Human Rights Comment

Missing persons in Europe: the truth is yet to be told

28/08/2014 Strasbourg
Tens of thousands of persons remain missing and still haunt Europe decades after the demise of dictatorships and the end of armed conflicts. For example, Spain has yet to come to terms with its past and shed light on the fate of more than 150 000 persons who remain missing as a result of the Spanish Civil War and Franco’s dictatorship. About 20 000 persons remain missing  following the armed...
Human Rigths Comment

Maintain universal access to health care

07/08/2014 Strasbourg
Universal access to health care has been undermined by austerity measures and the economic crisis. Cuts in health services and difficult economic and social conditions are beginning to have a measurable impact on the health of the population in many countries. Yet the right to health is guaranteed by international and European human rights instruments. Everyone’s access to health care without...

Concerns over the situation of human rights defenders in Azerbaijan

07/08/2014 Strasbourg
The arrest of Rasul Jafarov and the travel ban imposed on Emin Huseynov provide yet another disturbing illustration of how human rights defenders in Azerbaijan are systematically threatened with an instrumental use of criminal suits. These cases happen shortly after the arrest of Leyla Yunus and her husband, which followed a long list of arrests of activists who are now muzzled behind bars.  By...
Opinion article

Safeguarding human rights in the fight against terrorism

31/7/2014 Strasbourg
In an opinion editorial published today by New Europe, the Commissioner underscores the importance of safeguarding human rights in the fight against terrorism. “Anti-terror policies and actions must become more human-rights compliant. By doing so, state security is not reduced. On the contrary, governments would increase their credibility among the public and weaken support for anti-democratic...
Human Rights Comment

Fighting violence against women must become a top priority

29/07/2014 Strasbourg
On August 1, the Istanbul Convention, a landmark treaty of the Council of Europe dedicated to preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, will enter into force. It could not come at a better time. Violence against women remains one of the most widespread human rights violations which takes place every day in Europe; intimate partner violence is still among the major...
Letter to the Hungarian Prime Minister’s Office

Commissioner expresses concern over NGOs in Hungary

24/07/2014 Strasbourg
“The stigmatizing rhetoric used in Hungary against non-governmental organisations (NGOs) active in the field of promoting human rights and democratic values, with politicians questioning the legitimacy of their work, is of great concern to me” said today Nils Muižnieks, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, publishing a letter addressed to the Minister of the Prime Minister’s...
Letter to the Prime Minister

Ukraine: urgent action needed to protect internally displaced persons

17/07/2014 Strasbourg
“I am deeply concerned about the situation of internally displaced people in Ukraine. Many of the IDPs, who include women, children, and persons with disabilities, are traumatised by the hostilities and need special care. The government must urgently develop a coordinated response at the central level, first of all, by establishing a centralised registration system and designating a state...
Human Rights Comments

Protect women’s rights during the crisis

10/07/2014 Strasbourg
Women and men entered the economic crisis on an unequal footing. The crisis and resulting austerity measures have hit women disproportionately and endangered the progress already made in the enjoyment of human rights by women. A gender-sensitive response is necessary to halt and reverse this trend. Female poverty on the rise In most of the countries affected by the economic crisis, an...
Report on visit to Romania

Vulnerable groups require better protection in Romania

08/07/2014 Strasbourg
“Romania must show a much stronger commitment to effectively protecting the human rights of persons with disabilities, children and Roma”, said today Nils Muižnieks, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, releasing a report on his visit to Romania from 31 March to 4 April 2014. “Many persons with disabilities, including children, are isolated from society in a growing number of...
Visit to Hungary

Hungary should do more for the human rights of Roma, migrants and persons with disabilities

04/07/2014 Strasbourg
"The impact of recent changes in the legal framework in Hungary on human rights has attracted considerable international criticism. While some of the issues raised in that context have been addressed, the situation of vulnerable groups in the country remains of serious concern” said today Nils Muižnieks, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, at the end of a four-day visit to...
Report on visit to Montenegro

