Tackling Acid Attacks: Reducing Violent Crime & Supporting Victims
Tackling Acid Attacks: Reducing Violent Crime & Supporting Victims

Tackling Acid Attacks: Reducing Violent Crime & Supporting Victims

Date of Event: Thursday, July 8th 2021


Key Speakers Include:

Dr Simon Harding, Professor of Criminology at the University of West London

Sheldon Thomas, Founder of Gangsline

Cherie Johnson, Expert on Girls in Gangs

Dr Matt Hopkins, Associate Professor at the University Leicester

Nurun Nahar Begum, Senior Programme Officer at ActionAid Bangladesh

Diana Garrisi, Assistant Professor at the Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University

Event Details Website Register to Attend

Per capita the UK has one of the highest rates of recorded acid attacks in the world. According to Acid Survivors Trust International, in the year leading up to March 2020 there were 619 crimes committed in the UK where corrosive substances were used – a 37% increase since 2017. Research suggests that many of the attacks are part of gang related activities and that acid is becoming the weapon of choice. The issue has improved in the UK capital though. Acid attacks in London peaked in 2017 at 472 and have steadily fallen in the subsequent years (123 in 2019), suggesting that police and other stakeholders can make changes to reduce the prevalence of acid attacks nationwide.

The Offensive Weapons Act passed in 2019 is the first piece of UK legislation to refer to corrosive substances, and has made it an offence to possess a corrosive substance in a public place and to sell certain harmful corrosive products to under 18s. Following on from the 2017 expansion of stop and search powers more generally, in 2019 the then Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, provided the police with further stop and search powers to help them target those using corrosive materials illegally. The government have also committed to increasing police numbers, which proponents claim will help counter violent crime and remove dangerous substances from UK streets. 

While the current pandemic has suppressed the number of acid attacks over the last 12 months, there are concerns that the lockdown and subsequent recession could be a catalyst for the drivers of these attacks resulting in a sudden spike. The forced closure of youth centres during the pandemic and concerns about their future funding has raised fears of a return to the austerity era mass closure of youth centres, which was seen as a root cause of youth and gang violence. Furthermore, the last 12 months have thrown up new challenges particularly for victims of acid attacks, who are often left with both physical and mental trauma for many years after the attacks. The lack of access to rehabilitation services that address common effects of acid attacks like loss of sight, loss of limbs and depression means that victims have been acutely affected by the last year. 

This symposium therefore offers police officers, community wardens, acid attack support groups and local authority members the opportunity to evaluate how the reemergence from lockdown could lead to a spike in acid attacks, develop new ideas to support victims, and to share best practice in preventing this cruel form of both gang and honour based violence.


  • Examine the Offensive Weapons Act and how it will support tackling acid attacks
  • Establish an understanding of the motive behind acid attacks and how they relate to other serious crimes including gang violence and honour based violence
  • Discuss how Covid-19 has affected victims of acid attacks and innovative methods employed to support them during lockdown
  • Analyse the best approaches for police to take when tackling acid attacks in local areas
  • Learn how those who have committed acid attacks can be successfully rehabilitated and reenter the community
  • Discover approaches to best supporting those whose life has been affected by acid attacks
  • Uncover the causes for the significant growth in acid attacks since the early 2010s
  • Understand the impact of ‘stop and search’ policies and how to utilise them effectively
  • Learn how retailers can help in the reduction of the sale of corrosive materials to dangerous individuals
  • Discuss preventative measures including, police officers carrying acid testing kits

To register for this briefing, please click here.


Please feel free to circulate this information on to any relevant colleagues.

Kind regards, Conference Team

Public Policy Exchange
Tel: 020 3137 8630
Fax: 020 3137 1459

In Spain, 9 Catalan separatists were pardoned
In Spain, 9 Catalan separatists were pardoned

The opposition described the act as a blow to democracy

The Spanish government has unanimously approved Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s proposal to pardon nine of the politicians in prison for holding the illegal referendum on Catalonia’s independence in 2017.

They are to be released from prison after King Felipe VI signs a decree releasing them, but the Supreme Court is ready to pardon them immediately. According to analysts, this will avoid criticism of the monarch by Spanish citizens, most of whom do not approve of the amnesty, Bulgarian National Radio reported.

As an explicit condition for pardons, it is stated that the 9 politicians should not commit other crimes in the next between 3 and 6 years, otherwise their sentences will come into force again and they will be imprisoned.

In addition, the ban on holding public office remains, which has provoked an angry reaction from the Catalan government, and local Parliament Speaker Laura Boras has said she will give a formal reception in honor of her convicted colleagues.

This comes just a day after the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg approved a resolution calling for independence leaders to be released and for Spain to reform its legislation on penalties for riots against the country’s constitutional order.

The opposition, represented by the People’s Party, Citizens and Vox, called the pardons a “blow to democracy” and said it would appeal and vote no confidence in the government, and parties seeking an independent Catalonia considered them “Insufficient”.

There have already been thousands of protests against them in Madrid and other cities in the country, and the prosecutor’s office and the Supreme Court have ruled in advance that they are not advisable and will weaken the rule of law in the country.

Zelensky set conditions for Russia to open Russian schools in Ukraine
Zelensky set conditions for Russia to open Russian schools in Ukraine

Volodymyr Zelenskyy told RIA Novosti that Russian schools in Ukraine will appear only if Ukrainian ones are opened in Russia. He spoke about this in an interview with foreign media, the text of which was published by the press service of the president’s office.

“They ask me how to solve the problem with schools, with languages? I say: you just need to respect each other, and everything will be fine,” the Ukrainian leader explained.

He stressed that there are many private schools in Ukraine, for example, English, and in the future there will be Hungarian ones.

“If you want a Russian school, let’s open a Ukrainian school in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Tyumen, where many Ukrainians live. This is called a“ povaga, ”Zelensky concluded.

The language law in Ukraine was adopted in April 2019. It obliges to communicate exclusively in Ukrainian in almost all spheres of life: in government bodies, schools, universities and hospitals, in shops and cafes, in courts, the army, the police, during the election campaign and referendums. An exception was made only for private communication and religious rituals.

All Russian-language schools in Ukraine have switched to teaching in Ukrainian since September 1, 2020. According to the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, 125 state Russian-language schools, as well as 43 private schools, functioned in the country at the end of the 2019 academic year (cf. Gabrielyan, A.M. Native language in the sphere of secondary education in Crimea as a reflection of the linguistic picture of the peninsula // Humanitarian paradigm. 2018. No. 4 [7] p. 15–32.)

On the other hand in Crimea, there are 15 general educational organizations with the Crimean Tatar language of instruction (224 classes, 4258 students) and one school with the Ukrainian language of instruction (9 classes, 144 students).

