Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

Few understand how ‘sinister’ European Arrest Warrant really is: Freedom Association

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

LONDON, January 6, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – One of the least talked-about of the European Union’s agreements could also be the biggest threat to civil rights, a leading British civil rights watchdog group has said. According to a report by the Freedom Association, the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) is a direct threat to civil rights of EU citizens who can be arrested and extradited automatically, without notice and without evidence presented as to their guilt.

The European Arrest Warrant provisions came into effect in British law in January 2004 and some civil rights watchers continue to warn that they can be used to silence political dissent or to prosecute “thought crimes” such as “racism or xenophobia.”

The Freedom Association submitted a brief to the Joint Committee on Human Rights that is currently sitting to discuss UK extradition policy, in which they said that the EAW was put into place hastily in response to the September 11th attacks in the U.S. As such, its human and civil rights implications were never thought through by legislators who voted for it, they said.

“Whilst our extradition treaty with the USA captures all the headlines, it is through the European Arrest Warrant that the vast majority of UK citizens are extradited,” the group said. Between 2003 and 2009, 69 British citizens were extradited to the U.S., while in a single year, 2009-10, 699 people were extradited to other EU member states under the EAW.

The Freedom Association brief warns that such “purely subjective” offenses have “encouraged governments across the EU to shut down freedom of speech, which also means freedom to offend.” The group warns that under its provisions, people can be extradited for “careless remarks in the heat of an argument.”

“It plays into the hands of those who will use political correctness to stifle freedom of speech.”

They pointed out the wide disparity of criminal offenses between member states. They gave the examples of possession of cannabis and the production of pornography, which are legal in the Netherlands, euthanasia, which is legal in Belgium, and abortion, which is illegal in Poland.

An EAW can be issued by any government to any other in the EU and local police are obliged to arrest the suspect without any evidence of a crime having been committed being presented. A local judge is then allowed to assess the case according to a narrow set of guidelines but is also not presented with any evidence against the suspect.

Citizens can be arrested and extradited for crimes they did not know they had committed, or for relatively minor offenses such as leaving a petrol station without paying or for administrative errors at border crossings. They can also be extradited, after being tried and found guilty in absentia, to serve custodial sentences.

Those detained can spend long periods in jail before facing charges, sometimes weeks or even months, for crimes which might not even have been prosecuted in Britain or even for offences which are not crimes in Britain at all. Other governments, such as Ireland and France, have either refused outright to go along with the EAW provisions, or have implemented safeguards for citizens. Not so the UK.

The Freedom Association said that the situation has recently become even worse with the adoption by the government of the European Investigation Order, which allows foreign police forces to order British forces to gather evidence, including bank statements, on UK citizens.

The first duty of a state, the group said, is to “protect its citizens, ensure a fair trial and ensure habeas corpus,” the legal provision that prevents unlawful detainment.

“Like any tool of power to control citizens, national governments seem keen to use [the EAW],” the report said.

11,000 EAWs were issued in 2007, up from 6,900 in 2005. The figures show that there have been more warrants issued against UK citizens than any other EU state, due, the group says, to the reputation of British judges for lack of diligence in applying existing grounds for refusal.

“Thus, not only has the UK implemented an extradition treaty, due to its membership of the EU, which has lowered extradition safeguards, but they have also suffered most under that law.”

David Blunkett, the Labour government’s Home Secretary when the legislation was adopted, admitted that he did not realize at the time the vast scope of the EAW or the problems it would cause. Blunkett insisted in an interview in August that he was “right” to have adopted the legislation, but said that he had been “insufficiently sensitive” about how they could be “overused.”

Nick Hallett, writing on the website of the UK Independence Party, said that few realize just what a “sinister piece of legislation” the EAW truly is. Hallett cited the case of Dr. Gerald Fredrick Toben, a German-born Australian citizen who is known for his anti-Semitism and revisionist historical writing denying the Holocaust.

German law makes Holocaust denial a crime, but it is legal in both Australia and Britain. Nevertheless, under the conditions of the EAW, Toben was arrested in 2008 at Heathrow airport while en route from the U.S. to Dubai. At that time, the three charges of racism, xenophobia and cybercrime, which were not crimes in Britain, were found by a British judge to be insufficient grounds for extradition. 

German authorities argued that Toben’s comments were available to be read in Germany, and therefore had been “published” in Germany.

Hallett commented, “So a man who wrote something that was not illegal in the country where it was written was arrested by another country where it was not illegal at the behest of a totally separate foreign nation.”

