Friday 19 December 2014

Currently browsing 'Media Freedom'

Freedom of the press is the freedom of communication and expression through vehicles including various electronic media and published materials. While such freedom mostly implies the absence of interference from an overreaching state, its preservation may be sought through constitutional or other legal protections.


Good media relations require a two-way relationship

Posted by on 16/12/14

In an article for the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, Whitehouse Associate Director Alex Singleton explains why spamming journalists with press releases doesn’t work.

To read Alex’s article, please click here.

The Whitehouse Consultancy is one of Europe’s leading public affairs and communications agencies.

Human Rights Day: occasion to celebrate or push to continue fighting?

Posted by on 10/12/14

 “Do not do to others what you would not like to be done to you”

On the 10th of December 1948 the General Assembly adopted the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights in order to let know the world that every human being has some rights which are inalienable, irrespective of their “race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status” (Art. 2).

Today, 66 years later, we cannot say that rights enshrined in this document, called also the “Magna Charta for all humanity”, are a reality everywhere in the world. What we can affirm is that we have made a long way since 1948. Today there are plenty of international treaties, declarations, conventions, international and regional courts and tribunals which have given life to a wide culture of human rights. Among these instruments we shall remember the 1966 two International Covenants on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and on Civil and Political Rights and the 1984 Convention against Torture. At regional level we have the European Convention of Human Rights in Europe but there are similar systems also in other areas, such as Africa and America. These instruments and regimes have been implemented at national level by the majority of States, although there is still much to do, since States are free to decide whether or not to be part of them.

It is difficult to talk about achievements reached in this field now, when revelations on torture committed by the CIA have shaken the public opinion and when human rights are systematically violated in many areas of the world. Furthermore, universality of human rights is being challenged by the theory of cultural relativism which considers that human rights are different from society to society. Hence there are States and religious groups which refuse to comply with international standards because they claim that these are only a product of western culture and individualism while they prefer to apply a different view of human rights according to which individual interest is second to the interest of the community.

Considering these huge challenges, can we still consider that the doctrine of human rights is universal?

I think the only possible answer is YES. Probably there are people who disagree with me but it is their right to do so. The truth is that no person likes or desires to be deprived of its life, to be held in slavery, to be tortured or raped, to be discriminated, to suffer from starvation or live in bad health and without access to education or to be reduced in silence and be deprived of the right to choose. This is a constant characteristic of all human beings and these are rights envisaged by the Universal Declaration.

Of course there are limitations required in some cases but still there are some rights which should not be negotiable, no matter what. Culture is important, we all born and live in our societies which differ from the each other. Difference is envisaged by the doctrine of human rights but we cannot let it become the excuse for gross violations of the very same rights we seek to protect.

Cultural relativism is not a negative concept, it becomes so when it is used by those who want to continue exercising their power over other people by the means of fear, threat and oppression. If the culture of human rights is not universal and has nothing to do with their people and societies, then why are they so afraid of it? Why do they fight it so hardly? Why do they do everything to prevent their people from entering in contact with these ideas? The answer is that they fear that people can realise that their desire to live free from oppression and persecution is absolutely natural and embedded into every human being.

What has changed now is the existence of the public opinion at international, transnational and national levels which acts according to this culture of human rights and which will not accept to remain silent when violations occur. If people come together from different corners of the Earth and condemn these violations, with no one pushing them to do so and with no personal benefit, than this is clearly a sing that human rights not only exist but they are universal.

We have many reasons to celebrate today, if we think about past atrocities, but we also have to continue working towards the respect of human rights worldwide, not because we want to “export democracy”, but because we feel that victims have the right to put and end to their situation of oppression, persecution and discrimination.

(Ana Daniela Sanda)

To know more:

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

International Covenants on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and on Civil and Political Rights UN

UN Convention against Torture Convention of Human Rights of the Council of Europe

Classé dans:Actualités, BREVES

European students cast a critical eye on Moldovan parliamentary elections

Posted by on 03/12/14

On the weekend of the 30th of November AEGEE-Europe deployed 22 young observers to the parliamentary elections in Moldova. In pairs of two the observers visited around 50 polling stations,  that were spread out across different neighborhoods of Chisinau.

During all stages of election day (opening, voting, closing and counting) no major irregularities were observed. In general everything was well organized, all necessary materials were present and stations opened and closed on time. A big number of international and national (partisan) observers were present.

However AEGEE-Europe observers noted some procedural irregularities.  Due to the failure of the national online voter registration system, the registration process slowed down. This resulted in overcrowded polling stations which made it more difficult to guarantee the transparency of the voting process. In addition to this, the execution of the procedures differed between the polling stations due to the interpretation of polling station officials.

Picture by Stefan van Belzen

Furthermore, in several cases partisan observers did not respect their role and interfered. This was noted especially during the counting procedure. At times they touched ballots, their opinion was included in the decision making about validity of votes and their physical presence obstructed the counting process.

Regarding the voters, it was observed that the percentage of men and women voting was more or less equal. In most areas the majority of voters can be considered middle aged or elderly, young voters were observed mostly in the university districts. Among voters, it was not always clear how to cast their vote; they didn’t always know where to fill in the ballot paper, how to fold it and where to put it afterwards. Some cases of group voting were observed.  In both these cases members of the polling station proved to be very helpful or strict if needed.

