News 2013 News 2013
Human Rights Comment

Syrian refugees: a neglected human rights crisis in Europe

20/12/2013 Strasbourg
One of the world’s biggest refugee crises of recent times is unfolding on Europe’s doorstep, but most European governments have reacted with complete indifference. Close to 4 million people are internally displaced in Syria and almost 3 million have left the country since the beginning of the conflict. The vast majority of the refugees benefit from the hospitality of Syria’s neighouring...
Press conference

Europe is failing Syrian refugees

Berlin, 19/12/2013 - , In a press conference in Berlin concluding a 5-day visit to Turkey, Bulgaria and Germany on the Syrian refugee crisis, the Commissioner urged European countries to step up their efforts in providing protection to the more than one million Syrian refugees in Europe. "Turkey sets an example to Europe in the way it provides help to more than two hundred thousand refugees in...
Letter to the Prime Minister of Serbia

Serbia should end degrading reception conditions for asylum seekers

12/12/2013 Strasbourg
"Serbia needs to strengthen its asylum system and reception capacities in order to cope with the ever increasing number of arrivals, in particular from war-torn Syria. I could witness signs of the current strains on the Serbian asylum system during my November visit in the reception centre of Bogovadja, one of the two asylum centres in the country. Additional efforts are needed in order to...
Letter to the Mayor of Rome

The municipality of Rome should step up its support to Roma and refugees

11/12/2013 Strasbourg
"The situation of Roma and refugees in Italy is a long-standing concern. Local authorities, including in Rome, have an important role to play in improving the living conditions of these people," said today Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, while releasing a letter addressed to the Mayor of Rome, Mr Ignazio Marino. The letter draws the Mayor's attention to two...
Video message

Restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly still serious human rights concerns in Azerbaijan

11/12/2013 Strasbourg
In a video message to the Azerbaijan's Human Rights Forum, organized by the Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety (IRFS), in Baku, Azerbaijan, the Commissioner expressed his serious concern at the apparent intensification of the practice of unjustified or selective criminal prosecution of journalists and others who express critical opinions, including bloggers and online activists....
Publication of an Issue Paper

Austerity measures across Europe have undermined human rights

04/12/13 Strasbourg
"Many governments in Europe imposing austerity measures have forgotten about their human rights obligations, especially the social and economic rights of the most vulnerable, the need to ensure access to justice, and the right to equal treatment. Regrettably, international lenders have also neglected to incorporate human rights considerations into many of their assistance programmes," said...
Freedom of assembly

Commissioner concerned about the situation in Ukraine

02/12/2013 Strasbourg
"I have been following with great concern the recent events in Ukraine. Freedom of assembly is a fundamental human right and as such must be always upheld by the authorities. Several cases of excessive use of force were reported, both against the demonstrators and the journalists covering the events.  The authorities must ensure that the use of police force is proportionate, all the more in...
Country visit report

Police misconduct in Turkey raises serious human rights concerns

26/11/2013 Strasbourg
"The police's handling of demonstrations in Turkey exposes once again the long-standing, serious human rights problem of the misconduct of law enforcement officials in the country. It is time for the Turkish police to improve their record of compliance with human rights standards", said today Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, releasing a report on his visit to...
Visit to Denmark

Children’s rights should be better respected in migration and asylum

22/11/2013 Copenhagen
"More systematic consideration should be given to the best interests of the child in migration and asylum policies and procedures" said Nils Muižnieks, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, after a three-day visit to Copenhagen (19-22 November 2013). The Commissioner is concerned about legislation and practices that are not fully in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of...

