Human Rights Comment

Time to cure amnesia about the history of Roma in Europe

30/07/2015 Strasbourg
In a few days, we will commemorate the liquidation 71 years ago of the so-called “Gypsy family camp” at Auschwitz-Birkenau. On 2 August 1944, 2 897 persons were taken to the gas chambers and exterminated. Only a few months earlier, on 16 May 1944, the detainees of the “Gypsy camp” had refused to obey the orders of the SS soldiers who had come to kill them. Knowledge about both the Roma uprising...
Human Rights Comment

Time to debunk myths and prejudices about Roma migrants in Europe

16/07/2015 Strasbourg
Political and media debates on Roma migration have become recurrent in several European countries.  Since the eastward expansion of the European Union in 2004 and 2007, and the lifting of employment restrictions regarding Romanian and Bulgarian citizens in a number of EU member states in 2014, fears of Roma migration have often triggered uninformed and inflammatory discourse. No “invasion” by...
Opinion article

The Srebrenica genocide: addressing the needs of the victims must be the priority

10/07/2015 Oslobodjenje and others
The Srebrenica genocide is one of the vilest episodes of Europe’s contemporary history. In just a few days in July 1995, around 8 300 boys and men were executed while 30 000 women, children and elderly persons were forcibly displaced. Twenty years on, the victims of that genocide are still haunted by the political failures which have left them without redress. Some progress has been achieved in...

Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights reiterates his call to bring Russian NGO legislation in line with European standards

09/07/2015 Strasbourg
Read the opinion “Russian NGO legislation falls short of European standards and must be revised to allow human rights defenders and NGOs in Russia to work in an environment conducive to performing their essential role in society,” said today Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muižnieks, making public an updated Opinion on the legislation of the Russian Federation on...
Visit report

Serbia: Impunity for war crimes, discrimination and lack of media freedom hamper human rights progress

08/07/2015 Strasbourg
Read the report “Serbia has to show more resolve in addressing the legacy of the past, to improve the fight against discrimination and to establish a safer media environment” said Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, while releasing the report based on his visit to the country carried out from 16 to 20 March 2015. The persistent impunity for certain serious human...
Visit to Ukraine

Eastern Ukraine: freedom of movement is vital to preventing isolation and favouring reintegration

04/07/2015 Kyiv
“The continuing armed conflict in eastern Ukraine has a devastating impact on the life of communities in the vicinity of the contact line”, stated the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muiznieks, following his visit to Ukraine from 29 June to 3 July. “Facilities such as schools, hospitals and kindergartens are being destroyed, the most vulnerable groups – people with...
Opinion article

You’re Better Than This, Europe

29/06/2015 Strasbourg
In an opinion editorial published today in the New York Times, the Commissioner calls European countries to improve their response to migration by adopting more humane policies. “During the last seven decades, European countries have painstakingly tried to rebuild a continent once shattered by war and atrocities according to the values of solidarity and human rights. We built institutions to...
Visit report

Progress on human rights protection remains slow in Bulgaria

22/06/2015 Strasbourg
Read the report “Bulgaria has made some progress in strengthening human rights protection, but this remains slow and fragile, in particular as regard the rights of persons placed in institutions, the human rights of migrants and media freedom,” said today Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, while releasing a report on his visit to Bulgaria carried out from 9 to 11...
Visit to Slovak Republic

Slovakia should set ambitious targets for the social inclusion of Roma and persons with disabilities

19/06/2015 Bratislava
“Although Slovakia has taken important measures to advance its human rights agenda, much more ambitious targets need to be set for eradicating the social exclusion and marginalisation of Roma and persons with disabilities. Also much more should be done to reinforce the effectiveness of the existing national human rights institutions,” said today Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner...
Visit to San Marino

San Marino should not jeopardize media freedom

11/06/2015 Strasbourg
"San Marino should reconsider its current plans to regulate the work of journalists and ensure full respect of the right to report in the public interest” stated Nils Muižnieks, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, after his visit to the country on 9-10 June. The Commissioner was referring in particular to recently adopted legislation conferring wide-ranging powers - including...
Publication of an issue paper

