Articles

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Concern for Human Rights in the EU

At the end of 2013 the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs sent a report to the European Commission referring to some weak points of the European Arrest Warrant (EAW), among which was the fact that the actual EAW is not taking into consideration as priority the respect for the human rights. Now, the executing party has the right to reject the request of extradition if there are Human Rights issues involved.

On 27th February 2014 two ground-breaking resolutions were presented.

The European Commission was prompted to set up a new system to monitor objective and permanent compliance with the EU accession criteria, commonly known as the "Copenhagen criteria". This new "Copenhagen mechanism" should serve to set indicators, draw up binding recommendations and impose penalties – such as freezing EU funding – for countries that fail to comply.

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Barroso, Schulz and O'Reilly hear Soteria International call for real human rights in future EU

Soteria International was present at the European Ombudsman Interactive event ”Your wish list for Europe” with President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz and European Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly moderated by editor of The European Voice Tim King.

Soteria International contributed both with a video intervention and in the hall, wishing for a Human Rights practice based in reality rather than EU policies.

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EPWG – Annual Report on Freedom of Religion and Beliefs - 2013

Soteria International attended the conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief “The state of freedom of religion or belief in the world” held in Brussels on the 12th of February 2014, where the European Parliament Working Group on Freedom of Religion or Belief (EPWG on FoRB), represented by MEPs Peter van Dalen (ECR) and Dennis de Jong (GUE/NGL), presented its first annual report on freedom of religion in the world.

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Spiritual Human Rights 2013 Conference Report

In what is already becoming an established tradition, the International Human Rights day of December 2013 did not pass unnoticed and last December Soteria International co-hosted a new conference in Copenhagen, this time on the topic of freedom of conscience, entitled “Freedom of conscience and belief at a crossroads in Europe - self-determination and spiritual teachings”.

The sixth edition of Spiritual Human Rights Conferences was the first one to be co-organized with partner institutions, namely the following: Coordination des Associations et des Particuliers pour la Liberté de Conscience (CAP), European Interreligious Forum for Religious Freedom (EIFRF), European Muslim Initiative for Social Cohesion (EMISCO), Dansk Interreligiøst Forum (DIF) and Youth for Human Rights (UFMR, Denmark).

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Eric Roux - Spiritual Human Rights 2013 Conference (part 1)

One of the main speakers in our conferences, coming from France was Eric Roux (EIFRF). He talked about the laws regarding the so-called manipulation on the European level, and particularly in France, which is not subject to much criticism worldwide. The video footage and his speech is to be found below.

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Thierry Deval - Spiritual Human Rights 2013 Conference (part 2)

During the conference, another guest from France, Thierry Deval from Coordination des Associations et des Particuliers pour la Liberté de Conscience (CAP) offered some concrete examples of misapplications of the mind manipulation law, such as the case of MIVILUDES (French inter-governmental agency) and FECRIS (under a French-based NGO umbrella).

In the conference in Copenhagen Mr. Deval discussed the fact that regarding the law of mental manipulation there was in fact just one case in ten years and so the government is attempting at creating problems where they do not exist.

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Raffaella Di Marzio - Spiritual Human Rights 2013 Conference (part 3)

During our conference, we also had as a guest speaker Raffaella di Marzio, an Italian psychologist of religion and a contributing partner to the Brussels based NGO Human Rights without Frontiers. She discussed the relation between discrimination towards new religious and spiritual movements in Italy and the institutional field. Discrimination seems to be rooted there since Italian governmental agencies and police work in close cooperation with the anti-sect movements, whose opinions and actions are heavily biased and carry vested interests against NRM. This was already specified in our syhthesis of the conference. Following is the full conference contribution of Ms. Di Marzio.

