On September 27, Soteria International presented an intervention at the OSCE HDIM 2016 plenary session on the Freedom of Thought, Conscience, Religion, or Belief, in the presence of the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religon or Belief, the ODIHR Human Rights Department, OSCE member country delegates, the United States Mission to the OSCE, and numerous civil society organisations.
Soteria International argued that in our globalized society, we are witnessing a restriction on the freedom to choose a spiritual path. This restriction arises due to the fact that society understands the actions of individuals in a local paradigm of behaviour that is appropriate to the rules of social life in the respective region.
On September 22, Soteria International presented an Intervention at the OSCE HDIM 2016 plenary session on the Rule of Law. Soteria International argued that the EU Judicial Collaboration leads to violation of International Law and the 1951 Geneva Convention for Refugees. One of the core principles of the rule of law when referring to the respect of refugee status is foreseeability. This is a concept, which implies that, as meticulously as possible, the rule of law must be proclaimed prior to implementation and the effects of the rule of law must be foreseeable. A case in which the EU judicial collaboration has failed to adhere to the foreseeability principle is seen in the discrepancy between International Law and the Geneva Convention for Refugees. In particular, non-refoulment entails the prohibition of all signatory states of the Geneva Convention for Refugees to force refugee or asylum seekers to return to the country in which they risk persecution, and to respect the decision of another signatory state to grant refugee status to a person. However, the framework decision of the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) fails to stipulate the course of action in the case of intra-EU refugees. This leads to the fact that the same individual can be considered, both, a refugee and a fugitive within the same judicial system.
On Thursday, September 22, Soteria International attended the Open Dialogue Foundation's Side Event at the annual OSCE-HDIM 2016 on the reform in INTERPOL and the rights of victims of politically motivated extradition requests.
The panel discussed the collaboration between countries, in the OSCE region, that do not adhere to human rights standards, in order to apply politically motivated, and false, criminal accusation of individuals.
Cases, such as those of the Nadiya Savchenko, Yuriy Soloshenko, and Gennadiy Afanasiev, who were all Ukranian nationals held in Russia for politically motivated reasons.
Another issue is that of refugee’s appearing on INTERPOL’s ‘Red Notice’ list, a list of international arrest warrants. This is possible due to an incompatibility found in between International Law and the Geneva Convention for Refugees.
This means that, in fact, an individual may be granted asylum, while appearing on INTERPOL’s list of fugitives. Therefore, a state which has signed the Geneva Convention, is both, prohibited to force a refugee, or asylum seeker, to return to the country in which they are persecuted according to the convention, as well as, required to extradite an individual back to the country of persecution. This discrepancy leads to open interpretation, as to which of the laws to respect.
Spiritual human rights are a building block for the maintenance of peace. When the freedom of spiritual belief becomes a human right, engrained in the collective conscience, creating a social environment in which there is an acceptance and understanding of the spiritual freedoms that all humans deserve, including differences and similarities, peace will be a natural byproduct.
World peace has been an age-old aspiration of many of the inhabitants of our globe throughout time. Although there is still a clear struggle to uphold a state of peace among and within nations and people, the United Nations has accorded a day, each year, specifically to commemorate this cause.
September 21 marks the International Day of Peace, which provides us the opportunity to bring World Peace to the attention of the international community.
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.