Schools of Crimea with the study of native languages ​​and teaching in languages ​​other than Russian According to the Ministry of Education, Science and Youth of the Republic of Crimea [3], in the 2017-2018 academic year, 196.5 thousand children were enrolled in 527 municipal educational institutions of the Republic of Crimea. Of these, 5.6 thousand (3%) are in the Crimean Tatar language, 318 students (0.2%) are in Ukrainian. In the 2017-2018 academic year in Crimea, there were 15/162 educational organizations with the Crimean Tatar language of instruction – 202 classes, 3753 students. On the basis of general educational institutions with Russian as the language of instruction, classes with the Crimean Tatar language of instruction have been opened (in 31 schools there are 133 classes, 1879 students).

In educational institutions of the Republic of Crimea, the study of the following native languages ​​is organized in various forms: – Crimean Tatar – 21.6 thousand students, – Ukrainian – 10.6 thousand students, – Armenian – 97 students, – Bulgarian – 73 students, – Greek – 343 pupils (of whom 94 pupils study as a native, 249 study as a second foreign language), – German – 58 pupils.

The little woman who started the big war
The little woman who started the big war

210 years since the birth of Harriet Beecher Stowe

Every child who has started reading knows her name. Because she is the author of one of the most beloved children’s novels – “Uncle Tom’s cabin”. Her name is Harriet Elizabeth Beecher Stowe – an American writer, mother of many children, free-thinking person and fighter against the slavery of colored people in America. Lincoln called her “the little woman who started the great war.”

She is emancipated and courageous, and no one suspects that she has struggled with anxiety throughout her conscious life. She died mentally ill. On June 14 this year It is 210 years since the birth of Harriet Beecher Stowe. She was born on this day in 1811. He is the author of more than 30 books in various genres, many essays, poems, articles and anthems.

Harriet Beecher Stowe was born in Lichfield, Connecticut, to a pastor. Her mother, Roxana Beecher, died when she was just five. Her father, Calvinist preacher Lyman Beecher, had a total of 13 children from two marriages. 11 of them survive to adulthood. From his marriage to Roxana Beecher, he had eight children – two girls and six boys. Lyman Beecher openly preached against slavery. All seven of his sons followed him on this mission. One of his sons, Henry Ward Beecher, even became directly involved in the abolitionist movement in Nebraska and Kansas and sent them weapons hidden in Bible boxes.

At 25, he married the widowed husband of his girlfriend, Calvin Ellis Stowe, also a teacher. For the first few years, they lived in poverty, but Harriet was respected for her husband’s culture, although some of her biographers later suggested that she “knew languages ​​and nothing else.”

Raised in a large family where the children share and help, Harriet also wanted her husband to have many children. In 14 years she has given birth to seven children and takes care of the home so that her husband can do his job in peace. She herself does not allow the care of the children to hinder her growth as a person. Meanwhile, cholera took the life of one of her children at an early age. Little Samuel, her sixth child, died of cholera in 1849.

This tragic event crushed her – she suffered the loss badly, but she had to accept God’s will and not to shake her faith. She found solace in home care and intellectual pursuits. You were constantly setting new goals. Together with her sister, they wrote a textbook on geography – “Geography for children”.

Her first publications were in a magazine. He began publishing his short stories and essays in a magazine, and even won a literary award from the Western Montley Shop. In 1843 he published his first book, Mayflower, after the Puritan settlers in America. In 1850, her husband Calvin Stowe received an offer of a professorship in Maine, and the family moved there.

In the same year, the US Congress passed a law against the escape of slaves and against the citizens who assisted them. Civil protests begin. Outrage is rising in many states in America.

It was then that Stowe’s idea for the novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” was born.

Harriet Beecher Stowe already had a name after the positive response to her publication “The Freeman’s Dream: A Parable”, for which she received as much as $ 100 from the editor of “The National Era” newspaper. , The National Era paid Stowe a fee of $ 300 for the 43 chapters of Uncle Tom’s Cottage, published on March 20, 1852, and sold 10,000 copies in the first week alone. By the end of the same year, another 300,000 had been sold, and there was even more interest in the work in the United Kingdom, where 1.5 million copies of the book had been sold in one year. Stowe received ten cents for each piece sold. According to an article in the London Times, published six months after the publication of the novel, in that period alone the writer already had more than 10 thousand dollars in copyright.

“We think this is the largest amount a writer has ever received, whether American or European, from selling a single work in such a short period of time,” the newspaper said.

“Uncle Tom’s Cabin” is being translated all over the world. It is translated into 40 languages. Among these translations, there were some that were not authorized. Stowe filed a lawsuit against the publisher of the Philadelphia-based German-language newspaper, the Free Press, FW Thomas.

Her income from “Uncle Tom’s Cottage” allowed her to buy a winter house in 1867 in Mandarin, Florida. Some point to a fact about this property, namely that the mansion was maintained by slaves before the writer bought it, and consider it paradoxical. She herself viewed this fact in a completely opposite way – that the energy of this place, created by the labor of the people for whose rights she, her brothers and father fought, deserves to be inhabited by people like her, not by slaveholders. For her, the mansion was something of a symbol of victory over slavery. Point of view.

The most glorious moment in the writer’s life was her meeting in the White House with President Abraham Lincoln, in the first days of the Civil War – in 1862. He greets her kindly, and notes with sympathy her small stature with an ingenious joke: “So you are the little woman from whom the great war began!”. According to some sources, the exact phrase is, “So this is the little woman who got us into this great civil war,” but anyway, the meaning of both expressions is the same. Their meeting was friendly.

The novel, the comments about him and the meeting with the president turn the writer into a celebrity. She receives invitations from many publications to work for them. Harriet Beecher Stowe became the most famous woman in America. Everyone admires her courage.

The Netherlands is starting to pay compensation to the victims of Srebrenica
The Netherlands is starting to pay compensation to the victims of Srebrenica

The Potocari Commission has opened an office in Sarajevo for potential plaintiffs

The Netherlands begins paying compensation to the families of victims of the Srebrenica massacre.

The Potocari Compensation Commission opened an office in Sarajevo for potential plaintiffs, and its website is open to reports from family members of people killed after being taken away by a Dutch peacekeeping base in Potocari, near Srebrenica, in July 1995. , reports BIRN.

However, some relatives of the victims refused to file a lawsuit because they were dissatisfied with the legal agreement imposed by a Dutch court, according to which the country should not reimburse all legal expenses incurred by the families concerned.

On July 11, 1995, when the Republika Srpska army occupied Srebrenica, Dutch security forces in the UN-controlled area did not prevent the genocide. More than 7,000 men and boys were killed.

In 2019, the Supreme Court of the Netherlands ruled that the state was responsible to a very limited extent for the deaths of approximately 350 victims. This concerns a group of men taken from the base of the Dutch battalion in the late afternoon of 13 July 1995. According to the Supreme Court, the battalion acted illegally because it knew that male Srebrenica refugees could be attacked or killed, but even if left at the base, they had only a 10% chance of survival.

