FREE News: 19-20-21 May 2014

FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS
* United Kingdom: Court backs disabled woman’s human rights protest
* Court: Hungary should reform its system for reviewing whole life sentences
– LGBTI* RIGHTS
* EU top job candidates back new strategy on gay rights
* 2009-2014: 4 political groups led the way for LGBT rights

EUROPEAN AREA OF FREEDOM, SECURITY AND JUSTICE
– ASYLUM POLICIES

* Bulgaria’s ugly underside: ‘containing’ a refugee crisis
– MIGRATION POLICIES
* Europe’s Spectacle of Compassion for Migrants
– FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT
* L’espace Schengen en cinq questions
– POLICE AND JUDICIAL COOPERATION
* Le mandat d’arrêt européen : arrestations sans frontière
* L’Europe bouscule la procédure pénale
– TRANSPARENCY
* Brussels defends track record on lobbying transparency
– PRIVACY
* Google privacy ruling is just the thin end of a censorship wedge
________________________________________________________

FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS

United Kingdom: Court backs disabled woman’s human rights protest
Human Rights Europe: “Judges have awarded €10,500 to a disabled woman, after backing her human rights protest against the United Kingdom authorities.
Elaine McDonald was left with severely limited mobility following a stroke in 1999 and complained about a reduction by a local authority of the amount allocated for her weekly care. The reduction was based on the authority’s decision that her night-time toileting needs could be met by the provision of incontinence pads and absorbant sheets instead of a night-time carer to assist her in using a commode…”

Court: Hungary should reform its system for reviewing whole life sentences
Human Rights Europe: “Judges want Hungary to reform its system for reviewing whole life sentences, after ruling in favour of a prisoner’s human rights protest against his jail term.
In today’s Chamber judgment in the case of László Magyar v. Hungary (application no. 73593/10), which is not final, the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:
a violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatments) of the European Convention on Human Rights as concerned Magyar’s life sentence without eligibility for parole,
and a violation of Article 6 § 1 (right to a fair trial within a reasonable time) as concerned the excessive length of the criminal proceedings brought against Magyar.
The applicant, László Magyar, is a Hungarian national who was born in 1966 and is currently detained at Szeged Prison (Hungary). In 2002, criminal proceedings were initiated against Magyar and some other people who were suspected of having committed a series of burglaries against elderly people.
Soon after the assaults, several victims had died as a result of their injuries. In May 2005, Magyar was convicted of murder, robbery and several offences, and was sentenced to life imprisonment without eligibility for parole…”

– LGBTI* RIGHTS

EU top job candidates back new strategy on gay rights
Euobserver: “European Commission President candidates say they back an EU-wide strategy to support the fundamental rights of gay people.
All but one responded to EUobserver’s questions on implementing a roadmap for the LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans] community.
Pro-gay rights groups and MEPs over the years have criticised the European Commission, which proposes laws, for failing to put forward a dedicated policy.
Last year, EU commissioner for justice Viviane Reding drew criticism after rejecting a comprehensive EU policy proposal on gay rights by 11 EU ministers.
She argued that an ad-hoc strategy has already emerged via existing EU laws and that the commission ensures fundamental rights are included at the negotiation phase of EU policy-making in general.
“Our laws and our policies are supporting the fight against discrimination of LGBT people,” she said…”

2009-2014: 4 political groups led the way for LGBT rights
The European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights: “Between 2009 and 2014, the European Parliament constantly promoted the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Centre and left groups S&D, ALDE, Greens/EFA and GUE/NGL led the way.
Over the last week, the LGBT Intergroup analysed 5 key LGBT votes on freedom of expression in Lithuania; LGBT rights at the UN; EU-wide recognition of marriages;homophobia in Russia; and a EU LGBT Roadmap.
Our infographic shows average scores for each political group. The Greens/EFA was the only group to fully support LGBT rights in every vote analysed.
The S&D (99%), GUE/NGL (97%) and ALDE (96%) came in as close second supporters.
A stable minority in the EPP and ECR supported these LGBT votes a little over a third of the time (36% and 35% respectively). Meanwhile, one in ten EFD Members supported equality measures (13%).
Ulrike Lunacek MEP, Co-President of the LGBT Intergroup, reacted: “I’m incredibly proud of this Parliament’s work in the field of LGBT rights.”…”

