EU in brief

Council of Europe: the 60th anniversary of the Convention Its “birthday” is next 4 November, but on October 19, to the presence of the Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon, the Council of Europe held a ceremony to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Convention today upholds the human rights of 800 million Europeans in 47 states. The keynote speech at the Palais de l’Europe by Ban Ki-moon was followed by the statements of CoE Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland, Gjorgje Ivanov, President of “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” on behalf of the Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers, and Jean-Paul Costa, President of the European Court of Human Rights. The opening was followed by a panel discussion on the future of human rights in Europe, against trafficking in human beings, racism and intolerance, torture and ill-treatment, social rights, the protection of national minorities and of minority languages. The Convention, which was opened for signature by member states on 4 November 1950, came into force in 1953. The document stipulates fundamental rights and freedoms, that include the right to life, the ban on torture, the right to freedom and security, the right to equal trial, the respect of private and family life, the freedom of thought, of conscience and religion, the freedom of expression, the ban on all discriminations. Member States are committed to the respect of the above-mentioned rights. The European Court of Human Rights, set up in Strasbourg, is tasked with ensuring the adoption of the Convention. Trafficking, protection and support of the victims “We cannot accept that, while several hundred thousand victims are estimated to be trafficked every year within and into the EU, only a few thousand victims are assisted” said Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, admonishing EU27 Member States for underestimating the question of residence permits that must be issued to victims of “modern slavery”. The Swedish Commissioner delivered the statement on October 18 on the occasion of the Anti-Trafficking Day. “Trafficking in human beings, whether it is called forced labour or sexual exploitation, is a terrible crime”, pointed out the Commissioner. “We must mobilise all instruments of action to reinforce prevention, law enforcement and victim protection”. The proposal for a new EU Directive, presented past March 2010, “approximates substantial criminal law, ensures better protection of and assistance to victims and strengthens the prevention of crime. The Directive also includes the principle of non-punishment of the victims for crimes they have been compelled to commit as a direct consequence of being subject to trafficking”. To assist victims “is not only important in order to help the victims themselves, but also to prevent others from being trafficked by the same networks”. The new Directive covers action on different fronts: criminal law provisions; victims’ rights in criminal proceedings; support to victims; prevention. Commission: Social Europe for citizens City by city, the campaign ‘Do you know what Social Europe can do for you?’ is spreading across Europe. The campaign, launched last year, has successfully visited 50 cities until now. After Brussels (October 18-20) the next venue is Bari, in Italy, and Madrid, Spain (October 22-24). The initiative promoted by the Commission is intended to “raise public-awareness on the concrete initiatives promoted by the European Union in area of employment, social affairs and equal opportunities”. “The campaign uses light-hearted circus images to show how the EU is helping to address social challenges in a practical way”, explains the Commission in a statement. European citizens can in fact “benefit from the EU tools and policies in the area of employment, for example. The professional mobility portal Eures every day offers one million job opportunities and provides assistance to those seeking employment in a different European country”. Moreover, every year the European Social Fund “grants support to millions of people who wish to expand their formation and improve their professional opportunities”. Among the long list of cities where the events have already taken place (for information and material log on http://ec.europa.eu/social ), figure Nicosia, Bratislava, Marseilles, Prague, Warsaw, Salonicco, Lisbon, Tarragona, Budapest, Ljubljana, Stockholm, Malmö, Munich, Bologna, Nuremberg, Athens.

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