Comment by Konstantin Dolgov, Russian MFA Commissioner for Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law, regarding the 2013 annual report of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights
We have taken note of the recently published annual report of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) on “progress” in the humanitarian and human rights fields in the EU in 2013.
It seems that evidence presented by the Agency to illustrate the situation with human rights in the EU is largely superficial and in some cases even presents a distorted reality. Among the progressive measures intended to ensure the migrants rights, for instance, FRA refers to border control and visa policy reform. The fact that these measures are of obviously restrictive nature against the migrants and are definitely not aimed to protect their interests did not embarrass the Agency’s “human rights defenders” in any way.
The report presents in a positive context the information on increasing attention by the European public community to issues of personal data protection. At the same time, not everything is as brilliant as the authors would wish. The protracted widespread phone tapping of Europeans’ phone calls by US intelligence revealed by Edward Snowden and associated with multiple human rights violations requires much stronger reaction from EU member states and its institutions.
The FRA report also circumvents such serious human rights problems in the EU as abuse of power by police, violation of rights of detainees, involvement of a number of EU member states in the CIA secret prisons programme and systematic infringements of freedom of speech and freedom of the press. The latter is especially relevant in the context of unveiled information blockade of Russian media in the EU in the context of the situation in Ukraine. As a result, Europeans are deprived of their legitimate right to get objective and trustworthy information on the events unfolding in Ukraine.
Against the assurances of allegedly increased attention by the EU to growing neo-Nazism and xenophobia, the report again suppresses the continuing large-scale discrimination of the Russian-speaking minority in the Baltic states and de-facto encouragement of aggressive nationalism by the governments of these countries.
We call upon the leaders of the FRA and the EU as a whole to finally start paying close attention to the problems in the field of human rights and democracy multiplying in the European Union and to take practical steps to resolve them in accordance with international obligations of its member states. Widespread institutional problems in the field of human rights in the EU, in particular lack of an adequate monitoring system and mechanisms to address the existing challenges in the member states, also require systemic actions.
Without eliminating these flaws, EU’s ambitions to play the role of a guiding star or even a judge in the matters of human rights and democracy will further remain at the level of void declarations.
29 July 2014