african_migrants.jpg.crop_displayGENEVA UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, François Crépeau, will visit Italy from 2 to 5 December 2014 as a follow-up to his 2012 year-long study on the management of the external borders of the European Union, which took him to Tunisia, Turkey, Greece and Brussels where he met with EU Institutions. Crépeau will also visit Malta from 6 to 10 December in this regard.
“This year, we have seen an unprecedented number of migrants and asylum seekers arrive in the Euro-Mediterranean region. Italy’s long coastline, and proximity to North Africa, continues to make it a key point of entry for many migrants seeking to reach Europe,” Crépeau said. During the mission to Italy, the human rights expert will meet with a range of Government officials responsible for border management, international organisations, migrant organisations, and migrants themselves, to discuss the complex management of the Italian border. At the end of the mission, the UN Special Rapporteur will share his preliminary conclusions at a press conference on 5 December 2014 at 12pm, at the Italian Society For International Organization, Piazza di San Marco, 51, 00186 Roma. Details of the press conference in Malta will be made available in the coming days. The Special Rapporteur’s study will result in a follow-up country mission report and a thematic report on EU border management to be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2015.
François Crépeau (Canada) was appointed Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants in June 2011 by the UN Human Rights Council, for an initial period of three years. As Special Rapporteur, he is independent from any government or organization and serves in his individual capacity. Mr. Crépeau is also Full Professor at the Faculty of Law of McGill University, in Montréal, where he holds the Hans and Tamar Oppenheimer Chair in Public International Law and is scientific director of the Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism. Learn more, log on to:

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United Nations leaves Israel alone in the face of an existential threat, says WJC

Posted by fidest press agency su martedì, 15 luglio 2014

GazastripNEW YORK – The World Jewish Congress on Sunday criticized the United Nations Security Council and senior UN officials for failing to recognize Israel’s right to self-defense under the UN Charter against armed attacks against its territory and population. “It is once again troubling and shameful to see how the UN and many other governments are failing to grasp the fact that Israel is responding to an armed aggression launched against its territory by Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip,” said WJC President Ronald S. Lauder in response to Saturday’s Security Council statement and comments by UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay which questioned the legality of Israel’s action in the Gaza Strip and suggested that Israel was deliberately killing civilians in Gaza.Lauder welcomed the Canadian government’s rejection of Pillay’s comments, which Foreign Minister John Baird had said was an “uncalled-for criticism of Israel”. The WJC president declared: “Canada has once again proven to be a real friend and one of the Jewish state’s closest allies. To put Hamas – a recognized terror organization – and the State of Israel on the same level and then to blame Israel for causing the death of civilians that Hamas deliberately uses as human shields is a way of saying that Hamas’ actions are justified.“Contrary to what Mrs. Pillay claims, the Israel military is taken extraordinary steps to prevent civilian casualties whereas Hamas is cynically seeking as many civilian casualties as possible. It is time for the UN and its leading officials to show some moral backbone, to uphold the principles enshrined in the UN Charter, and to hold Israel to the same standards than any other country battling this sort of existential threat,” he added.A few days ago, Lauder wrote a letter to UN ambassadors, EU foreign ministers, and others, telling them: “If it were your cities under attack, we know you would agree that a sovereign government has a duty to defend its citizens.”The WJC president also criticized the UN Security Council statement on the conflict, saying: “Once again, the council failed to name the cause of this conflict, or to condemn Hamas’ actions. The UN, instead of defending the values on which the organization was founded seven decades ago, continues to blame Israel for everything and is silent on terror groups such as Hamas.”

