News 2016 News 2016

Letter

Belgium urged not to resume detention of migrant children and to expand alternatives to immigration detention for families with children

19/12/2016 Strasbourg

In a letter addressed to the Secretary of State for Migration and Asylum of Belgium, Mr Theo Francken, published today, Commissioner Muižnieks warns against resuming the practice of detaining migrant families with children. Referring to the Secretary of State’s recent general policy statement,...

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Country visit report

Latvia urged to ensure gender equality and foster an inclusive society

13/12/2016 Strasbourg

“Latvia has achieved considerable progress in adopting legislation and policies which comply with human rights standards, but the authorities must engage in more sustained efforts to bridge the remaining gaps, in particular those which still hinder gender equality and more effective protection...

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Visit to Lithuania

Lithuania: ensure better protection for persons with disabilities, children and victims of domestic violence

09/12/2016 Lithuania

“I welcome the commitment expressed by the authorities to move away from the practice of placing children without parental care and people with disabilities in institutions. However, many persons continue to live in an institutional environment. The authorities should intensify their efforts to...

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Statement

European human rights officials voice serious concerns over changes to Polish laws on freedom of assembly

05/12/2016 Strasbourg

European human rights officials today expressed serious concern over legal amendments passed last week in the Polish Sejm that could undermine the right to freedom of assembly if they become law. Urging the Polish parliament to reconsider amendments to the law governing public assemblies, Michael...

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Visit Memorandum

Counter-terrorism operations in the South East of Turkey caused widespread human rights violations

02/12/2016 Strasbourg

“Numerous human rights of a very large civilian population in South-Eastern Turkey have been violated as a result of curfews imposed and anti-terrorism operations conducted there since August 2015. I call on Turkey to stop using curfews in such a manner, investigate all allegations of human...

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Letter

The Netherlands urged to strengthen human rights safeguards in its response to terrorism

29/11/2016 Strasbourg

In a letter addressed to the Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations and the Minister of Security and Justice of the Netherlands published today Commissioner Muižnieks raises concerns about the possible detrimental impact that three counter-terrorism Bills currently under discussion may...

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Third party intervention

Azerbaijan: Repression of lawyers who defend human rights must stop

28/11/2016 Strasbourg

“Judicial harassment and retaliatory measures against human rights defenders and their lawyers continue to characterise the response of Azerbaijan’s authorities to those who express critical opinions and co-operate with international organisations to expose human rights violations in the country”...

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Country visit

Ireland: advance equality of Travellers and women

25/11/2016 Dublin

“I am deeply concerned at the persisting social exclusion and discrimination Travellers are confronted with in Ireland”, said the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks today, concluding a three-day visit to the country. With Travellers having been affected in a gravely...

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Letter

Exchange of letters with the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic on the human rights of Roma and persons with disabilities

04/11/2016 Strasbourg

Today Commissioner Muižnieks published a letter he addressed to Mr Bohuslav Sobotka, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, focusing on certain issues pertaining to the human rights of Roma and of persons with disabilities. In his letter the Commissioner notably reiterates his recommendation to...

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Statement

Russia: Commissioner cancels visit to the country because of unacceptable restrictions imposed to his programme

11/10/2016 Strasbourg

In recent months, I have been discussing with the Russian authorities my intention to visit the Russian Federation in the third week of October to focus on several pressing human rights issues. It is with deep regret that I have to announce that this visit will not take place because of the...

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Visit Memorandum

The Commissioner publishes a memorandum on the human rights implications of the emergency measures in Turkey

07/10/2016 Strasbourg

The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks, published today a memorandum on the human rights implications of the measures taken under the state of emergency by the Turkish authorities. This memorandum follows up on a visit to Ankara between 27 and 29 September 2016,...

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Country visit report

Croatia should eliminate shortcomings in transitional justice, immigration and media freedom

05/10/2016 Strasbourg

“Croatia has substantially improved its human rights law and practice in the last years. However, some recent developments put at serious risk these achievements” said Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, while releasing today a report based on his visit to the country...

