There is no time to lose in the appointment of a new EU Special Envoy for FoRB

On 10 September Christos Stylianides was sworn in as Greece’s Minister of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection. Unfortunately, his appointment leaves vacant once again the vital role of the European Union (EU)’s Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) outside the EU.

Mr Stylianides held the position for just four months, and he was appointed over a year and a half after his predecessor’s mandate had ended. While it would be unfair to criticise Mr Stylianides himself for moving into his new role, it is essential that the EU does not leave the Special Envoy position vacant for as long as it did prior to his appointment.

Alongside the EU Guidelines on the promotion and protection of FoRB, the Special Envoy mandate is a key tool in the EU’s diplomatic arsenal. Prior to Mr Stylianides’ brief tenure , it was held for several years by the Slovakian politician Dr Ján Figeľ, who was acknowledged as playing a key role in securing the release of Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi, who spent years on death row on unfounded charges of blasphemy.

Continue reading “There is no time to lose in the appointment of a new EU Special Envoy for FoRB”

Un nouvel outil: Le régime global de sanctions de l’UE en matière de droits humains

Le 7 décembre, l’UE a officiellement approuvé la création de son tout nouveau mécanisme de défense des droits humains, le régime mondial de sanctions de l’Union européenne (UE) en matière de droits humains.

Il permettra au bloc européen d’imposer des interdictions de voyage à l’échelle de l’UE, de geler les avoirs et d’interdire la mise à disposition de fonds et de ressources économiques aux personnes et entités qui ont commis de graves violations des droits humains ou y ont été associées. Il visera les acteurs étatiques et non étatiques, quel que soit l’endroit où ils se trouvent dans le monde et où ils ont commis leurs crimes.

Ce mécanisme est officieusement connu sous le nom de “Magnitsky Act”, inspiré du modèle américain qui l’a précédé. Le Magnitsky Act américain a été signé par le président Barack Obama en 2012 et a avait été conçu à l’origine pour cibler les fonctionnaires russes responsables de la mort de l’avocat fiscaliste russe Sergei Magnitsky.

Le fait que ce mécanisme permette de cibler des individus spécifiques responsables de violations des droits humains pourrait avoir des implications importantes pour les individus dans de nombreux pays où travaille CSW. Par exemple, la loi américaine Magnitsky a été utilisée pour imposer des sanctions aux responsables de violations dans la région ouïghoure de Chine. Lors de la première désignation dans le cadre de son propre régime de sanctions, le Royaume-Uni a ciblé, entre autres, deux généraux militaires de haut rang du Myanmar (Birmanie) impliqués dans la violence systématique et brutale contre le peuple Rohingya et d’autres minorités ethniques, et deux organisations impliquées dans le travail forcé, la torture et le meurtre qui ont lieu dans les goulags de Corée du Nord.

Continue reading “Un nouvel outil: Le régime global de sanctions de l’UE en matière de droits humains”

A new tool in the toolbox: The EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime

On 7 December, the EU officially approved the creation of its newest human rights mechanism, the European Union (EU) Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime.

It will enable the European bloc to impose EU-wide travel bans on, freeze the assets of and prohibit the availability of funds and economic resources to individuals and entities who have committed or been associated with serious human rights abuses. It will target both state and non-state actors, regardless of where they are in the world and where they committed their crimes.

The mechanism is informally known as the EU-styled Magnitsky Act, after the US model that preceded it. The US Magnitsky Act was signed by President Barack Obama in 2012 and was originally designed to target Russian officials who were responsible for the death of the Russian tax lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.

Continue reading “A new tool in the toolbox: The EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime”

The Rohingya Crisis One Year On: Burma’s Work of Healing Cannot be Postponed Any Longer

On 25 August last year, the Burma army unleashed its attack on the Rohingya people of northern Rakhine state, precipitating the country’s most severe human rights and humanitarian crisis since independence in 1949. The United Nations’ outgoing High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, described this crisis as “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”, and the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Burma, Yanghee Lee, warned of “the hallmarks of genocide”. After the genocides in Rwanda and Srebrenica the world lamented with the words: “Never again”. But a year ago in Burma, “never again” happened all over again.

“They made it impossible for us to stay – how could we survive?”

In March this year, I travelled to the refugee camps on the Bangladesh-Burma border, to meet survivors. Almost everyone I talked to had seen loved ones killed and villages burned. Accounts of mass rape were widespread. I met Rohingyas whose eyes had been shot out and limbs blown off, and heard of others whose eyes had been gouged out, throats slit and limbs hacked off.

Continue reading “The Rohingya Crisis One Year On: Burma’s Work of Healing Cannot be Postponed Any Longer”

Does a thaw in relations between Eritrea and Ethiopia offer hope for Christians?

A thick layer of dust coats everything inside the Eritrean embassy in the Ethiopian capital, which was unlocked this week for the first time since 1998. Photos of this ‘time capsule’ were published by the BBC, which, along with the world’s media, is charting the remarkable thaw in relations between Eritrea and Ethiopia. The two nations went to war in 1998 but maintained a war footing due to Ethiopia’s refusal to allow demarcation of their common border, in accordance with a 2003 ruling.

Continue reading “Does a thaw in relations between Eritrea and Ethiopia offer hope for Christians?”