Friday

26th Feb 2021

Romania builds EU momentum on human rights sanctions

Opposition MPs in Romania have tabled a human rights sanctions law named after a late Russian activist, in a "symbolic" boost for EU-level sanctions of the same type.

Adrian Prisnel, Iulian Bulai, and Cristian Ghinea from the Save Romania Union, the third largest party in parliament, put forward their initiative on Monday (15 April).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

It was signed by 33 MPs out of 136, most of them from their own faction, but also by three deputies from the ruling Social Democratic Party and two from the National Liberal Party, the second largest, indicating broader support.

The bill called for Romanian visa bans and asset freezes on people guilty of "torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, conviction on political or other grounds, [and] grave violations of internationally recognised human rights".

The people should be blacklisted based on "evidence obtained by other states" and "non-governmental organisations for protection of human rights" as well as Romania's own information, it added.

The new sanctions were to be more "flexible" than older, country-based ones and were meant to have a "strong psychological effect" on the abusers.

The Romanian law is to be named after Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian anti-corruption activist who died in prison in 2009 and in whose honour Britain, Canada, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and the US have already passed similar 'Magnitsky Acts'.

Australia, Denmark, France, Germany, Moldova, the Netherlands, South Africa, Sweden, and Ukraine are debating similar measures.

Diplomats in the EU Council are also debating what the Dutch have proposed to call an "EU global human rights regime" - visa bans and asset freezes on human rights abusers, but with no reference to the Magnitsky case in Russia.

The fact Romania, which holds the EU presidency until 1 July, was moving ahead on a national level would lend "symbolic support" to the EU-level action, an EU diplomat said.

"I wonder if the Romanian act includes 'corruption' as a criterion?", the diplomat added, given Romania's poor reputation for graft in Europe.

The Romanian draft bill did not list corruption as a factor, however.

Name row on new EU sanctions exposes deeper rift

EU officials have voiced scepticism on proposed new human rights sanctions, amid a "nasty" debate to what extent Russia ought to be named and shamed in the title of the new measures.

Romania presidency shatters EU line on Jerusalem

Romania will move its embassy to Jerusalem, its prime minister has said, shattering the EU line on the Arab-Israeli conflict while the country holds the EU rotating presidency.

Feature

Widow's plea as EU diplomats debate Magnitsky Act

"If evil is not defeated, it tends to expand", Natalia Magnitskaya, the widow of a Russian anti-corruption activist, has said, as EU diplomats discuss human rights sanctions 10 years after his death.

News in Brief

  1. Rights group exposes Ethiopia massacre
  2. US carried out airstrikes against Iran-backed militia in Syria
  3. Malta closes investigation into journalist murder
  4. Dutch parliament calls China treatment of Uighurs genocide
  5. Spain fined €15m by ECJ over data failures
  6. Belarus: Anti-government protester jailed for 10 years
  7. German charged with spying for Russia in Bundestag
  8. Heavy earthquakes in Iceland trigger volcanic activity

Opinion

Why Russia politics threaten European security

Russia could expand hostile operations, such as poisonings, including beyond its borders, if it feels an "existential" threat and there is no European pushback.

Analysis

Ten years on from Tahrir: EU's massive missed opportunity

Investing in the Arab world, in a smart way, is also investing in the European Union's future itself. Let's hope that the disasters of the last decade help to shape the neighbourhood policy of the next 10 years.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  3. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!

Latest News

  1. Armenia 'coup' shows waning of EU star in South Caucasus
  2. 'Difficult weeks' ahead, as variants spread across EU
  3. EU top court advised to strike down Hungary's asylum policy
  4. Frontex chief: 'about time' MEPs probe his agency
  5. Is EU poised to solve child labour in 'green' batteries?
  6. The trap of spreading ideas while attacking them
  7. Who are the EU's new Russian deplorables?
  8. Afghan asylum family beaten in Greece, set adrift at sea

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us