Accordingly, the closest relatives of these 350 victims can hold the Netherlands responsible for 10% of the damage. Earlier, the Court of Appeal in The Hague ruled that the responsibility of the Dutch state was 30%, so the “Mothers of Srebrenica” referred the case to the European Court of Human Rights. They hope that the court in Strasbourg will return the level of responsibility to 30%, although their lawyer Simone van der Sluis believes that the chances are small.

Widows of survivors or first-generation relatives can also file multiple lawsuits. For example, in the case when a woman loses both her husband and her son. The amount of compensation under this regulation is EUR 15,000 for widows and EUR 10,000 for other surviving relatives.

Former Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic has lost his appeal against a 2017 sentence for genocide and crimes against humanity.

UN court upholds Ratko Mladic’s life sentence for his role in the 1995 killing of some 8,000 Bosnian Muslim (Bosniak) men and boys in Srebrenica.

US President Joe Biden welcomes the sentence of the former Bosnian Serb military leader.

“This historic sentence shows that those who commit horrific crimes will be held accountable,” the president said in a statement.

Thousands of Bulgarians facing deportation from Britain over Brexit
Thousands of Bulgarians facing deportation from Britain over Brexit

More than 15,000 Bulgarian citizens have been denied residence

Brexit could end in deportation for thousands of Bulgarians living on the island. The deadline to settle their status in the UK expires in three weeks.

Certainly, after July 1, Bulgarians who cannot prove their right to live in Britain will have serious problems.

To date, 258,000 Bulgarian nationals have received permission to continue living, working and studying in the Kingdom. 15,000 were refused. The situation raises fears of mass deportation of Bulgarians after July 1, bTV reports.

After this date, schools in the UK are required to notify the Home Office if they suspect that students or their parents are not allowed to live on the Island.

Another problem is the fact that this year the personal documents of tens of thousands of Bulgarians expire. According to our ambassador in London Marin Raykov, administrative services for nearly 200,000 Bulgarians, as much as the population of Burgas, are provided by the available only 10 employees in the consular office of the embassy. The first free hour for replacement of documents in the service is after 6 months.

Citizens from central and eastern Europe most vulnerable to deportation in post-Brexit Britain.

Racism towards citizens from the poorest Member States influenced Britain’s pre-Brexit deportations and could impact post-Brexit practice, warns the BRAD project.

CEEU citizens were most targeted, partly due to their negative image, and because they often couldn’t afford immigration lawyers.

“There was a representational pattern in the pro-Leave media of the ‘Vile Eastern European’ – the criminal coming to the United Kingdom from the ‘new Member States’, who is a threat to public security and moral order with his innate criminality,” says research fellow Agnieszka Radziwinowiczówna. With support from the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions programme, Radziwinowiczówna analysed pro-Leave and pro-Remain British press, Polish media, deportation regulations and policy.

A French “sister” of the Statue of Liberty leaves for the United States
A French “sister” of the Statue of Liberty leaves for the United States

The work is based on a 3D digitization of a plaster model from 1878, used by sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi to build the Statue of Liberty, donated by France to the United States in 1886.

A French “sister” of the Statue of Liberty in New York left for the United States, world agencies report.

The scale model of the sculpture is bronze, with a height of 2.83 meters. It was leased for 10 years to the French Embassy in the United States by the National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts. Since 2011, the statue has been at the entrance of the Museum of Arts and Crafts in Paris.

The work is based on a 3D digitization of a plaster model from 1878, used by sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi to build the Statue of Liberty, donated by France to the United States in 1886 on the occasion of the centenary of their independence and became a of the symbols of the country. Gustave Eiffel, the creator of the Eiffel Tower, was also involved in the design of the internal structure of the monument.

The French little “sister” of the Statue of Liberty is transported in a sarcophagus, which is placed in a container equipped with a device for geolocation, ensuring that the container is closed and for temperature control. The transportation of the statue is financed by the French shipping company CMEM.

The voyage began in Le Havre on June 19-21 aboard the ship Tosca.

The statue will first be unveiled in New York, where it will be displayed on Ellis Island for the American national holiday on July 4, not far from Liberty Island, where the Statue of Liberty is located. The trip will end with the unveiling of the sister-in-law monument in the garden of the residence of the French ambassador to the United States in Washington on July 14 on the occasion of the French national holiday.

The larger version of the Statue of Liberty was donated to the United States by France. It was completed in 1886. The new one is 16 times smaller than the original. Also designed by Frederic Auguste Bartholdi in 1878, “The Statue of Liberty is precious to all Americans, and especially to me as a child of immigrants and a child of New York, growing up looking at her face as part of welcoming newcomers to the United States. so once we open up after Kovid, it’s great that Lady Liberty will be one of the passengers to the United States, “said Liam Wesley of the US Embassy in France.

The statue will symbolize Franco-American friendship and will arrive in America 135 years after the original was unveiled in New York. She is already on her way to her final destination.

On this day, slavery was abolished in the United States
On this day, slavery was abolished in the United States

In 1862 the US Congress abolishes slavery in the country. At the heart of the removal was President Abraham Lincoln, who was later assassinated precisely because of the law. In 1865 a final amendment was made to the constitution that abolished slavery in the United States.

At the Constitutional Convention in 1787, delegates fiercely debated the issue of slavery. They ultimately agreed that the United States would potentially cease importation of slaves in 1808. An act of Congress passed in 1800 made it illegal for Americans to engage in the slave trade between nations, and gave U.S. authorities the right to seize slave ships which were caught transporting slaves and confiscate their cargo. Then the “Act Prohibiting the Importation of Slaves” took effect in 1808. However, a domestic or “coastwise” trade in slaves persisted between ports within the United States, as demonstrated by slave manifests and court records.

Due to Union measures such as the Confiscation Acts and the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, the war effectively ended slavery in most places. Following the Union victory, the institution was banned in the whole territory of the United States upon the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment in December 1865.

Even though Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, slaves were still being bought and sold in the south. Multiple bills of sale for slaves in Georgia were recovered when the U.S. Navy intercepted the southern ship Mary during the Civil War and claimed both the ship and its contents as a prize.

These receipts were confiscated from the Mary when it was captured. They belong to Captain George A. Johnson. One is in the amount of $4,300 for the purchase of an enslaved woman named Jane, aged 18 years old. The other is in the amount of $7,500 for the purchase of a woman named Susannah and two children.

Photo: Receipt for the Purchase of an Enslaved Woman Named Jane

This primary source comes from the Records of District Courts of the United States. National Archives Identifier: 5722335.

Full Citation: Captain George A. Johnson’s Receipt for Purchase of Slave; 10/6/1864; A18-523; United States vs. Mary; Civil War Prize Case Files, 1861 – 1865; Records of District Courts of the United States, Record Group 21; National Archives at New York, New York, NY. [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/receipt-jane, June 19, 2021]

The World Health Organization wants to ban women from drinking alcohol
The World Health Organization wants to ban women from drinking alcohol

The WHO proposes a ban on alcohol for women of childbearing age, according to the draft Global Plan of Action against Alcohol for 2022-2030.