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European Court of Human Rights and EU Fundamental Rights Agency launch updated guide to European law on asylum,

Posted by fidest press agency su domenica, 29 giugno 2014

europeanCourtHumanAfter the success of the first edition, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) are today launching an update of their guide to European law on asylum, borders and immigration. As well as updating the material contained in the handbook published last year, the guide is being made available in a further two languages.The Handbook on European law relating to asylum, borders and immigration, which builds on the experience of a previous joint project between the two institutions, was welcomed in particular by lawyers, judges and immigration practitioners, who work on such issues on an everyday basis. Altogether, the handbook has so far been downloaded approximately 26,000 times from the FRA and ECtHR websites.
It is the first comprehensive guide to European law in the areas of asylum, borders and immigration, taking into account both the case-law of the ECtHR and that of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). It also contains the relevant EU Regulations and Directives, as well as references to the European Social Charter (ESC) and other Council of Europe instruments.“The area of asylum and migration is increasingly important, and we are glad to be able to offer such a useful tool,” said FRA Director Morten Kjaerum. “After the tragedies we have witnessed over the last few months, we see there is a real need for such guides to assist practitioners in the field to improve respect for fundamental rights at Europe’s borders.”“The very positive feedback on this publication indicates that there was a significant need for a manual on the various aspects of European law in these areas” said Court Registrar Erik Fribergh.Today’s handbook updates the material previously published in English, French, German and Italian, and is additionally being published for the first time in Hungarian and Spanish, with more language versions coming later this year. It is aimed at lawyers, judges, prosecutors, border guards, immigration officials and others working with national authorities, as well as non-governmental organisations confronted with legal issues in the areas covered by the handbook in all these countries.The manual focuses on law covering the situation of third-country nationals in Europe and covers a broad range of topics, including access to asylum procedures, procedural safeguards and legal support in asylum and return cases, detention and restrictions to freedom of movement, forced returns, and economic and social rights.

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official launch of the World Health Organization’s MiNDbank online platform.

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 14 dicembre 2013

Youth for Human Rights International

Youth for Human Rights International (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WHO MiNDbank is a product of the QualityRights Project, WHO’s flagship campaign to improve care and end human rights violations against people with mental and psychosocial disabilities. WHO MiNDbank brings together key policies, strategies, laws and service standards for mental health, substance abuse, general health, disability, human rights and development. The platform aims to facilitate debate, dialogue, advocacy and research in order to promote national reform in these areas, in line with international human rights and best practice standards.
oficial de MiNDbank, plataforma en línea de la Organización Mundial de la Salud. MiNDbank es un logro del Proyecto QualityRights, campaña faro de la OMS para mejorar la atención de la salud y poner fin a las violaciones de los derechos humanos de las personas con discapacidades mentales y psicosociales. MiNDbank agrupa políticas, estrategias, leyes y estándares de servicios fundamentales para la salud mental, el abuso de sustancias, la salud general, la discapacidad, los derechos humanos y el desarrollo. El objetivo de esta plataforma en línea es facilitar el debate, el diálogo, la promoción y la investigación para promover reformas a nivel nacional en estas esferas, en consonancia con las normas internacionales de derechos humanos y las normas de buenas prácticas.
oficial da plataforma online MiNDbank da Organização Mundial de Saúde. A plataforma MiNDbank da OMS é um produto do Projeto QualityRights, principal campanha da OMS para melhorar os cuidados e acabar com as violações dos direitos humanos dirigidas às pessoas com incapacidade mental e psicossocial. A base de dados MiNDbank da OMS reúne políticas, estratégias, leis e normas sobre serviços fundamentais em saúde mental, abuso de substâncias, saúde geral, incapacidade, direitos humanos e desenvolvimento. A plataforma pretende facilitar o debate, o diálogo, a advocacia e a investigação para promover reformas nacionais nestas áreas, de acordo com os direitos humanos e com as boas práticas internacionais.

