Tag Archives: EU guidelines

EU guidelines on the death penalty

EU guidelines on the death penalty

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about EU guidelines on the death penalty

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Human rights > Human rights in non-EU countries

EU guidelines on the death penalty

Document or Iniciative

EU Guidelines on the Death Penalty : revised and updated version. General Affairs Council of 16 June 2008 [Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Having signed the 13th Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), all European Union (EU) countries are committed to the permanent abolition of the death penalty in all circumstances. They are also committed to the application of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, whereby “no one shall be condemned to the death penalty, or executed”.

In order to increase respect for human rights and enhance human dignity in non-EU countries, the EU aims, as an integral part of its human rights policy, to:

  • strive towards the universal abolition of the death penalty, with the immediate establishment of a moratorium on the use of the death penalty if necessary;
  • call for a reduction in the use of the death penalty where it still exists and insist that it is carried out in line with certain minimum standards, at the same time aiming to obtain accurate data on the number of sentenced and executed persons.

Method of work

Key elements of the EU’s approach include general demarches, where the issue of the death penalty is raised in dialogues and consultations with non-EU countries. The focus is on the non-EU country’s:

  • judicial system, its functioning and transparency;
  • international commitments to not use the death penalty;
  • death penalty policy developments;
  • human rights situation as reported by relevant international mechanisms.

The EU may also make specific demarches, on a case-by-case basis, in individual cases where it becomes aware of violations of minimum standards.

Furthermore, the EU will act on the basis of human rights reports from EU Heads of Mission, which should include an analysis on the application and use of the death penalty in the countries concerned and an evaluation of the impact of EU activities.

The EU aims to encourage non-EU countries to abolish the death penalty by promoting the ratification of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In cases where this is not possible, it will work towards its aim through other initiatives, such as by:

  • promoting the ratification of other international human rights instruments, in particular those concerning the death penalty;
  • promoting bilateral and multilateral cooperation with a view to establishing a fair and impartial judicial process for criminal cases.

The EU will also aim at promoting in relevant multilateral fora initiatives for the introduction of a moratorium on the use of the death penalty and its eventual abolition. Furthermore, it will encourage the relevant international organisations to take action that will promote the ratification of and compliance with international treaties and standards on death penalty.

Minimum standards

Where the death penalty is maintained, the EU will promote the application of the following minimum standards:

  • imposing capital punishment only for the most serious intentional and violent crimes;
  • imposing capital punishment only for a crime for which the death penalty was prescribed when it was committed; if a lighter penalty was prescribed beforehand, this must be imposed;
  • not imposing capital punishment for persons who were below the age of 18 when committing the crime, pregnant women, new mothers or persons with mental disorders;
  • requiring clear and convincing evidence and a fair trial where the defendant benefits from legal assistance;
  • providing the right to appeal to a higher jurisdiction and to submit an individual complaint; anyone sentenced to death should have the right to seek commutation of the sentence;
  • carrying out capital punishment that inflicts the minimum possible suffering.

Background

In 1998, EU countries decided to strengthen their activities in opposition to the death penalty. To this end, they adopted the first version of these guidelines. At that time, capital punishment had been abolished in most EU countries and those that had not yet abolished it were no longer applying it. Since then, all countries of the Union have ratified Protocol No 6 to the ECHR concerning the Abolition of the Death Penalty. It should also be noted that abolition forms one of the conditions of EU membership.

Consequently, the EU decided to intensify its initiatives within international bodies, mainly the United Nations (UN). In 2007, its co-sponsored resolution on a moratorium on the use of the death penalty was adopted at the 62nd session of the UN General Assembly. This resolution calls for the use of minimum standards in safeguarding the rights of those facing the death penalty, the progressive restriction of the use of the death penalty and the establishment of a moratorium on executions. Furthermore, the EU works in collaboration with non-governmental organisations (NGOs), in particular through the financial instrument for the promotion of democracy and human rights in the world.

EU guidelines on torture and other cruel treatment

EU guidelines on torture and other cruel treatment

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about EU guidelines on torture and other cruel treatment

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Human rights > Human rights in non-EU countries

EU guidelines on torture and other cruel treatment

Document or Iniciative

Guidelines to EU policy towards third countries on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment(An up-date of the Guidelines). General Affairs Council of 18 April 2008 [Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The work of the European Union (EU) in the area of combating torture and ill-treatment includes active support for the reinforcement and implementation of international instruments and for the work of the establishments concerned. The EU undertakes measures within its Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), such as when it adopted the regulation on trade in instruments of torture.

