Jean Lambert, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group, in response to Charles Clarke’s speech in the European Parliament on the UK Presidency and terrorism.
Mr President, one of the things that I noticed in the presentation from Council was that we were not only talking about terrorism but also organised crime. I think that is extremely important when we are looking at some of the measures which are before us. Because, if what we are saying is that the activities of what we acknowledge is a handful of people really have the power to sway and transform civil liberties within the European Union, then part of the battle that we always ascribe to terrorists has already been won. I think that is an extremely worrying factor.
My Group would thoroughly agree with what Mr Watson has said to the effect that human rights are universal. They are not divisible, they are not negotiable and they are not applicable only to certain groups. We know from our own experience in the United Kingdom, when we were dealing with terrorism from the IRA years ago, that we could often see that convictions took priority over evidence and over correct police procedure. That is something we need to be aware of and bear in mind.
I am more than slightly concerned when I hear the Minister talking about the need to re-evaluate the European Convention on Human Rights. The debate in the United Kingdom and elsewhere is already starting to refer to an ‘inconvenient’ Article 3, which is the one that deals with inhumane and degrading treatment and which cannot be derogated from. In the United Kingdom, we have already derogated from Article 5.
I agree that we need to build on the European Convention, we do not need to dismantle it and we do not need to ‘nuance’ it so that it catches those that at the moment we are choosing not to support because, when we look at the history of certain of those terrorist groups, they have been supported in the past by certain of our governments.
We also need to be wary of creating a feeling amongst people that everyone is a potential terrorist or criminal. We need a strong civil society, as Commissioner Frattini pointed out, one which is democratic, in which people feel they can participate and are not excluded on the basis of their race or religion.
My Group is concerned about the publication of the code of conduct for not-for-profit organisations and would be interested to know what the basis is for putting that within a context of terrorism and criminality. People involved in not-for-profit are often some of the most active and constructive citizens that we have. This feeling of suspicion is something which also feeds radicalisation and fundamentalism, which can be based on race as well as religion. We look forward to further moves dealing with race hatred and xenophobia within the European Union. We would also be interested to see what the foreign policy link is going to be in this discussion on radicalisation.
Much of what we are hearing this morning is based on the concept of a benevolent state. We want to know where the safeguards are going to be, what the political oversight is going to be, how that is going to involve the European Parliament and our national parliaments and what redress is available for those who find themselves caught up and on lists that they should never have been on in the first place.