Saturday

2nd Jul 2022

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.

Opinion

Nato's Madrid summit — key takeaways

For the most part Nato and its 30 leaders rose to the occasion — but it wasn't without room for improvement. The lesson remains that Nato still doesn't know how or want to hold allies accountable for disruptive behaviour.

Column

One rubicon after another

We realise that we are living in one of those key moments in history, with events unfolding exactly the way Swiss art historian Jacob Burckhardt describes them: a sudden crisis, rushing everything into overdrive.

News in Brief

  1. EU Parliament 'photographs protesting interpreters'
  2. Poland still failing to meet EU judicial criteria
  3. Report: Polish president fishing for UN job
  4. Auditors raise alarm on EU Commission use of consultants
  5. Kaliningrad talks needed with Russia, says Polish PM
  6. Report: EU to curb state-backed foreign takeovers
  7. EU announces trade deal with New Zealand
  8. Russia threatens Norway over goods transit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  4. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers for culture: Protect Ukraine’s cultural heritage!
  6. Reuters InstituteDigital News Report 2022

Latest News

  1. Nato's Madrid summit — key takeaways
  2. Czech presidency to fortify EU embrace of Ukraine
  3. Covid-profiting super rich should fight hunger, says UN food chief
  4. EU pollution and cancer — it doesn't have to be this way
  5. Israel smeared Palestinian activists, EU admits
  6. MEPs boycott awards over controversial sponsorship
  7. If Russia collapses — which states will break away?
  8. EU Parliament interpreters stage strike

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us