Rights within the EU: What role for European Institutions?

Monday, September 16, 2013

“The Treaties of the European Union state that the EU is founded on the value of respect for human rights.” However, much remains to be done for EU institutions to properly address gross human rights violations within the EU, particularly the Council of the European Union.

This is the message that members of the Human Rights and Democracy Network, which the APT is part of, have sent to the representatives of all key EU institutions. The letter singles out the EU Council Working Party on Fundamental Rights and Free Movement of Persons (FREMP), which has “been largely confined to negotiating the EU accession to the European Convention on Human Rights” rather than seeking to address serious human rights abuses within the European Union.

The letter concludes with a set of practical and constructive recommendations to the main EU institutions, including the Council, Commission, Parliament and the Fundamental Rights Agency, including strengthening the mandate of the latter.

The APT supports these recommendations and calls on remaining EU states that have not yet done so to ratify the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture (OPCAT). Presently 7 members of the EU (Belgium, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, and Slovakia) are not party to this innovative treaty. The APT also calls on EU states that have established or designated National Preventive Mechanisms under the OPCAT to provide them with the necessary independence and resources, as well as engaging in a constructive dialogue with these institutions to meaningfully reduce the risk of abuse on persons deprived of their liberty.