Taking everything observed into account, AEGEE-Europe observers state that the parliamentary elections of the 30th November in Moldova were well organized, transparent but the procedures weren’t always executed correctly.


Fast Tv

Posted by on 29/11/14

The chronicles tell these days that in Ukraine a group of activists, assembled on the verge of the Parliament, have thrown tomatoes against a panel with photos of the politicians demanding measures anticorruption.

Though it would not be not bad at all to copy this initiative in our country, my offer is much more modest: to apply this measure to the area of the television and, concretely, to that of the Telerubbish (it is possible to do another day a summons against the persons in charge of what is happening in RTVE).

In a hypothetical panel against the Telerubbish they might not be absent: Paolo Vasile, managing director of Tele5, for whom ” The television is the teacher of the manipulation “.


Oscar Cornejo and Adrián Madrid, of The Factory of the TV (Here there is tomato, Save Me …), they have discovered that it of Telerubbish is antiquated. Now, the modern thing is Fast tv says. It is sure that they are they those who have inspired Fátima Báñez to affirming that our young persons do not go out to other countries to look for employment and that cannot speak of emigration but of ” exterior mobility “.

Jorge Javier Vázquez, something more than Presenter of ” Save Me “, this program so educational that is issued in protection schedule for the minors to which Pedro Sanchez calls, not to show his disagreement with the program, but to defend the Toro de la Vega.

In end, we might add an extensive list of secondary, tertiary and quaternary actors but it is not worth it. In a country in which the treeless corruption to his broad ones and whose President says that it is not possible to speak about widespread corruption, this only they are peccata minute.

European Manifesto: Area of freedom, security and justice.

Posted by on 19/11/14

Le traité de Lisbonne a révolutionné le rôle du Parlement Européenne dans l’Espace de Liberté, Sécurité et Justice. Comme le démontre l’étude ‘The “Lisbonisation” of the European Parliament’, publié en 2013, la procédure législative ordinaire, de facto, élève le Parlement au même niveau que le Conseil en tant qu’agenda-setter et policy-maker de l’ELSJ. Dans les dernières semaines, les académiques et les parlementaires se sont confrontés sur la question, à l’occasion d’une conférence spécialement destinée aux membres LIBE ‘The European Area of Freedom, Security and Justice after the Stockholm Program – what comes next ?’ et d’un forum politique à l’Institut of European Studies (12 novembre 2014) sur le même sujet.EU-Logos fait le point sur le débat.

 L’ère post-Stockholm : LIBE, stratège de l’ELSJ aujourd’hui plus que jamais : de l’autoritarisme du Conseil au pluralisme institutionnel

 Jusqu’à l’adoption du Traité de Lisbonne, la définition des programmes pluriannuels (Tampere 1999, La Haye 2004, Stockholm 2009) relevait de la compétence exclusive du Conseil Européen, loin de tout pluralisme institutionnel. Déjà en 2009, lors de l’adoption du programme de Stockholm, la Commission avait, par la suite, adopté un Plan d’Action précisant l’application des orientations stratégiques du Conseil Européen. La Commission lançait ainsi une attaque directe au monopole intergouvernementale dans la définition des priorités politiques de l’ELSJ, mais, ce qui est encore plus fondamental, cette initiative marquait le début d’une stratégie politique à voix multiples, diversifiées et concurrentielles, souvent aussi incohérentes.

 C’est dans ce cadre qu’intervient le Parlement Européen, et la commission LIBE avant tous, en tant que copropriétaire dans la définition de l’agenda politique de l’ELSJ.

 Actuellement le moment est d’autant plus crucial car comme ont souligné les experts intervenus lors de la conférence accueillie par Birgit Sippel (S&D):‘The European Area of Freedom, Security and Justice after the Stockholm Program – what comes next? Setting priorities for the new mandate of the European Parliament’, spécialement adressée aux membres LIBE.

 En effet, malgré l’art.68 du TFUE qui aurait dû réservé le rôle de guide politique en ces matières après les conclusions du Conseil Européen, en juin 2014, au contraire, il ne semble pas avoir joué le jeu : il n’a pas défini des lignes d’action précises et il ne s’a pas répondu aux besoins effectifs des personnes concernées. D’après Yves Pascouau, Senior Policy Analyst and Director en politiques de migration et asile à l’European Policy Center, les conclusions du juin 2014 sont ‘un message des EU bubblers aux EU bubblers’. En plus, le texte semble oublier tous les résultats atteints jusqu’à maintenant : le Conseil Européen a ‘tué les dispositions des traités’, accuse-t-il.

 En conséquence, le Parlement Européen est davantage légitimé à devenir Agenda-setter de l’ELSJ, comblant l’écart entre l’échec des orientations générales du Conseil Européen et leur dimension concrète, centrée sur les personnes directement concernées. Il s’agit d’une opportunité et d’une nécessité pour la commission LIBE qui, d’une part, doit garantir que les droits fondamentaux sont toujours pris en considération de façon prioritaire et selon une approche transversale, alors que, d’autre part, les ambitions de l’Union Européenne pour l’ELSJ restent élevées.

