Sunday

26th Jan 2020

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

Support quality EU news

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

... or join 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. Catalan premier refuses to step down, despite ruling
  2. UK set to support new fossil fuel projects in Africa
  3. Leftists MEPs travel to visit jailed Catalan MEP
  4. Bulgaria may expel Russian diplomats over 'espionage'
  5. EU, China, others agree on WTO body to settle disputes
  6. EU Commission makes move against Poland on judges law
  7. Soros pledges $1bn for liberal universities
  8. Merkel: Germany unprepared for 2015 refugee crisis

Magazine

EU diplomacy 2.0

MEPs on the foreign affairs committee ought to be like second-tier EU diplomats on the Western Balkans and Russia, according to its German chairman, but foreign policy splits could bedevil its work.

Opinion

'A game of roulette' - life as a journalist now in Turkey

Turkey has more journalists behind bars than any other country in the world. The authorities seem to equate journalism with terrorism: everyone has the right to express themselves, but, in their eyes, legitimate journalism is a threat to security.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Latest News

  1. AI must have human oversight, MEPs recommend
  2. Second-hand cars flaw in EU Green Deal
  3. Why do EU arms end up in Libya despite UN ban?
  4. Brexit deal to be signed, as sides poised for tough talks
  5. Timmermans urges EU governments to tax carbon
  6. Vietnam sent champagne to MEPs ahead of trade vote
  7. China spy suspect had EU permission to work as lobbyist
  8. EU to unveil 5G 'toolbox' to tackle security threats

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us