tv Conflict Zone - Guest Michael O Flaherty Deutsche Welle February 17, 2018 5:30pm-6:00pm CET
this is the deadliest come to live combat in but all right to our correspondent news in central istanbul i'm joined by the couple of interviews political correspondents on the stories in just a minute but first this news. perspective. from the treatment of migrants to freedom of expression to end to terror along our standards of human rights across europe slipping this week on conflicts my guest in vienna is michael of clergy director of the e.u. agency for fundamental rights that's he believes europe is doing all it can to protect human rights.
michael of flirty well come to a conflict zone in a recent report the agency has said that civil society is under threat across the block the report paints a portrait picture of the state of fundamental rights within the european union it's a mixed picture it's a picture of what's working and what's not working we have to stay very vigilant in europe just like everywhere else in the world to protect the incredible institution for developer the second world war as every word in the word our foundation the idea of the european union human rights democracy and it's not getting better it's changing we have some improvement it's a very diplomatic world changing to a good changing to the bad change to the good in some places but right i am very concerned about the situation of human rights in europe today we have a lot to do across so many issues so many groups migrants and. older people at the
disabled there's a huge program of work to be done but much the challenges with the achievements that you have said that quote twenty seventeen was not a great year in terms of respect of protection and the promotion of human and fundamental right not a great year that's an understatement now i agree it was a it was a very very challenging time it remains a challenging time take the migration crisis it's still a crisis we still are not a crisis because of the migration it is the crisis of democracy in the member states of europe it's a crisis of migration policy in other words i largely agree with you it's about a failure to show solidarity to risk to share the responsibility across member states it's about failure to get the basics in place and so many places we've been following the story very closely for the last two years and yesterday in some achievements but in the bigger picture we're not there yet and in some ways we're worse off at this fortress of europe it has less doors than it had previously let's
argue in the speech in dublin at the institute of international and european affairs you suggested that the european human rights groups act is under threat frankly you are accusing your own men states that's correct i'm saying that we have a threat because of unacceptable levels of abuse under resigning of pulling away from the commitments in too many places and on top of that a lack of conviction in large parts of our citizens that human rights are important for them and not just for others so that's very big project of work but i think we know where we need to go so let's look at the european political map some examples austria hungary poland islamophobia anti semitic ism hate speech again minorities. they have become every day practice in these countries i don't i don't dispute with you that we have really serious and growing problems and it's the job of my agency to get the data about those problems out there in the public domain the actual
experience of muslims in europe the actual experience of jews in europe put that in front of the policymakers the decision makers and then challenge them but the liberal human rights committee is the problem not the solution in some countries it's not that simple at there's an enormous diversity of of willingness to make for better societies but it's not just the policymakers the politicians who make our societies it's also about civil society it's also about the faith groups it's the citizens themselves and a large part of our work is to engage with them and to convince them that this is something worth fighting for i will repeat my question in some countries are the governments the problem or the solution like poland for example i just wouldn't put it that simply in some countries we've got far more serious problems than others but it ranges across all human rights and who is responsible for these problems the government some even of the head of the governments are
a part of the movements of the right radical movements and this is something after world war two which is coming back and nobody would have believed that this could be and it is yeah but the great difference today is that we have strong international human rights standards by which we can and must hold these people to account i'm worried that there's a lot of hate speech out there that goes unchallenged on prosecutors that's unacceptable and so a large part of our work is demanding that the laws in place which we did not have in place at the time of the second world war are complied with but we're getting more convenient with this since zia's all these hate speeches are not anymore coming from the streets these. hate speeches are coming from presidents from governments from politicians look at the european union the european union is also one of the reasons where we are listening to hate speeches
and this wouldn't be possible before it is new well i legit from my eyes i also look at the european union which is doing a good job of taking hate speech off line which is pushing back and we've seen some improvements in this regard in the last few months i'm not discouraged at all i see a long way ahead it's a difficult it's going to be a difficult pathway but i think in the end we'll get there with the commitment of young people in our societies the resilience of civil society at the increasing convergence of faith communities to do something meaningful to challenge on the side of those that you are optimistic that's your job but let's be realistic again . let's have a look in poland let's have a look in hungary let's have a look in france let's have a look even in germany a very successful growth of parties who are antidemocratic a part of their rhetoric is the headline hate discrimination of mind sexual