  Un rôle moteur dans la défense des Droits fondamentaux

La centralité du rôle de LIBE est davantage cruciale, car tous les députés doivent mettre en avant la protection des Droits des citoyens, des Droits Fondamentaux et des Droits de l’Homme, sur l’ensemble du territoire de l’Union, comme il est inscrit dans le règlement intérieur du Parlement Européen. Il l’affirme clairement aussi à l’article 36, qu’il faut garantir la compatibilité d’un texte législatif,quelqu’il soit, avec la Charte des droits fondamentaux. De surcroît, il revient à la commission LIBE de vérifier la correcte implémentation dudit article. Une autre disposition très importante est l’art. 126 du Code de procédure du PE qui permet la consultation des agences, y compris celle en charge des droits fondamentaux (FRA) ,ainsi que le service juridique du Parlement Européen.

 Enfin, comme déjà souligné , la promotion des droits fondamentaux est une des préoccupations fondamentales de la commission LIBE. Cependant, les étude actuelles dénoncent ‘the way in which fundamental rights compliance is ensured throughout the EU policy cycle remains a policy challenge, including for the EP itself’, ce qui démontre l’efficacité discutable de l’ensemble de ces outils.

 La commission LIBE colégislative: une institution jeune, un rôle nouveau mais proactif

 Dès l’entrée en vigueur du Traité de Lisbonne, la commission LIBE a su bien interpréter son rôle, alors qu’au départ elle n’avait pas la même expertise que le Conseil, dans la maîtrise des techniques législatives. En effet, les politiques qui relèvent de sa compétence ont une nature purement politique. Par conséquence, les négociations interinstitutionnelles suivent des logiques subtiles, beaucoup plus que dans d’autres domaines, plus techniques. Il faut, donc, connaître et avoir une aisance parfaite des jeux de compromis, des escamotages et des astuces.

 Malgré la difficulté à s’adapter au nouveau rôle, nombre d’exemples démontrent que la commission LIBE est pleinement à la hauteur: le blocage du dossier PNR, ainsi que l’accélération de la procédure des nouvelles règles du sauvetage des vies en Méditerranée, dans le cadre des opérations Frontex ; mais aussi les actions auprès de la Cour de Justice, comme dans le cas du recours en annulation de la décision du Conseil 2010/252/UE, du 26 avril 2010, visant à compléter le Code Frontières Schengen.

 La procédure ordinaire, toutefois, détermine un forte risque de dépolitisation du débat, notamment au détriment des droits fondamentaux. Comme le montrent les dernières études : grâce à la codécision, la plupart des textes est adoptée en première lecture. Par conséquent, les débats sont restreints, ainsi que les opportunités rares d’insérer des clauses qu’assurent le respect de droits fondamentaux dans tous les actes de l’Union, de manière transversale.

 Afin de faire face à cette baisse d’ambitions politiques, la commission LIBE a su profiter des outils de ‘soft law’ dont elle dispose pour faire pression sur la Commission ainsi que sur le Conseil. Grâce, notamment, aux questions parlementaires, ainsi qu’à l’adoption des résolutions, elle relance les débats sur les questions au cœur de l’espace de liberté sécurité et justice, pour qu’ils gardent leur valeur stratégiques, notamment par exemple, en matière de définition des termes utilisés par la Commission, lorsque cette dernière propose un nouveaux texte.

 Cependant, comme relève l’étude 2013 du Centre de Recherche Européen, il faut aussi que les députés soient au courant des recommandations qu’ils ont adoptées, tout en garantissant leur suivi et la cohérence des politiques différentes impliqué par l’ELSJ.

 Communication et transparence interinstitutionnelles.

 Parallèlement, l’étude reconnaît que la Commission n’a pas répondu toujours de manière ponctuelle et satisfaisante aux initiatives de la Commission LIBE, ce qui démontre la manque de transparence et d’efficacité de communication et d’information entre Commission et Parlement. Cependant, lors de la conférence à l’IES, Hélène Calers, ancienne conseilleur politique à LIBE, s’écarte de cette position et déclare: ‘On peut considérer que, dans la plupart des cas, la Commission et le Parlement sont des alliés importants dans la formulation de l’agenda politique et dans la mise en œuvre de l’ELSJ’.

 En ce qui concerne les relations Parlement-Conseil, le rôle des trilogues est très controversé. Ariadna Ripoll-Servent, professeure en Intégration Européenne, semble être très critiques sur le sujet, notamment à cause du manque de transparence et de la technicité des débats ; de même, elle souligne leur fracture avec toute logique démocratique.

 Pour toute réponse, les conseilleurs politiques et les fonctionnaires ont présenté une vision intéressante de l’intérieur : les trilogues contribuent au processus de légitimation progressive des deux acteurs législatifs, en particuliers de la commission LIBE. Ils ne partagent pas l’idée d’un manque de démocratisation : la commission, au moins au niveau institutionnel, élargie, la participation aux trilogues assure la participation du plus   grand nombre d’acteurs possibles, qui, par la suite, informent les autres députées, de manière ponctuelle, sur les avancées des débats.