Montenegro: overcoming wartime legacy and strengthening media freedoms remain priorities

23/06/2014 Strasbourg
“Montenegro has an important role in regional efforts to establish the truth about serious human rights violations committed during the wars of the 1990s in the region of former Yugoslavia. However, impunity for wartime crimes and access to adequate reparations for all war victims remain issues that need to be effectively addressed by the authorities” said today Nils Muižnieks, Council of...
Visit to Ukraine

Ukraine: Crucial to pursue police and judicial reforms and address needs of displaced persons

20/06/2014 Strasbourg
“I strongly encourage the Ukrainian authorities to pursue reforms in the areas of law enforcement, the public prosecutor’s office and the judicial system. Ensuring effective investigations into human rights violations is essential to restore public trust in institutions,” concluded the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks, after a visit to Ukraine (Kyiv and Odessa)...
Il Corriere della Sera
Opinion article

Defamation in Italy : a draft law to be changed

In an opinion editorial published today on the Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera, the Commissioner, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media and the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, called on the Italian Senate to amend the current draft law on defamation. “To better reflect both national and international...
Human Rights Comment

Youth human rights at risk during the crisis

06/03/2014 Strasbourg
Young people have been one of the groups hardest hit by the economic crisis in Europe, with youth unemployment being the most common pathology of many countries implementing austerity measures. However, it is not only the social and economic rights of young people that are being undermined, but also their right to equal treatment, their right to participation, and their place in society, and...
Visit to the Netherlands

The Netherlands should improve protection of the rights of asylum seekers, migrants and children

23/05/2014 Strasbourg
"The Dutch authorities should stop automatic detention of asylum seekers arriving at Dutch international (air)ports from non-Schengen countries. In particular, children and their families do not belong there" said today Nils Muižnieks, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, at the end of a three-day visit to the Netherlands, which included a visit to Schiphol airport’s migrant...
Report on visit to Georgia

Georgia has to improve the administration of justice and promote tolerance

12/05/2014 Strasbourg
“Continued efforts are needed to enhance public trust in the justice system and to promote equality and minority rights,” said today Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, releasing a report (CommDH(2014)9) on his visit to Georgia from 20 to 25 January 2014. A reduction in the use of pre-trial detention and the increase of acquittal rates by the courts appear to signal...
Human Rights Comment

A boy or a girl or a person – intersex people lack recognition in Europe

09/05/2014 Strasbourg
On 1 March, Fox News presenter Clayton Morris had to apologise for his ‘ignorant and stupid’ comments mocking the new gender options for Facebook profiles which allow users to register as intersex. The TV presenter had ridiculed the move of the social media company referring to intersex by saying “whatever that is”. This case illustrates the prejudice and ignorance surrounding the reality of...
Opinion article

Keep the press free

02/05/2014 Strasbourg
To work as a journalist today, you need a great deal of courage. In the last twelve months, hundreds of journalists, photographers and camera operators in the world have been killed, injured, kidnapped, threatened or sued. Europe is no exception: worrying patterns are eroding press freedom here too. We must reverse them. A free, safe, independent and pluralistic press is a core element of any...
Human Rights Comment

Protecting children’s rights in the digital world: an ever-growing challenge

29/04/2014 Strasbourg
Protecting children’s rights in the digital world: an ever-growing challenge Most teenagers spend a substantial share of their time on Internet, often using social media, which have become a major means of socialising. Growing access to the Internet has brought about almost unlimited possibilities for children to access content and exercise their rights, including the right to receive and...
Observations on Azerbaijan

Freedom of expression, assembly and association deteriorating in Azerbaijan

23/04/2014 Strasbourg
"Freedom of expression, assembly and association are regrettably deteriorating in Azerbaijan. I once again call on the authorities to pay urgent attention to these issues so as to comply with Azerbaijan's human rights obligations and commitments as a member state of the Council of Europe" said today Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, while releasing his...
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