Wednesday, December 16, 2009
***Importance du renforcement des connaissances des devoirs vis-à-vis des droits de l'homme...***
***Comment est-ce que les déclarations et conventions internationales sur les droits de l’homme se traduisent-elles dans la pratique ? Comment la formation relative aux droits de l’homme devrait-elle être conçue à l’adresse, notamment, des personnels de la police, de la santé publique ou de la justice. Qui devrait en être chargé et quels sont les éventuels pièges à éviter dans ce travail ? Telles étaient certaines des questions discutées lors de la conférence « Faire des droits de l'homme une réalité pour tous », qui a eu lieu à Stockholm les 10 et 11 décembre. La conférence a été organisée par l'Agence des droits fondamentaux de l'UE en collaboration avec la Présidence suédoise. (en anglais)
One problem in putting international and national human rights legislation into practice is that many people are unaware of its existence. This was noted at the Equality Summit organised earlier this autumn and is also confirmed by the statistics that the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) presents in its report EU-MIDIS. It will therefore be an important task in future human rights work to make certain marginalised groups in particular more aware of their rights.
Towards enhanced confidence in the justice system
There is also a great need for awareness among the institutions responsible for ensuring that all people's rights are looked after. Mikko Puumalainen from the Finnish Ministry of Justice spoke about some of the problems that often beset the justice system.
“Very often the justice system cannot express itself in an understandable way," he said. These institutions need help to develop the language they use so that all people who come into contact with the justice system understand how it works. Besides attempting to shorten case processing times, priority should also be given to increasing people's understanding of why legal proceedings take such a long time. Another way of enhancing confidence in the justice system while lowering the threshold for making contact with it, Mr Puumalainen thought, would be to establish some form of intermediates at various levels.
Rights and effectiveness in police services
“We have to learn from past experience not to make the same mistakes again," said Murat Yildiz from the OSCE, at the start of his presentation about his experience of educating and training police officers in human rights. Often, one of the first things a newly qualified police officer hears is “forget all about what you have learned in training," the implication being that reality requires that other considerations take precedence over human rights. Continuous in-service training in which human rights are integrated into all activities is therefore extremely important, in Mr Yildiz's opinion.
“Whenever we train we have to make a link between efficiency or effectiveness and human rights. If the police do not respect human rights they will lose public confidence which is the main source of power," said Mr Yildiz. Training programmes should therefore emphasise the importance that respect for human rights has for effective and efficient policing, for example through increased cooperation on the part of the public. Mr Yildiz thought that connecting human rights with effectiveness, efficiency and professionalism is also important so as to avoid police officers feeling that they are seen as potential human rights violators.
Training in health and school services
“Human rights training has to be related to service provision, for example with regard to education for nurses or elderly carers," said Sia Spiliopoulou Åkermark from the Åland Islands Peace Institute. She also emphasised the importance of political leadership in human rights work. “Unless you have clear signals from the top, nothing will happen." One problem with regard to guaranteeing everyone's right to health and education is that immigrants without papers do not dare to approach health services or schools for fear that they will be reported to the police. Judging by speakers at the conference and participants in the audience, many EU countries lack clear regulations in this area. To encourage undocumented immigrants to feel greater confidence in health and medical services, for example, legislation was called for that prohibits individual officials in these institutions from reporting them to the police.
Important to include target groups in the work
“How can we teach service providers how to include target groups in their work?" asked Belinda Pyke from the European Commission. On the one hand, it is important to design human rights training close to the direct target group, in other words, officials in health, police or justice systems. On the other hand, those whose rights are to be protected or looked after should also be included in the work. One problem to which attention was drawn during the last panel session of the conference concerned representation of certain groups in designing training and other promotional activities. How can it be ensured that the people involved in this work really represent the whole group? In the final analysis, it is a matter of individuals whose rights are violated, individuals who can be very different from one another and whose experience of their environment differs.
Anxiety about singling out certain groups and their possible stigmatisation is another problem in the work of promoting human rights, in the view of Ambassador Maria Leissner, Chair of the Swedish Delegation for Roma Issues. “There is a tendency that institutions such as schools say, ‘we are very fair, we treat people equally,' even though specific needs exist for specific groups," she said.
Increased focus on implementation
The dismal statistics from the Commission's Eurobarometer and the FRA report EU-MIDIS indicate that much remains to be done and many challenges remain to be tackled before all people can see their rights realised in practice. On the other hand, the discussions during “Making Rights a Reality for All" showed that it is now possible to focus on how to translate international conventions into practice.
“When turning the page from the first to the second decade I am somewhat optimistic," said FRA Director Mårten Kjaerum, referring to the strengthening of human rights principles through the Lisbon Treaty and the Stockholm Programme. “With lessons learned we can now have an increased focus on implementation," Mr Kjaerum concluded.