Fidest – Agenzia giornalistica/press agency

Quotidiano di informazione – Anno 32 n° 312

Posts Tagged ‘human rights’

Human rights breaches in Eritrea, Nicaragua and Saudi Arabia

Posted by fidest press agency su lunedì, 12 ottobre 2020

The European Parliament adopted three resolutions taking stock of the human rights situation in Eritrea, Nicaragua and Saudi Arabia. Eritrea, notably the case of Dawit Isaak. Parliament demands that all prisoners of conscience in Eritrea, notably Swedish citizen Dawit Isaak and several other journalists detained since September 2001, are immediately and unconditionally released. It calls on the Eritrean authorities to provide information immediately regarding Mr Isaak’s whereabouts and well-being, and to grant him access to representatives of the EU, its member states and Sweden, in order to establish his healthcare needs and any other support he might need. Members also condemn, in the strongest terms, Eritrea’s systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations and urge the country’s government to put an end to detentions of the opposition, journalists, religious leaders and innocent civilians. They further appeal to the African Union, as an EU partner that has explicitly committed to uphold the universal values of democracy and human rights, to step up its activity in relation to the regrettable situation in Eritrea. The full text, adopted by 663 votes in favour, 19 against and 13 abstentions, will be available here. (08.10.2020). MEPs urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release all these detainees, prioritising those in the most vulnerable situations, including women and children. The Saudi side must also ensure that every person entering the country from neighbouring war-torn Yemen is allowed to do so safely and is transferred to an appropriate reception centre that meets international standards. The text finally urges Saudi Arabia to immediately end torture and other ill-treatment in detention, and to provide appropriate mental and physical care to all.

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Human rights breaches in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Mozambique and the Philippines

Posted by fidest press agency su mercoledì, 23 settembre 2020

The European Parliament is greatly concerned by the grave danger currently facing Sakharov and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dr. Denis Mukwege and condemns the recent threats to his life, as well as those made against his family and staff members at the Panzi hospital where he works. Since July this year, Dr. Mukwege has received increasingly serious and sustained threats in response to his repeated calls to bring an end to impunity for perpetrators of sexual crimes and massacres in Kipupu, Sange and the Ituri province in the country.MEPs commend Dr. Mukwege for his courage and his life-long commitment to fighting the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict. They also welcome the UN decision to reinstate security protection for him. The DRC Government must not delay in carrying out a comprehensive investigation into the threats, as promised by DRC President Félix Tshisekedi, says the text.The full resolution, which also addresses the general human rights situation in the DRC, past and current violence, the exploration of natural resources in the country and other issues, was adopted by 654 votes in favour, 5 against and 26 abstentions. It will be available in full here. (17.09.2020)
MEPs are very worried about the deteriorating security situation in northern Mozambique, in particular in the Cabo Delgado province, and express their condolences to the victims of the ongoing violence. Since October 2017, the so-called Al-Shabaab terrorist group, allegedly affiliated with the armed group calling itself Islamic State of Central Africa Province, has launched over 500 violent attacks in the area, terrorising the local population, claiming over 1 500 lives and leading to the displacement of over 250 000 people.The resolution underlines that the current security problems further aggravate an already extremely fragile humanitarian situation deriving from high levels of underdevelopment, climate shocks and conflicts. It calls on Mozambique’s authorities to take decisive action in countering the Islamist insurgence, while also reminding them of their responsibility to bring all those suspected of terrorist activity to justice through fair trials.MEPs underline that if not stopped, the insurgency will potentially grow and spill over into neighbouring countries, threatening regional stability as seen in the Sahel and Horn of Africa.

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Human rights in the United States: MEPs to discuss the death of George Floyd

Posted by fidest press agency su venerdì, 5 giugno 2020

The debate in the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights will take place via videoconference on Friday, 5 June, at 10.15-11.00 CET.Members of the European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights will discuss the human rights situation in the United States after the death of George Floyd, on Friday at 10.15 CET. George Floyd was an African American man who died while being arrested by police officers on the street in the US city of Minneapolis on 25 May. His death, along with other such cases, has sparked both peaceful and violent demonstrations and protests against racism and police brutality all over the US, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The police officer suspected of causing George Floyd’s death has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

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Non dimentichiamo Patrick

Posted by fidest press agency su mercoledì, 22 aprile 2020

Sono passati più di due mesi dall’arresto, nella notte tra il 7 e l’8 febbraio, di Patrick Zaki. A causa della diffusione del Covid-19, anche in Egitto, la nuova udienza è stata rimandata. In un momento così particolare Volt, insieme alle associazioni InArte, Luca Coscioni e European Women for Human Rights, lancia il progetto “Artisti per Patrick” .Il progetto ha come scopo quello di coinvolgere Artisti che attraverso le loro opere portino avanti questo messaggio di giustizia. In un momento in cui Patrick “non ha voce” si chiede agli Artisti di essere la sua voce attraverso i loro lavori, per tenere alta l’attenzione sulla situazione, al fine di ottenere la sua scarcerazione. La società civile ha già dimostrato di esserci, Volt chiede di continuare a farlo con convinzione, soprattutto esorta, tutte le istituzioni italiane ed europee, ad accompagnare questo cammino verso la giustizia. Il progetto è visibile sul sito

