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Home arrow newsitems arrow EU Ombudsman Diamandouros to EuroFora : Big Changes for EU Citizens' Rights after Lisbon Treaty

EU Ombudsman Diamandouros to EuroFora : Big Changes for EU Citizens' Rights after Lisbon Treaty

Written by ACM
Thursday, 21 January 2010
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*Strasbourg/EU Parliament/Angelo Marcopolo/- The recent entry into force of Lisbon Treaty introduces many changes in favor of EU Citizens' Rights, stressed EU Ombudsman, professor Nikiforos Diamandouros, to "EuroFora", in statements made after EU Parliament re-elected him for a new period of 5 Years (2010 - 2014) :

-   At first, new Rules, concerning EU Citizens' Fundamental Rights entered into force thanks to Lisbon Treaty, he observed.

- Moreover, our Monitoring extends now to all EU Decisions affecting Citizens, f.ex. all EU Council's decision-making, he added.

- It includes even EU Member States' activities when they are applying EU Law, he observed.

- Last, but not least, "I intend to largely use the EU Law clause which introduces Citizens' Right to a Good Administration", anounced Diamandouros. The move opens new possibilities for the creation of a kind of "Case Law" on EU Citizens' Rights, due to be progressively shaped by the practice and decisions taken by EU's Court of Justice and/or EU Ombudsman while monitoring EU institutions' acts, he acknowledged.

Another among Diamandouros' "Priorities" for the next 5 years is to strengthen evenmore the principle of "Transparency" in EU decisions, as well as to ameliorate the "Efficiency" in the way that his Office operates in real practice.

Diamandouros, a former University Professor from Greece, will soon complete a Decade as EU Ombudsman, since he was initially elected on 2003. His  2010 re-election was the result of a hard fought struggle vis a vis a strong competitor, Belgian professor at the Bruges College, Yves Monette, with 340 and 289 votes respectively, out of 648 valid votes (i.e. more than the absolute Majority).

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During his mandate, the EU Ombudsman is due to work closely together with EU Parliament's Petitions Committee, whose new President, Erminia Mazzoni from Italy (ChristianDemocrat/EPP), held earlier a joint Press Conference in Strasbourg with Diamandouros : The 1st since Lisbon Treaty gave EU Citizens also the power to introduce a Legislative proposal with 1 million signatures, as it was reminded recently by EU Parliament's President, Jerzy Buzek, speaking to Journalists including "EuroFora".

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They voted to "freeze" UK Government's draft to put People in jail for 42 Days on "anti-terrorist" suspicion without charge, or they abstained. Don't they look suspect ?
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CoE's debate on UK controversy stirs PanEuropean check of anti-terror suspects' imprisonment

Former Leftists of the Sixties would boil in hot water if they heard PACE's debate on the controversial 42 days detention without charge, currently drafted by the British Government :

A "Socialist" Government, a Socialist PACE Rapporteur and a Socialist Chair of PACE's Legal Committee, opposed a .. "Conservative" amendment (supported by .. Liberals, Democrats, etc), to freeze the measure, in order to protect Citizens' Freedom, by "waiting" until CoE's Venice Committee checks its conformity with Human Rights' principles.

"Left"'s support to Conservative-Lib.Dem's criticism, wasn't enough to obtain a majority, nor to make things as they were back in the good old days, when "Left" and "Right" had a clear meaning, as "liberty" and "restrictions"...

Conservatives and most Democrats were joined by the Left in voting for the "freeze", as well as Liberal Paul Rowen, while Socialist MEP Ivan Popescu, an experienced MEP from Ukraine (PACE Member since 1996-2008) abstained. But most Socialists, added to a few Liberals and EPP's Right, voted against.

Fortunately, someone inside PACE had the wise idea to shorten the Debate for less than 1 Hour, and put it on the Agenda only at the end of an exceptionally busy day, towards the end of the Evening, when most MEPs had already gone to taste wins and foods at various Receptions all around Strasbourg's "European" area : As a result, not even 42 MEPs weren't present..

Socialist Lord Tomlinson accused the leaders of the PanEuropean Assembly, in its highest body : the "Bureau", to "lack wisdom" by deciding to hold a Debate on an issue that neither the Socialist Chair of the Legal Committee, nor its Socialist "reluctant Rapporteur", did "not want to do", ...

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Finally, everybody (critics and supporters alike) was happy to agree, in substance, that the controversial measure "may" gravely violate Human Rights, and therefore, PACE asked Legal Experts of Venice Commission to check UK Government''s plans.

But this might take more than .. 42 Days to do, since PACE's Rapporteur asked the Experts to enlarge their study in a PanEuropean comparison of all that is happening on "anti-terrorism" legislation in 47 CoE Member Countries, including Russia, Turkey and Azerbaidjan..

Bad lack : "The existing 28 days’ detention without charge in the UK is, in comparison with other CoE member countries, one of the most extreme : In Turkey, the period is 7,5 days, in France 6 days, in Russia 5 days, and in .. the U.S. and Canada just 2 and 1 days respectively", denounced Democrat MEP Ms WOLDSETH from Norway..

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"Numerous respected human rights organisations, including Liberty and Human Rights Watch, have expressed serious concern" "The proposed legislation ...could easily lead to extensive abuses. ...Detention for 42 days means six weeks in which one is taken away from one’s family, friends, home and livelihood only to be let off without being charged. That will destroy lives and isolate communities", she added.

- "3 years ago, the UK Government sought to increase the period of pre-charge detention from 14 days to 90 days. Not long before that, it had been only 7 days. There was a vigorous debate ...and a ...compromise was reached of 28 days. We have to ask whether there are proper safeguards in place to extend the period to 42 days. I suggest that there are fatal flaws", reminded British Conservative Clappison.

- "What sort of society holds someone in detention for 42 days and does not have to tell the person who is in prison why they are there, or explain the suspicions that arose and led to their detention? What sort of society believes that that is the way to treat its citizens? That is an appalling injustice, ...A 42-day detention period will not make the UK safer. Instead, it will be the first step to giving in to terrorists; it is saying that we are prepared to sacrifice our democratic rights and the principles for which we have stood for centuries", criticized British Liberal Michael Hanckock

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"Comments made ...by Norwegian delegates are unfortunate", replied British Socialist MEP Ms.Curtis-Thomas, accusing them to "besmirch the reputation of our police force, which is one of the Best in the World", as she said, believing that "there are significant safeguards ...to ensure that individuals are not subjected to unlawful detention"

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PACE "has serious doubts whether ...the draft legislation are in conformity with the ...case-law of the European Court of Human Rights. A lack of ..safeguards may lead to arbitrariness, resulting in breaches of ... liberty and ...right to a fair trial". PACE "is particularly concerned that: ..the judge ..may not be in a position to examine whether there exist reasonable grounds for suspecting that the arrested person has committed an offence;"; that "... representation by a lawyer may be inappropriately restricted or delayed;" that "information on the grounds for suspicion of a person ...may be unduly withheld.. ;" that this "may give rise to arrests without the intention to charge;", and; in general, that "prolonged detention without proper information on the grounds for arrest may constitute inhuman treatment", says Klaus De Vries' Report, adopted with 29 votes against zero.

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Records don't say if it took him 42 Days to draft his Report, but, at least, he knew why...

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