According to the document, the parties should raise public awareness of the dangers of alcoholic beverages, but special attention should be paid to children, pregnant women and women of childbearing age. This is due to the fact that alcohol consumption before and during childbirth can lead to the development of various diseases and disorders, as well as to the emergence of problems with social behavior and the ability to learn, the text says. It is noted that this also has a negative impact on the physical and psychological well-being of the mother.

In this regard, the WHO concludes that the best option would be for women to abstain from alcohol altogether.

These statements provoked widespread criticism among people on social networks, and the organization itself was accused of sexism.

80 years ago, in 1941, Reich Propaganda Office and the Institute for Hereditary Biology and Racial Hygiene could not stop German women from smoking.

Anyway, it is estimated some 20,000 German women avoided lung cancer deaths thanks to Nazi paternalism, which discouraged women from smoking, often with police force.

Women in Thuringia aged under 25 years were not allowed to smoke in restaurants. In contrast, a similar poster in the region of Emscher-Lippe (Northern Ruhr Basin) in 1941 instructing the restaurant owner to forbid women to smoke, even to ‘make use of his domestic authority’, was criticized for not being approved by any district office (Gaudienststelle). Together with other examples of ‘bad propaganda’, it was brought to the attention of the Health Minister responsible for Reich-wide regulation. In some parts of Germany, there were a number of unapproved anti-tobacco activities (e.g. a poster in Mecklenburg announced that the Führer deplored smoking and smokers damaged the power of the German people) as well as statements by certain individuals (e.g. Robert Ley, head of the German Labour Front, who had trained in chemistry at Jena) or organizations (e.g. German Women’s Alliance for Alcohol Free Culture – Deutscher Frauenbund für alkoholfreie Kultur, etc.). Many of these local initiatives were often so exceptional that they attracted widespread media attention. Thus, a prohibition of smoking in public by boys and girls in Mecklenburg, with breaches punished by 2 weeks in prison or a fine of 150 Reichsmark, was even reported in the British ‘Daily Telegraph’ newspaper on 1 June 1936. Again, many initiatives had more to do with the status of women than with smoking as such. For example, members of the police force in the town of Erfurt were instructed to remind women smoking in public of their duties as German women and mothers, which echoed the verbal abuse of women in Berlin who wore cosmetics.22 These measures were not endorsed by the Nazi leadership and were only local actions.

Thus, on 5 July 1941, an urgent letter was sent by telex from the Reich Propaganda Office (in agreement with the Party Chancellery) to all chief administrators of districts, members of the National Socialist Organization for Propaganda and People’s Enlightenment, and liaison officers in important organizations, establishing guidelines on Reich-consistent anti-tobacco propaganda. These guidelines, which demonstrate a somewhat tolerant view of smoking, were summarized in nine bullet points(Box 1).

Box 1 Reich Propaganda Department guidelines on anti-smoking campaigns, issued on 5 July 1941

  • The magazine Reine Luft must give up its combative character and its polemic tenor. It should become the organ for scientific research and public education about the dangers of tobacco.
  • Physicians must give consistent messages to the population.
  • All anti-tobacco propaganda directed at the public must be approved.
  • The anti-tobacco campaign aimed at young people will be conducted according to the existent plans which are in accordance with the Reichsjugendführung (magazines, educational letters for in-house meetings, illustrations, brochures).
  • A very careful campaign should be directed at women, in particular addressing those who are pregnant or breast-feeding
  • Magazines for young people, women, physicians and sports may be used more extensively for health education.
  • There are no objections to propaganda in support of a further ban on smoking in work places, assemblies, meetings, sports fields and similar.
  • Tobacco advertising by the manufacturers will be reduced incrementally.
  • Campaigns at district level are only permitted within the framework of these guidelines.

This letter was also addressed to the German Alliance for Combating the Dangers of Tobacco (Deutscher Bund zur Bekämpfung der Tabakgefahren), founded after the Nazis came to power. It specified that proposals to use the press for anti-smoking campaigns, to ban women from smoking in restaurants, and to restrict tobacco adverts to statements of manufacturer, brand name and price were not approved by the party. However, it also noted that ‘if the Alliance wishes to be consistent with existing Reich anti-tobacco propaganda’, it could do ‘valuable educational work’.

Why did Sergei Magnitsky have to die?
Why did Sergei Magnitsky have to die?

Sanctions against Bozhkov, Peevski, and Zhelyazkov in Bulgaria were imposed under the so-called Magnitsky’s law. It is named after Sergei Magnitsky, who died in 2009 in Russian pre-trial detention. Who was Magnitsky and why did he have to die?

In the West, the name of Sergei Magnitsky is often pronounced alongside that of Anna Politkovskaya or Boris Nemtsov, well-known Kremlin critics who have been assassinated. But Moscow lawyer Magnitsky was not an opposition figure – and became known only after his death in pre-trial detention in 2009. Abroad, his case has become a byword for corruption and judicial arbitrariness in today’s Russia.

Deinstitutionalisation: Planning inclusion in Greece
Deinstitutionalisation: Planning inclusion in Greece

Across the European Union, hundreds of thousands of persons with disabilities, persons with mental health problems, older people and children live in segregated institutions. These were originally created to provide care, food and shelter, but proved to be harmful to their quality of life and participation in the community and wider society.

Greece is among the Member States in which the European Commission identified the need for deinstitutionalisation (DI) reforms to create support systems in the community. To meet these objectives, the government has worked alongside experts and stakeholders representing different sectors in society including the three target groups of the reform: children (including children with disabilities), adults with disabilities and older people with support needs.

Join us for our final conference as we mark the official launch of the Greek Deinstitutionalisation Strategy, Action Plan, the Strategic Roadmap and more tools created within the project.

Civil society, public authorities and key participants also look to evaluate the process and discuss the key elements for a successful DI (deinstitutionalisation) transition.

The country requested a technical support for the government and stakeholders in:

  1. Completing the DI national Strategy, Roadmap and Action Plan;
  2. Defining and implementing processes and methodologies to run and manage the DI programme;
  3. Developing a communication and outreach strategy with communication materials, and support plan for receiving communities;
  4. Developing and providing training programmes to support the DI process.

These objectives were reached over the last two years with the support of European Association of Service Providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD – a non-profit NGO in the disability sector, promotes the views of over 17,000 social services and their umbrella associations. There are over 80 million people with a disability throughout Europe. The main objective of EASPD is to promote equal opportunities for people with disabilities through effective and high-quality service systems), experts and stakeholders representing different sectors in society including the three target groups of the reform: children (including children with disabilities), adults with disabilities and older people with support needs.

Russian prisoners recorded audio stories for their children
Russian prisoners recorded audio stories for their children

The action “Audiobooks for convicted children” was held in Russian penal colonies. In different regions, those serving sentences read the works on record, so that the files would then be handed over to their families. The project was timed to coincide with Children’s Day, which is celebrated on June 1.

