February 2009

MEPs work to tackle online child risk

MEPs are set to endorse a report by the European Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee which calls for tougher action to combat child abuse on the internet. It calls for 'grooming' and paedophile chat rooms to be criminalised for internet providers to block these sites for credit card companies to put a stop to payments and for criminal record checks for posts working with children across the EU.

Sarah Ludford MEP Liberal Democrat European Justice and Human Rights Spokeswoman is a member of the Civil Liberties Committee and visited Cambodia in 2008 to look at ways of tackling child sex tourism.

Commenting on the recent report she said:

Sarah speaking about the resettlement of Guantanamo detainees

Mr President the main responsibility for closure of Guantánamo Bay and the resettlement of detainees undoubtedly lies with the US Government. However Europe needs to recognize the political reality that the US cannot manage this alone. We have expressed a lot of goodwill towards President Obama and commitment to transatlantic relations. That must imply an offer of practical assistance.

MEPs to call on EU states to resettle ex-Guantanamo detainees

MEPs across the political spectrum are set to unite in a call on EU Member States to resettle some former Guantanamo Bay detainees. There are 62 men cleared for release but unable to return to their own countries because they are stateless or would be persecuted in their home countries.

Liberal Democrat European justice & human rights spokeswoman and co-sponsor of the resolution Sarah Ludford MEP said:

"The main responsibility for Guantanamo Bay closure and the resettlement of its detainees undoubtedly lies with the US government. But Europe needs to recognise the political reality that the US cannot manage this alone. We must accompany our goodwill towards President Obama and commitment to transatlantic relations with some practical assistance."

MEPs call for sanctions on employers of illegal immigrants while UK opts out

MEPs are set to endorse today a new EU law obliging Member states to have measures penalising employers of illegal immigrants. But the UK government intends to invoke its 'opt-out' and therefore the legislation will have no effect in the UK.

Penalties would include fines being forced to pay wages in arrears at legal levels and bans for up to five years from bidding for public sector contracts or receiving state aid. Repeat offenders could attract criminal sanctions. There are also provisions for unpaid taxes to be recovered for liability of sub-contractors and effective inspections by Member State authorities.

Sarah Ludford MEP Liberal Democrat Justice and Human Rights Spokeswoman said:

Sarah speaking about consular protection of EU citizens in third countries

Mr President Mr Guardans Cambó and others such as Mr Karim and Mrs Mann have illustrated the gap between rhetoric and reality. We cannot even actually agree on what Article 20 means. The minister speaking in English said that it was only an 'entitlement' and not a right whereas Mrs Roure cited the French which says 'un droit '. But it is certainly in the Charter of Fundamental Rights where it is enshrined as a right.

We will surely not make progress unless it is legally confirmed that it is a right with binding EU decisions and common standards and the right to challenge a refusal of protection in the courts.

Conservatives exposed as MEPs take action on Guantanamo

MEPs across the party political spectrum have joined together to overwhelming pass a resolution calling on EU governments to be prepared to resettle Guantanamo Bay detainees. The focus is on those cleared for release but unable to return to their own countries because they are stateless or would be persecuted.

The resolution was passed by a big majority (542 out of 648 which is 84% of those present and voting). The British Conservatives abstained even though two-thirds of MEPs from their centre-right political group the European People's Party voted for the resolution.

Liberal Democrat European justice & human rights spokeswoman and co-sponsor of the resolution Sarah Ludford MEP said:

EU states must cooperate to help citizens in trouble abroad

In a debate in the European Parliament MEPs have called EU governments and the European Commission to account for their failure to make a reality of the promise of 'European citizenship' through consular protection for all EU citizens who get into trouble or a crisis abroad.

EU law says a passport-holder of any EU country such as the UK is entitled to go for help to the embassy or consulate of any other EU state if their own authorities are not represented there. But as the experience of MEPs caught up in the horrific terrorist violence in Mumbai last November showed the practical implementation of this promise is at best patchy.

Europe Safer Internet Day aims to keep kids safe

Today marks the 6th European Safer Internet Day aimed at promoting a safer use of the internet online technologies and mobile phones and strengthening protection against illegal or harmful content and conduct. In December 2008 the EU adopted a new Safer Internet Programme for 2009-2013 which dedicates € 55 million to making the internet a safer place for children.

EU affirms persecution for being gay is valid asylum claim

In a response to a question from MEPs including London Liberal Democrat MEP Sarah Ludford the European Commission has affirmed that persecution on grounds of sexual orientation is a legitimate justification for an asylum claim. The question was prompted by an initial rejection in Cyprus of a claim by a gay Iranian asylum seeker a rejection which was later overturned and the claim granted.

The Commission repeats that there is 'an obligation on Member States to grant refugee status to persons who.... are found to have a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of membership of a particular social group including a group based on a common characteristic of sexual orientation.'

Sarah Ludford who is Liberal Democrat European justice & human rights spokeswoman said:

Anti-Semitism calls for vigorous refutation as well as prosecution

Attending the major London Conference on Anti-Semitism London Liberal Democrat MEP Sarah Ludford the party's European justice & human rights spokeswoman said:

"I share the deep concern at the rise in anti-Semitic incidents attacks and incitement. The criminal law has a strong role to play in outlawing hate crime and catching perpetrators. I particularly deplore criticism of Israel over Gaza becoming a pretext for sheer anti-Semitism."

"We need European and international cooperation to harmonise laws and definitions train police prosecutors and judges and secure convictions including in regard to internet hate."

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