A report published today by the Council of Europe examines the way in which dis-information campaigns have become widespread and, heavily relying on social media, contribute to a global media environment of information disorder. The report was commissioned by the Council of Europe in response to the growing concerns in member states about the long-term implications of dis-information campaigns that are designed specifically to sow mistrust and confusion, and to sharpen existing sociocultural divisions by exploiting nationalistic, ethnic, racial and religious tensions.
“Thousands of migrants and refugees who travelled along the Western Balkans’ migration route in 2015 and 2016 are now stranded in Serbia in a precarious legal situation” says the Secretary General’s Special Representative on migration and refugees Ambassador Tomáš Boček in a report published today. While Serbia has adopted a genuinely humanitarian approach, receiving thousands of refugees and migrants, a strategy which goes further than the provision of humanitarian assistance is now needed to address issues related to their legal status and to find sustainable solutions in order to guarantee their social and economic rights in the case of an eventual prolongation of their stay in the country.
A new report “Age assessment: Council of Europe member states’ policies, procedures and practices respectful of children’s rights in the context of migration” has been issued today. This report, prepared by an independent expert, is based on a survey conducted in 37 Council of Europe member states1 in spring 2017, as well as on secondary sources analysis. The aim of the report is to provide a factual overview of the current situation in the member states and support the Council of Europe’s work in developing guidelines on age assessment which respect children’s rights in the context of migration.
The report looks at Ireland’s compliance with the Council of Europe’s anti-trafficking convention, a legally-binding international treaty which entered into force in Ireland in 2010. According to official data, 311 people were presumed victims of human trafficking in Ireland from 2012 to 2016. Of those, 197 were female and 94 were children. However, the GRETA report says that official figures do not reflect the true scale of human trafficking in Ireland due to shortcomings in identifying victims. The report says that more people – predominantly men – are now being trafficked for the purposes of labour exploitation. GRETA asks the Irish authorities to review the regulations applicable to migrant workers in certain sectors, such as fisheries, home care and domestic work, in order to help prevent this type of trafficking. The number of convictions for human trafficking in Ireland remains very low. GRETA stresses that a failure to convict people for trafficking leads to a feeling of impunity and undermines efforts to help victims to testify. The report calls on the Irish authorities to ensure that human trafficking offences are investigated and prosecuted effectively, leading to proportionate and dissuasive sanctions. GRETA also expresses concern that no victims of trafficking have received compensation in Ireland. The report urges the authorities to encourage prosecutors to request compensation orders and to make the state compensation scheme effectively accessible to victims of trafficking. The GRETA report includes an official response from the Irish authorities.
The Council of Europe’s anti-discrimination commission, European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) has published today new reports on Ukraine, Montenegro, as well as conclusions on Slovenia. In Ukraine, the ECRI commended new legal provisions to combat discrimination, progress in investigating hate crimes, steps towards integrating Roma and solidarity towards internally displaced persons (IDPs). However, racist violence against LGBT and Roma and hate speech dominating public discourse remain a problem and the conditions of IDPs must be improved. Over the past three years, the report says, political discourse has been dominated by anti-Russia rhetoric; the ongoing conflict in Ukraine has had a negative effect on vulnerable groups, in general. The report (2011-23.03.2017) does not take into account the situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, as well as certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. In Montenegro, the ECRI praised the authorities’ efforts to strengthen protection against hate crimes, empower the Ombudsman and improve the situation of Roma. However, LGBT persons are still targets of violence, Roma remain at risk of social exclusion and segregation, and no reliable data on hate crimes exists. As for Slovenia, the authorities satisfactorily implemented two ECRI’s priority recommendations on setting up a body to combat discrimination, as well as on a compensation scheme for the “erased” persons and the regulation of their legal status. Nevertheless, Slovenia didn’t implement the recommendation on ensuring access to water for all Roma.
(27/07/2017). The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) published today the response of the Ukrainian authorities to the report on the Committee’s November 2016 ad hoc visit, in which the CPT had made recommendations on police ill-treatment, ongoing prison reform and conditions of detention of remand and sentenced prisoners, including lifers.
The response has been made public under an automatic publication procedure introduced by the Ukrainian authorities in 2014. According to this procedure, all documents related to CPT visits shall be published automatically, unless the Ukrainian authorities submit within one month a request to postpone (for a period of up to six months) the publication of the document concerned.
In its latest annual report, published today, the Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA), has highlighted important shortcomings in a number of European countries related to the trafficking of children. The report shows that 4,361 children were identified as victims of trafficking in just 12 European countries between 2012 and 2015. Many others have failed to be detected and protected, due to gaps in the identification procedures, a failure to appoint legal guardians and the lack of appropriate and secure accommodation. GRETA’s report shows that, on average, children represent a third of the identified victims of human trafficking, but there are important variations between countries. Children are being trafficked transnationally, as well as internally, for different forms of exploitation including sexual exploitation, forced labour, domestic servitude, forced begging, forced criminal activities and forced marriage.GRETA is responsible for assessing countries’ compliance with the 2005 Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings.
GRETA highlights widespread problems with identifying child victims of trafficking and providing them with safe accommodation. Many children are not being given the support they are legally entitled to, says GRETA, and some are still being punished for crimes they are forced to commit. The report also underlines that unaccompanied and separated children are particularly vulnerable to trafficking, but the authorities often have little or no information on the identification of victims of trafficking among such children.
Today’s annual report summarises GRETA’s monitoring work over the last year, which has particularly focused on trafficking in children. It also gives examples of many positive changes which the convention has helped to bring about, as well as good practices in the area of child trafficking.
The Special Representative of the Secretary General on Migration and Refugees (SRSG), Tomáš Boček publishes a Thematic Report on migrant and refugee children. The report, based on his on-the-ground experience gathered during the fact-finding missions in 2016*, calls for urgent measures to find alternatives to detention of children and guarantee minimum living conditions in camps, such as gender-separate sanitary facilities, better lighting and child-friendly spaces in order to eliminate risks of sexual abuse. The Special Representative also identified a real need to protect unaccompanied children and prevent disappearances. Other areas of concern include the lack of appropriate age-assessment measures, effective guardianship system for children and access to information and education. In the report, the SRSG calls for specialised linguistic support to refugee and migrant children to enhance their integration.
This Special Report is the outcome of an urgent monitoring round launched by the Lanzarote Committee to focus on how Parties to the Lanzarote Convention are protecting children affected by the refugee crisis from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. It covers the situation in the 41 States which were Parties to the Convention at the time the urgent submission for a report was called for by the Lanzarote Committee.
Human rights, democracy and security are threatened across the continent, according to the latest annual report from the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland. “Europe is currently struggling with many serious challenges, including terrorism, migration and conflict. This is being successfully exploited by nationalists and populists in many places, and trust in national and European institutions is dwindling,” said the Secretary General.