Thus, in the correctional colony No. 33 in Saratov, one of the first participants in the action was a 29-year-old convict, who will be released only three years later. He has a five-year-old son and a nine-year-old daughter. Father wrote down verses for them from the collection “Smehodron” by the Saratov poet Yevgeny Grachev, reports “Vzglyad-info”.

And in the local correctional colony No. 10, a convict, in whose family a child with special needs is growing up, said that he had already received a response. His wife shared the baby’s joyful reaction to his dad’s voice. According to psychologists of the Federal Penitentiary Service, the sound of the native voice has a positive effect on the emotional sphere of the child. This is how he feels the presence of his father or mother in his life.

“Profile” said that now the society is discussing another innovation that will help the socialization of prisoners – the idea of ​​replacing the vacancies left by migrants with them. The Ministry of Justice has already positively assessed such a proposal by the FSIN. It turned out that almost 180,000 convicts have the right to replace imprisonment with correctional labor, but only 8,000 such jobs have been created in the country.

The idea of ​​replacing labor migrants with prisoners approved by the Ministry of Justice

According to the Minister of Justice of Russia Konstantin Chuichenko, he positively assesses the initiative proposed by the Federal Penitentiary Service to involve prisoners in work instead of labor migrants. He recalled that today almost 180 thousand convicts have the right to replace imprisonment with correctional labor, but the country has created places for only 8 thousand people. “I think this idea of ​​replacing migrant labor is correct. It is possible to create correctional centers at large construction sites, at large facilities, and citizens serving sentences, as a rule, have the necessary qualifications to perform this work,” Chuichenko told reporters in Khabarovsk …

As Interfax clarifies, the minister added that Russia is interested in large investment projects, where the number of persons serving sentences in the form of correctional labor will be at least a thousand people. According to him, there are no such people now, and the number, as a rule, is about 100 people.

“Profile” wrote about the proposal of the Federal Penitentiary Service to use prisoners for work in Russia instead of labor migrants. The head of the department, Alexander Kalashnikov, is confident that the labor of prisoners can be used more actively in the country. He noted that all prisoners will be provided with a dormitory or apartment, as well as conditions for living with their families. In addition, they will receive a salary for their work, added the head of the Federal Penitentiary Service.

China censors special new episode of “Friends”
China censors special new episode of “Friends”

Footage with Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and the South Korean group BTS was cut

Chinese fans of the series “Friends” have expressed dissatisfaction with the censorship of Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and the South Korean group BTS from the special new episode of the series, AFP reported.

The long-awaited new episode of the cult series was broadcast on three Chinese streaming platforms, but footage featuring some of the guest stars and references to the LGBT community was cut by the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

American singer Lady Gaga had to cancel her tour in China in 2016 because of her meeting with the Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama.

Canadian singer Justin Bieber has been blocked from Beijing since 2014 after posting a photo of himself in Tokyo’s Yakusuni Shrine, which commemorates those killed in the Japanese wars.

KTS pop stars sparked Chinese Communist Party discontent last year when they did not mention the Chinese who died in the Korean War in a statement about the region’s “painful history.”

From the Chinese streaming platforms iQiyi, Youku and Tencent Video did not answer AFP’s questions about the reasons for the censorship of the footage from the episode. /

The issue of China Media Bulletin 151 – February 2021 reports on: How the Clubhouse app’s crack in the Great Firewall highlighted Chinese netizen’s isolation from global users; new restrictive rules for journalists, celebrities, and social media users; more mainland information control tactics appear in Hong Kong; and how Beijing’s media influence and repressive reach in Europe, Africa, Asia, and beyond are evolving.

Censorship updates: New rules for journalists, “self-media,” entertainment industry, and internet services

Over the past two months, various government and quasigovernment bodies have issued new rules or draft regulations governing free expression.

Chinese journalists’ social media accounts scrutinized: New rules issued by the National Press and Publication Administration (NPPA) on January 12 require Chinese journalists to have their social media posts reviewed as a part of the annual verification process for renewal or issuing of press cards. The rules, which were immediately implemented for the review period ending in mid-March, cover material dating back to December 2019. Journalists who opened social media accounts without authorization or posted content deemed objectionable may be denied a press card.

Further crackdown on “self-media”: On January 22, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) released new provisions targeting “self-media” accounts. Such independently operated accounts, which publish or comment on news and current affairs, will be required to obtain a “Internet News Information Service Permit” and are prohibited from commenting on a list of restricted topics after the provisions go into effect on February 22. Those who violate the provisions can face a temporary or permanent ban from social media sites. Social media platforms will manage the accreditation process and are required to establish credit-rating systems for content producers. Companies like WeChat, Baidu, and Sohu have messaged their users and cautioned them not to comment on news unless they receive accreditation. This is the first time the provisions have been updated since 2017, with CAC citing a need to further combat “false information” following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Celebrity behavior rules formalized: The China Association of Performing Arts, an entertainment industry association under the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, released new guidelines on February 5 outlining circumstances under which celebrities may be sanctioned for their speech or behavior. China’s public entertainment figures will be required to promote “the party’s line” while not “undermining national unity” or “endangering national security.” The 15 rules, which go into effect on March 1, are intended to formalize unwritten but longstanding standards of behavior; performers who violate the order face suspensions and even a permanent industry ban.

Draft update of key internet service regulation: CAC released on January 8 a draft update of the Regulations on Internet Information Service for public comment. The original regulations date back to 2000, and the updated draft adds several provisions on modern online issues like e-commerce and online fraud; new rules would also expand the list of prohibited online content to cover “false information,” information that “incites illegal assemblies,” or which “endangers the physical and mental health of minors.” The draft enshrines the CCP’s support for “cyber sovereignty,” calling for the state to take measures to “monitor, prevent, and address illegal and criminal activities using domestic or foreign internet resources to harm the security or order of the nation’s cyberspace.” It further codifies the Great Firewall, which blocks user access to banned websites. The period for public comment closed on February 7. While the regulations have not yet been enacted, in effect they codify into law much of what is already in practice.

“This idea is absurd in the 21st century” – about who foreign agents are in Russia (2)
“This idea is absurd in the 21st century” – about who foreign agents are in Russia (2)

Yekaterinburg lawyer Yulia Fedotova explained who can be included in this list

3. What does this mean?

This means that those who fall under the characteristics of a foreign agent (individuals, legal entities, non-profit organizations, public organizations) are obliged to voluntarily surrender to the Ministry of Justice (it is he who deals with all regulation in this area) by submitting an application for inclusion in the relevant register, and doom themselves for a huge amount of strange paperwork, reports and other obscure actions.

An individual, for example, is obliged to indicate the presence of a status when applying to state bodies, local governments, public associations, educational organizations. Such a person cannot be appointed to positions in state bodies and local self-government bodies and is obliged to provide each post on Facebook with an indication that the information has been disseminated by a foreign agent.