Commissioner's reaction to racist attacks on French Minister of Justice Taubira

14/11/2013 Strasbourg
The racist attacks on Ms Christiane Taubira, the French Minister of Justice, over the last few months give serious cause for concern. Racist speech and, more broadly speaking, the rejection of diversity, seriously undermine human rights, human dignity and the values on which today's Europe is founded. I therefore wish to express my solidarity with Ms Taubira. Unfortunately this type of attack...
Report on visit to the Russian Federation (2013)

Russia must strengthen the independence and the impartiality of the judiciary

12/11/2013 Strasbourg
"Substantial reforms should continue in order to remedy the systemic deficiencies in the administration of justice and strengthen the independence and impartiality of the judiciary in the Russian Federation", said today Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, releasing a report on his visit to the Russian Federation carried out from 3 to 12 April 2013. The Commissioner...

Freedom of expression and democracy in the digital age - Opportunities, rights, responsibilities

07/11/2013 Belgrade
In his keynote speech at the Council of Europe Conference of Ministers responsible for Media and Information Society today, the Commissioner highlighted restrictions to media freedom on grounds of national security as particularly serious ones, following the recent disclosure of the US and UK mass surveillance programmes. "Spying on individuals on a massive scale, without strict legal rules and...

EU border control policies negatively affect human rights

06/11/2013 - 9:30 Strasbourg
"The EU externalisation of border control policies has a deleterious effect on human rights, in particular the right to leave a country, which is a prerequisite to the enjoyment of other rights – most importantly, the right to seek asylum", said today Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, while releasing a research paper on the right to leave a country. "The right to...
Visit to France

On-site visit to detention centre of Geispolsheim

30/10/2013 Strasbourg
On 29 October the Commissioner made an on-site visit to Strasbourg and its area focused on the rights of migrants and asylum seekers. After having met local lawyers and NGOs expert in this field, he visited the migrant detention centre of Geispolsheim, where he held discussions with the staff and detainees. He concluded the visit with a constructive meeting with the Prefect of Bas-Rhin and of...

Legal recognition of LGBTI families

25/10/2013 - 11:00 Strasbourg
In a video message at the ILGA-Europe Annual Conference "Family matters! Reaching out to hearts and minds" in Zagreb, Croatia, the Commissioner urged all European countries to give equal legal recognition to LGBTI couples and families. The European Court of Human Rights has clearly recognised that same-sex couples living in a stable partnership with or without children fall within the notion of...
Human Rights Comment

Human rights at risk when secret surveillance spreads

24/10/2013 Strasbourg
The fear of terrorism, technology that is developing at the speed of light, private companies and state security agencies compiling personal information – this topical mix has become a severe threat to the right to privacy. Despite the intentions, secret surveillance to counter terrorism can destroy democracy, rather than defend it. Recent revelations, many of them based on files from the...

Irresponsible media reporting on Roma propagates negative myths

[Strasbourg, 24/10/2013 09:30] – "The long-standing problem of negative media reporting on minorities has vehemently re-emerged with the cases of the children found in Roma families in Greece and Ireland. Most news reports, not only in Europe but all over the world, have insisted on the ethnicity of the families from which the children have been taken, thus propagating age-old myths portraying...

Slovenia : Justice has to be done for all the erased

[Strasbourg, 19/10/2013 09:30] – Twenty two years have passed since the erasure of more than 25 000 persons from the Slovene Register of Permanent Residents, a decision which caused serious violations of human rights and grave suffering of the individuals concerned and their families. As a result, the erased became, in effect, irregular migrants – without documents, healthcare and social...

Commissioner warns the UK about the consequences of non-compliance with judgments of the European Court of Human Rights

[Strasbourg, 17/10/2013 17:00] – In a Memorandum published today, the Commissioner underscores the obligation for member States to execute judgments of the European Court of Human Rights and the importance that such compliance has for the European system of human rights protection. He also warns about the possible negative consequences for the UK's interests, international reputation and...

France: Off-site hearings raise human rights concerns

[Strasbourg, 17/10/2013] – In a letter sent to the Minister of Justice, Ms Christiane Taubira, on 2 October 2013 and published today, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks, expresses concern about respect for the human rights of the migrants required to appear at hearings of the Courts of Meaux and Bobigny held off site in the administrative detention centre of Le...
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