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1-in-4 don’t trust national courts to be free and fair, so how do we protect the rule of law?

respiro888 @, 2021

The European Union is founded on its commitment to promote and protect fundamental rights, democracy and the rule of law. And we need you to participate in securing those foundations.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen says: “They are part of our common identity as Europeans. The rule of law protects people from the rule of the powerful.”

Yet, trust in the rule of law is far from universal. And President von Der Leyen acknowledges that the EU faces “various challenges” in upholding it.

A major part of this year’s Fundamental Rights Forum 2021 is dedicated to tackling those issues, under the theme: ‘Defending the rule of law and securing access to justice’.

More than one quarter of Europeans believe judges in their country are never free from government influence, according to the 2020 Fundamental Rights Survey carried out by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA).

As such, protecting the rule of law is one of the most pressing human rights challenges of today. And, by joining us at this year’s Forum, you can contribute to tackling it.

In 2020, the European Commission published its first annual report on the rule of law situation across the EU.

It identified four key areas of work:

  1. Justice systems - Reforms needed to strengthen judicial independence, while the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated calls to make those systems fit for the digital age.
  1. Anti-corruption frameworks - Effective criminal investigations, prosecution and adjudication of corruption cases, including high-level corruption, is still a challenge in several Member States.
  1. Media freedom and pluralism - The media is essential in fighting disinformation, but journalists still face threats and attacks in a number of Member States.
  1. Institutional checks and balances - State power requires democratic oversight. Controls are key to addressing concerns over excessive use of accelerated and emergency legislation.

EU Vice-President for Values and Transparency, Věra Jourová, summed up the challenge at the report’s launch.

She said: “Each citizen deserves to have access to independent judges, to benefit from free and pluralistic media and to trust that their fundamental rights are respected.

“Only then, can we call ourselves a true Union of democracies.”

Participants at the Fundamental Rights Forum 2021 are among the first to hear the most powerful stories from human rights defenders.

Registrations will open soon.
In the meantime, subscribe for updates to stay well informed.

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