With many hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the violence in Syria, the focus—as it should be—has been on finding them safety, shelter and aid. But some governments are also looking to hold those responsible for the underlying mass murder and torture to account for their crimes. This requires an proactive approach, with appropriate laws to pursue suspects, skilled professionals to investigate these crimes and strong political will to support accountability efforts.
In the 1980s and early 1990s, a large number of Afghans fled to the Netherlands to escape the dire situation in their own country. But they weren't the only ones who left. Senior government officials, including agents of the secret service - the dreaded KhAD - who had engaged in human rights violations also landed on Dutch soil.
The Italian Navy’s twitter feed contained joyous news last week: a pregnant mother among the 90 people rescued from the sea by a Navy frigate had given birth on board to a little girl, Yambambi. Over that weekend more than 1,600 people were rescued.
An Italian naval vessel made a grim discovery in the Mediterranean Sea last month. Alerted that a 20-meter fishing vessel was in distress, the crew located and began evacuating the 600 or so migrants on board. The Italian navy captain told the BBC that his crew had also found dead bodies packed in a hold on the ship.
Europe is in a grumpy mood these days. The scale of voter disenchantment with the EU was manifest in May’s European Parliament election results, with Eurosceptic parties topping the polls in France, the UK and Denmark and winning seats in Italy, Germany, Austria, Hungary, the Netherlands, Greece, Sweden and elsewhere.
It’s been a bad month for media freedom in Hungary. It started with a May 25 Constitutional Court decision that website operators are responsible for any comments to blog posts or news commentary that may violate the media law.
My twitter feed on Monday was full of the latest tragedy in the Mediterranean. At least 17 people died when an overcrowded boat sank on the crossing from Libya to Italy, with many more still unaccounted for. We don’t know their names or their stories. They join the grim toll of perhaps 20,000 people over the last decade whose lives have ended trying to reach Europe for protection or a better life.
Ahead of the 4th European Union (EU)-Africa Summit on April 2-3, 2014 in Brussels, African and European civil society call on you to ensure that human rights are put at the centre of discussions aimed at “Investing in People, Prosperity and Peace”. Seven years after the adoption of an ambitious Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES), the Summit provides an opportunity for both continents' leaders to show that real ambition means aiming at tangible human rights improvements and taking measurable steps to fulfill them.