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PBS defends decision to air pro-abortion documentary ‘After Tiller’

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By Dustin Siggins

Under pressure for showing the pro-abortion documentary "After Tiller" on Labor Day, PBS' "POV" affiliate has defended the decision in response to an inquiry from LifeSiteNews.

The producers of the film say their goal with the documentary, which tells the stories of four late-term abortion doctors after the killing of infamous late-term abortionist George Tiller, is to "change public perception of third-trimester abortion providers by building a movement dedicated to supporting their right to work with a special focus on maintaining their safety.” 

POV told LifeSiteNews, "We do believe that 'After Tiller' adds another dimension to an issue that is being debated widely." Asked if POV will show a pro-life documentary, the organization said that it "does not have any other films currently scheduled on this issue. POV received almost 1000 film submissions each year through our annual call for entries and we welcome the opportunity to consider films with a range of points of view."

When asked whether POV was concerned about alienating its viewership -- since PBS received more than $400 million in federal tax dollars in 2012 and half of Americans identify as pro-life -- POV said, "The filmmakers would like the film to add to the discussion around these issues. Abortion is already a legal procedure."

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"This is an issue that people feel passionately about and will have a passionate response to. We are hopeful that the majority of people can see it for what it is, another lens on a very difficult issue." 

In addition to the documentary, POV has written materials for community leaders and teachers to share. A cursory examination of the 29-page document, which is available publicly, appears to include links to outside sources that defend Roe v. Wade, an examination of the constitutional right to privacy, and "a good explanation of the link between abortion law and the right to privacy," among other information.

Likewise, seven clips recommended for student viewing -- grades 11 and beyond -- include scenes where couples choose abortion because the children are disabled. Another shows pro-life advocates outside a doctor's child's school, and a third is described as showing "why [one of the film's doctors] chose to offer abortion services and includes descriptions of what can happen when abortion is illegal or unavailable, including stories of women who injured themselves when they tried to terminate their own pregnancies and children who were abused because they were unwanted."

Another clip "includes footage of protesters, as well as news coverage of a hearing in the Nebraska State Legislature in which abortion opponents make reference to the idea that a fetus feels pain." The clip's description fails to note that it is a scientifically proven fact that unborn children can feel pain.

The documentary is set to air on PBS at 10 p.m. Eastern on Labor Day.

Kirsten Andersen contributed to this article.

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He defended ‘real’ marriage, and then was beheaded for it

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By Pete Baklinski

A Christian man was executed during the night by a high-profile ruler after making an uncompromising defense of real marriage.

The Christian, who was renowned for his holiness, had told the ruler in public that his relationship with his partner was “against the law” of God. The Christian’s words enraged the ruler’s partner who successfully plotted to have him permanently silenced.

John the Baptist was first imprisoned before he was beheaded. The Catholic Church honors him today, August 29, as a martyr and saint.

While John’s death happened a little less than 2,000 years ago, his heroic stance for real marriage is more pertinent today than ever before.

According to the Gospel of Mark, the ruler Herod had ‘married’ his brother’s wife Herodias. When John told Herod with complete frankness, “It is against the law for you to have your brother’s wife,” Herodias became “furious” with him to the point of wanting him killed for his intolerance, bullying, and hate-speech.

Herodias found her opportunity to silence John by having her daughter please Herod during a dance at a party. Herod offered the girl anything she wanted. The daughter turned to her mother for advice, and Herodias said to ask for John’s head on a platter.

Those who fight for real marriage today can learn three important lessons from John’s example.

  1. Those proudly living in ungodly and unnatural relationships — often referred to in today’s sociopolitical sphere as ‘marriage’ — will despise those who tell them what they are doing is wrong. Real marriage defenders must expect opposition to their message from the highest levels.
  2. Despite facing opposition, John was not afraid to defend God’s plan for marriage in the public square, even holding a secular ruler accountable to this plan. John, following the third book of the Hebrew Bible (Leviticus 20:21), held that a man marrying the wife of his brother was an act of “impurity” and therefore abhorrent to God. Real marriage defenders must boldly proclaim today that God is the author of marriage, an institution he created to be a life-long union between one man and one woman from which children arise and in which they are best nurtured. Marriage can be nothing more, nothing less.
  3. John did not compromise on the truth of marriage as revealed by God, even to the point of suffering imprisonment and death for his unpopular position. Real marriage defenders must never compromise on the truth of marriage, even if the government, corporate North America, and the entire secular education system says otherwise. They must learn to recognize the new “Herodias” of today who despises those raising a voice against her lifestyle. They must stand their ground no matter what may come, no matter what the cost.