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Letter

Letter to the Minister for Labour, Employment, Veterans and Social Affairs of Serbia

23/09/2016

Letter from the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks, to Mr Aleksandar Vulin, Minister for Labour, Employment, Veterans and Social Affairs of Serbia, concerning the issue of reparations to victims of wartime crimes Read the letter Read the Governments reply

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Country visit

Latvia: Strengthen policies against bias-motivated crimes and ratify the Istanbul Convention

09/09/2016 Riga

“While Latvia has taken some important steps to advance human rights and reduce social exclusion, gaps remain in the protection of vulnerable groups. The authorities should develop community-based services for persons with disabilities, grant automatic citizenship to all children born in Latvia,...

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Letter

Letter to the Prime Minister of Romania

23/08/2016 Strasbourg

In a letter to the Prime Minister of Romania published today, Commissioner Muižnieks requested updating information from the Romanian authorities concerning certain major issues affecting the human rights of Romania’s Roma population. This dialogue follows up on the Commissioner’s visit report to...

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Letter

Commissioner urges Greece to create an effective law enforcement complaint mechanism and eradicate hate crime

19/08/2016 Strasbourg

Today the Commissioner published a letter he addressed to the Greek government concerning the Bill on a complaint mechanism covering law enforcement and detention facility agents. The Commissioner welcomes the fact that the Ombudsman, an independent and efficient national human rights...

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Statement

Measures taken under the state of emergency in Turkey

26/07/2016 Strasbourg

It is with profound concern that I examined the first decree with the force of law (“Kanun Hükmünde Kararname”, KHK/667) adopted within the framework of the state of emergency declared in Turkey last week. I note that Turkey has submitted a formal notice of derogation to the European Convention...

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Statement

Situation in Turkey

20/07/2016 Strasbourg

"I condemn in the strongest possible terms the contemptible attempt to overthrow the democratically elected government in Turkey. I rejoice in the fact that the Turkish people unambiguously foiled this attempt, and that all democratic political currents and leaders stood united against it. There...

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Joint statement

Leading human rights experts call for speedy implementation of the Nelson Mandela Rules on Nelson Mandela International Day

18/07/2016 GENEVA/ KAMPALA/ STRASBOURG/ WASHINGTON DC

On the occasion of the Nelson Mandela International Day, a group of human rights experts with a mandate relating to detention have hailed the adoption of the Nelson Mandela Rules, the revised Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, which were adopted on 17 December 2015. The United...

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Letter

Spain: Commissioner Muižnieks calls for guidance to border police on how to handle migration flows in Ceuta and Melilla

12/07/2016 Strasbourg

In a letter to the Minister of Interior of Spain published today, Commissioner Muižnieks has urged the Spanish authorities to adopt a procedural framework to ensure that border police in Ceuta and Melilla have clear instructions on how to handle mixed migration flows in full compliance with human...

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Report on Ukraine

To prevent further human suffering in the east of Ukraine, the rule of law has to be re-established

11/07/2016 Strasbourg

“The conflict in the east of Ukraine remains the cause of enormous human suffering and loss of life. It is high time to put an end to it and ensure the effective prosecution and sanctioning of those responsible for human rights violations” said today Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner...

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Visit to Greece

Greece: progress in combating racism, but concerns remain about the impact of austerity

08/07/2016 Athens

“I welcome the government’s efforts to combat racism and homophobia in Greece. The 2014 anti-racism law has consolidated the legislative framework and provided useful tools to prosecutors and police officers. However, much more is needed in order to bring this law to life and to further enhance...

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Statement

Poland: Commissioner concerned about bill on the Constitutional Tribunal

08/07/2016 Strasbourg

“I am very concerned at the adoption by the Polish Sejm of a bill on the Constitutional Tribunal yesterday because it poses a serious threat to the rule of law. In my recent report on Poland, I expressed concern at the current paralysis of the Constitutional Tribunal because of its negative...

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Visit report

Erosion of rule of law threatens human rights protection in Poland

15/06/2016 Warsaw

“Recent far-reaching changes to Poland’s legal and institutional framework threaten human rights and undermine the rule of law, on which the protection of human rights ultimately depends. Lawmakers and the Government should urgently change course”, said today Nils Muižnieks, the Council of Europe...

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Visit to Iceland

Iceland: ratify the Disabilities Convention and strengthen the human rights protection system

13/06/2016 Strasbourg

“Iceland should ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and align its legislation and practice with international standards and the case law of the European Court of Human Rights. Abolishing full deprivation of legal capacity and plenary guardianship of persons...

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Issue Paper

European countries have to prioritise migrant integration

31/05/2016 Strasbourg

“In the wake of the arrival of over one million people seeking protection in recent months, European countries share the common, pressing need to get integration right” said Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, while releasing a report on migrant integration. “After...

