I dagens videodagbok, som är den sista innan sommaruppehållet, talar jag om förra veckans session i Strasbourg. Jag talar om varför vi i Europaparlamentet nu antagit SWIFT-avtalet och att omröstningen om betänkandet om EU:s gemensamma jordbrukspolitik efter 2013 bjöd på många besvikelser som visar att de protektionisktiska krafterna i Europaparlamentet fortfarande är starka. Dessutom får ni höra om hur arbetet med Dublin II-förordningen nu kommit igång ordentligt samt att det belgiska ordförandeskapet, som inleddes förra veckan, har asylfrågorna högt upp på sin dagordning.
Archive for juli, 2010
Man släpper 52 politiska fångar på Kuba, åh så jag gläds åt det!
Men det finns fler människor som sitter fängslade för sina åsikter och de mänskliga rättigheterna respekteras inte. Frigivningen är dock ett steg i rätt riktning och sådana kan vi inte få för många av när det gäller Kuba.
On Wednesday morning we had decided to leave Dhaka for a few hours in order to get some time to see the countryside and get a better understanding of the situation facing the country as a whole. I was struck by how densely populated this country really is when passing a never ending stream of suburbs and then cities and villages. The trip gave a few additional insights into the textile industry of the country as we visited small producers where a majority of the workers were children, some probably not older than eight or nine.
After catching up on some work the evening was spent at the Dhaka University. As the event had only been advertised during one day and it was in the evening I honestly did not expect that many students to show up to my lecture on the topic of Human rights, tolerance and the road to democracy I was thrilled to find well over 100 students waiting for us when we entered into the room. After giving my speech the pro vice chancellor and professors of the social science department gave a few very nice concluding remarks before we had a nice session of discussion with the students and teachers.
I was thoroughly impressed, in particularly of the dialogue with the students. When I talked about the need for tolerance or the need to break Bangladesh’s circle of violence by abolishing the death penalty it was clear in the eyes of the students that these were messages that resonated within them. There were quite a few questions and it seemed we could have stayed for many hours but for the fact that time was running a bit late and we had not yet had dinner. As we left the lecture hall I think I must have shook almost everyone’s hand and I was moved once again by the heartfelt hospitality that had been extended to me by everyone since my arrival, but I think I felt it even a little more as I was leaving the University hall than before.
After a few concluding talks and photos in the offices of the professors we went down to our car, had yet another good discussion with a number of students that still had not left the campus before finally setting of through the busy streets of Dhaka to have some dinner with the faculty staff that had been instrumental in setting up the lecture. Our visit to Bangladesh was about to come to an end with only one day remaining…
On the last day of the visit to Bangladesh I visited the European Union mission to the Country as well as the Swedish embassy. Ideally I would have wanted to do both these visits in the beginning rather than at the end of the trip but unfortunately this was not compatible with the schedule of the conference and other activities. We had however been extremely well prepared by detailed briefings of both the European Commission and the Swedish embassy. The two meetings thus had more a character of summing up the various discussions, sharing experiences and thoughts that can be of mutual interest.
In the morning I met with EU Ambassador Stefan Frowein for several hours and then with the Swedish deputy head of mission Mr. Samuel Egerö. We promised to compile the findings of the visit into a report which will be completed in the coming days. As we got ready to leave Bangladesh we did so many experiences richer and with a deeper understanding of the country and the important challenges it faces in both the short and long term.
To know more about my visit at the University of Dhaka, read Anisur Rahmans article on Human rights, tolerance and democracy in Holiday.
The third day was also hectic but not as crazy as the first two days had been. Weather was still very nice with a scorching near 40 degrees Celsius and a humidity of about 90% but I prefer hot weather to cold (including air conditioning). By now I had also gotten a little more used to the absolute mayhem that is the Dhaka traffic situation. We were blessed to have a fantastic driver for the duration of our stay, otherwise moving around the city would have been next to impossible…
The day started with an interesting tour of Bangladesh’s second largest newspaper the Kaler Kantho and a lunch with its editor in chief Mr Abed Khan. There was a very interesting discussion on freedom of the press and the situation for journalists in Bangladesh. Once back at the hotel I gave yet another TV-interview on the conference and my view on the upcoming tribunal for war criminals.¨
The evening offered a wonderfully nice meeting with two distinguished gentlemen at a very distinguished establishment, namely the Dhaka Club, with roots going back all the way to 1911 when Bangladesh was a British colony. The meeting was with Mr Sayed Kamaluddin and his friend heading an NGO umbrella whose name unfortunately escapes me while writing this. I had the great pleasure to listen to their stories and recollection of the recent history of Bangladesh from the perspective of the independent journalist and the civil society representatives.
Our visit coincided with the ongoing fotball world cup, since Bangladesh did not qualify people (everyone it seemed) simply choose another team to support and showed it by having its teams flag, here at the desks in the main newsroom. Argentina and Brazil were the two favourite teams…
The second day of my visit included one of the many highlights of the trip, and perhaps the one that I will bring with me for the longest. In the early morning hours we left the hotel in a caravan of cars to meet with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her beautiful residence. We had an interesting exchange with the Prime Minister that lasted about one hour and touched upon many different issues, I had the privilege of introducing the group to her as well as account for the work of the International Conference of the preceding day. When leaving her residence I remember noticing the small plots of land for farming inside the perimeter fence of the residence before our caravan of cars headed back to the hotel for a quick stop.
After the quick stop at the hotel we continued to a lunch meeting with justices and lawyers of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh. The meeting focused on the upcoming tribunal for war crimes committed during the liberation war in 1971 and the need for constitutional change to bring back secularism to the constitution of Bangladesh. On a much more sombre tone there was also a, in my view extremely disturbing, discussion about reintroducing socialism as a sort of state ideology into the constitution.
