Denmark brokers new human rights reform package

Following a high-level conference in Copenhagen, the Council of Europe has formally adopted a declaration on human rights reform

Under the auspices of Denmark’s current chairmanship of the Council of Europe, justice ministers from more than 20 European countries met last week in Copenhagen for a conference that was the culmination of 18 months of hard work.

Taking back control
The driving force behind what is now known as the Copenhagen Declaration has been a desire expressed by a number of European countries – including Denmark – to bring human rights issues back under the judiciaries of the individual countries.

The Danish government has been increasingly frustrated by cases such as that of Croatian citizen Gimi Levakovic, who despite having more than 20 convictions cannot be deported from Denmark due to an interpretation of Article 8 of the Human Rights Convention regarding his right to family life.

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It has also been impossible to deport some Romanian criminals because conditions in Romanian prisons have been judged as being too bad, reports Information.

Out of minor matters
“The International Court of Human Rights should not be used to adjudicate on minor matters that the individual countries can easily settle themselves. It should be used to solve the major principle-related human rights problems that we have in Europe,” said the Danish justice minister, Søren Pape Poulsen, who chaired the meeting.

The new agreement is also designed to protect human rights in general and to provide instruments to crack down on countries that overstep international human rights laws.

“We need a system that can come down hard on countries that obviously don’t protect human rights,” added Poulsen.

In addition to the above, the agreement also makes it easier for individual countries to involve themselves in principle-related cases and for countries to band together to appeal problematic verdicts.