As far as combating torture and ill-treatment is concerned, the operational strand of the CFSP comprises:

  • periodic reports of non-EU countries in which the EU Heads of Mission include an analysis of the atrocities discovered as well as an evaluation of the impact of the Union’s preventive efforts;
  • an observation role for embassy representatives in trials where it is feared that the defendant has been subjected to torture or ill-treatment;
  • the evaluation of reports from relevant establishments, such as non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteurs, with a view to identifying situations where EU action is necessary.

The EU’s objective is to ensure that non-EU countries take effective measures against torture and ill-treatment and respect their obligations. In order to ensure the promotion of international law, it implements the following measures:

  • establishing political dialogue that includes discussions with non-EU countries and regional organisations. The Council has also adopted guidelines on human rights dialogues that aim to establish clear conditions and principles in this area;
  • inviting non-EU countries to undertake measures to combat torture and ill-treatment, through confidential or public demarches. The EU will request additional information if there are any human rights violations;
  • promoting collaboration with civil society in bilateral and multilateral cooperation, in particular within the framework of the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR). The EIDHR supports NGOs in combating torture and rehabilitating victims of torture.

The EU also encourages non-EU countries to take internal measures, such as:

  • introducing measures that prohibit and condemn torture and ill-treatment, including the adoption of laws, administrative measures and restrictions in relation to the production and sale of equipment used for these activities;
  • respecting international standards and procedures, including adhering to international conventions, the Statute of the International Criminal Court and cooperating with the relevant UN and/or Council of Europe mechanisms;
  • guaranteeing detention conditions that are in conformity with human rights and banning secret places of detention. The EU is in favour of domestic mechanisms whereby civil society representatives and independent bodies may visit places of detention;
  • ensuring that their legal system conforms to international standards and procedures, and combating impunity;
  • establishing measures for groups requiring special protection, such as women, children and refugees;
  • setting up procedures for complaints of torture, guaranteeing compensation, establishing and reinforcing national institutions, ensuring effective training for professionals, etc.

Furthermore, the EU continues to raise these issues with multilateral organisations such as the UN, the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). It also continues to support the relevant international and regional mechanisms, as well as the relevant voluntary funds.

Background

Respect for human rights is one of the key priorities in the EU’s external relations; in particular, it features among the main objectives of the CFSP. Combating torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment or treatment forms a necessary part of this work, despite the existence of numerous international instruments that prohibit this type of serious violation of human dignity. The actions of the EU, strongly supported by all of its countries, aim to prevent and eliminate torture and ill-treatment and to combat the impunity of those responsible. This work complements action to combat the death penalty.

EU guidelines on children and armed conflict

EU guidelines on children and armed conflict

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about EU guidelines on children and armed conflict

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Human rights > Human rights in non-EU countries

EU guidelines on children and armed conflict

Document or Iniciative

Update of the EU guidelines on children and armed conflict . General Affairs Council of 16 June 2008 [Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

In the last decade, armed conflicts have, on estimation, claimed the lives of over two million children, physically maimed six million, orphaned one million and created up to 20 million displaced or refugee children. It is estimated that there are at least 300 000 child soldiers in the world. These guidelines are intended to highlight the issue of children in armed conflict and to give more prominence to European Union (EU) actions in this area. Promotion of and respect for children’s rights is a priority of the EU’s human rights policy, within the context of the Common Foreign and Security Policy as well as policies on development cooperation and humanitarian aid.

The EU undertakes to address the short, medium and long-term impact of armed conflict on children. To this end, it aims to persuade non-EU countries and non-state actors to apply international humanitarian law and human rights norms, standards and instruments, as well as to effectively protect children from the effects of armed conflict. These guidelines also aim at preventing the recruitment of children into armed forces and groups and impunity for crimes against children.

Practical measures taken by the EU

The Council Working Group on Human Rights (COHOM), in collaboration with other relevant working parties, identifies situations where EU action is necessary on the basis of:

  • periodic reports from EU Heads of Mission, Heads of Mission of civilian operations, Military Commanders and Special Representatives that include an evaluation of the effects of conflict on children and the impact of EU action;
  • ad hoc reports on country situations from Heads of Mission that may include the issue of children and armed conflict;
  • information from the Commission on EU-funded projects aimed at children and armed conflict and post-conflict rehabilitation;
  • reports and recommendations from the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, the UN Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, UNICEF, UN Special Mechanisms and human rights Treaty Bodies, and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

To promote and protect children affected by armed conflict, the EU uses a variety of tools in its relations with non-EU countries:

  • political dialogue, which should include the issue of children’s rights in pre-conflict, conflict and post-conflict situations;
  • demarches and public statements that encourage non-EU countries to take effective action to protect children from the effects of armed conflict, to end the use of children in armed forces and groups and to end impunity;
  • multilateral cooperation, which includes funds for projects relating to children and armed conflict, and humanitarian aid;
  • crisis management operations, where particular attention is given during the planning phase to the protection of children;
  • training in child protection.