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Visit Memorandum

Commissioner publishes Memorandum on surveillance in the UK

17/05/2016 Strasbourg

The Commissioner has published a Memorandum on surveillance and oversight mechanisms in the UK today. In the Memorandum he commends the UK government for its attempt to overhaul the investigatory powers framework by providing a world-leading Investigatory Powers Bill, which is currently the...

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Visit to Andorra

Andorra: sustain progress on children and women’s rights and bolster human rights structures

12/05/2016 Andorra La Vella

“Andorra has a very advanced system of inclusive education, whereby all children, including those with disabilities and from migrant families, learn together with other children and are supported as necessary. However, further efforts are required to enhance the overall protection of children’s...

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Visit to Croatia

Croatia: High time to create a tolerant and inclusive society

29/04/2016 Zagreb

“Social cohesion and pluralism are under threat in Croatia. I urge the authorities to initiate and engage in an open dialogue with all stakeholders in order to protect pluralism and avoid further polarisation in society. Moreover, political leaders need to send an unequivocal message against...

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Statement

Crimea: Commissioner urges a reversal of the ban on the Mejlis

26/04/2016 Strasbourg

I am very concerned about today’s court decision in Crimea to ban the Mejlis by declaring it to be an extremist organisation. As the highest representative body of the Crimean Tatars, the Mejlis is indissociable from their aspirations to reestablish themselves in the peninsula after decades of...

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Annual activity report

Human rights in Europe: Do not leave the battlefield

18/04/2016 Strasbourg

“2015 was a year of fear and insecurity in Europe. The conflict in eastern Ukraine and ongoing economic malaise were overshadowed by a sense of vulnerability to terrorist threats and panic at the apparent inability to cope with the influx of asylum seekers”, said today Nils Muižnieks, Council of...

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Country visit

Turkey: security trumping human rights, free expression under threat

14/04/2016 Ankara

“Respect for human rights has deteriorated at an alarming speed in recent months in the context of Turkey’s fight against terrorism” said Nils Muižnieks, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights at the end of a nine- day visit to Istanbul, Diyarbakir and Ankara. The topics of the visit...

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Visit report

Cyprus should enhance refugee protection and alleviate effects of austerity measures on human rights

31/03/2016 Strasbourg

Read the report “Despite some progress made in immigration law and policy, Cyprus’ asylum system still suffers from a number of shortcomings that need to be urgently redressed”, said today Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, while releasing a report based on his...

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Visit to Ukraine

Ukraine: accountability for serious human rights violations is key to reconciliation process

29/03/2016 Strasbourg

“The armed conflict in Ukraine has yielded many reports of serious human rights violations, including unlawful killings, enforced disappearances and torture on both sides of the contact line. The perpetrators of such grave crimes must be brought to account. The participation of victims of human...

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Visit memorandum

Commissioner publishes Memorandum on asylum and immigration in the UK

22/03/2016 Strasbourg

Today the Commissioner published a Memorandum addressed to the UK Immigration Minister, James Brokenshire, in which he commends the UK’s efforts in providing resettlement to Syrian refugees. He also expresses a number of concerns regarding a trend of restrictive immigration policy and law which...

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Statement

The implementation of the EU-Turkey deal must uphold human rights

21/03/2016 Strasbourg

Now that the EU Turkey deal has been reached, the utmost care should be given to its implementation in order to dispel a number of serious concerns that the deal elicits from a human rights perspective. It is positive that the agreement contains some legal safeguards, such as the adherence to...

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Issue Paper

Nine ways for European governments to establish the truth about missing persons and support victims

17/03/2016 Strasbourg

“The protracted inability of European countries to shed light on the fate and whereabouts of tens of thousands of persons who are missing or disappeared following conflicts or dictatorships across the continent is an open wound for their relatives and constitutes a serious human rights violation....

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Third party intervention

Commissioner Muižnieks intervenes on Estemirova case before the European Court of Human Rights

Strasbourg 16/03/2016

The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks, publishes today his written observations submitted to the European Court of Human Rights on a case concerning the killing of prominent Russian human rights defender Natalia Estemirova. Observing that the murder of Natalia...

