June 2012 - Human Rights Defenders in the European Union

Human rights defenders in the European Union

Welcome to this new edition of the ENARgy webzine, dedicated to human rights defenders in Europe. It starts with an overview of the situation of human rights defenders in Europe. Further articles show examples of minority and migrants’ rights defenders in danger, and highlight specific challenges of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) rights defenders in Europe. The webzine also offers an assessment of the impact of EU support on the situation of human rights defenders in non-EU countries, and in parallel, the case for protecting human rights defenders in the EU as well. Finally, some concrete guidelines for action for witnesses of racist incidents are provided. If you want to read the full webzine in pdf format, you can download it here

An overview of the situation of human rights defenders in Europe

This article offers a mapping of the situation of a range of human rights defenders in Europe, including those protecting minorities’ rights, and provides examples of the obstacles and attacks they face because of their work. It also explains the history of the term “human rights defender”.

The criminalisation case against migrants’ rights defender Doros Polykarpou in Cyprus

Doros Polykarpou, Director of ENAR member organisation KISA, gives an account of the criminalisation case against him and his organisation and the attempt by law enforcement authorities to silence this human rights activist who has worked courageously to defend the cause of people in need of support and protection.

No due process for human rights defenders in Sweden

Jallow Momodou, from ENAR Sweden, gives his testimony on the harassment he faced because he tried to defend himself in a case of incitement to racial hatred.

Solidarity is not safe yet

This article highlights the consequences of the criminalisation of assistance to irregular entry, movement and residence in France – more commonly known as the ‘solidarity offence’ or ‘délit de solidarité’ – which serves to stigmatise migrants and deter those who try to help them.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex human rights defenders in Europe

The situation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) human rights defenders in Europe varies as much as the human rights situation of LGBTI people itself. Europe can definitely be proud with the achievements made to date; but as ILGA-Europe’s most recent Rainbow Map (May 2012) clearly illustrates, not a single country in Europe can claim to have achieved full legal equality, let alone full social acceptance and safety. In many parts of Europe, LGBTI human rights defenders face an array of challenges ranging from official and legislative obstacles to register and run an organisation, harassment by law enforcement agencies, to fears for safety and security, and in some extreme cases, even physical attacks.

What EU support to human rights defenders worldwide?

Assessing EU global support to human rights defenders (HRDs) is not an easy task. Financial support at local and international levels, mainly through the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), can be tracked and is widely publicised. When it comes to political support, the picture is mixed and the implementation of the EU commitment towards HRDs, through its ’Guidelines’, remains uneven...

Is the EU doing enough to protect human rights defenders in Europe?

This article highlights the fact that the European Union promotes European “standards” and ”values” by supporting and defending human rights defenders outside the European Union, and makes the case for the need for the EU to protect human rights defenders who are targeted, harassed, and falsely prosecuted within the European Union as well, and to respect its international human rights commitments.

Who, if not you? How you can intervene when witnessing racist assaults

This article offers some guidelines on how to intervene when witnessing racist attack. Civil courage is not about playing the hero. It means listening to your inner voice telling you that something which is not right has happened and that you should do something against it. This article is about the need to “do something”. It shows why civil courage is needed and how it can be learned.