NGOs and public organizations are required to submit tons of reports and also indicate everywhere that they are foreign agents on any materials distributed.

The media, when mentioning foreign agents, distributing their materials, are also obliged to indicate that the person / NPO / legal entity belongs to foreign agents.

4. Responsibility

Provided for criminal and administrative.

If an individual “does not surrender” to the Ministry of Justice, and the Ministry of Justice somehow learns about the transfer of 5 hryvnias to him, the person faces an administrative fine of 30,000 to 50,000 rubles. For failure to indicate their status on Facebook – from 10,000 to 30,000 rubles with or without confiscation of the subject of an administrative offense. That is, they may well take away your smartphone, from which you write posts (Art. 19.7.5-4 of the Administrative Code of the Russian Federation).

For the dissemination of information about / from foreign agents in the media without a corresponding indication, a fine is also provided for – for citizens in the amount of 2,000 to 2,500 rubles; for officials – from 4000 to 5000 rubles; for legal entities – from 40,000 to 50,000 rubles (amendments signed by the president, part 2.4 of article 13.15 of the Administrative Code of the Russian Federation).

For non-notification of their activities, NCOs also face a fine – from 300,000 to 500,000 rubles, for disseminating information without marking – from 300,000 to 500,000 rubles with confiscation of the subject of an administrative offense (Article 19.34 of the Administrative Code).

A foreign media outlet-foreign agent can also be fined from 500,000 rubles to 5,000,000 rubles in case of “gross” violations.

In the event of repeated commission of offenses in this area, criminal liability is already provided for foreign agents and heads of organizations under Art. 330.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. Individuals face up to 5 years in prison, the rest – up to 2 years.

5. Summary

The legislation on foreign agents was written by someone who hates humanity very much. In addition to the fragmentation of norms, finding them in different acts, cumbersomeness, indigestibility, I can also note the absolute absurdity. The very idea of ​​the formation of foreign agents is absurd, since in the 21st century, in a transparent world with the Internet, it is actually aimed at prohibiting any contact, exchange of experience, information and assistance with other countries.

Read part one: https://europeantimes.info/2021/06/01/this-idea-is-absurd-in-the-21st-century-about-who-foreign-agents-are-in-russia-1/

“This idea is absurd in the 21st century” – about who foreign agents are in Russia (1)
“This idea is absurd in the 21st century” – about who foreign agents are in Russia (1)

Yekaterinburg lawyer Yulia Fedotova explained who can be included in this list

The boring term “foreign agent” sounds rather ominous. I remember Soviet films about spies and traitors. It is not exactly clear who it is, but it must be someone bad. The lack of understanding is also aggravated by the absence of any clear regulatory framework governing the activities of such “agents”. Lawyer Yulia Fedotova helped to figure it out.

1. Normative acts:

Federal Law “On Non-Commercial Organizations”;

Federal Law “On Measures of Influence on Persons Involved in Violations of Fundamental Human Rights and Freedoms, Rights and Freedoms of Citizens of the Russian Federation”;

RF Law “On Mass Media”;

Administrative Code of the Russian Federation, Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.

2. Who can become a foreign agent?

The main features are foreign funding + active social and political activity. They can be:

2.1) non-profit organizations that receive money or property from foreign sources and participate, including (but not only) in the interests of these sources, in political activities carried out on the territory of the Russian Federation.

What kind of “foreign sources”? The list is extensive. From just foreign citizens to foreign countries. Also, a Russian (individual or legal entity) will be considered a “foreign” source of funding if they themselves receive money from foreigners and act as intermediaries in their transfer to NPOs.

Political activity in the law is understood almost as any socially useful one, a long list of areas is given (for example, “activities in the field of socio-economic and national development of the Russian Federation, the development of the political system, the activities of state bodies”). The forms of such activity are varied – from rallies to “the formation of socio-political views and beliefs” and discussion of lawmaking activities.

“A fund for helping homeless animals can be recognized as a foreign agent, if it proposes changes to the legislation, in the event that a couple of hryvnias are received from Ukraine.” Julia Fedotova

At the same time, the law does not formally include activities in the field of science, culture, health care, social sphere, protection of flora and fauna, charity as political activity. However, given the unrestrictedness of the concept of “political activity”, nothing prevents from recognizing as foreign agents, for example, charitable foundations for helping homeless animals, which in one way or another propose appropriate changes in the legislation in the field of protecting the rights of tailed beasts, if they receive a couple of hryvnias from Ukraine.

2.2) unregistered public organizations.

Non-agents can also be public organizations that are not duly registered as legal entities. The scheme is the same as for NPOs, just information about them will be contained in different registers.

2.3) individuals.

There are two interesting points. An individual can be recognized by the media and can be recognized as “just a foreign agent”.

a) an individual who distributes information intended for an unlimited number of persons, including on the Internet, can be recognized as a media outlet performing the functions of a foreign agent. Conditions – receiving funds from abroad or from intermediaries. There is no need to engage in “political activity”.

Well, that is, it is enough just to conduct social networks and receive from a penpal from Britain, for example, a transfer for a birthday.

“Theoretically, any grandmother who posts recipes for pickling cucumbers in Odnoklassniki and who has received money from her sister from Ukraine can become a foreign agent” Julia Fedotova

b) an individual can be “just a foreign agent”.

Conditions – political activity + receiving assistance from foreigners (both monetary and any other).

About “political activity” – the same rules as for NGOs. That is, it turns out that if I, as a lawyer, prepare a complaint to the ECHR for money in the interests of a foreign citizen against Russia, I can be a foreign agent.

2.4) foreign legal entities.

A foreign agent can be a legal entity registered in a foreign state, or a foreign structure without the formation of a legal entity, regardless of the organizational and legal form. This also includes foreign media and Russian legal entities established by them.

Conditions – this legal entity disseminates information and receives foreign funding. The goals of such a legal entity do not matter.

Read part two: https://europeantimes.info/2021/06/01/this-idea-is-absurd-in-the-21st-century-about-who-foreign-agents-are-in-russia-2/

“Extremist, undesirable, involved”: a Yekaterinburg lawyer dismantled banned organizations
“Extremist, undesirable, involved”: a Yekaterinburg lawyer dismantled banned organizations

Yulia Fedotova explained for participation in which communities punishment is threatened and talked about what undesirable organizations are in Russia.

In recent months, there has been no less talk about banned and undesirable organizations in Russia than there have been controversies about new strains of coronavirus. But if in the second case everything is clear, then it is almost impossible to understand what the extremist, undesirable, prohibited, involved, liquidated, foreign agents and other communities are.

Meanwhile, the list of such organizations that cannot be mentioned publicly is multiplying, confused, and it becomes more and more incomprehensible who is who and who and how it is impossible to mention. However, we turned to Yulia Fedotova, a Yekaterinburg lawyer, with a request to tell what kind of communities they are and how to distinguish them from each other.