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Bashy Quraishy - Spiritual Human Rights 2013 Conference (part 4)

The Danish politician and president of European Muslim Initiative for Social Cohesion (EMISCO), Bashy Quraishy stressed during our conference the importance of the right of self-determination and vehemently stepped against any form of criminalization in this respect. He also stressed on the importance of education, including spiritual education. His speech can be found here:

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Advaitananda - Spiritual Human Rights 2013 Conference (part 5)

The spiritual activist and senior coordinator teacher of Natha Yoga Center of Denmark, Advaitananda Stoian covered the key concept of self-control which basically excludes any mind manipulation and the importance of spiritual practice for everyone in order to maintain personal freedom. His speech is offered below.

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Spiritual Human Rights 2013 Conference Synthesis

On 10th December 2013, Soteria International co-hosted a conference on the subject of “Freedom of conscience and belief at a crossroads in Europe - self-determination and spiritual teachings”. It is already an established tradition of Soteria International to observe the International Human Rights day by organizing public conferences and roundtables.

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The refugee status within EU

From an individual case to a political case

The case of the Romanian yoga teaches, Gregorian Bivolaru, has been studied and the Romanian abuses reported by numerous human rights organisations and experts such as Amnesty International, The Helsinki Committee in Romanian (APADOR-CH), Human Rights Without Frontiers, the Romanian professor of politics Gabriel Andreescu, founder of APADOR-CH, Swedish expert in the Supreme Court Karl Erik Nyllund and the Danish journalist and human rights activist Vibeke Sperling.

The complexity and uniqueness of the case comes from the fact that a European citizen is simultaneously protected by his refugee status and looks to be apprehended for imprisonment by the same authorities and for the same persecution.

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Spiritual Human Rights 2013 Conference Invitation

Soteria International in collaboration with

present:

Spiritual Human Rights 2013 Conference
Copenhagen, 10th December 2013

Freedom of conscience and belief at a crossroads in Europe - self-determination and spiritual teachings

Governments are implementing new laws across Europe, claiming to protect citizens from “mind manipulation”. The criminalization targets particularly minority religions and spiritual movements.

Our democracy is based on self-determination - the individual’s ability and right to decide for himself. The new laws suggest that this ability is threatened today. But are spiritual teachings the threat? Is criminalization the answer?

If the individuals’ ability of self-determination is threatened, should it not be secured by strengthening the freedom of conscience, rather than by criminalizing certain thoughts or beliefs?

Welcome to the 6th Spiritual Human Rights conference with international experts, politicians, human rights activists and spiritual leaders discussing different perspectives on self-determination and spiritual teachings.

at Global Platform Denmark, Fælledvej 12, Copenhagen N
or participate online at spiritualhumanrights.org

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A cause for concern in Europe – Freedom of opinion, religion and belief - part 2

A cause for concern in Europe – Freedom of opinion, religion and belief. Persecution of and discrimination against minority-groups.

Continued from part 1

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A cause for concern in Europe – Freedom of opinion, religion and belief - part 1

A cause for concern in Europe – Freedom of opinion, religion and belief. Persecution of and discrimination against minority-groups.

This October, 2013, in Brusells, Soteria International co-organized an event together with the European Interreligious Forum for Religious Freedom (EIFRF), United Sikh International, European Muslim Initiative for Social Cohesion (EMISCO), Federation Pro Europa Christiana, Coordination des Associations et des Citoyens pour la Liberté de Conscience (CAPLC Europe), Forum for Religious Freedom (FOREF). The stated purpose of the event was to inform the interested public about the politics of repression which is sadly still going on nowadays in what regards certain religious minorities of Europe and to raise attention to the threat of such politics in a democratic European Union. Speakers made the audience aware of the break of international human rights in such cases and also tried to provide beneficial examples that co-exist in Europe with such dubious practices.

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Live discussion with vice-president Viviane Reding on the Romanian misuse of EU mechanisms to continue persecution of refugees

On 14th October Mrs. Reding visited the Citizens’ Dialogue in Stockholm. The Swedish representative of Soteria International, Mr. Konrad Swenninger brought up the issue of a human rights contradiction between the European Arrest Warrant and the International Convention for protection of Refugees. As an example, Mr. Swenninger mentioned the case of Gregorian Bivolaru, a Romanian political dissident continuously targeted by Romanian authorities and was given political asylum in Sweden. The asylum is now threatened by a European Arrest Warrant issued in June 2013 by Romanian authorities, as a result of a highly controversial decision of the Romanian Supreme Court against Bivolaru.

