"Complacency must end"
Amnesty International calls for action in a press release by the organisation yesterday on the occasion of the European Council summit in Reykjavík.
The organisation is focusing on issues addressed in recent weeks, which relate to stronger protection of civil rights, the protection and strengthening of independent judicial systems, resistance to setbacks in gender equality, new initiatives to increase the influence of the Council of Europe and the detention of perpetrators of war crimes before independent, neutral and fair courts.
Russia needs to be held responsible
Amnesty International also proposes improving the Council of Europe's system and making it more efficient and effective, and that the summit is an opportunity for the Council of Europe to take steps towards holding Russia responsible for the war and the many violations of international humanitarian law and human rights in the war.
At the same time, the announcement also states that Member States should make use of the summit in prioritising the fight against the degradation of civil society, the protection and strengthening of independent and neutral courts and combating the setbacks in the rights of women and queer people.
The protection of human rights must be strengthened
With the exception of the right to clean, healthy and sustainable environments, the European Council should place less emphasis on establishing new institutions and more emphasis on making the current system more efficient and dynamic.
Last but not least, during the Icelandic Presidency, the European Council should make use of the important opportunity afforded by the European Council summit and press Member States to strengthen the protection of human rights in the continent.
An illegal building collapses during the demolition by blasting in Sevastopol, Crimea, on December 26, 2014. AFP/Vasily Batanov
Mistakes in dealing with Russia
In an article in Politico today the director of Amnesty International Europe, Nils Muižnieks with Rita Patricio, senior executive officer of Amnesty say that it is time to see action instead of talk. In the article they write that it is vitally important to recognize the mistakes made in dealing with Russia during former aggressions, but Russia was only outed from the Council after the Ukranian invasion in 2022.
" With hindsight, we now see the bloc was guilty of complacency with Moscow, failing to take action to stop backsliding on human rights when Russia engaged in a brutal war in Chechnya, fought with Georgia and occupied Crimea — all while stifling civil society and muzzling dissent at home. Yet, its more robust recent response — promptly excluding Russia after its attack on Ukraine — provided some hope for Europe’s recommitment to human rights in the founding spirit of the CoE.
Simply put, complacency must end — including toward Turkey, which has been backsliding on human rights for far too long, cracking down on civil society, ignoring binding judgments of the Strasbourg Court and withdrawing from the Istanbul Convention. Turkish authorities are flagrantly failing to uphold fundamental human rights that come with CoE membership."