 L’environnement institutionnel semble, donc, être positif, aussi en considération du fait que la transparence a accru au fil du temps, comme met à l’évidence Gabriel Toggenburg, Senior Legal Advisor de la Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA). Néanmoins, il faudra agir afin d’améliorer la communication et les échanges d’informations entre les acteurs institutionnels, mais aussi entre ceux internationales, comme le Conseil de l’Europe, les Nations Unies, ainsi que les ONG qui travaillent en ce domaine.

 Des ambitions politiques et démocratiques fortes, pour combattre le consensualisme.

 Autre énorme défi relevé, lors des débats, réside dans la logique consensuelle de l’Union. Comme souligné lors de la conférence organisée par l’Institut of European Studies sur ce sujet: ‘c’est des négociations que sortent des compromis auxquels les acteurs, notamment aux trilogues, ont dû ajuster leur position politiques.’

 Si, au départ, les idéologies des différents partis politiques occupent une place importante, au cours des négociations, notamment lors des trilogues « à portes fermées », la combinaison des positions idéologico-politiques du Parlement doit s’adapter aux propositions avancées par le Conseil, qui représente les intérêts des États, beaucoup plus réticents aux changements.

 Les confrontations amènent, donc, à des résultats toujours imparfaits, qui, toutefois, représentent l’équilibre nécessaire entre les pulsions au changement de la part du Parlement et le réalisme politique, d’autre part. Un conseiller politique PPE à la LIBE, Mr. Andris Petersons, admet : ‘Si on veut des résultats il faut s’adapter.’

 D’ailleurs, il ne faut pas être déçu du résultat des négociations qui s’inscrit dans la tradition européenne du «  gradualisme normatif » de l’Union. Il faut, plutôt, accepter cette logique systémique et être toujours satisfaits, parce que chaque avancée, même marginale, améliore l’état normatif précèdent.

 Une approche inclusive pour une implémentation plus efficace.

 La commission LIBE n’a pas de bases légales fortes pour assurer l’implémentation des règlements et des directives. En conséquence, grâce aux contacts réguliers que les députés ont avec les organisations internationales, les experts, mais surtout avec les organisations de la sociétés civile, elle réussit à évaluer et surveiller l’application correcte des engagements des États. En même temps, l’échange d’informations renforce leur compétence technique, qui lui permet d’avoir une vision plus concrète des priorités réelles des politiques de l’ELSJ. Sur ces bases solides le Parlement pourra exercer davantage de pression sur les États, mais surtout sur la Commission afin qu’elle introduise plus souvent des procédures d’infraction en manquement quand cela se révèle nécessaire.

 Recommandations finales.

 Les expert académiques, Steve Peers, professor of EU Law & Human Rights Law à l’University of Essex, Gabriel Toggenburg, Senior Legal Advisor de la Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), et Yves Pascouau, Senior Policy Analyst and Director en politiques de migration et asile à l’European Policy Center, ont présenté des considérations et des recommandations intéressantes pour les députés de la commission LIBE appelée à développer une stratégie globale et cohérente, qui pourrait être structurée ainsi:

 -. Relever les défis futurs, de manière plus précise que les Conclusions du Conseil Européen, limitées à la question démographique et à l’instabilité du phénomène.

 -. Identifier les objectifs clé de l’Union Européenne, en se focalisant sur comment mieux gérer la mobilité au niveau mondial et au sein de l’UE ; comment mieux garantir la protection des personnes à travers la loi mais aussi dans le cadre des mesures opérationnelles que l’Union européenne est amenée à prendre.

 -. Intégrer la dimension intérieure et extérieure de la politique d’immigration de l’UE, à commencer par l’intégration, aspect autant crucial qu’oublié.

 -. Mettre en place une cohérence entre les institutions et à l’intérieur de chaque institution, dans un cadre ‘pentagonale’ qui comprenne le triangle institutionnel classique, ainsi que la CJUE, mais aussi l’EEAS, acteur de plus en plus influant en ce domaine.

 Pour l’instant la situation est en train d’évoluer et il n’y a pas une idée claire sur comment cette stratégie sera réalisée concrètement. Toutefois, il est nécessaire de tenir haut le débat et commencer à en discuter.


Elena Sbarai


En savoir plus

      -. CEPS, ‘The “Lisbonisation” of the European Parliament, assessing progress, shortcomings and challenges for democratic accountability in the area of freedom security and justice’ (2013) FR


     -. Article EU-Logos, ‘Espace De Liberté,Sécurité Et Justice :Un Nouveau Départ ? Quelles Perspectives Réelles ?’, 5 septembre 2014

Classé dans:Actualités, BREVES

Romania’s media landscape – so near and yet so far

Posted by on 04/11/14
By Ivan Radev, AEJ-Bulgaria What kinds of problems exist in the country, which occupies the 45th spot on the Reporters Without Borders ranking list?

A European narrative: Propaganda or debate?

