Ministry of foreign affairs of the russian federation report on the human rights situation in the european union moscow

:)


Download 347.34 Kb.
Page1/6
Date conversion22.06.2018
Size347.34 Kb.
  1   2   3   4   5   6



MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION


REPORT
ON THE HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION
IN THE EUROPEAN UNION


Moscow

2012

Contents


Introduction ………………………………………………………………...

3

European Union ….. ……………………………………………………….

4

Austria ……………………………………………………………………....

9

Belgium ..…………………………………………………………………....

11

Bulgaria ………….…….…………….……………………………………..

14

Great Britain…… ………………………………………………………….

16

Hungary ……….…………………………………………………………....

22

Germany ………..….……………………………………………………….

25

Greece …………..………………………………………………………......

29

Denmark ………………………………………………………………........

32


Ireland ………….…………………………………………………………..

35

Spain ………..……………………………………………………………....

36

Italy …………….…………….…………………………………………......

38

Cyprus ………….……………………………………………………..........

40

Latvia …..……….………………………………………………………......

41

Lithuania ……………..………………………………………………........

43

Luxembourg …………….………………………………………………….

44

Malta …………………….……………………………………………….....

45

Netherlands …..………………………….…………………………………

46

Poland ……………………………………………………………………....

49

Portugal …………………………………………………………………….

51

Romania …………..………………………………………………………..

53

Slovakia …………….….………..………………………………………….

55

Slovenia …………………………………………………………………….

56


Finland ……………….……………………………………………………..

57

France …………………….………………………………………………...

60

Czech Republic ……………………………..…………………………........

62

Sweden ……………………………………………………………………....

63

Estonia ……………………………………………………………………....

65



Introduction

Although the European Union and its members traditionally declare their commitment to the protection and promotion of human rights both on the national and international levels, the situation in this sphere in the EU is still far from perfect. A lot of respected human rights activists and international human rights organizations express concern with the fact that in the recent years the protection of basic rights, freedoms and democratic standards in EU countries has faced difficulties.

Among the most pressing human rights issues in the EU are the following: a steady growth of xenophobia, racism, violent nationalism and neo-Nazism, violation of rights of minorities, prisoners, refugees, migrants, and persons with mental illnesses, lack of protection of children, gender inequality, violation of privacy, abuse of power by the police, a number of EU countries harboring CIA black sites, the situation as to the freedom of mass media, which is far from perfect, and the infringement of social rights of citizens. It is very alarming that certain EU countries, though verbally supporting the international human rights norms and standards, decide not to assume responsibility even under basic multilateral treaties on human rights, and if they do assume such responsibilities, these are often accompanied by neutralizing reservations.

In this context, it becomes clear that the existing system of protection of human rights and freedoms in the EU is not flawless. Neither the EU judicial mechanisms, the EU ombudsman who receives complaints about the activities of supranational institutions, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights acting as a consultant for EU institutions, nor the newly created post of the EU Special Representative for human rights do not cover all the systemic challenges in the area of human rights that the European Union faces today.

Neither on the institutional, nor on the legislative level one of the most sensitive spheres of EU control has been fully developed, that is constant supranational monitoring of cases involving violations of fundamental rights and freedoms by certain member States. There is a total lack of tools of active response by EU institutions and of prosecution of those responsible.

All this is in an obvious contradiction with the EU claims of being the model and often the "supreme arbiter" as far as human rights and democratic freedoms are concerned.

The aim of the present report is to draw the attention of both EU Member States and EU supranational bodies to serious problems at their home. A lot of those are of a cross-border nature, which means that they require joined efforts of all countries in order to achieve the most effective solution.

Russia is ready for a constructive dialogue of equals with the European Union on human rights and democratic development, which would to the full extent correspond to the relations of strategic partnership with the EU. This cooperation will gain a lot if our counterparts from the EU abandon their policy of imposing their priorities, stop looking down on the interests of other partners and creating an artificial systematization of international human rights obligations.

European Union
Influential non-governmental organizations and international human rights mechanisms continue to report on the alarming deterioration of democratic standards in the European Union. The violations in the EU space infringe on all the basic freedoms such as of thought, conscience and religion, expression, assembly, association, and movement.

The European Union has enough resources to carry out full-scale monitoring and quality analysis of the development of human rights situation "at home". The conclusions and recommendations of the institutions concerned are, however, often of a declarative nature and do not usually bring about any coordinated actions or measures aimed at addressing systematic challenges in the sphere. No progress in solving the EU internal issues and occasional lack of political will are in a stark contrast with the way the European Union lectures other countries. This persisting inconsistency can complicate cooperation in the field of protection and promotion of human rights in the framework of influential international mechanisms.