Let’s try to figure it out.

To begin with, the basic thesis: organizations are registered as legal entities (with OGRN, TIN, KPP and other strange abbreviations), included in the Unified State Register of Legal Entities, and unregistered. Based on this, we build understanding further.

1. Foreign agents – they were mentioned in the material under the link.

2. Extremists.

The Federal Law “On Counteracting Extremist Activity” suggests several options for interaction between the state and “organizations”:

  1. liquidation – for legal entities;
  2. b) prohibition of activity – for those who are not registered as a legal entity.
  3. It is carried out by the court at the request of the prosecutor’s office or the Ministry of Justice.
  4. After filing a claim, the activities of the organization are suspended until the court makes a decision. Continued participation in the activities of the suspended association constitutes an administrative offense (Article 20.28 of the Administrative Code of the Russian Federation, punishment in the form of a fine from 500 to 2000 rubles).
  5. Based on this, there are extremist organizations and communities.

Extremist organizations are public or religious associations or other organizations in respect of which a court has passed a final decision on the liquidation or prohibition of activity. These are only those organizations that were included in the list of the Ministry of Justice.

Participation in them after official publication on the website provides for criminal liability and imprisonment for a term of two to six years. The criteria for participation are rather vague. The Supreme Court clarifies that participation is understood as “the commission by a person of intentional actions related to the continuation or resumption of the activities of this organization (conducting conversations in order to promote the activities of a banned organization, direct participation in ongoing events, etc.)”. Taking into account the fact that most of the extremist crimes are committed on the Internet, I suppose that both being in thematic communities and publishing information about an organization, for example, can be considered a crime. 2.2. Extremist communities are organized groups of persons created for the preparation or commission of extremist crimes (crimes committed based on political, ideological, racial, national or religious hatred or enmity, or out of hatred or enmity against any social group).

In fact, this is everyone who has not yet managed to get into the list of the Ministry of Justice. For participation in their activities (which, again, is not clearly defined), imprisonment for a term of two to six years is also provided.

Recently, the term “implicated” (citizens) has almost appeared in the law.

The State Duma in the third reading adopted amendments, which banned the election of citizens “involved in the activities of extremist / terrorist organizations.”

In addition to the actual participants, “involved” also means “members, employees, other persons involved in the activities of an extremist or terrorist organization”. Who is a member (sorry)? What is the difference between a member and an employee and a participant? Who are all these people? At the same time, in order to treat “other persons”, it is enough to show “an expression of support by statements, including statements on the Internet, as well as“ other assistance to activities (provision of funds, property, organizational, methodological, advisory or other assistance) to those goals and (or) forms of activity (including individual events) of the relevant organization ”or“ other actions ”. And this must be done one year before and three more years after the entry into force of the court decision. I think there is no need to explain that this law was written under the FBK (included in the register of organizations performing the functions of a foreign agent, and without five minutes an extremist) and its supporters.


Formally, these are only foreign or international organizations that are included in the special list of the Ministry of Justice. There are “only” 31 organizations, but in fact they are involved only for any (generally for any) contacts with “Open Russia” in its various forms. It is enough to comment on the relevant media, attend an organized event, make a post or repost. Despite the fact that the Russian organization has no connection, except for the similarity of the name, with the foreign one.

Participation in the activities of such an organization implies administrative responsibility for the first time (a fine from 5,000 to 15,000 rubles). Repetition entails criminal liability under Art. 284.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. The current edition provides that responsibility comes after the commission of two administrative offenses during the year – on the third. Recently, the deputies proposed reducing the number of administrative ones to two and imprisoning people for a term of one to four years, and for leadership – from two to six. Currently, the punishment is uniform – from two to six years in a colony.

To be honest, it’s hard for me to summarize what has been said. I can only say that vague legal norms, which actually persecute the collective expression of views, are evil, and stupid and repressive laws adopted in batches have little to do with jurisprudence.

The New EU Policy towards Media Freedom and Pluralism in brief
The New EU Policy towards Media Freedom and Pluralism in brief

Media freedom and pluralism are part of the rights and principles enshrined in the European Charter on Fundamental Rights and in the European Convention of Human Rights. Moreover, the Copenhagen criteria for membership in the EU include the existence of guarantees for democracy and human rights. Following that, in its resolutions of 21 May 2013 on the EU Charter: Standard settings for media freedom across the EU, and of 3 May 2018 on media pluralism and media freedom in the European Union, the European Parliament consistently called on the Commission to propose and apply various policies, procedures and mechanisms to safeguard media pluralism and journalists as main relevant actors.

In its 2018 Resolution on Media pluralism and media freedom in the European Union, the European Parliament noted the recent political developments in various Member States that have led to increased pressures on and threats against journalists. Parliament asked the Commission and the Member States to promote and elaborate new socially sustainable economic models aimed at financing and supporting quality and independent journalism. Member States are urged to set up an independent and impartial regulatory body to report violence and threats against journalists and to ensure the protection and safety of journalists at national level, stressing the importance of ensuring efficient legal recourse procedures for journalists whose freedom to work has been threatened, so as to avoid self-censorship. The Commission is invited to propose an anti-SLAPP Directive (strategic lawsuit against public participation) that would protect independent media from vexatious lawsuits aimed at silencing or intimidating them in the EU.

On 19 October 2020, the European Commission presented its 2021 work programme, which included as one of its priorities ‘A New Push for European Democracy’. Under this priority, the Commission announced its intention to issue an initiative against abusive litigation targeting journalists and rights defenders, which is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2021.

On 25 November 2020, the European Parliament adopted a Resolution on strengthening media freedom: the protection of journalists in Europe, hate speech, disinformation and the role of platforms. In it, the European Parliament condemns the use of SLAPP to silence or intimidate investigative journalists and outlets and create a climate of fear around their reporting of certain topics. It also strongly reiterates its call on the Commission to come forward with a comprehensive proposal for a legislative act aiming to establish minimum standards against SLAPP practises across the EU and to propose an anti-SLAPP directive.

On 3 December 2020, the European Commission presented its Democracy Action Plan to empower citizens and build more resilient democracies across the EU. It is a non-legislative initiative announcing further steps, including legislative ones. Protecting and strengthening European democracy and in particular European elections and combating the threat of disinformation raise challenges that cannot be addressed by national or local action alone. The Plan is centred around the individual rights and freedoms, transparency and accountability and includes the Initiative against abusive litigation targeting journalists and rights defenders as part of it.

Vice-President of the Commission for Values and Transparency, Věra Jourová, said:
“Such initiatives allow journalists from all over Europe to combine their talents and keep us well-informed. The Commission is determined to increase its support for these types of projects and present new initiatives, particularly in order to improve the protection of journalists, in the framework of the European Democracy Action Plan, which will be adopted by the end of the year.”