EUROPEAN AREA OF FREEDOM, SECURITY AND JUSTICE

– ASYLUM POLICIES

Bulgaria’s ugly underside: ‘containing’ a refugee crisis
Euobserver: ““The Bulgarian guards found us, pointed their guns at us and started beating us,” the 25-year-old Afghan said, describing what happened to him on 11 January.
“Afterward, they put us in the car and took us to the border. They took all our phones and money and any valuables we had. Before releasing us, they beat us again and pointed to Turkey and told us to go there.”
Faced with the prospect late last year of growing numbers of Syrians and other asylum seekers and migrants arriving via Turkey, the Bulgarian Council of Ministers opted for a “plan for the containment of the crisis”.
Containment does not pretend to solve a crisis, or even to treat its victims fairly and humanely, but implies just keeping a lid on it
Among the principal aims was “reducing the number of persons seeking protection in the territory of Bulgaria.” Bulgaria deployed 1,500 additional police to the border…”

– MIGRATION POLICIES

Europe’s Spectacle of Compassion for Migrants
Human Rights Watch: “My twitter feed on Monday was full of the latest tragedy in the Mediterranean. At least 17 people died when an overcrowded boat sank on the crossing from Libya to Italy, with many more still unaccounted for. We don’t know their names or their stories. They join the grim toll of perhaps 20,000 people over the last decade whose lives have ended trying to reach Europe for protection or a better life.
With each fresh tragedy, come the statements of sympathy, of anguish and anger from European policymakers of all stripes. We hear promises of tougher action against smugglers, diplomatic pressure and ‘technical support’ to North African countries, calls for managed migration, and efforts to address ‘push factors’ through aid.
But after working on migration issues in Europe for more than a decade, I have come to the realization that our leaders ultimately care little about lives lost at sea, about respecting the rights that migrants (and the rest of us) have, and about making sure that those who need protection get it.
Take a look at Europe’s approach to migration as a whole—from the halls of Brussels, Berlin, London, and Paris, along razor-wire fences in the Spanish enclaves in North Africa, on the Turkish and Ukrainian borders, in Libya and in the Mediterranean Sea…”

– FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT

L’espace Schengen en cinq questions
Le Monde: “A la veille des élections européennes du 25 mai, les critiques à l’égard des accords de Schengen, qui encadrent les conditions de libre circulation entre les Etats membres de l’Union européenne, refont surface dans le débat public, portées essentiellement par la droite et l’extrême droite.
Dernier exemple en date, le 16 mai, avec la croisière de Marine Le Pen le long de la Moselle jusqu’à la ville de Schengen, au Luxembourg, où ont été signés en 1985 les accords du même nom. Arrivée à destination, la tête de liste du Front nationalen Ile-de-France a jeté dans une poubelle un livre sur lequel était écrit « Accords de Schengen ». Un geste symbolique à l’encontre de ce qui, pour elle, représente« l’une des fautes les plus criminelles de l’Union européenne : la disparition totale des frontières ». Décryptage des fausses vérités sur l’espace Schengen…”

– POLICE AND JUDICIAL COOPERATION

Le mandat d’arrêt européen : arrestations sans frontière
Moreas Blog Le Monde: “Après un procès dérangeant qui aurait sans doute inspiré Jean de la Fontaine, Jérôme Kerviel a entamé un bras de fer avec la justice, attendant, sous l’œil bienveillant des médias, que les forces de l’ordre viennent le chercher de l’autre côté de la frontière italienne – mais au sein de l’Europe. Ce fait-divers braque les projecteurs sur l’avancée la plus importante de l’UE en matière de justice et de police : le mandat d’arrêt européen (MAE).
En effet, l’extradition n’existe plus entre les États membres de l’Union. La France a entériné la chose en 2003 en modifiant sa Constitution : « La loi fixe les règles relatives au mandat d’arrêt européen en application des actes pris par les institutions européennes ».
L’extradition a donc été remplacée par un système « basé sur la confiance réciproque » qui consiste à remettre au pays demandeur les personnes condamnées, comme Jérôme Kerviel en France, ou celles qui font simplement l’objet de poursuites pénales. On ne parle donc plus d’une personne extradée mais, en l’absence de synonyme, d’ « une personne dont la remise a été demandée »…”

