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10th anniversary of EU Charter: experts highlight shortcomings of human rights protections

Summary

  • Panel discussion on fundamental rights analyses state of Charter
  • Violations of religious freedom globally on the rise

BRUSSELS (20 June 2019) – On 19 June, Euractiv hosted a panel of experts to reflect on the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU ten years after it entered into force. The speakers focused on the areas in which the EU has failed to protect fundamental human rights. These included the right to freedom of religion which has been increasingly under threat on a global scale.

“Ten years after human rights became a prominent part of EU law, we urge all Member States to uphold and protect these fundamental rights. Some of these rights have been neglected over the years such as the right to freedom of expression or religion. Human rights are inalienable and applicable to all. The EU has the potential to be a global leader in promoting and protecting everyone’s fundamental freedoms without exception,” said Robert Clarke, Director of European Advocacy for ADF International and one of the panelists.

Other speakers were Alojz Peterle MEP, Former Prime Minister of Slovenia, Rónán Mullen, Irish Senator, Barrister, and human rights commentator, and Laetitia Pouliquen, Director of NBIC ETHICS. Benjamin Fox of Euractiv moderated.

EU straying from “foundational vision of human dignity”

“It is a great achievement that the EU Charter begins with dignity as the first title because this concept is the basis for everything that follows. The EU Charter was a significant achievement. We need to reconsider what it means to respect human dignity in the new political and social conditions. We cannot have one strong Union if we have different understandings of fundamental rights,” said Alojz Peterle. Peterle represented thirteen candidate countries to the EU as a member of the Praesidium of the European Convention on the Future of Europe which elaborated the EU Charter.

Laetitia Pouliquen spoke about current human rights challenges in the context of technological advances and said, “The EU should go back and strengthen its foundational vision of human dignity and ethics.”

Religious freedom increasingly sidelined

Rónán Mullen said, “It troubles me that today, there are significant gaps in the protection afforded to vulnerable groups in Europe. For example, the rights of religious believers to manifest their religion in public are constantly eroded as seen through the implementation of hate speech laws used to prosecute religious preachers.”

Recent government reports have shown an increase in violations of religious freedom on a global scale. In May, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution creating the “International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion and Belief” out of concern for the rise in religious persecution in recent years.

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