Background

International legislation in this area includes the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which has been ratified by virtually all countries in the world, but is not applied everywhere. In particular, the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the involvement of children in armed conflicts aims at countering situations where children are affected by armed conflict.

The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict and the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict are other especially important mechanisms in this field. Together with its countries, the EU aims to take account of and to coordinate, as far as possible, their actions with these mechanisms in order to maximise their impact. Other relevant international and regional human rights norms and standards and humanitarian law that guide EU action to protect children affected by armed conflict are listed in the annex to these guidelines.

EU guidelines on violence against women and girls

EU guidelines on violence against women and girls

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about EU guidelines on violence against women and girls

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Human rights > Human rights in non-EU countries

EU guidelines on violence against women and girls

Document or Iniciative

EU guidelines on violence against women and girls and combating all forms of discrimination against them . General Affairs Council of 8 December 2008 [Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Violence against women and girls is a worldwide, institutionalised phenomenon, which may vary depending on a society’s social, economic, cultural and political context. It has serious consequences for the physical and mental health of victims, as well as to societal development in general. It mainly results from economic and power inequalities between sexes, customs, traditions, religious values, political instability and armed conflict.

The term “violence against women” refers to “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life”.

With the adoption of these guidelines, the European Union (EU) is making a political and long-term commitment to the issue of women’s rights. Its action in combating violence against women focuses on three interrelated aims:

  • preventing violence;
  • protecting and supporting victims;
  • prosecuting perpetrators.

To this end, the guidelines provide the following operational objectives:

  • promoting gender equality and combating discrimination against women, particularly in the private sphere and in legislation and public policies;
  • gathering data and developing indicators on violence against women, to which end the EU will identify appropriate tools and support EU countries’ data collection efforts;
  • designing effective and coordinated strategies that are applied at all levels and in all sectors of society to prevent violence and protect victims;
  • combating the impunity of perpetrators by ensuring that acts of violence against women are punishable by law, and taking measures to facilitate victims’ access to justice.

EU intervention tools

The EU intervention tools must necessarily allow all relevant actors to become involved. They conform to the operational objectives and are applied complimentarily with other human rights guidelines, such as those on children’s rights and on human rights defenders.

Under the general approaches, the issue of violence against women and girls, and the forms of discrimination that result in such violence, is introduced in all relations with non-EU countries and regional organisations. The main concerns relate to the compliance of national legal frameworks with international standards and commitments, as well as to the proper application and follow-up of the latter. In this context, the EU will also further encourage the ratification of relevant conventions and protocols, namely the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

The specific additional measures to combat violence against women include:

  • promoting the role of the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women in situations of widespread and unpunished violence and ensuring that his/her recommendations are followed-up;
  • monitoring the proceedings of cases of violence against women and girls;
  • supporting women’s rights and female human rights defenders;
  • supporting awareness-raising campaigns and policies.

In individual cases of exceptional gravity, for example where violence is perpetrated or tolerated by a country contrary to its international commitments, the EU may also take specific measures.

Violence against women and discrimination that results in such violence are incorporated in the EU’s specific dialogues on human rights and, where necessary, in its other policy dialogues. This includes following-up recommendations of international and regional mechanisms related to women’s rights. The EU will also continue to promote internationally the prevention of violence against women, mainly within the UN.

The Heads of EU Missions have the obligation to include in their human rights reports information on the respect of women’s fundamental rights. EU special representatives and envoys, whose mandates also include women’s rights, are likewise responsible for reporting on the topic.

In its bilateral and multilateral cooperation to defend human rights, the EU will give priority to combating violence against women and girls. Civil society, including the legal and educational fields, will be closely involved. The emphasis will be on cooperation that takes place within the framework of the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights. The aim of this cooperation is to support civil society programmes, focusing on:

  • promoting access to justice and care services;
  • preventing violence;
  • strengthening the capacities of national administrations, relevant civil society organisations and other stakeholders involved in dealing with violence against women, its causes and consequences.

This summary is for information only. It is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document, which remains the only binding legal text.