John the Baptist was not intolerant or a bigot, he simply lived the word of God without compromise, speaking the word of truth when it was needed, knowing that God’s way is always the best way. Were John alive today, he would be at the forefront of the grassroots movement opposing the social and political agenda to remake marriage in the image of man.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

If he were alive today he might speak simple but eloquent words such as, “It is against God’s law for two men or two women to be together as a husband and wife in marriage. Marriage can only be between a man and a woman.” 

He would most likely be hated. He would be ridiculed. He would surely have the human rights tribunals throwing the book at him. But he would be speaking the truth and have God as his ally. 

The time may not be far off when those who defend real marriage, like John, will be presented with the choice of following Caesar or making the ultimate sacrifice. May God grant his faithful the grace to persevere in whatever might come. St. John the Baptist, pray for us!

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The Wunderlich family Mike Donnelly / Home School Legal Defence Association
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German homeschoolers regain custody of children, vow to stay and fight for freedom

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

One year to the day since a team of 20 social workers, police officers, and special agents stormed a homeschooling family’s residence near Darmstadt, Germany, and forcibly removed all four of the family’s children, aged 7 to 14, a state appeals court has returned custody of the children to their parents.

The reason given for the removal was that parents Dirk and Petra Wunderlich continued to homeschool their children in defiance of a German ban on home education.

The children were returned three weeks after being taken, following an international outcry spearheaded by the Home School Legal Defense Association.

However, a lower court imposed the condition on the parents that their children were required to attend state schools in order for them to be released, and took legal custody of the children in order to prevent the family from leaving the country.

In a decision that was still highly critical of the parents and of homeschooling, the appeals court decided that the action of the lower court in putting the children in the custody of the state was “disproportional” and ordered complete custody returned to the parents, according to a statement by the HSLDA.

The Wunderlichs, who began homeschooling again when the court signaled it would rule this way, said they were very pleased with the result, but noted that the court’s harsh words about homeschooling indicated that their battle was far from over.

“We have won custody and we are glad about that,” Dirk said.

“The court said that taking our children away was not proportionate—only because the authorities should apply very high fines and criminal prosecution instead. But this decision upholds the absurd idea that homeschooling is child endangerment and an abuse of parental authority.”

The Wunderlichs are now free to emigrate to another country where homeschooling is legal, if they choose, but they said they intend to remain in Germany and work for educational freedom.

“While we no longer fear that our children will be taken away as long as we are living in Hessen, it can still happen to other people in Germany,” Dirk said. “Now we fear crushing fines up to $75,000 and jail. This should not be tolerated in a civilized country.”

Petra Wunderlich said, "We could not do this without the help of HSLDA,” but cautioned that, “No family can fight the powerful German state—it is too much, too expensive."

"If it were not for HSLDA and their support, I am afraid our children would still be in state custody. We are so grateful and thank all homeschoolers who have helped us by helping HSLDA.”

HSLDA’s Director for Global Outreach, Michael Donnelly, said he welcomed the ruling but was concerned about the court’s troubling language.

“We welcome this ruling that overturns what was an outrageous abuse of judicial power,” he said.

“The lower court decision to take away legal custody of the children essentially imprisoned the Wunderlich family in Germany. But this decision does not go far enough. The court has only grudgingly given back custody and has further signaled to local authorities that they should still go after the Wunderlichs with criminal charges or fines.”

Donnelly pointed out that such behavior in a democratic country is problematic.

“Imprisonment and fines for homeschooling are outside the bounds of what free societies that respect fundamental human rights should tolerate,” he explained.

“Freedom and fundamental human rights norms demand respect for parental decision making in education. Germany’s state and national policies that permit banning home education must be changed.

"Such policies from a leading European democracy not only threaten the rights of tens of thousands of German families but establish a dangerous example that other countries may be tempted to follow,” Donnelly warned.

HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris said that acting on behalf of the Wunderlichs was an important stand for freedom.

“The Wunderlichs are a good and decent family whose basic human rights were violated and are still threatened,” Farris said.

“Their fight is our fight," Farris stressed, "and we will continue to support those who stand against German policy banning homeschooling that violates international legal norms. Free people cannot tolerate such oppression and we will do whatever we can to fight for families like the Wunderlichs both here in the United States and abroad. We must stand up to this kind of persecution where it occurs or we risk seeing own freedom weakened.”

Visit the HSLDA website dedicated to helping the Wunderlich family and other German homeschoolers here.

Contact the German embassy in the U.S. here.

Contact the German embassy in Canada here.

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