discrimination racial discrimination religious discrimination these people partly are working with you. they are sitting in the european parliament but they are also sitting in all other institutions in europe well our job is to uphold and demand respect for the system of human rights we do that we're putting evidence out there in the public domain tackling the fake news which in large part informs some of the phenomena you're describing getting the data out there for the actual situation no muslims don't bring sexual violence into europe we have our own problem for example no the recent migration crisis did not bring at the semitism a better europe that's long standing custody will be evident at the ballot actions and be holistic limitations and see if the muslims bring the problems well to the extent that's being said we're pushing back against stuff with the hard data but
isn't it hypocritical that such an organization who is fighting against racism is be paid by countries like poland and hungary these governments are responsible that you'll work is increasing ok we are an agency of the european union which means we're somewhat separate from the from the decision making institutions we're also independent i think we're very safe position to do our job with integrity and it's a hell of a job to do and it's body needed right now more than ever and indeed to take your own words which you member state is respecting human rights the least these days i'm not going to answer that question because i don't think it's helpful that we see where forever is such an information not helpful because we're forever scanning the horizon of the point to a question to all your research yes which e.u. member state is respecting human rights the least these days you can also mention two or three but it isn't information which is very important but the response i'd
give here is that it's neither helpful nor useful to name a particular country because there are problems everywhere and human rights is not just about civil rights and political rights it's also about social and economic growth. and when you see it broadly understood like that the problems are everywhere there's no worst and by the way there's no best either there's a serious efforts a lot of serious talk about these countries were you have a lot of problems where you feel that you are worried which these countries well certainly undoubtedly were concerned about the situation in poland and in hungary and a number of other states i visit those countries and whenever i have the opportunity or meet with the government i meet with civil society i offer the tools and the experience of this agency to assist them and engage in their problems and we see some small progress in this area for example i was in hungary just a few weeks ago and i was invited by the government to send a team to the so-called transit zones these are the border points the border
crossing points to see how a more human rights respectful system could be put in place those conversations are underway right now but i that's exactly the way our agency can make some small progress in contributing to the challenges in such places you mention counterterrorism and fundamental rights you mentioned a concern with legislation around security laws and dangerously human rights you mentioned spain for instance. yes well certainly in terms of counterterrorism we have an issue right now that we have a legitimate need for strong security and we want to support that in a way that's respectful of human rights and doesn't compound the problems it's attempting to solve and this means we have some challenging conversations we need states to slow down what is the challenge slowing down for instance taking proper care looking at the unintended consequences of actions making sure that the limits on human rights and there must be limits on human rights that they truly are
necessary for the purpose that's being sought to achieve and we're delivering research to assist the sexes ideas yeah you're talking with the governments you explain is the governments but the things are not going on as you want them to go in spain the counter-terrorism law was used for example to jail artists one of the most famous cases was the arrest of two property this who in the street performance used a pen best that a judge rules to be an excuse for terrorism this seems like a clear violation of the right of free expression everything is argued with come to terrorists sure well twenty gauge issues such as when you describe what you find in a number of countries we need the strong human rights legal analysis to challenge the practices of the state it's not necessarily just the law it's how the law is applied to profiling we all recognize that you've got to make choices in policing
of who to stop on a street that's profiling but profiling can be respectful of human rights or it can be discriminatory and in violation of human rights and it's one of the things our agency is doing is developing tools for intelligence and for police services so that they can avoid exactly the types of situation you gave in your example that nobody's really intervening from the political level nobody the terror law was used in spain let's have another example but the high court now we are on the level of the high court sent thirteen hip hop artists to jail for years. as for what they called praise of terrorism in the song i mean what's going on in the u.p.a. union in a country like spain people are in jail because they sang well look i'm singing a song you have the most important thing right now is to reignite passion about the europe of values we're not an economic europe we're one founded in human rights and if we can better embed that culture of bettering gauge it with the policymakers then exactly the type of situation you're giving will be much rarer in the future