Posted by on 23/10/14

Kathleen Garnett

Last week the Committee of the Regions organised its fifth EuroPCom conference at the Committee of the Regions on how to communicate Europe to a wider public. With the rise of vocal, populist right-wing parties that tap into people’s fears, never has the need for Brussels to present it’s case been more important. It is estimated the EU has approximately five years, before the next Parliamentary elections, to do so. If it fails there is the risk that the EU’s very legitimacy will begin to crumble and give way to forces that promote fragmentation rather than union, rupture rather than settlement, chasm rather than understanding.

Many within the EU are trying. God knows they are trying. From catchy You Tube style videos, to social media tricks, from glossy brochure, to children’s comic-strip info-pack, from out-reach programmes to all-singing, all-dancing local youth events. Every single aspect of communicating the EU to a wider European audience has been and was analysed. All interesting. All very expensive. All pretty useless. Those tools can best be described as the props. They are not exactly defining the plot. Nor can they act as the foundation on which to build an effective, accurate communications strategy.

The only tool capable of reaching out to a wider European audience is a pan-European press that presents the European, as opposed to the national, perspective.

For the moment, however, the European narrative is being written elsewhere far away from Brussels by largely hostile script-writers and no amount of social media, You Tube videos, glossy brochures, awards and out-reach programmes alone will be capable of communicating Europe to the wider European public audience.

Never underestimate the vital role that an independent and varied press plays in communicating local, regional and global affairs to a wider public. At the moment most Europeans read, listen and watch the news as presented to them by their national media and they have proven time and again that EU affairs are not their priority.

Worse than blanking out or ignoring EU policies is the continual drip, drip of negative and blatantly exaggerated coverage of the EU by writers who are more than happy to write a hostile narrative. Those controlling the plot portray the EU as the villain – either an egocentric, power-hungry, corrupter of national sovereignty; a bureaucratic tormentor intent on destroying national values or as a petty autocrat imposing tangled diktats on hard-working member sates.

As long as the good times roll such a narrative is largely ignored and put down to the ranting’s of the loonies that are known to inhabit the shadowy swamps of the periphery. By and large the EU is viewed, as an engine for growth, prosperity and peace. Although little understood most Europeans view the EU positively at best, with indifference at worst. Yet years of unchecked snipping from the side-lines by bored journalists, ignorant of EU affairs have slowly but surely begun to tilt the balance. It is their narrative that is creating an opening for the loonies to migrate out of the shadows and colonise the mainstream.

One need look no further than the announcement yesterday by UKIP that it is forming an alliance with a party that denies the holocaust and promotes wife bashing to realise how mainstream the loony views of UKIP have become. The sad reality is that far too many in the UK have become so brain-washed by the constant stream of negative coverage they are now more prepared to give the benefit of the doubt to a Polish holocaust denier than they are the EU. Something is very flawed indeed when UKIP can ally itself with such extreme views and still hope to win thirty seats in Westminster.

For too long the EU has allowed the narrative to be written by editors who have stated, in public, they oppose the EU. Unless a pan-European media is developed to act as a counter-balance to such hostile positions it will be the national media that will shape how Europeans perceive the EU not those in the driving seat. This is problematic. It is the script-writer who has the power to decide the fate of the protagonists. Does the EU really want its fate to be written by an openly antagonistic media?

Yet, the development of a thriving, well written, newsworthy, independent pan-European press to counter-balance the views of the national media was barely touched upon at the conference. When it was, it was dismissed as too expensive, unprofitable, impossible to realise and too politically sensitive to organise. Past failures were cited as evidence that a pan-European media is economically unviable.

Over and again it was said that the promotion of a pan-European media could be construed as EU propaganda. To which euperspectives replies why such timidity? Has Brussels become so brow-beaten and bullied by the snarlings of the euro sceptics that they actually believe there is any merit to such an argument?

In the free world it is vital that news is presented from a variety of sources capable of expressing their own interpretations of world events. In the UK, The Guardian is a left-leaning paper whilst The Times leans to the right. The Mirror panders to Labour voters. The Daily Mail to UKIP. Few question the legitimacy of this approach. As far as the EU is concerned the only voice being heard is that of the national perspective, which is why there is such an imbalance in the reporting of EU affairs.

The EU has but a few years in which to rethink its communication policy. Now is the time for it to seize the initiative and develop a fully functioning, well respected media staffed by experienced journalists and commentators, capable of presenting broad stories that touch a cord with all Europeans. Only in such a way can Europe regain the initiative, write its own narrative from a European perspective and let Europeans decide whether the EU is worth investing in or not based on accurate, informed stories not on half-truths and deception.

Such a project is not only viable, it is the only way to communicate European objectives to a wider audience. Call it propaganda if you will but it you do the EU would only be doing what the national press are already culpable of – no more, no less.


Venture-backed US media: over-funded & over here?

Posted by on 05/10/14
If you care about EU democracy you need to care about European media, particularly as the upcoming US media invasion gets underway. They’ll be pushing on an open door when they get to Brussels. Anyone interested in the Internet and/or media and/or democracy should have followed the development of media business models since at least [...]

Premio Sakharov 2014. Chi sarà il campione dei diritti umani del 2014?

