European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights: InFRA 30 May – 6 June

  1. WHAT’S NEW
    1. Migration turmoil tests EU fundamental rights resolve, finds FRA’s Fundamental Rights Report 2016
    2. FRA Fundamental Rights Forum seeks to help build a more inclusive Europe
    3. FRA’s Fundamental Rights Report presented to the European Parliament
    4. FRA Director meets UN Under-Secretary-General
    5. Investing in children’s services, improving outcomes
    6. European citizenship in challenging times
    7. Combating corporal punishment of children
    8. Stakeholders discuss transition from institutional to community-based care
    9. FRA Director explores synergies with UN High Commissioners in Geneva
  2. FEEDBACK FROM RECENT ACTIVITIES
  1. Rule of law and a rights-based approach to migrant integration
  2. Criminal law and gender-based violence against girls
  3. European Day for Border Guards
  4. Immigration liaison officers expert group meets
  5. New challenges in countering homophobia
  6. Counter-terrorism and de-radicalisation training for legal practitioners
  7. Improving access to education and to the labour market for migrants
  8. Sharing experiences of LGBTI violence in schools
1.   WHAT’S NEW

a. Migration turmoil tests EU fundamental rights resolve, finds FRA’s Fundamental Rights Report 2016

Over one million people sought refuge in the EU in 2015, a fivefold increase from the year before. In its Fundamental Rights Report 2016, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) examines the scale and nature of the challenge and proposes measures to ensure fundamental rights are respected across the EU. “Last year, the EU’s fundamental rights resolve was sorely tested, with assaults on many of the freedoms, rights and values on which Europe is founded,” says FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty. “The EU and its Member States must stand firm in defending the rights to which everyone is legally entitled, whether they have lived in the EU for generations or have just arrived on Europe’s shores.

b. FRA Fundamental Rights Forum seeks to help build a more inclusive Europe

The Fundamental Rights Forum 2016 will tackle the burning issue of inclusion as one of its three key themes. Over the course of four days participants will look from different perspectives at how to address the lack of inclusion in society, combat inequality, increase participation and embrace diversity. During the event there will inspiring talks on such issues as empathy as a prerequisite for inclusion by the Belgian author Stefan Hertmans and the role of business in addressing inequality by Steve Howard, Chief Sustainability Officer at IKEA, as well as participatory workshops examining gaps in equality law and in its implementation, political and societal participation in the EU, and many more. To keep up to date, visit the Forum’s website where you can find the latest blog posts and more: fundamentalrightsforum.eu.

c. FRA’s Fundamental Rights Report presented to the European Parliament

On 30 May, FRA will present its report on fundamental rights report to the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) in Brussels. As in past years, the Fundamental Rights Report provides concrete and comparative data on the fundamental rights situation on the ground in the 28 EU Member States. It summarises and analyses major developments, and gives the opinions of FRA in a number of areas. The report also offers a focus chapter on asylum and migration into the EU and a chapter dedicated to the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and how Member States use it (Contact: Michail Beis).

d. FRA Director meets UN Under-Secretary-General

On 31 May in Vienna, FRA’s Director will meet the Under-Secretary-General of the UN, Mr Yury Fedotov, the Executive Director of the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Director-General of the UN Office at Vienna (UNOV). They will discuss areas of mutual concern including migration and human trafficking (Contact:Jonas Grimheden).

e. Investing in children’s services, improving outcomes

FRA will present key findings from the latest FRA reports during a launch event of the European Social Network (ESN) report on children’s services to be launched at the European Parliament on 31 May in Brussels. FRA will highlight key elements of integrated child protection services and links with other universal services for children. The ESN publication ‘Investing in Children’s Services, Improving Outcomes’ is the result of a mapping of the implementation of children’s services in 14 European countries, following the European Commission’s Recommendation “Investing in children: breaking the cycle of disadvantage” of 2013. The event is being hosted by Nathalie Griesbeck, MEP, Vice-Chair of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on Children’s Rights (Contact: Ioannis Dimitrakopoulos).

f. European citizenship in challenging times

FRA will be one of panellists in a debate during the European Commission’s conference on European citizenship in challenging times. The debate will focus on the question how to consolidate the European Union achievements and strengthen the Union citizens’ rights? The event takes place in Barcelona on 31 May and aims to reflect on the development of a policy framework for European citizenship. It also seeks to assess the Europe for Citizens programme with a view to its future development (Contact: Friso Roscam Abbing).

g. Combating corporal punishment of children

FRA’s Director will speak at the opening of a high-level global child rights conference in Vienna that takes place from 1 to 2 June. The event ‘Towards Childhoods free from Corporal Punishment’, is being organised by the Austrian Ministry of Families and Youth. It aims to discuss current legal, societal challenges related to the corporal punishment of children in all settings, including in the family home (Contact: Monica Gutiérrez).