we're talking about poland we're talking about hungry west talking about spain with talk about other countries and the research your comments your papers. also describing countries like spain and so were is the judgment what is the judgment which is so important if a person like you is judging why are you so shy. well our function really is to gather the data so that the policymakers and the decision and the judgers courts and elsewhere can take the necessary action get the data out there do the analysis make that available it's a vital function because as i said earlier if we base our decision making on fake news unfolds news on myth we're going to end up obviously with ridiculous are you information. you're going to mation you so the question as to what are you doing with this stuff is better put to the decision resist who has been shown something
with you in for me ultimately a human rights body like ours with only advisory functions is only as good as those who make their decisions are you giving you the governance of the e.u. member states the e.u. institutions but in our knowledge you insist you understand the paradox understand the problem you are bringing information to countries which you are criticized and you demand that these countries will react but they don't want to react they are very happy as they are i'm not going to give europe a clean bill of health the problems are serious the issues are grave but i do see small chinks of light i see small improvements i gave an example of better oversight of intelligence services here we're having valuable conversations with governments about how to put in independent oversight that's achievement i've seen refugees children locked in cages when i first went to the hotspots in greece a couple of years ago they're not in cages anymore that's an improvement it's the thousand small steps that are making an important contribution to
a better european future not clued you said that what happened in spain was an internal affair also what you describe by elation of human rights in a member state can't be and fair and it a human rights are not an internal affair with a website so mr york is wrong no i'm framing this in terms of human rights and by by that i mean that spain and all the other e.u. members. dates are bound to human rights commitments which transcend the state and and it's very important that that the issues of human rights are surveilling motion a violation of rights only member state this internal affair or not it depends on the context for purposes of the e.u. and how it's structured it may well be an accurate statement for for purposes of human rights compliance no it raises issues under international human rights law so let's look at another important country france the french emergency law has been replaced with the terror law the new legislation which went into effect last
october gives security forces the authority to shut places of worship with out warrants that means without actual proof religious freedom is one of the most important principles of modern humanist societies how does this go hand in hand i think it's very important to speak with religious communities about that because again it's you it's not necessarily the law that's the problem it's the application of the law and we need to speak to them and listen to the extent to which there are practices that they consider violations of their rights and in that way we form a consensus about the actual practice of the government of the parliaments who are deciding these restrictions i once ran a human rights commission in an e.u. member state and i was i was struck by the extent to which it's not the face of the law that's the problem it's the way in which it's applied and the manner of which
richards applied can violate a right as easily as be respectful of the right that's why it's important to generate the evidence figure out what the principles that apply and i think that it's not like in reality all of the state of law. we cannot make decisions without the hard data but what's the situation is and how it impacts affected communities you can really want. people today in france if he seems to be a terrorist also without warrants. if you can the law is allowing this ok and then but in terms of a question what are you asking me to respond to. what is your reaction on that well my reaction is as i say the our job is to advise the e.u. so that the actions of the states be that the laws are the application of the laws of human rights compliant but we're not some overall judge we don't have that capacity we're not set up in that manner can somebody be which will. be an advocate
for human life and i were certainly not neutral you trilogies it typically taking the side of an oppressor in the context of human rights i want to quote again. you your report from journalist says about hungary in hungary there were civil society reports that public officials continue to use libel and defamation laws to silence criticism from citizens and journalists. what are the consequences of this support something changed well we are making sure that the debates get triggered around europe on the basis of that report there was a discussion yesterday in the european parliament in which the report was cited extensively triggering conversations about the report in budapest in other capitals . by that means we give civil society the tools for it to push back against unacceptable practices and we're providing the basis the knowledge base as i mentioned earlier for other states and for those with influence at to engage the unacceptable behavior of the countries you don't have the freedom of speech as it
has to be and we accusing for example countries like turkey. what is the difference what we have to be just as hard on ourselves as we do with any other state outside the european union and again as i say that's that's a that's a job for the entire of the european political community not just for a single agency which is providing the data and the evidence so that those hard words can be spoken and i see those hard words spoken increasingly. again. is the situation getting better or not at the moment we're in a bad situation but i do see chinks of light towards the future and why why because i see more and more governments in this european your union. or even on the top or the junior partner parties which are openly openly discriminating races nationalists right wing parties were
