Trumped-up charges have been dropped against migrant rights defenders Sean Binder, Sara Mardini, Nassos Karakitsos and others for assisting migrants to safely cross to Lesvos island as part of humanitarian work. They were accused of “people smuggling”, “money laundering”, “espionage” and “membership in a criminal organisation”.
Source: Frontline Defenders
The National Historical Heritage Protection Foundation, an organization whose founders include Russian State Duma First Deputy Speaker Ivan Melnikov, has proposed amending Russia’s Criminal Code to allow the state to seize the property of people and entities who authorities have dubbed “foreign agents.”
The Polish parliament voted through a bill that would roll back some of the country’s controversial judicial reforms in a bid to unlock EU cash — frozen over worries in Brussels that the country is out of step with the bloc’s democratic rules. But the divisive political fight over the measure isn’t over. The legislation would shift judicial disciplinary matters from the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court, seen as being under the government’s influence, to the Supreme Administrative Court that is viewed as being more independent.
Portugal's government said future officials would from now on have to answer a questionnaire before they are appointed to prove they are fit for office after a string of hiring scandals rocked the ruling Socialists. The new vetting system, a set of 34 questions, would allow the government to verify the candidates' background and that there were no conflicts of interest before they were appointed.
EU and Schengen countries faced "unprecedented pressure" at their external borders in 2022, with the number of detected irregular border crossings reaching a level not seen since 2016, new figures show. Around 330,000 irregular border crossings were detected last year which amounts to a year-on-year jump of 64%, according to data released by Frontex.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has dismissed claims that the UK will soon return the long-disputed Parthenon sculptures. Mitsotakis, whose term ends later this year, said he hoped to achieve the return of the Parthenon sculptures if he wins a second term.
EU negotiators reached an agreement between the European Parliament and EU member states on a directive to make salaries more transparent in an effort to narrow the gender pay gap across the EU. Despite the principle of equal pay for equal work being enshrined in the EU treaties, its enforcement remains limited: European women earn on average 13% less than men per hour.
Moscow libraries have received a government-issued list of books that must be written off and “recycled,” due to content that runs against the grain of Russia’s new law against “LGBT propaganda.” It lists 53 titles, all to be written off and deleted from electronic library catalogs — including books by John Boyne, Michael Cunningham, Stephen Fry, Jean Genet, Haruki Murakami, Sarah Waters.
On 16 December 2022, MEPs in the European Parliament recognised the Holodomor in Soviet Ukraine as a genocide, with the resolution passing by 507 votes in favour, 12 against with 17 abstentions. 'This is one of the most profound tragedies of the 20th century," said European Commissioner for Health Stella Kyriakides during the plenary session.
Source: The Brussels Times
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte apologized for the Netherlands’ “slavery past,” which he said continues to have “negative effects.” Rutte’s comments were part of the Dutch government’s wider acknowledgment of the country’s colonial past, and an official response to a report entitled “Chains of the Past” by the Slavery History Dialogue Group, published in July 2021.
More than half of registered trafficking victims are EU nationals, with most sold off for sex, according to the European Commission. In absolute numbers, Romanian nationals were the worst-affected, with some 2,315 registered as trafficked in 2019 to 2020.