Reinforcing democratic oversight of security services cannot be further delayed

05/06/2015 Strasbourg
Read the issue paper “The current systems of oversight of national security services in Europe remain largely ineffective. Revelations over the last years about security operations which have violated human rights should have prompted reforms in this field, but progress has been disappointingly slow. European countries must now ensure more democratic and effective oversight of what their...
Opinion article

Sport cannot ignore human rights

04/06/2015 Strasbourg
On June 12 the first European Games begin in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. More than 6,000 athletes from 50 countries will run, fight and jump for medals, igniting the passions of millions of Europeans. We hope they will also stand up to halt the crackdown on human rights defenders occurring in the country. In recent years, and particularly during the last 12 months, expressing dissent or...

The Commissioner urges Serbia to shield the national Ombudsman from undue pressure

01/06/2015 Strasbourg
Today the Commissioner published a letter addressed to the Prime Minister of Serbia, Mr Aleksandar VUČIĆ, in which he urges the government to fully respect the Serbian Ombudsman’s independence and guarantee a favourable environment for his work. “I am seriously concerned at reports indicating that there have been concerted efforts by certain politicians and some media in the country aimed at...

The Commissioner calls on the Ukrainian Parliament to secure the independence of the Ombudsman institution

29/05/2015 Strasbourg
Today the Commissioner published a letter addressed to Mr Volodymyr Groysman, Chairperson of the Parliament of Ukraine, expressing his concerns about the legislative proposal aimed at annulling the appointment of the current Ombudsman of Ukraine, Ms Lutkovska. While drawing attention of the parliamentarians to the well-established principles pertaining to the functioning of the National Human...

The Commissioner addresses the French Senate on surveillance bill

20/05/2015 Strasbourg
Today the Commissioner has released a letter addressed to the members of the French Senate Commission which is discussing the surveillance bill. The Commissioner reiterates the importance of adopting a law which is compliant with human rights and thus urges the Senators to dispel the concerns raised by the current text, namely by clarifying its scope, counterbalancing the powers of the...
Visit report

Norway: people with disabilities and Roma need more attention

18/05/2015 Strasbourg
Read the report “Norway has a strong human rights architecture, but more attention should be given to the empowerment of people with disabilities and the full inclusion of Roma” said today Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, while publishing a report based on his visit to the country carried out from 19 to 23 January 2015. The Commissioner welcomes Norway’s...
Publication of an issue paper

Europe disregards intersex people’s right to self-determination and physical integrity

12/05/2015 Strasbourg
“Europeans remain largely unaware of the painful personal histories of intersex people and the human rights violations they face. Stereotypes and norms grounded on the binary female-male classification have led to unnecessary medical and surgical interventions on intersex infants and a climate of incomprehension in society. It is time to address this unacceptable situation,” said today Nils...
Visit to Germany

Germany should advance protection of asylum seekers and improve response to racism and extremism

11/05/2015 Strasbourg
“Germany has done a lot in the field of asylum in recent years, including launching three humanitarian admission programmes for Syrian refugees (concerning 20 000 individuals) and registering more than 200 000 asylum applications in 2014. However, with an estimate of 400 000 asylum applications for this year, a number of important challenges lie ahead”, said the Council of Europe Commissioner...
Human Rights Comment

Inclusive education vital for social cohesion in diverse societies

05/05/2015 Strasbourg
Public debates on the need to ensure more inclusive education for children and young adults who face social exclusion in diverse societies have recently rekindled in Europe. Evidence shows that in many European states the dropout rate of children coming from migrant families or minority groups, such as Roma, is at least twice as high as that of native or ethnic majority students. In many...
Press freedom day

Press freedom is under threat in Europe

30/04/15 Strasbourg
As the world will celebrate press freedom day on 3 May, journalists have increasingly become fair game in Europe. Just a few weeks ago, we mourned another journalist killed in Ukraine. He was the 14th journalist to be killed in Europe in the last 16 months. The rising death toll is the most extreme manifestation of an increasingly difficult working environment for journalists, which features...
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