This gives us ground to claim that the EU supranational institutions in the sphere of human rights lack effectiveness, which is especially true of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. The document, which became legally binding after the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, is not always effective due to the lack of real tools for its implementation in the EU. As shown by the 2011 Report on the Application of the Charter, the main efforts of the EU institutions are directed towards taking into account "European values and constitutional heritage" when elaborating the EU legislation. The approach of the EU institutions towards monitoring its implementation by Member States is nominal; they virtually ignore the real state of affairs in the EU. What is more, the governing bodies of the Union show indulgence, to say the least, towards violations of human rights by Member States. For example, the European Commission demonstrates stubborn reluctance to interfere in the situation regarding large-scale violations of rights of the Russian-speaking population of Latvia and Estonia under the pretext that it does not have the necessary powers. The investigation of undemocratic reforms in Hungary has been virtually "soft-pedaled".

Among the EU violations in the humanitarian sphere the following ones can be noted: the violations of rights of minorities, prisoners, inadequate protection of children, violations of privacy, abuse of power during dispersal of street demonstrations, etc.

A host of EU Member States have participated in the notorious CIA program under which persons suspected of having taken part in terrorist activities were arrested, moved to "secret prisons" and incarcerated. Such actions are a blatant violation of fundamental international obligations in the human rights sphere, primarily, those on a total prohibition of torture.

Neither the EU Member States, where official investigations are closed without any explanation of reasons, dragged out or are not conducted at all, nor the EU institutions, which plead absence of competence when it comes to the internal competence of Member States, are showing zeal.

It is symbolic that the European Parliament found the situation so unsatisfactory that on September 11, 2012 it adopted a resolution calling upon Lithuania, Poland and Romania to conduct an independent comprehensive investigation of "a possible existence of secret CIA prisons on their territory in early 2000s". As it has been repeatedly underlined by members of the European Parliament during debates on the draft resolution, the CIA prisons scandal significantly undermines the EU moral authority as far as the protection of human rights is concerned, while its unwillingness to conduct a comprehensive investigation in Member States and on the EU level is a challenge to freedom and justice.

The state of affairs with mass media is also far from perfect. Cases have been registered when public authorities interfered with the work of the media, when journalists were attacked. Human rights activists are concerned with the absence of free competition on the EU media market, as well as with the opacity of information on the owners of major media holdings.

In the 2011–2012 rating drawn up by an international NGO "Reporters Without Borders" the following countries lost more than ten positions: Sweden (12th position), Lithuania (30th), Hungary (40th), Latvia (50th), Malta (58th), Italy (61st). We are witnessing a deteriorated situation as regards the freedom of speech in Ireland (15th position) and Belgium (20th position). The UK occupies the 28th position, Portugal (33rd), Slovenia (36th), France (28th), Spain (39th), Romania (47th) and Greece (70th). The worst situation remains in Bulgaria (80th position). According to O. Basiya, Secretary-general of "Reporters Without Borders", there is no any EU Member State where a negative trend has not been noted.

Several hearings devoted to certain subjects that have been held since the beginning of 2012, such as those in Bulgaria and Poland, testify to the gravity of the problems in that sphere. In this context, the leader of an EP faction "Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe", Guy Verhofstadt (Belgium) has expressed his concern over the tendency he is witnessing in Europe towards populism, nationalism and lack of political pluralism. He believes that "the European Union needs to solve its own issues as assiduously as it solves those outside its borders".

Negative repercussions for democratic processes and social rights of citizens can be seen across the EU in connection with budget austerity and fiscal consolidation which are underway. In a number of EU countries public protests against the elimination by the state of social benefits of citizens are put down.

According to the Report of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights on the anti-Semitism situation in EU countries, which was made public in the European Parliament in June 2012, in the last 10 years the numbers indicating torts and crimes committed against Jewish Diaspora of the EU, have gone up. According to statistics, the average rate of anti-Semitism manifestations in France and the UK is around one per day, while in the FRG it is three per day. As the director of the Agency M. Kjaerum said, "the situation is troubling and requires urgent consideration". The issue is complicated by the fact that no supranational EU institution keeps a constant and precise record of all crimes committed in the EU on the grounds of anti-Semitism. There is usually no such practice on the national level either (the exceptions here are the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Sweden).

In addition to that, the EU Member States are witnessing a steady growth of xenophobia, racism, violent nationalism and crimes committed out of hatred. An example of that kind is the creation of anti-immigrant websites in Belgium and the Netherlands. The EU efforts aimed at countering such trends are often limited to moral disapproval of such cases expressed by some EU officials. In this context, Belgium, Greece, Spain, Poland and Estonia have not yet submitted to the European Commission their information on the implementation of the EU Council Framework Decision of 2008 on combating certain forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law, though the deadline for taking the necessary legal measures expired in late 2010.