After lunch the day continued in a judicial theme with a seminar in the Supreme Court of Bangladesh also on the topic of a war crimes tribunal where I once again had the opportunity to have a nice conversation with the minister for Law, Justice and parliamentary affairs. In my main intervention of the seminar I expressed solidarity with the idea of a war crimes tribunal to help Bangladesh end impunity and move past the horrific events of the liberation war. This support was of course offered only under the condition that international standards for a free and impartial trial could be maintained. I put forward the argument that an abolishment of the death penalty in Bangladesh would make it much easier for Europe to support a tribunal and that I consider the death penalty to be, always and for every crime, an abhorrent and medieval form of brutal punishment, far removed from any modern concept of justice. Although the justice minister did not address the issue of capital punishment in his closing remarks he did open up for international monitoring and inspection of the war crimes tribunal to make sure for all that it kept up to the very highest international standards.
The day visit to the Supreme Court was supposed to have ended after the seminar but during one of our conversations the justice minister asked me if I wanted to visit the newly constructed tribunal for war crimes (as it was just nearby) and I accepted. The impromptu visit was followed by all other participants (quite a few) as well as very interested representatives of the media.
Once the visit was concluded the clock was approaching 7 pm and I had only minutes to spare when arriving on the set of one of Bangladesh’s most watched TV-shows called The Road to Democracy on R-TV. The show went well and after yet an interview (this time for a newspaper) time approached for some dinner and sleep.
Between June 20 and 24 I had the great pleasure to visit Bangladesh as I had been invited, as a member of the European Parliament, to participate in the International Conference on Peace, Justice and Secular Humanism in Dhaka. In this rather long bloggpost I will be giving you all a description of all the interesting people I had the opportunity to meet and discuss a wide range of issues with.
I landed, together with my policy advisor Daniel Sjöberg, in Dhaka in the early morning of Sunday 20 June at about 04.30. After checking in to the hotel and grabbing a quick breakfast and some 30 minutes of sleep we headed straight to the Osmani Memorial Auditorium for the opening of the international conference. The conference was attended by many highly interesting people such as attorney William Sloan from Canada, UK terrorism expert Chris Blackburn, Professor Maxim Dubayev of Russia, Dr Peter Custers from the Netherlands, Ms Parvin Ardalan, human rights activist from Iran, Senator Haji Mohammed Adeel from Pakistan and the former speakers of India and Nepal Mr P.A. Sangma and Professor Daman Dhungana.
During the morning session in the Osmani Auditorium I gave a speech on my view on fundamentalism and extremism and the need to fight them through the promotion of an open and tolerant society. Several other speakers also addressed the conference with thought provoking speeches.
During the lunch break the international delegates (about a dozen or so) were taken back to the hotel for a nice lunch meeting hosted by the state secretary at the foreign office and was also attended by the Minister of Finance. The Foreign Minister was supposed to have attended but had just been forced to leave for Europe on urgent business.
After lunch the conference continued at the Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel with three working groups with the goal to start ironing out a Dhaka declaration to be adopted later that evening in plenary. I chaired the working group on the topic Religious Militancy: Regional and Global Perspectives. The work was intense and interesting with many good interventions but also constructive as a general consensus regarding a common text was reached among the delegates. When the working groups had all concluded their work all the delegates returned to the Osmani Memorial Auditorium for a plenary session where the Dhaka declaration was adopted.
By now it was already about 6 pm local time and it was some 30-odd hours since I had last slept. But the day was far from over, back at the hotel there was an afternoon-tea session with many cabinet ministers attending, Being myself a member of the legal affairs committee of the European Parliament I took great pleasure to be seated next to the Minister for law, justice and parliamentary affairs, Mr Shafique Ahmed and we had one of many interesting discussions during my visit over my first cup of tea in Bangladesh.
After a concluding banquet dinner at the hotel, hosted by the Minister for liberation war affairs and nearly 40 hours without sleep, the first day came to an end.
Alldeles nyss röstade vi i LIBE-utskottet om SWIFT, version 2 – alltså det förnyade avtalet som nu arbetats fram efter att vi förkastade det första avtalet i februari.
Nu har vi sagt att vi vill se ett avtal som kan hjälpa oss att faktiskt bekämpa den terrorism som kräver omfattande finansiering, alltså väldigt stora penningtransaktioner.
Det känns viktigt att avliva diverse myter omkring avtalet. En sådan är att det skulle handla om ALLA internationella penningtransaktioner för ALLA EU-medborgare. Så är det ju absolut inte! Om jag skickar pengar fån Bryssel till min familj i Sverige så kommer den överföringen inte beröras. Viktigt att berätta att transaktioner inom medlemssstater, inom EU samt Norge, Island, Schweiz och Lichtenstein inte omfattas alls.
Nu kommer vi att bygga upp kompetens för att kunna filtrera datan på europeisk mark, så att vi kommer att kunna övervaka integritetsaspekterna och se till att reglerna kring detta efterlevs.
Nu undrar jag vilka av mina svenska kollegor som brutit sina partilinjer och röstat mot förslaget. Själv gillade jag inte allt, bland annat har jag svårt att förlika mig med att det ska dröja fem år innan man utvärderar. Det hade varit klädsamt att det varit samma parlament som röstat för avtalet som också ser till att utvärdera det.
Den som röstar nej kommer att få problem att se kollegor från Spanien och Storbritannien i ögonen. Dessa länder har ju som bekant, tillsammans med USA, drabbats hårt av just den typen av terrorattacker som man kan komma åt med hjälp av just SWIFT.
Jag förutsätter att fortsättning följer…