Posted by on 25/09/14

Anche quest’anno, come negli ultimi ventisei anni, il Parlamento Europeo consegnerà il Premio Sakharov per la libertà di pensiero. Questo martedì, 23 settembre 2014, sono stati presentati i candidati in un meeting congiunto delle commissioni per gli Affari esteri, lo sviluppo e i diritti umani.

Andreï Dmitrievitch Sakharov (1921-1989), fisico russo inventore della bomba a idrogeno, creò negli anni ’70 un comitato per la difesa dei diritti dell’uomo e delle vittime delle persecuzioni politiche, cosa che gli fece assegnare il Premio Nobel per la pace nel 1975.

Il Premio Sakharov fu creato dal Parlamento europeo nel 1988 e i primi a riceverlo furono Nelson Mandela e Anatoli Marchenko.

Quest’anno ci sono sette candidature e, in ordine alfabetico, sono le seguenti:

1. Il professore di giurisprudenza dell’Università di Mosul Mahmoud Al ‘Asali, che si è battuto per i diritti dei Cristiani in Iraq ed è stato ucciso lo scorso luglio, e il patriarca iracheno della Chiesa cattolica caldea Louis Raphael Sako, candidati per la loro difesa delle libertà religiose.

2. I rapper Mouad Belghouate (anche conosciuto come El Haqed) del Marocco, Ala Yaacoubi (anche conosciuto come Weld El) della Tunisia e il blogger e attivista politico egiziano Alaa Abdel Fattah.

3. Le associazioni per la protezione delle minoranze cristiane CHREDO, Open Doors, Oeuvre d’Orient e Aid to the Church in Need.

4. Il movimento ucraino pro-europeo EuroMaidan, rappresentato dal giornalista Mustafa Nayem, la cantante e vincitrice di Eurovision Ruslana Lyzhychko, l’attivista Yelyzaveta Schepetylnykova e la giornalista Tetiana Chornovol.

5. L’attivista americana di origini somale Ayaan Hirsi Ali, che si è adoperata per la difesa dei diritti delle donne nelle società islamiche ed è conosciuta per la sua opposizione alla mutilazione genitale femminile.

6. Il ginecologo congolese Denis Mukwege, specializzato in trattamenti per le vittime di stupri e fondatore dell’ospedale Panzi in Bukavu, nella Repubblica Democratica del Congo;

7. L’attivista azera per i diritti umani e direttrice dell’Istituto della Pace e Democrazia Leyla Yunus, attualmente incarcerata in Azerbaigian.

Il premio sarà conferito a ottobre, tuttavia tutti i candidati meriterebbero il premio. Sarebbe quindi importante che le loro storie ricevessero la maggiore notorietà possibile a prescindere da chi sarà il vincitore.


Per chi fosse interessato, la pagina del Premio Sakharov è la seguente:…

Could Springer/Politico succeed where most ‘European media’ failed?

Posted by on 15/09/14
By Christophe Leclercq Axel Springer (‘Bild’ and others, beyond Germany) and Politico (chiefly Washington, also NY) will jointly launch a media, covering Europe, probably branching out of Brussels. This new attempt is by two large companies with a lot of money and with professional teams. A difference with some, but not all, previous attempts. And an asset but potentially also a curse, depending on answering 10 key questions.

The European Ombudsman needs to protect whistleblowers in EU

Posted by on 04/08/14

Last week the European Ombudsman announced that it had launched an inquiry into the internal rules for whistleblowing which the EU institutions are required to adopt as of 1 January 2014. While this might be seen as good example of the Ombudsman’s own-initiative investigations, the inquiry is limited in scope and misses the Ombudsman’s own role in whistleblowing protection.

Whistleblowing is usually defined as unauthorised disclosure or reporting of corporate information to people and media outside the organisation (external disclosure). Whistleblowing, however, can also take place inside the organisation when for example an employee reports to his manager that wrong-doing or malpractice has occurred (internal disclosure).

It has been a hot topic in the European Commission since 1999 when 20 commissioners were forced to resign following the disclosure of irregularities. A single person, Paul van Buitenen, “blowed the whistle” and alarmed the European Parliament, which in its turn expressed its non-confidence in the entire College of Commissioners.

Buitenen was later elected to the European Parliament. He has described and justified his whistleblowing in a book: “Blowing the whistle – one man’s fight against fraud in the European Commission”. His whistleblowing was effective but he and his family paid a price in terms of personal suffering and economic uncertainty.

Following this incident, the Commission adopted new rules in the internal staff regulations. An official shall not suffer any “prejudicial effects” on the part of the institution as a result of having communicated information concerning “possible illegal activity, incl. fraud or corruption”, provided that he acted “reasonably and honestly”.

However, this doesn’t apply to information disclosed to the official in the course of proceedings in legal cases, whether pending or closed. It’s also obvious from the rules that the Commission prefers internal disclosure.

Protection isn’t guaranteed if an official discloses information even to the European Parliament or the European Court of Auditors without previously having disclosed it to OLAF or to his own institution. That said, the situation is surely better than it used to be when there was no protection whatsoever.

