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Xenophobia: a shameful face of Europe

18/12/2006 Strasbourg

Xenophobia is a serious problem in all parts of Europe today. Extreme right-wing parties promoting hatred against migrants and minorities are represented in several national parliaments. In some countries, they also influence government policies. Unfortunately, some other political parties have...

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HIV infected persons should be supported, not discriminated against

01/12/2006 Strasbourg

Further action is needed against the HIV/Aids pandemic in Europe. The international focus has been on the apocalyptic situation in some African and Asian countries, but the infection is also spreading fast in certain European states, notably in the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Estonia and...

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Why domestic violence is not only a women’s issue

24/11/2006 Strasbourg

In spite of all the positive rhetoric about gender equity, many women are still deprived of their human rights. Not only are women underrepresented in political assemblies and discriminated against on the labour market, they are also subjected to threats against their physical safety. The new...

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Human Rights Defenders must be able to criticise

13/11/2006 Strasbourg

Even self-confident governments sometimes tend to hit back when their human rights record is questioned. Such overreactions may reflect a sense that good performance is particularly important in the field of human rights and that criticism is therefore more sensitive than otherwise. In some...

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Seeking asylum is a human right, not a crime

30/10/2006 Strasbourg

The right to seek asylum is not fully protected in Europe today. In spite of a downward trend in asylum applications in several countries – with some exceptions such as Malta and Greece – the policies have remained restrictive. Concerns about irregular migration and terrorist threats seem to have...

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Social rights require adequate protection in Europe too

16/10/2006 Strasbourg

There was a logic behind the decision to award the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize to Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank. Their work against female poverty in Bangladesh has set an important example and the Nobel Committee rightly wanted to underline that social justice is necessary for building a more...

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It is high time to make human rights a reality

03/10/2006 Strasbourg

The credibility of international human rights standards will ultimately depend on whether they are made into reality. More energy has to be directed towards their implementation. Governments need to work out a more systematic and comprehensive strategy to ensure the full realisation of human...

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Ombudsmen are key defenders of human rights – their independence must be respected

18/09/2006 Strasbourg

Realisation of human rights is a question of political will. It is not enough just to endorse European and international norms: these standards must also be translated into a practical reality at all levels – national, regional and local. In addition to the courts, authorities should promote and...

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Forced eviction of Roma families must stop

04/09/2006 Strasbourg

In recent months a number of Roma families in several European countries have been evicted from their homes by force. In most cases the decisions were taken by local authorities. The tenants were not given adequate notice or offered a real alternative. It is clear that several of these evictions...

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Europe should remain a death penalty-free zone

21/08/2006 Strasbourg

Europe is now a death-penalty-free zone. All members of the Council of Europe have abolished capital punishment in law or practice. This is great progress in the struggle for human rights and must be protected against those who still argue for a return to the days of executions. The application...

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People with disabilities have the right to be fully-fledged members of society

07/08/2006 Strasbourg

A new human rights treaty may be agreed later this month. A committee within the United Nations is meeting to finalise a Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities. Such a document is badly needed. Of course, all agreed human rights norms...

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Gay Pride marches should be allowed – and protected

24/07/2006 Strasbourg

This week a major international conference and sports event is being organised in Montreal for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights. It has the fullest support of the Canadian federal and provincial authorities and is therefore under no threat. Unfortunately, the picture doesn’t...

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The Guantánamo scandal is also our concern

10/07/2006 Strasbourg

When three prisoners in the Guantánamo camp committed suicide recently, they were accused by a US spokesperson of not respecting the sanctity of life. Killing themselves was an act of “asymmetric warfare” against the US, he insisted. Another interpretation is that they might have been desperate....

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Torture can never, ever be accepted

27/06/2006 Strasbourg

Torture is totally banned in international law. Under no circumstances should anyone have to suffer torture or other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment. This is clearly established in UN treaties, the humanitarian Geneva Conventions and the European Convention on Human Rights....

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Every country should be monitored – and should welcome that

12/06/2006 Strasbourg

A fundamental principle is at stake in the new UN Human Rights Council: that the human rights situation of each state be scrutinised. The resolution which created the Council asked for a periodic, universal review of the fulfilment of human rights obligations in all countries. A genuine...

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Migrants should not be denied their human rights

30/05/2006 Strasbourg

An intense discussion on immigration is raging in many European countries. Some of these are for geographic reasons overwhelmed by the numbers coming and “cost-sharing” within Europe has not functioned well. Xenophobia appears to be on the increase and immigrants are suffering discrimination. At...

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Religious leaders needed for rights cause

15/05/2006 Strasbourg

There is a core of ethical values within each of the major religions – Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism. The morale they express relates closely to human rights principles. Indeed, when the Universal Declaration was drafted after the Second World War these values were a source...

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Women are still abused, discriminated and denied fair political influence

02/05/2006 Strasbourg

The most important revolution of our times has not gone far enough: the liberation of women. In spite of many women’s rights conferences, agreed norms against discrimination and political pledges about gender equity, there is a deep gap between daily reality and our rhetoric. Women continue to...

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The Council of Europe protocol against discrimination is important

18/04/2006 Strasbourg

The struggle for human rights is largely about preventing discrimination. That is why Protocol No 12 to the European Convention on Human Rights is particularly important. It is intended to strengthen the protection against discrimination. Though it has been in force for a year, the majority of...

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Fight terrorism by legal means

03/04/2006 Strasbourg

It is important that the Council of Europe is investigating the activities of the US security services in Europe. Illegal arrests, enforced transport of wrongfully detained people, secret places of detention and brutal interrogation methods are all violations of human rights. European countries...

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