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Human rights: respect for minorities and religions around the world

Posted by fidest press agency su domenica, 16 febbraio 2020

Bruxelles. Monday, 17 February, 17.00 – 18.30 CET. European Parliament’s SPAAK building in Brussels, room P5B001. The purpose of the hearing is to examine the state of international law when it comes to freedom of thought, conscience and religion around the world, as well as to look into lessons learned from previous policies and actions that have contributed to protecting this freedom.The participants will also discuss best practices from interreligious dialogues on promoting tolerance and the fight against discrimination based on religious grounds.The invited experts are:
Dr. Erin Wilson, Associate Professor of Global Politics and Religion, Vice Dean and Director of Education, Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Groningen, Netherlands;
Mr Muhammad Nuruddeen Lemu, Director of Research and Training, Da’wah Institute of Nigeria, Islamic Education Trust, Minna, Nigeria;
Ms Marcela Szymanski, Editor-in-Chief, report “Religious Freedom in the World”Head of the EU office and Advocacy, Aid to the Church in Need, ACN International.The hearing will be presided over by the Chair of the Subcommittee, Ms Maria Arena (S&D, BE). Here is the programme.

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Human rights breaches in Guinea Conakry and Madagascar

Posted by fidest press agency su domenica, 16 febbraio 2020

The European Parliament deplores the ongoing violence in the country, and strongly condemns the breaches of the freedom of assembly and speech, as well as recent acts of brute force by security personnel against political protesters, killings and other human rights abuses.Since mid-October 2019, there have been mass demonstrations in Guinea, amid opposition fears that incumbent President Alpha Condé will seek to extend his constitutional powers and stay in his position beyond the current presidential mandates, which are restricted to two terms. The government response to the outbreaks has also been heavy-handed, notes the resolution, with an excessive, undue and illegal use of force by police against the crowds. The protests have occurred predominantly in the capital Conakry and the northern opposition stronghold Mamou.MEPs call on the Guinean government to take urgent measures to ensure that the right to demonstrate freely is respected and urge all parties concerned to prevent tensions and violence from escalating any further. They also request that the authorities investigate and prosecute, according to international standards, members of the security forces against whom there is evidence of criminal responsibility.The text was adopted by show of hands. For all the details, the full resolution will be available here (13.02.2020).
As a response to the large numbers of child workers in Malagasy mines, MEPs remind the country’s authorities of “their responsibility to uphold the rights of children and guarantee their safety and integrity”. They urge the EU and its member states to work with Madagascar to support them in adopting and implementing legislation, policies, budgets and programmes that “contribute to the full realisation of all children’s rights”, while calling on the EU delegation in the country to keep monitoring the situation.
In the resolution, Parliament also calls on the government of Madagascar to work towards eradicating child labour and on the EU to ensure this issue remains a vital element of its political dialogue with the country. The European Commission and the EU member states should also work closely with different sectors to ban child labour-related products and services from entering the EU’s markets, MEPs add.According to the World Bank, Madagascar has the world’s fifth highest number of out-of-school children. In 2018, 47 % of all Malagasy children aged 5 to 17 were also engaged in child labour, including an estimated 86 000 child labourers in the mining sector, says the text. They mine for different minerals used in the electronic and automotive industries, which are also found in a wide range of products from paints to soil conditioners and from make-up to smart phones. The EU has a clear commitment to promote and protect the rights of the child in its internal and external actions, such as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which is the most widely ratified international human rights treaty.

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European Parliament: Subcommittee on Human Rights

Posted by fidest press agency su domenica, 19 gennaio 2020

Bruxelles Wednesday, 22 January 2020, 09.00-18.30 in meeting room Altiero Spinelli 3E-2 (Brussels) Debates
• Exchange of views with Eamon Gilmore, EU Special Representative for Human Rights
• Exchange of views on the human rights situation in Myanmar. With Nicholas Koumjian, Head of the United Nations Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (via webmeeting), and Yasmin Ullah, Free Rohingya Coalition (FRC)
In association with the Delegation for relations with the countries of Southeast Asia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) (tbc)
• Exchange of views on the future of the EU-Tunisia partnership: a Tunisian vision with Kamel Jendoubi, Honorary Chairman of EuroMed Rights, first President of the Independent Higher Authority for the elections and former Minister for relations with Constitutional Institutions and Civil Society, and Ouided Bouchamaoui, co-laureate of the Nobel Peace Prize 2015 and former President of the Tunisian Confederacy of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts (UTICA)
In association with the Delegation for relations with Maghreb countries

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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 maggio 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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