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EU must complete Accession to European Convention of Human Rights – Gavan

10 April, 2019 - by Paul Gavan

Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan has called on the European Union to complete the work of accession to the European Convention of Human Rights.

Leading a debate on the issue in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on behalf of the United European Left, Senator Gavan also called on the EU to give legal standing to the European Social Charter. 

“We need to ensure the highest level of respect for the values of human rights and democracy on our continent, especially considering the rising threat of fascism within the European Union.

“Completing accession to the European Court of Human Rights is the most meaningful contribution to Human Rights that the EU can make. The EU should also immediately take steps to harmonise EU law with the European Social Charter.”

Senator Gavan also warned against the danger of the EU developing alternative mechanisms to monitor democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights.

“We must avoid the development of double mechanisms, double standards, fragmentation and ‘forum shopping’.

“Until now, the European Union has regarded the Council of Europe as the Europe-wide reference source for human rights.

“Let’s not forget the Council of Europe represents our whole continent and the EU just represents 28 countries – soon to be 27.

“What signal does it send if the EU sets up what could be seen as alternative mechanisms to the Council of Europe? What message would that send to other powers who might want to avoid the judgement or jurisdiction of the Council of Europe? We already have one major power - the USA- that disregards Human Rights Bodies and all judgements except those coming from its own jurisdiction. Do we really want the EU to start down a similar road?

“We need fruitful co-operation between the EU and the Council of Europe, but EU Member States can’t be treated differently than other states in the Council of Europe because of their EU membership.” 

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