L’Europe bouscule la procédure pénale
Moreas Blog Le Monde: “L’adoption en urgence de la loi relative au renforcement des droits des personnes dans le cadre des procédures pénales montre combien on a du mal à suivre le rythme de l’Europe. Il faut dire que nos méthodes d’investigation sont souvent en contradiction avec les directives européennes. Celles-ci tentent en effet d’installer une harmonisation basée sur une procédure orale, publique et accusatoire ; aux antipodes de celle que nous appliquons qui, elle, est écrite, secrète et inquisitoire.
Cette divergence explique en grande partie pourquoi l’avocat a du mal à faire son trou dans l’enquête pénale, du moins en amont du jugement ou de l’instruction judiciaire. Car notre système est basé sur un postulat : une personne soupçonnée d’un crime ou d’un délit est présumée innocente. Et un innocent n’a pas besoin d’un défenseur. On pourrait presque en faire un syllogisme dérisoire si nos prisons n’étaient pas en partie remplies de « présumés innocents ».

Ce système est tellement ancré dans nos mentalités qu’en 2011 le Conseil constitutionnel, statuant sur l’audition libre, a estimé qu’une personne qui n’était pas retenue de force n’avait pas besoin d’un avocat. Or la CEDH affirme de longue date que l’existence des droits de la défense ne dépend pas de l’exercice d’une contrainte mais d’une accusation, de telle sorte que le droit à l’assistance d’un avocat doit être reconnu à la personne mise en cause dès qu’existent des éléments suffisants de soupçon…”

– TRANSPARENCY

Brussels defends track record on lobbying transparency
Euractiv: “The European Commission has defended its track record on corporate lobbying and transparency, after accusations it used the financial crisis to increase its powers while pursuing a big business agenda.
A report by watchdog Corporate Europe Observatory severely criticised the EU’s executive for its closeness to corporates.
“On top of this, the Commission has fought tooth and nail to avoid effective regulation of lobbyists, including by opposing a mandatory register [of lobbyists],” the report said.
Kenneth Haar, co-author of the report, said, “The Barroso II Commission is the European Commission at its worst. With the crisis, it has managed to expand its competence, and has used its new powers to impose policies that fit neatly with the interests of big business.”
The current transparency register of lobbyists is voluntary. 450 out of the 750 groups lobbying the EU on finance and banking reform are not on the current register, the report said.
The disclosure requirements are also too limited, the report said, before praising MEPs for making registration a pre-condition for lobbyists to be given entry badges to the European Parliament. The European Parliament has called on the Commission to make the register mandatory by 2017…”

– PRIVACY

Google privacy ruling is just the thin end of a censorship wedge
The Guardian: “Sooner or later, every argument about regulation of the internet comes down to the same question: is this the thin end of the wedge or not? We saw a dramatic illustration last week when the European court of justicehanded down a judgment on a case involving a Spanish lawyer, one Mario Costeja González, who objected that entering his name in Google’s search engine brought up embarrassing information about his past (that one of his properties had been the subject of a repossession).
Mario Costeja González said the debt issues had been resolved long ago and were no longer relevant. So he asked the newspaper that had published the information to take down the notices and Google to delete the links to them. When they refused, he complained to the Spanish data protection agency that his rights to the protection of his personal data were being violated. The agency ordered Google to remove the links. Google challenged the order and the Spanish courts referred the matter to the European court in 2010.
Which is how we got to last week’s judgment. The court ruled that the EU’s 1995 data protection directive means that individuals should have an opportunity to insist that Google (and presumably other search engines) remove certain search results that come up in a search for their names, not because they are false, or infringe copyright, but because they violate a “respect for private life” or a “right to protection of personal data”…”

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This entry was posted in Asylum & refugees rights and policies, Borders control policies (Schengen), Freedom of movement, Fundamental rights – Charter, Immigration policies, Judicial and police cooperation, Non discrimination, equality and minority integration, Privacy, Transparency, Values & Principles of the European Union. Bookmark the permalink.

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