Discrimination against the Gypsies takes place on a systematic basis in the EU Member States. According to the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights, in Spain, Italy, Portugal, France the rights of Gypsies are violated no less than in the Central and Eastern Europe countries. About half of the gypsy population there lives in dwellings that do not meet basic sanitary standards. Only 15 percent of young Gypsies have completed their secondary or higher education. EU's centralized efforts to improve the situation in this field are stuck, though, and the adopted policy documents have largely a declarative character.

In the EU the situation with respect for the rights of refugees and migrants is unfavorable as well. Thus, in the April report of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on "Lives lost in the Mediterranean Sea: who is responsible?" a deep concern is expressed regarding the insufficiently effective observance of human rights by a number of EU Member States when controlling the migration flows across the borders of the block. European organizations are strongly encouraged to develop a comprehensive approach to the security of refugees that cross the Mediterranean Sea.

In the context of death of 61 people, including 31 children, in the Aegean Sea in September 2012, and missing of 80 people in the Mediterranean, "Human Rights Watch" said that the governments of the EU Member States and the EU itself put more emphasis on border control (and often with human rights violations), rather than on the prevention of deaths at sea. Human rights activists demand life-saving to become an integral part of the EU rescue operations at sea and not to be pushed to the background by the tasks of combating illegal migration and cross-border crime. Appropriate amendments, in their opinion, should be made to the legal framework that regulates the functioning of the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders and the future European border surveillance system. It currently contains only general statements about the need to take into consideration the special needs of those in distress, as well as children, asylum seekers, victims of trafficking and those in need of medical care, and does not provide effective guarantees of respect for the rights of the mentioned individuals.

The total number of reported victims of trafficking in the European Union is 880,000. Despite the fact that the scale of human trafficking is constantly increasing, the number of offenders prosecuted for such crimes, according to the EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ms. Cecilia Malmström, remains quite small (only 1,600 sentences were pronounced in the EU last year).

The rights of persons with mental illness are violated in the European Union. According to the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights report "Choice and control: the right to independent living" and "Involuntary placement and involuntary treatment of persons with mental health problems", cases of social exclusion of mentally handicapped persons, abasement of their dignity during psychiatric examinations and placement, lack of "barrier-free environment" as well as mechanisms for flexible labor market access, are noted in all EU Member States without exception. Those with mental health problems are often placed under guardianship without an acute need for this. According to the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights, it restricts their freedom of choice in everyday life, including voting rights, access to legal services, justice, banking, insurance and tourism sectors, as well as strengthens social prejudices against them. This happens despite the fact that the conditions for mentally ill persons are one of the EU criteria for assessment of candidate countries for their accession.

In light of the upcoming elections to the European Parliament in 2014, the issue re-appears of deprivation of "non-citizens" of Latvia and Estonia of voting rights in the formation of legislative bodies not only in their countries, but the European Parliament as well. Following the results of the pan-European election campaign in 2009, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights recommended EU structures to develop a "minimum standard" that would provide for the granting to "non-citizens" the voting right in the elections to the European Parliament. However, the situation in this field has not yet changed for the better.

In October 2012 a report was published by NGO “Fair Trial International” and international law firm “Clifford Chance”, according to which the number of cases, filed with the ECHR against the EU Member States relative to unfair trials and illegal arrest, has doubled within the last 5 years. Greece, Bulgaria, Poland and Romania are named as main offenders.

The European ombudsman P. Nikiforos Diamandouros confirmed the violation of the multilingualism principle in the work of the European Commission. Thus, for the purposes of public consultations the documents were translated only into one language, two or three at best, but not into 23 official languages of the EU, as required by the principle of non-discrimination. Nikiforos Diamandouros was confident that the right of EU citizens to participate in the pan European decision-making and "democratic life" of the EU was thus violated. This point of view was also supported by the European Parliament which, in June 2012, adopted a resolution noting the lack of usage of the potential of public consultations and called upon the Commission to post relevant information in all official EU languages. EU Ombudsman's findings are purely advisory. They can not force the Commission to change this state of things.

According to the report "Money, Politics, Power: Corruption Risks in Europe", released by NGO “Transparency Intentional” in June 2012, none of the surveyed EU countries (the analysis was carried out in 23 of the 27 EU Member States) has an impeccable reputation in the anti-corruption field. Absence of code of conduct for parliamentarians as well as the requirement of compulsory disclosure of their tax returns were noted as serious imperfections in almost all countries. In 20 countries, not only absence of public discussion of laws was noted, but also serious barriers for access by citizens to information about bills initiated.