To assess the effectiveness of whistleblowing regulation in the EU one would need to ask some questions. How often does whistleblowing achieve its declared objective of putting an end to wrong-doing? How often does the whistle-blower remain unharmed and protected against replacement, dismissal, or other forms of retaliation by the employer?

When an employee blows the whistle the attention will be drawn to him/herself rather than to the issue that needs to be corrected. A double burden of proof will most often be laid on the whistle-blower – to prove that the allegations are true and that his/she has acted in good faith.

Therefore the odds are heavily against the whistle-blower as the following quotation shows (Glazer, “Whistleblowing”, in Psychology Today, Aug 1986):

“If you have God, the law, the press and the facts on your side, you have a 50 – 50 chance of winning.”
The inquiry by the European Ombudsman will obviously not deal with these questions which are more appropriate for an external audit. The inquiry is limited to the implementation of a new paragraph (22 c) in the staff regulations.

It requires the EU institutions to put in place a procedure for the handling of complaints made by officials concerning the way in which they were treated after or in consequence of whistleblowing. The procedure shall include rules for the “protection of the legitimate interests” of the officials concerned and of their privacy.

Is this enough? The European Ombudsman draws the attention to its own draft decision on internal rules concerning whistleblowing. In this decision the Ombudsperson herself shall protect a whistleblower against any acts of retaliation or reprisal. However, this applies only for the employees in the European Ombudsman institution.

There is a growing awareness that employees, both in the public and private sector, need an external supervisory body to protect them against negative consequences if they have acted in good faith and used accepted and authorised channels for reporting on wrong-doing and irregularities.

Employees should try to avoid whistleblowing for the simple reason that it’s never in their best interest to get entangled in whistleblowing. Nor is it in the interest of employers to receive negative publicity on not having prevented an irregularity. But it would be wishful thinking to think that we live in the best of worlds where no whistleblowing will ever have to happen.

There is definitely a public interest in the protection of employees disclosing criminal offences committed by companies or public bodies, in particular when public funds are involved or when there is a clear danger to health, safety and environment. Such protection can be given by Ombudsman institutions, e.g. by rulings against adverse measures against the whistle-blower.

Whistleblowing protection isn’t only an issue in the EU institutions but even more so in the member states where most corruption occurs. A study in 2012 by Transparency International (“Money, politics, power – corruption risks in Europe”) showed that the vast majority of EU member states haven’t introduced whistle-blower protection legislation.

Legislation, where is exists, reflects a piecemeal approach and is often inadequate. An EU directive on whistleblowing protection legislation might be required.

The best known example of legislation is the Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA) in United Kingdom. The act entered into force in 1999 and has been described as one of the world’s broadest whistleblowing laws. On the positive side is also the current discussion in the new network of Ombudsman institutions in the candidate countries to include whistleblowing protection among their tasks.

Kosovo et Union Européenne : des progrès, mais tout n’est pas réglé

Posted by on 29/07/14

La Commission européenne a salué le 24 juillet dernier les progrès du Kosovo dans la mise en œuvre des exigences de la feuille de route sur la libéralisation des visas. Pour elle le Kossovo a bien progressé, même si de nouveaux efforts s’imposent pour permettre aux ressortissants de ce pays de se déplacer sans visa.

Dans son second rapport, la Commission relève que le Kosovo a pris des mesures importantes pour mettre en œuvre sa législation dans tous les domaines couverts par la feuille de route pour la libéralisation du régime des visas : « la réadmission semble à présent fonctionnelle ; le système de réintégration est opérationnel ; la gestion des frontières, les migrations, l’asile et le système de justice pénale kosovar ont bénéficié de réformes importants » constate la Commission. Toutefois de nouvelles mesures restent nécessaires pour satisfaire pleinement aux exigences de la feuille de route sur les visas. Le rapport invite le Kosovo à favoriser la réintégration durable des personnes rapatriées, à améliorer la précision de son état civil, à déployer son système d’information sur les visas ; à renforcer l’indépendance du pouvoir judiciaire et à obtenir des résultats crédibles en matière de décisions de justice dans les affaires de criminalité organisée et de corruption.

Un tel programme n’est pas une mince affaire.

La Commission a également évalué les effets potentiels de la libéralisation du régime des visas sur la sécurité et les flux migratoires et a conclu que la suppression des visas obligatoires pour les citoyens du Kosovo comportait certains risques pour l’UE en matière de sécurité et de migration. La Commission constate en effet depuis 2012 une augmentation sensible de la traite des êtres humains en provenance du Kosovo et le rapport annuel de l’EASO pour 2014 indique également une augmentation considérable du nombre du nombre de demandes d’asiles déposées dans les Etats membres de l’UE par des citoyens Kosovars. La Commission recommande au Kosovo de prendre des mesures supplémentaires afin d’atténuer les risques de la libéralisation du régime des visas en matière de sécurité et de migration. La Commission se veut optimiste et ne veut décourager personne, mais constatons qu’il y a encore beaucoup de pain sur la planche ! Remarquons cependant que cela ne fait que seulement deux ans que les uns et les autres se sont engagés dans ces travaux dignes des travaux de Hercule : nettoyer les écuries d’Augias.