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Opinion article

EU-Turkey deal on refugees disregards human rights standards

14/03/2016 Strasbourg

In an opinion editorial published in the International New York Times today, Commissioner Muižnieks warns that the deal the European Council is discussing with Turkey to stem the flow of refugees runs contrary to human rights standards. “The automatic forced return that the deal allows is illegal...

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Statement

Russia must shed full light on attacks against journalists and human rights defenders in Ingushetia

10/03/2016 Strasbourg

Further to the very serious attacks against journalists and human rights defenders which occurred in Ingushetia yesterday, I have reiterated my concerns to the Russian authorities in a telephone conversation this morning. I took note that the Ministry of Interior of Ingushetia has opened an...

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Joint statement

We need more than a humanitarian response from Europe

09/03/2016 Strasbourg

On the occasion of International Women’s Day Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, emphasized the protection needs of refugee women and girls arriving in Southern Europe. This year, to date, UNHCR...

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Statement

Commissioner Muižnieks deplores new case of judicial harassment against media in Turkey

04/03/2016 Strasbourg

“I deplore the information reported by Turkish media and the Anadolu Agency that an Istanbul court took the decision to entrust to court-appointed trustees the control of the media group to which the newspapers Zaman and Today’s Zaman belong. Considering what happened after a similar appointment...

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Statement

Europe has to change its approach to migration

26/02/2016 Strasbourg

European countries are drawing themselves into a more and more vicious circle by closing their borders to asylum seekers. The situation in Greece, the main point of entry after Turkey, is dramatic. In 2015, 500 000 refugees arrived in Lesvos island while so far this year more than 50 000 arrived...

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Letter

European countries must stop forced evictions of Roma

16/02/2016 Strasbourg

“Many Roma continue to face serious forms of discrimination and human rights violations by authorities at both national and local levels. In particular, forced evictions without due process and provision of adequate alternative housing continue unabated across Europe, in violation of member...

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Visit to Poland

Poland: slow down and consult on legislation to avoid human-rights backsliding

12/02/2016 Warsaw

"Human rights compliant legislation requires time and thorough consultation” said the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks, at the end of a four-day visit to Poland reviewing the effectiveness of the country's framework for the protection of human rights, the...

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Visit report

Belgium should speed up the social inclusion of persons with disabilities

28/01/2016 Strasbourg

Read the report “Belgium is failing to uphold the rights of persons with disabilities to live independently and be included in the community. Planned measures to improve the situation should be implemented as a matter of priority” said today Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for...

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Visit to United Kingdom

UK: Forthcoming reforms to human rights law must not weaken protection

22/01/2016 London

“The repeatedly delayed launch of the consultation process for repeal of the Human Rights Act has created much speculation and an atmosphere of anxiety and concern in civil society and in some parts of the devolved administrations. There is a real fear of regression in terms of rights’ protection...

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Third party intervention

Commissioner Muižnieks intervenes before the European Court of Human Rights on the case of Khadija Ismayilova

21/01/2016 Strasbourg

Today, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks, published his written observations submitted to the European Court of Human Rights on a case concerning journalist and human rights defender Khadija Ismayilova. The Commissioner’s observations underscore the structural...

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Letter

Denmark: amendments to the Aliens Act risk violating international legal standards

15/01/2016 Strasbourg

“Recent restrictive changes to asylum and immigration law in Denmark raise serious concerns of conformity with human rights standards. The government should reconsider them and ensure that law and practice fully comply with Denmark’s obligation to uphold refugee protection standards” said today...

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Third party intervention

Risk of human rights violations for asylum seekers returned to Hungary

13/01/2016 Strasbourg

“Due to sweeping changes introduced in Hungary in asylum law and practice over recent months, asylum seekers returned there run a considerable risk of being subject to human rights violations” said today Commissioner Muižnieks while publishing the written observations he submitted on 17 December...

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Visit observations

Georgia should continue strengthening the independence and impartiality of judges

12/01/2016 Strasbourg

Read the observations “Judicial reforms have yielded some positive results in Georgia, in particular as concerns the reduced influence of the prosecutorial authorities, the increased transparency in the work of the High Council of Justice and an improved juvenile justice system. However,...

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Statement

Call on Polish President not to sign new Media Law

05/01/2016 Strasbourg

I call on the President of the Republic of Poland not to sign the law on Public Service Media governance and to uphold the independence of Poland’s public service television and radio. The law worryingly places public service media under direct government control by giving the latter the powers...

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