Kids and stuff
Consider the possibility that European human rights policy took seriously children’s suffering – their exposure, for example, to the evils of physical abuse, poverty, inadequate or absent health care, life in homes where domestic abuse is a norm, rather than an exception, or being placed in refugee camps barely distinguishable from concentration camps.
There are many of these cases. A Swedish child, looking for asylum, was refused health care last week because the Migration Office had been unclear about what rules apply to asylum seeking people and health care. The hospital won’t treat him unless they’re compensated. Sweden is also noted for deporting children to notorious refugee camps on Malta. More than half of Spanish children have suffered domestic abuse, and the Spanish state consistently fail in living up their obligations of human rights for refugees.
Meanwhile in the Netherlands, many young immigrants are suffering from
psychological trauma without getting help. (Really, I wonder about the coalition government partner Partij voor de Vrijheid’s successes, because apparently Dutch integration is going rather well. The Swedish Democrats suggested last week that doctors should be forced to report paperless care-seeking people to authorities, to facilitate deportation. Luckily, a Swedish social liberal has, a year after the party decided to back the issue, decided to put down a motion in October 2010 for the opposite: free health care to the most exposed people.
At this point, you can imagine how Liberal party member Ullenhag’s party comrade, Cecilia Malmström, has ended up in one of the most powerful institutions in Europe, in one of the administrative units with the most power to help Europeans exposed to violence. For being a long time a rather placable defender of human rights (during her career in Europarl carefully diverging too much from the views of the European Commission) and children’s rights, it is now she that is meant to drive human rights policy forward in the Union, and she who can lead her administration towards a sustainable and children-friendly policy where European children and asylum-seeking children do not get beaten up by unfriendly authorities.
Welding this power has led her to the decision to stop her engagement for human rights, instead focusing on pleasing the Council of Ministers. I get the feeling that the Swedish Liberals are afraid of challenging the authorities. Their policies are certainly more alike to Conservatism and nationalism now, than social liberalism (to which Liberaldemokraterna is a consequence). Is it possible that they would rather go with the Swedish Conservative line against health care to the paperless? The Conservatives have long been the only party in Sweden, now joined by our nationalists, to oppose free care for paperless immigrants. I sadly have doubts that the Liberals are courageous enough to stand up against the establishment. Cecilia Malmström certainly is increasing my doubts every day.
The people helping children the most are not ECPAT, Save The Children or the politicians. On the contrary they make a comfortable amount of money lobbying for internet filters.
Children’s rights movements are an industry like all other industries. Unless they can show that they are doing something, they do not get their funds. Luckily, many European countries are interested in blocking hate speech sites, politically inflammatory sites, restricting blogs and limiting access to gambling sites. Or computer games. The ease with which a blocking policy for child pornography can be pushed is easy cash. And ultimately it ends up blocking access to knowledge for children, rather than protecting them.
The children instead benefit from the brave people who work with immigrants, who care for them, hide them from deportation, and bring attention to their exposed position. Not only are these organisations under-funded, they are also over-worked. You wonder who is supporting their activities. Well, not the politicians who send homosexual Iraqi couples back to Iraq or Christian Iraqis to a country where they have massacres of Christians. The Swedish government are, for some reason, supported by a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights. At least they haven’t been frustrated by their own High Court going against them, as has the UK Home Office.
For inexplicable reasons, Commissioner Malmström has now suggested that children shall be granted rights they’ve already had since the year 2000. How progressive. All member states have already signed the UN protocol for children’s rights with regards to trafficking and online pornography. The last signatory member state was Czech Republic who signed it in 2005. That’s five years ago. This isn’t a move for children’s rights, it’s a move against them. It’s not a sign of progession, it’s a sign of cowardice.
Since Cecilia Malmström also considers children who are engaging in begging to be trafficked, at least if these children are from Romania or Bulgaria, it’s no wonder she hasn’t protested the Nicolas Sarkoszy proposal of keeping Bulgaria and Romania out of Schengen for another four years. Romanian EU-minister Bogdan Aurescu commented on the deportations to EUObserver. I would have suspected that this is because he is a nationalist, like many other European politicians, but his conservative majority party is not. ”We do not accept any restriction of freedom of movement,” he said. ”After 50 years of Communism, it is a very special and important right we have achieved.”
Isn’t it awkward that Malmström in 2005 was convinced that Bulgaria and Romania would complete the union?
But my favourite quote is probably this Cecilia Malmström quote from March 15th 2001, from the time when she was an active parliamentarian: ”Allow me to conclude by saying that the reports that will be discussed after mine show that there are also violations of human rights within the EU. Obviously we need to deal with this. If we want to be credible internally, we also need to have a sound policy externally.”
Perhaps Cecilia Malmström should consider if the reverse might not be even more true.