h. Stakeholders discuss transition from institutional to community-based care

The European Expert Group on Transition from Institutional to Community-based Care and the European Commission will host a joint meeting on deinstitutionalisation in Brussels on 1 June. The joint meeting is an opportunity to discuss and evaluate the development of deinstitutionalisation and the progress of community-based supports as alternatives to institutional care with the use of EU funds. At the meeting, FRA will present its ongoing project on the right to independent living for people with disabilities, which includes fieldwork in five Member States to identify barriers and drivers of the transition from institutional to community-based support (Contact:Martha Stickings).

i. FRA Director explores synergies with UN High Commissioners in Geneva

On 2 and 3 June, FRA’s Director, Michael O’Flaherty, will meet a number of UN agencies and organisations in Geneva. While there he will meet heads of the EU missions to the United Nations, senior staff at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), including the High Commissioner, Mr Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. He will also meet with the High Commissioner for Refugees, Mr Filippo Grandi; the UNICEF Special Coordinator on refugees, Ms Marie-Pierre Poirier; and the Secretary-General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Mr Martin Chungong. In addition, he will meet representatives from civil society and the global coordination body for National Human Rights Institutions (Contact: Jonas Grimheden).

2.   FEEDBACK FROM RECENT ACTIVITIES

a. Rule of law and a rights-based approach to migrant integration

FRA’s Director expressed his concern about attacks on the rule of law around the EU in his introduction to the annual Rule of Law debate at the EU’s General Affairs Council on 24 May in Brussels. He discussed the relationship between the rule of law and human rights, particularly in the context of migrant integration.

b. Criminal law and gender-based violence against girls

FRA presented key research findings on violence against girls and the treatment of girls in judicial proceedings at a side event during the 25th Session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice on 26 May in the UN in Vienna. The objective of the side event was to share existing evidence and discuss strategies that ensure girls victims of violence have access to an effective criminal justice system. (Contact:Monica Gutiérrez).

c. European Day for Border Guards

On 24 May, FRA attended the European Day for Border Guards 2016, the main event in Europe for border guards, organised by Frontex every year. The conference discussed the future of border management in Europe. FRA was a speaker in a panel on the role of Frontex in returns. Other panels discussed the proposed new Frontex mandate and the situation in migration hotspots (Contact: Adriano Silvestri).

d. Immigration liaison officers expert group meets

FRA took part in a meeting of the Expert Group of the Immigration Liaison Officers network (ILOs) on 20 May in Brussels. Participants discussed the concept and practical arrangements for developing the EU cooperation platform on migrant smuggling in third countries and the role national ILOs have in preventing and countering immigrant smuggling. The meeting also discussed recent developments in implementing the EU action plan against migrant smuggling and the EU Action plan on return (Contact:Georgia Dimitropoulou).

e. New challenges in countering homophobia

The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs held a conference on ‘The new challenges to counter homophobia’ in Rome on 20 May on the fundamental rights of LGBTI people. The event brought together representatives from Ministry of Health, Education as well the Italian National Office against Racial Discriminations (UNAR) and the Italian Observatory for Security against Discriminatory Acts (OSCAD) in addition to experts in the field. FRA presented its latest report and focused on particular challenges LGBTI people face in the health and educational sectors (Contact: Dennis Van Der Veur).

f. Counter-terrorism and de-radicalisation training for legal practitioners

On 19–20 May in Brussels, the European Commission together with the European Judicial Training Network hosted a workshop on training needs in relation to counter-terrorism and de-radicalisation. The event focused on concrete training needs, content and methodology related to counter-terrorism measures such as travel bans and responses to violent extremism, including the prevention of radicalisation in prison through rehabilitation and alternatives to detention. There were over 100 specialists from judicial, prosecutorial and prison and probation training institutions from EU Member States (and Norway), as well as key umbrella organisations at the European level (probation and prison services, prison chaplains), and the Council of Europe. FRA led a group-discussion on fundamental rights in relation to counter-terrorism measures(Contact: Jonas Grimheden).

g. Improving access to education and to the labour market for migrants

FRA took part in the Public Policy Exchange (PPE) symposium on ‘Driving forward Multilevel Integration for Migrants in Europe: Improving Access to Education and to the Labour Market’. The symposium adressed the challenges currently faced by the EU in reducing isolation and improving multilevel integration of migrants and refugees in Europe. The potential of migrants for building a competitive and sustainable diverse society is key for Europe economic growth and can be attained by guaranteeing migrants and refugees access to education and the labour market. The event took place in Brussels on 19 May (Contact: Elena Balzarini).

h. Sharing experiences of LGBTI violence in schools

On 18 May, FRA took part in a side meeting at the International Ministerial Meeting on Education Sector Responses to Violence Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity/Expression, jointly organised by the Council of Europe and UNESCO. The event as a whole featured the launch of the first UN Global Report on the nature, scope and impact of violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression in educational settings. At the side meeting, FRA presented evidence on the experiences of LGBT people in educational settings, drawn from the EU LGBT survey and from interviews the agency conducted with professionals from the education sector. Participants in the meeting expressed their appreciation for FRA’s work in the field of the fundamental rights of LGBTI people and encouraged it to continue working in the area (Contact: equality@fra.europa.eu).

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