Ambiguities in the EU legislation regarding the status of refugees lead to abuses that undermine the fundamental principles of European democracy, as illustrated by the 1951 Geneva Convention. The case of the Romanian refugee Gregorian Bivolaru exposes such dangerous flaws.
Gregorian Bivolaru, Romanian citizen, was granted political asylum in Sweden in January 2006, as the Swedish Supreme Court considered that the refugee “will not receive a fair trial and his life will be endangered in Romania due to his religious and political beliefs”.
In February 2016 Gregorian Bivolaru was arrested in France, following a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) issued by Romanian authorities in June 2013. The EAW is a direct continuation of the persecutions for which he was granted asylum.
As the framework of the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) does not consider the possibility of political asylum between the EU member states, this flaw in the EAW framework seems to make way for violations of fundamental rights.
On the 8th June 2016 Cour D’Appel de Paris decided to hand Mr. Bivolaru over to continued persecution in Romania, disregarding the refugee’s protection according to the Geneva Convention of 1951.
The Swedish position presented to the Cour d’Appel de Paris leaves no room for interpretation: Sweden considers that the status of political refugee of Mr Gregorian Bivolaru is and remains justified. Sweden stands up for the refugee’s asylum and does not consider revoking the protection from Romanian persecutions, even if Romania is now part of EU.
It is a fact the EU is an evolving entity, in a continuous process of expansion and adaptation to various challenges, both internal and external.
The fact that, in time, EU has come in integrate various European states into the organization, has brought upon it the challenge of integration, so that these new states (mostly east European countries), might in time accede to the standards and principles that founded and regulate the life of the EU.
This also means that judiciary system that were vastly different had to be made to come together, and the effort to convince new member states to rise to expectation is still ongoing. The fact that this is not yet an accomplished thing leads to situation when abuses and interference with those principle and legal guidelines that regulate the EU are made possible, and sometimes the means to detect and prevent such abuse are scarce, or, worse, ignored.
One such problematic issue is the situation that arises when different EU member states take vastly different positions on issues that seem to fall under two different: the status of the political refugees within EU and the European understandings regarding the processes of extradition. When both positions have to be taken into consideration with regard to a single instance, conflicts arise.
Eighteen years of judicial harassment of the Church of Scientology of Belgium and its members ended on 11 March 2016 when a ruling of the Criminal Court in Brussels became final. The 173-page decision found inadmissible all proceedings against the defendants, including the Church of Scientology of Belgium and the Human Rights Office of Church of Scientology International, thereby declaring all charges of the federal prosecutor to be unfounded.
For almost two decades, until judgment was rendered in March 2016, the defendants were unfairly labelled as “guilty” criminals by the prosecution and the media without having their day in Court, stigmatizing and marginalizing them in their communities and disrupting their lives.
The Court clearly recognized that it offends fundamental human rights for the prosecution to put a religion on trial and argue that individuals who simply follow its precepts and voluntarily associate with it should somehow be presumed guilty of a crime without any concrete evidence of wrongdoing.
For almost a decade Soteria International has been raising awareness among international and European politicians and Human Rights NGOs about violations of the freedom of religion and belief in Romania in the case of the spiritual movement MISA and its founder Gregorian Bivolaru.
To remind briefly the case: on 18 March 2004 Romanian conducted an unprecedented, massive attack on the spiritual community of MISA yoga school, using brutal force and weapons against its peaceful inhabitants. The attack was broadcasted nationwide, marking the beginning of one of the most devastating and sinister defamation and marginalization campaign in Romanian media directed against the movement MISA and its followers.
During time, Romania refused to at least look at the human rights violations in this case, and continued with the discrimination of MISA participants.
However, on 26.04.2016 European Court for Human Rights has ruled in favor of MISA participants who were affected by the attack in 2004. ECHR unequivocally states that Romanian authorities have majorly violated human rights when handling the case of MISA!
By Corinne McLaughlin
This article has been taken from CICNS: http://www.cicns.net/Politique_Spiritualite_Reunies.htm
Spirituality? Politics? How dare we mention these two words in the same breath? One can be a spiritual seeker or political activist but not both. When caught in the dual mind of "this or that", politics and spirituality appear as two different worlds, two different dimensions that should not be mixed.
But practically speaking, spirituality can ennoble politics - a politics which is rooted in spirituality. Spirituality can help us leave behind the ego and instincts of power at the door and really serve the good of all. Politics may provide a practical arena for applying spiritual principles, such as compassion and, in addition, the media will give us "feedback" instantly if our actions are inconsistent with our promises.
Gandhi had no difficulty putting together spirituality and politics. He said: “I could not be leading a religious life unless I identified myself with the whole of mankind, and that I could not do, unless I took part in politics”.
What about the separation of church and state in our country? The founding fathers (and mothers) have never said that we should not discuss spiritual principles in the political arena but that the state should not impose religious beliefs on its citizens or interfere in the practice of their religion.
The work of human rights defenders is essential for the advancement of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Human rights defenders play a central role in making state policies human rights compliant and authorities accountable. Human rights defenders are also instrumental in defending victims of human rights violations and ensuring their access to redress and remedy. Human rights defenders are key partners of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights. Civil society human rights activists face numerous obstacles in their work, including: legal and administrative restrictions impeding the registration of NGOs and their access to funding; excessive financial and reporting requirements; judicial harassment; smear campaigns; threats and intimidation; abusive control and surveillance; confiscation and destruction of working materials; unlawful arrest or detention and ill-treatment. In some cases, human rights defenders are kidnapped or even killed. The absence of effective investigations into violations committed by state and non-state actors against human rights defenders targeted because of their human rights work remains a major problem. This results in the impunity of perpetrators and the recurrence of violations, which also facilitate reprisals.(http://www.coe.int/en/web/commissioner/human-rights-defenders)
The Subcommittee on Human Rights of the European Parliament had recently a meeting, on 17.02.2016, , where issues regarding the violence against human right defenders (HRDs) were approached. Even if put in very difficult situations, even if they are regularly subject to persecutions, punishment, arbitrary arrest or detention especially in countries lacking an effective rule of law, these entities (either individuals or different type of organisations, the main being the NGOs) prove the courage to continue their actions of defending human rights. In this context, it is very important for the EU to urgently adopt new resolutions in order to control these situations.
F.O.B. (European Federation for Freedom of Belief) supports the initiative of Soteria International aimed to know the truth about the case of Bivolaru, political refugee arrested in France last February 26 in violation of the international law.
Gregorian Bivolaru – persecuted by Ceausescu’s regime – received a criminal conviction in Romania within an extremely controversial trial, marked by documented violations of basic human rights. Since 2005 he has been granted political asylum in Sweden; the spiritual movement which he founded, MISA Yoga, was completely acquitted of all charges on December 11, 2015.
The legal actions against the group have been the center of interpellations and reports at international level, from the EU Commission to the OSCE/ODIHR, to which also F.O.B. contributed by intervening on both the Romanian and the equally controversial Italian appendix of the case and which was brought to the attention of the Parliament in 2012.