Human Rights


Human rights defenders need easier access to EU visas!

In a joint statement, 50 international civil society organizations have called on EU institutions and EU Member States to make it easier for human rights defenders to obtain EU Visas. The signatory organizations propose, inter alia, the following:
  • a special facilitated procedure for human rights defenders within the EU Visa Code, setting out common criteria and defining the elements of such a procedure
  • instructions on granting facilitations to human rights defenders and their family members to be included in the EU Visa Handbook
  • an amendment to the legal instruments on visas, particularly the Visa Code
  • Amendments to the EU Temporary Protection Directive, allowing human rights defenders at risk to be granted temporary protection status in the EU.

In the declaration initiated by Protect Defenders, the undersigned organizations affirm that human rights defenders have the right to carry out their work safely and to receive support and protection if they are at risk. Unfortunately, human rights defenders around the world are often at great personal risk because of their work. They are increasingly confronted with attacks, threats and attempts at intimidation – and repeatedly, they are being murdered. In addition, they often suffer from repression, restrictive laws and judicial harassment.

I fully endorse the statement by international civil society organizations. We must lend a helping hand to human rights defenders wherever we can. Easier access to Schengen visas is clearly one way of doing this. I have already given a speech in Parliament on this subject (“Mr. Borrell, please adapt the visa handbook!“) and also put a parliamentary question to the EU Commission – which received a disappointing answer. It is all the more important that we don’t let up and keep putting the topic on the agenda!

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