optimists come it's coming from many places for example we're getting more serious about promoting economic equality and so-called social economic rights the dimension of human rights we haven't had a chance to speak much of in this conversation i see it in young people it could sound condescending but genuinely from traveling around europe meeting with youth groups and which children's groups i see solutions being offered i see a willingness to to go over the divisions too and i see more and more government power which are representing all these issues we're talking about certainly there are populist tendencies out there against which we have to push very hard but we can do that as i said earlier by shattering myth by dispelling these crazy stories on the basis of which people are being rallied by delivering for people better tackling inequality by showing that we can have fair societies based on human rights and there are so many other dimensions by the way also see and as i said i think your earlier in faith communities
a greater desire to come together to resist these these tendencies islam a phobia is today in several countries a declination of governance i think is an official aeration certainly hatred against muslims and patterns of discrimination as we see from our surveys are very worrying something like forty percent how can a country still be a member in the union in the european union if a country is not anymore respecting human and fundamental rights how does this go on what is the message that such a country is still. representing the fundamental idea of human rights ok well first human rights is much broader than the framing of our discussion it's also about putting food on the table delivering health care we have to make broad assessments about human rights compliance taking all those dimensions into place that said i don't disagree with you we do need stronger
mechanisms and tools in europe to hold states to account we hold them to account before they enter but once they're in the club it doesn't work so well and that's an area that isn't receiving attention right now in the context of strengthening the rule of law frameworks something worth mentioning that before let's look at the migration issue in march twenty sixth in the you signed a deal with turkey intended to keep back the refugee flow i mean just international says turkey quote is not a safe place for g.'s struggling meet people space sick needs the turkish authorities of failing to ensure that refugees and asylum seekers are able to live in dignity human rights watch calls it a problematical deal has the e.u. abandon its principles in order to keep away refugees we have a great deal to do we have to be a more welcoming europe and not for everybody but for those who need international protection once they get here and by the way we ate people to get here in the
mediterranean by a dramatic level of sea rescues which i think is under acknowledged but still we have too many walls once they get here they have to be treated with respect we're still not there and we still don't have that respectful sharing of the responsibility so this remains a very grave issue of human rights sounds good is not the reality of the european union today another country which is resolving the influx of refugees is libya human rights watch says the u.s. tried to prevent asylum seekers and irregular milligan's coming by shifting responsibility for migration control onto. the borders no to build libya in ways that expose people to human rights abuse do you accept display i accept that a much better job could be done of honoring the human rights of people trying to get into europe that does not mean letting every one of them in at least voting and those in going to be closer to we know consciously that these peoples are in libya
in a failed state we agree that these people are living in the failed state only with the argument we don't want to have them in europe our human rights guarantees extent of what we do outside europe and that has to be held in mind regardless of whether it's turkey or libya or any other country it's the same degree of attention for the basic human rights and dignity of those people but then as i say i really want to insist once they get here we have to do a better job of protecting their human rights that is no less important which country is on your mind when you say something like what i have in mind actually is the intolerable burden we've placed on greece and italy we've left them to deal with this in a manner which is is is impossible. and where is all of europe was needed to resolve the problem including towards respectfully receiving a fair number of people from greece and italy which is still not taking place now
where he's me greatly since this age has come into existence nothing has improved on the contrary human rights have to tolerate it and i wouldn't accept that at all since as agencies come into existence we have adopted in europe a charter of fundamental rights which is hardwired protection of human rights into policymaking and i see that on a day to day basis how the outcome is better because of the charter since its agency came into existence we have evidence on the situation in europe of a quality that you're find nowhere else in europe we know about the incidence of violence against women because of the surveys we've done the incidence of anti semitism the instances of his. lama phobia stand more if i may finish we have also seen how that data has fed into better policy so i understand we know more about the situation didn't could get better michael clarity thank you for being on conflict so it was a pleasure thank you very much. to us
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