Commissioner for Internal Market, Thierry Breton, explained:
“We tirelessly stand for independent media and support the initiatives aimed at promoting media freedom and pluralism in Europe. The Commission’s efforts to assist news media in their recovery will be completed by the Media and Audiovisual Action Plan, which will contribute to stimulating their digital transformation in the future.”

Journalists, Parliamentarians and NGOs in Europe have welcomed the new initiative by Vice President Věra Jourová for her supportive action to media freedom and pluralism. The NGOs and the civil society in Europe eagerly look forward to the new plans and proposals which would allow them to work closely with independent media, focusing on critical reporting, transparency and new platforms created for investigative journalism. This is a corner stone for public engagement in fighting corruption, fraud and the misuse of taxpayers’ money in Europe. It is imperative that at this stage the allocation of €61 million for media pluralism be awarded in a transparent way without heavy bureaucratic procedures. Furthermore, it is imperative that the budget of this multiannual programme be substantially increased in the coming years.

Critical and objective journalism, investigative journalism, as well as local and national press in a number of countries are under severe pressure and need transnational European support by the European Union. The world index, carefully compiled each year by the Reporters without Borders, monitors freedom of press in terms of pluralism, independence, legislative framework, abuses, attacks against journalists and reporters. It rated at least a quarter of EU member States as grossly violating these principles. Judicial cases into wide scale harassment and the killing of journalists reporting on corruption and misuse of EU funds by governments and oligarchs in EU member states during the past years are still not being terminated with clear verdicts, clear indictments and the appropriate sanctions. The institutions of the European Union currently play a minor if not totally marginal role in defending free independent press and journalists in the member states of the European Union. This is something that the new EU policies must change.

Despite the fact that freedom of press is guaranteed by all EU Member States’ constitutions, some governments have curtailed this fundamental freedom by getting control over the media and using them as an instrument for political pressure and manipulation of public opinion. Whereas the situation is more critical in some European countries, the majority of EU member countries, even those with a high degree of freedom of press, need to be carefully monitored as well.

Is the European Commissions’ new EU Democracy Action Plan – envisaging a 61 million euro budget made available for protecting free press – going to effectively prevent curtailment of and pressure on independent journalism and protect journalists in the European Union who are investigating corruption, misuse of funds and political power? Is the recent report by the EC reviewing the rule of law, independence of judiciary and freedom of press in the 27 EU member states the right tool in both form and quality for decision makers?

Vice-President for Values and Transparency, Věra Jourová, said: “Democracy cannot be taken for granted; it needs to be nurtured and protected. Our plan aims at protecting and promoting meaningful participation of citizens, empowering them to make their choices in the public space freely, without manipulation. We need to update the rules to harness the opportunities and challenges of the digital age.”

Useful links on EU Policy

New deadline of 7 February 21 for regions initiative
New deadline of 7 February 21 for regions initiative

The rule of law stands strong, despite global challenges society has to face due to the pandemic. A European Citizens’ Initiative: Sign It Europe, proposed in defence of minority rights, got off to a challenging start, coinciding with the advent of COVID-19. However, it may actually prove to be just as successful as its recent ideological predecessor: The Minority Safepack Initiative. Thanks to the extension granted by the European Union, a new deadline of 7 February 2021 was agreed on. The coming year and the new legislative period hold great promise of further advancements in the field of minority rights.

In this year, which we are slowly leaving behind, the peoples of Europe need success more than ever before. The pandemic has certainly put the peoples of the continent to the test – divisions and chaos can be seen in almost every country in Europe – but at the same time the values ​​on which our continent’s policies are based, which have guaranteed peace for eight decades, have been pushed into the background. However, we must not lose sight of the fact that, after the coronavirus pandemic, we will face new and unprecedented challenges that will require these values ​​much more than ever before. Without tolerance, unity in diversity, responsibility for each other, and solidarity with the poor and disadvantaged, even the most ingenious economic programs are doomed to fail.

What is the citizens’ initiative for the creation of national regions about?

We all know the name of Count Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi well. What we know now, as the European Union began with his dream, Count Kalergi began to plan a project based on lasting peace, development, and respect for each other. In many ways this is very similar to the situation we find ourselves in today. After the tragedy of the First World War, Kalergi wondered how to create public policies and operate them validly throughout Europe to guarantee that its peoples would not start another war. Kalergi’s plan was welcomed throughout Europe, but the decision-makers of the nation-states failed to recognize its potential, which led, of course, to another cataclysmic conflict. The European Union that followed was built on Kalergi’s ideas, although many of his plans were left unimplemented. Such is the dilemma outlined by Kalergi: no matter how progressive, forward-looking and peaceful the EU legal system is, nation-states can always block changes.

The initiators of the creation of national regions recognized this: one of the big problems in Europe today is that development and growth are not even. Some regions are developing at a dizzying pace, while others are in almost the same situation as before they joined the EU. For an example of this, it is enough to think only of the most populous, stateless European minority: the Roma.

However, the situation applies to more or less all nation-states with a significant number of minorities. The distribution of EU funds does not always take into account the perspectives of the regions in which these minorities form a majority or live in significant numbers, which would enable the people living in these areas to settle the issues of their region using their own public policies. The problem also poses a danger because these regions will sooner or later become poor ghettos, which will only increase social tensions. And in times of crisis, these regions will also suffer the most from the unequal distribution of resources. Again, I must cite the Roma as an example: the devastation caused by the coronavirus was higher than average among Roma people, while nation-state health policies – keeping the big picture in mind – did not notice the deep danger, and governments did not allocate (or only sparingly allocated) resources to these regions.

Sign it Europe – The solution to prosperity

The Sign It Europe petition, which focuses on the citizens’ initiative to create national regions, seeks to introduce a new approach to European public discourse based on the ideas above. This could help move decision-makers towards the pursuit of public policies that guarantee social peace and prosperity. The goal is an EU regulation that would give a possibility to the areas inhabited by a minority in majority or in larger numbers access to EU funding independently of their nation-state governments, provided, of course, that their application meets EU standards, which could make a major contribution to Europe’s development, prosperity, and peace.

The success of a citizens’ initiative rests on two conditions. One is the geographical quantity: The required quantity must be collected in at least seven EU Member States. The other condition is the quantitative criterion: at least one million signatures are required.

The Sign It Europe team has so far managed to reach the quota in five countries: Romania, Lithuania, Croatia, Slovakia and Hungary. And the number of signatures has exceeded one million altogether. As you can see, we have reached the gates of a success together, which helps give a new view to a Europe plagued by a pandemic. However, it is not enough just to reach the gate. We know that success means meeting the required quota in at least two more countries, but also wanting to maximize the number of signatures. The deadline is 7 February 2021.

We trust that the content of this likable European Citizens’ Initiative has also made you think and encouraged you to support it, please spread the information of our initiative in your own country as much as possible.

Let’s work together to keep the good going in post-pandemic Europe and to make it even better than it was before. Thank you and we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year full of luck and health!