European HRC protocol not Scandinavia-ratified

The Council of Europe (COE) calls on remaining countries to put measures into place

Photo: Wikimedia Commons Map of the Council of Europe.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Map of the Council of Europe.

Michael Sandelson & Sarah Bostock
The Foreigner

Neither Denmark nor Sweden has signed Protocol 12 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (CETS No.: 177). While Norway did this in 2003, ratification and adoption of the protocol, which prohibits discrimination in general, remains.

On a Nordic scale, Iceland signed it three years prior to Norway, but has neither ratified nor adopted it as yet. Just Finland has completed all three stages, which occurred between 2000 and 2005.

Latest figures show that Protocol 12 still awaits signature by European countries Bulgaria, France, Lithuania, Malta, Monaco, Poland, Switzerland, and the UK.

Ratification and adoption has not been completed by 19 of 47 COE member states, total. In addition to Iceland and Norway, these are: Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lichtenstein, Moldova, Portugal, Russia, Slovakia, and Turkey.

The COE makes their request for both processes to be done as soon as possible following publication of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance’s (ECRI) latest report.

The Council declares that “with conflicts in the Middle East, acts of Islamist violence in Europe, and incidents of unprecedented mass arrivals of migrants,” the report “identifies a dramatic increase in antisemitism, Islamophobia, online hate speech, and xenophobic political discourse as main trends in 2014.”

ECRI’s findings highlight that insults and physical attacks on Jewish persons and institutions have more than doubled in some countries. In 2014, the violence in the Middle East has led to hostility against Jews. Anti-Semitic trends, mainly among young people, were observed in Muslim immigrant communities.

The report also shows that there was a growing trend of “denying World War II collaborationist regimes’ complicity in the Holocaust,” along with sympathies for the extreme right in certain countries.

Moreover, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance’s document highlights that Islamophobia is reported in many countries, which they remark counteracts integration efforts for inclusive European societies.

Populist politicians have used the rise of extremism and violent Islamist movements as a manipulative tool to portray Muslims as being unable or unwilling to integrate, and therefore as a security threat, according to ECRI:

“Furthermore, anti-migration public discourse was increasingly exploited in populist politics, as ongoing civil war in Syria—and conflicts, insecurity and poverty in other parts of Asia and Africa—led to a significant increase in the flow of asylum seekers and migrants entering Europe. They received insufficient assistance and faced hostile public opinion in most European countries,” the Commission says.

In a statement, Council of Europe (COE) Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland remarks that, “we are facing many crises now. However, growing anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and racism are the biggest threats to Europe’s future.”

“Political leaders must take decisive action to stop this dangerous trend,” he concludes.

Only 18 out of 47 COE member states have signed, ratified, and adopted Protocol 12 to the Convention European for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

They are: Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Cyprus, Finland, Georgia, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Netherlands, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Ukraine.

ECRI also encourages all the 47 member states to sign and ratify the COE’s Additional Protocol to the Convention on Cybercrime criminalizing racist and xenophobic acts committed online. ECRI “deplores a rapid increase of hate speech disseminated through social media” in their report.

This article was originally published on The Foreigner. To subscribe to The Foreigner, visit theforeigner.no.

It also appeared in the July 17, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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