Pour en savoir plus

     – . Deuxième rapport de la Commission européenne (EN) (FR) new/news/news/docs/second_commission_assessment_fr.pdf

     -. Document de travail des services de la Commission accompagnant le rapport (EN)


Classé dans:Actualités, BREVES

Getting rid of ECHR: Good for Cameron, bad for the rest of Europe

Posted by on 20/07/14

Notoriously, David Cameron is ready to do everything in order to stay in Downing Street after next year’s general election. With his latest proposition, however, he sets new standards in terms of unreason and is directly threating Europe as value-based community at its very core.

Mr Cameron and his party intend to sideline the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) by enabling the House of Commons to veto its verdicts. In this way the United Kingdom is de facto riding itself from the judical surpremacy of the Strasbourg court, since such a mechanism is barely compatible with the European Convention of Human Rights.

Generally speaking, it’s backlash of the court’s verdict onto British legislation that inducing the Tories to such an unprecented move. More immediately, however, the British government seeks to be able to expel convicted foreigners from its country.

Mr Cameron’s plan is widely criticised – even within his own party. Last week, two major opponents in his ranks, the liberal-minded Attorney General Dominic Grieve and fromer Justice Secretary Ken Clarke, lost their jobs in the Cabinet due to a comprehensive reshuffle by the Prime Minister. Although Downing Street is neglecting any link between their replacements and its ECHR plans, it can hardly be sold as an unhappy coincidence that his strongest and most vocal opponents, of all people, suddenly find themselves out of their jobs. According to reports, the party’s convention in October should clear the tracks for the endeavor.

It is the latest display of unreason that Mr Cameron hopes would help secure his re-election. And it, again, comes at a very high price.

The European Court of Human Rights has been established in the early 1950s as a supranational court, that monitors the compliance of the European Convention of Human Rights and imposes sanctions in case of violations. It was founded on the idea that the reading of human rights should not be subjected to the political arbitrariness in each European country, but should follow common standards and be subjected to the jurisdiction of an independent supranational body.

And that is exactly what the court has done ever since. In this month, the ECHR has passed its judgement on the controversial imprisonment of reporters in Turkey, on keeping defendants in cages during court proceedings in Russia and on the marriage ban for transsexuals in Finland.

47 European states have ratified the respective convention and thus subjected themselves to the jurisdiction of the ECHR. If the United Kingdom were to leave, as the Prime Minister obviously intends, it would join an exquisit club with Belarus, Europe’s last dictatorship. Furthermore, observers on both sides of the Channel consider the recognition of the ECHR a requirement for EU membership. Therefore, Britain’s sidelining could lead to its exit from the European Union which notoriously is not a frightening scenario among the Conservatives.

If Europe today is legitimatised to present itself as a champion of human rights, it is solely due to the European Convention of Human Rights and the Strasbourg court that guarantees for its compliance.

The European Union, on the other hand, is almost powerless with regard to the adherence of human rights. Yes, there is the Charter for Fundamental Rights that proclaims the values and freedoms of the Union and its citizens. But neither is the Charter legally binding for national legislation nor has each member state sign up to it. Poland and the UK have opted out and for countries like Hungary or Romania, it does not make for a proper instrument to curb undemocratic developments.

For years, European politicians and jurists have discussed legislation to make the Charter a legally binding instrument. Until now, they have not been able to come up with a tangible and feasible way to do so. Jean-Claude Juncker, President-elect of the European Commission, announced in his speech before the European Parliament that he intends to appoint a Commissioner of Fundamental Rights in his Commission. How such a Commissioner could do anything to improve the situation, has yet to be seen.

Today, the ECHR remains the sole guarantor for human rights in Europe. If the European Union by itself is not able to contribute to that task, it should at least support the ECHR at the very utmost. Consequently, there must be an unambiguous response to David Cameron’s intentions – if not for the sake of Britian’s future in Europe, then at least in order to avoid such intentions from catching on in other member states. Otherwise, there would be serious reason for concern for human rights in Europe to get subjected to political arbitrariness of single countries and for the idea of Europe to be a community based on humanitarian values to remain nothing but a rhetoricial figure.

This peace first appeared on on July 19th (in German). Follow me on Twitter @brnshnwd

BBC is worth saving

Posted by on 17/07/14

Despite its failings, the UK state broadcaster, the British Broadcasting Corporation, is worth saving, argues Whitehouse Consultancy Chairman, Chris Whitehouse, as he warns that the future of its funding arrangements are in jeopardy.

Read Chris’s full article here.

The Whitehouse Consultancy is one of Europe’s leading public affairs and communications agencies.

Free press is essential to democracy

Posted by on 10/07/14

Whitehouse Consultancy Chairman, Chris Whitehouse, discusses the the implications for the United Kingdom’s media industry of the conviction for phone hacking of Andy Coulson, former media advisor to British Prime Minister, David Cameron, in his latest article for The Universe magazine. He argues strongly in defence of a free press, but criticises state broadcaster the BBC for bias,

To read Chris’s article, please click here.

The Whitehouse Consultancy is one of Europe’s leading public affairs and communications agencies.