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The Church and Society Commission of CEC welcomes EU guidelines on Freedom of religion or belief

Posted by fidest press agency su venerdì, 28 giugno 2013

The European Union (EU) Foreign Affairs Council adopted the EU Guidelines on Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) in Luxembourg. The guidelines were produced as a result of the Strategic Framework and Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy that was adopted.The adoption of the freedom of religion or belief guidelines is a welcome step in the EU mainstreaming policy of freedom of religion or belief as a priority in its foreign policy. The Church and Society Commission of CEC welcome the adoption of the EU Freedom of Religion or belief guidelines.
CEC member churches played an active role during the consultation and drafting process of these guidelines. The Church and Society Commission of CEC participated in the public consultations that were organized by the European External Action Service (EEAS) and among others they gave input to the development of the guidelines by providing their experience and expertise during the Dialogue seminar “ Freedom of Religion: A Fundamental Right in a Rapidly Changing World” (2012). During the drafting process of the guidelines, churches advocated for human rights for all people and all nations stating that freedom of religion or belief is an inalienable right for every human being regardless of their religion or belief. They insisted that the states need to provide a clear human rights based legal framework and that their task and duty is to condemn all sorts of human rights violations. Freedom of religion or belief as a fundamental right is equally important for minorities as well as majorities, equally important for the individuals as well as for the communities. The CSC of CEC empathized that churches, religious communities and civil society organizations do play a crucial role in promotion of religious tolerance and therefore should be included in the training on freedom of religion or belief for the EEAS staff as they do have direct contact with victims of human rights violations.With these guidelines, churches, religious communities and individuals outside of EU borders can report Freedom of religion or belief violations to EU delegations in third countries .As a result of the reported violations, the EU can take action through the mechanisms at its disposal; these include raising the freedom of religion or belief violations at bilateral talks, issuing demarches and recommendations for specific countries.

Churches will continue to monitor the implementation and evaluation of the guidelines on Freedom of religion or belief in order to ensure that these guidelines are being used effectively to combat freedom of religion or belief violations and to bring the perpetrators to justice.

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Diploma in Mental Health Law and Human Rights

Posted by fidest press agency su martedì, 22 Mag 2012

The Diploma, now in its fifth year, is a collaboration between WHO and the ILS Law College in Pune, India. The course builds the capacity of students to advocate for human rights and to influence national legislative and policy and service reform in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and other key international human rights standards. It is a one year Diploma and includes two residential sessions and distance learning. Students to date have comprised health and mental health professionals, lawyers, mental health service users and survivors, government officials, social workers, human rights defenders and families and carers. The course is taught be a faculty of renowned international experts in the area.The prospectus for the Diploma is attached. More information about the Diploma is also available at:

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“Islam, Shari’a and Democratic Transformation in the Arab World”

Posted by fidest press agency su mercoledì, 16 Mag 2012


Islam (Photo credit: rogiro)

Roma May 22, 2012 – 15:00 Palazzo Caetani, Via Michelangelo Caetani 32 Prof. Abdullahi Ahmad An-Na‛im Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law – Emory University- Atlanta
Discussants: Prof. Gokhan Bacik- Zirve University, Gaziantep-Turkey H.E. Lamia Mekhemar Ambassador of Republic of Egypt to the Holy See
Prof. Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im, born in 1946 in Sudan, is a renown scholar of Islam and Human Rights. He has published numerous books, including Islam and the Secular State: Negotiating the Future of Shari’a (2008), African Constitutionalism and the Role of Islam (2006), Toward an Islamic Reformation: Civil Lberties, Human Rights and International Law (1990).Prof. An-Na‛im sees the ongoing events in the Arab World as an opportunity for Islam to bring about political, economic and social transformations in countries such as, for example, Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. In his view, “external actors can support liberation struggles, but should not attempt to displace or impose on the independent agency of native actors”, who will need to implement their own strategies to protect women rights, freedom of religion and free-speech. The Conference is meant to address an audience of international actors, including Ambassadors, Politicians and NGO’s officials living and working in Rome.
Organizers of the Conference are the IFIIE Foundation ( and Istituto Tevere-Centro pro Dialogo ( whose goals are to educate leaders to a better understanding of other religious traditions and cultures through a study and discovery of both spiritual differences as well as shared values.

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