Acknowledging the case, Mrs. Reding stated that indeed the European Arrest Warrant has been a complicated subject in European politics. She and her team have insisted on precise procedures related to the warrant, so that it cannot be used by national authorities to pursue undemocratic interests. Referring to the situation in Romania, Mrs. Reding is concerned that indeed the country struggles with implementation and respect for democratic procedures. Mrs. Reding reminded the audience that in the summer of 2012, the Directorate General for Justice of the EC, which she conducts, severely criticized the attack on the constitution of Romania attempted by opposing Romanian governing parties.

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Soteria International brings attention in a OSCE’s HDIM-2013 side event conference to a human rights contradiction in Bivolaru’s case

The Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM), Europe's largest annual human rights and democracy conference, is organized every year by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) as a platform for OSCE participating States, Partners for Co-operation, civil society, international organizations and OSCE structures to take stock of the implementation of the human dimension commitments, discuss associated challenges, share good practices and make recommendations for further improvements (www.osce.org/hdim_2013).

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The right to a fair trial affected by biased media coverage

The right to a fair trial affected by biased and harassing media coverage of court cases – Soteria International presentation at the OSCE annual event

On 2nd October 2013, during the Human Dimension Implementation Meeting organized by OSCE in Warsaw, Soteria International presented its observation of how the right to a fair trial is influenced by the unfair, biased and corruptive media coverage of court cases. Making the parallel with the criteria for free and fair elections established by OSCE election observation missions, it was proposed that similar method is considered in trial monitoring programs.

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Human trafficking law – a pretext to attack spiritual communities

Soteria International speaks at OSCE event about abusive misinterpretation of the human trafficking law in cases against spiritual communities

On 30th September 2013, during the Human Dimension Implementation Meeting organized by OSCE in Warsaw, Soteria International presented its findings and recommendations on how the human trafficking discourse is being abused in some countries. While in many states the problem of human trafficking continues to be one of the most serious issues, it is often the case that state authorities use such allegations to attack spiritual movements that create communities based on common voluntary work.

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Political asylum within the European Union

Uncertain provisions of the European law regarding political asylum granted by one EU member state to a citizen of another EU member state create a human rights contradiction in the case of Gregorian Bivolaru.

On 3rd October 2013, during the Human Dimension Implementation Meeting organized by OSCE in Warsaw, Soteria International raised in front of the international community the issue appeared in one of the cases monitored by the organization. The case regards political asylum granted by Sweden to a Romanian citizen, founder of a large spiritual movement due to the persecution he faced in his home country. Since Romania acceded to the EU, the prosecution of the respective person is now considered on equal ground with the decision of asylum, thus it creates a contradiction between the asylum decision and the decision to issue an European warrant of arrest. While it is a legal matter the implications on human dimension result in violation of core fundamental rights.

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Asylum and Human Rights challenged by EU directives

Soteria International invites you to a conference:
Asylum and Human Rights challenged by EU directives

03 October 2013, 13:15 – 14:45
Side Event, Meeting Room 3

OSCE/ODIHR - Warsaw

 

Mr. Bivolaru is a Romanian refugee with asylum in Sweden. He has been persecuted since the Ceausescu regime. In June 2013 Romania issued a European Arrest Warrant for him to be handed over to 6 years imprisonment. Thus Swedish authorities are obliged simultaneously to protect the refugee and to take part in the persecutions from which they protect him.

 

This reveals an alarming unsolved conflict between asylum rights and EU directives.

Are Human Rights sacrificed in EU to cover faulty practice?

Political asylum may be granted because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.

Asylum is a fundamental right and granting it is an international obligation recognized in the 1951 Geneva Convention on the protection of refugees.

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