Despite the generally representative participation of EU members in key human rights multilateral treaties, some Europeans prefer not to undertake the relevant commitments. It is important to bear in mind that participation in such treaties is justly regarded as an indicator of adherence of any given state to the universal human rights standards, by which the real readiness to develop interstate cooperation in the field of human rights is assessed.

In this regard, attention is drawn to the fact of non-participation of Great Britain in the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (establishes the right of the Human Rights Committee to consider individual communications/complaints of violations by State Parties to the Covenant of their obligations under this treaty.) In addition, Latvia and Poland do not participate in the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (proclaims the abolition of death penalty); Austria, Belgium, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal, Slovakia and Finland do not participate in the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (establishes an international inspection system for places of detention); Latvia, Estonia and Malta do not participate in the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (establishes the right of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women to hear complaints of violations by Member States of their obligations under the Convention); Estonia does not participate in the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict; Ireland and the Czech Republic do not participate in the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the fight against child prostitution, child pornography and sale of children, Ireland, Malta, the Netherlands and Finland do not participate in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Bulgaria, Denmark, Ireland, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Spain and the Czech Republic do not participate in the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (establishes a procedure for the consideration of reports of violations by State Parties of their obligations under the Convention); and Bulgaria, Great Britain, Hungary, Greece, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Czech Republic and Sweden do not participate in the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. The non-participation of Malta in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide does not at all correlate with the European Union's image of "the main driving force" in combating crimes against humanity.

The situation with reservations made by the EU Member States to certain provisions of fundamental multilateral human rights treaties deserves a separate analysis. A considerable part of the reservations concerns the inherent to Europeans interpretation of rights and freedoms as absolute, i.e. supposedly not subject to any restrictions. The question is, first of all, with the rights to freedom of opinion and expression (e.g. freedom of speech), and the rights to freedom of assembly and association.

At the same time, this position raises many questions, including in terms of the admissibility of such clauses in conformity with the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties of 1969. Thus, according to Article 19 of the Convention, States may not formulate a reservation if it is "incompatible with the object and purposes of the treaty."

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (supervisory body according to the respective treaty) has repeatedly called upon the Europeans to withdraw their reservations to Article 4 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. It is generally known that this article requires that State Parties to the Convention criminalize the dissemination of racist ideas. The essence of the reservation of some of EU countries (made by Austria, Belgium, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Malta and France) is the refusal to adopt appropriate criminal legislation, as it would be incompatible with the right to freedom of opinion and expression, peaceful assembly and association. Hence the attitude of the EU Member States towards all kinds of Nazi rallies and marches, including those that heroize Waffen SS, which are considered in the Western Europe in light of realization of the mentioned rights and freedoms. In this context, the qualification by the committee of such reservations as violating the requirements of Article 19 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties is absolutely justified.

Many questions arise regarding the reservations made by a number of EU Member States to Article 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, according to which "any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law". The essence of the reservation made by the Europeans is the refusal to adopt the necessary legislation, because it would contravene the right to freedom of expression. Such reservations were made by Belgium, Great Britain, Denmark, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Finland, France and Sweden (Italy and Germany, for historical reasons, preferred to limit themselves to the overall qualification of the mentioned rights as absolute, i.e. not subject to any restrictions even formulated in the pact, but they refrained from making statements on the prohibition of propaganda for war).

Some reservations are in plain contradiction with the European Union's claims on the role of a model in promotion and protection of human rights. For example, at the signing of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights the United Kingdom stated that it was impossible to ensure equal pay for equal work for women and men. Though, at the deposit of the instrument of ratification the Great Britain has limited the scope of its reservation by a system of remuneration in the private sector, which, however, does not negate the discriminatory nature of the situation itself.

In the same line stands the German reservation to Article 3 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, according to which Germany has refused to assume an obligation not to extradite persons to the states where they could face torture.

Another questionable reservation has been made by the United Kingdom to the effect of Article 11 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Its point is that the United Kingdom refused to apply it in the territory of Jersey – a British dependent territory. Given that the right not to be imprisoned for inability to fulfill a contractual obligation enshrined in Article 11 is listed, according to the pact, among the rights the derogation from which is not permitted even in times of war or emergency, there exists a further violation by the United Kingdom of Article 19 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties and the Covenant itself as well.

Finally, we should note the reservations made by some of the EU members (including France and Poland) to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women regarding the refusal to recognize the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice in the examination of disputes under these treaties. It is generally known that Russia recalled a few years ago similar reservations to the relevant human rights conventions.





  1   2   3   4   5   6
:)


The database is protected by copyright ©hestories.info 2017
send message

    Main page

:)