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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Lisa Bourne

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Pressure mounts as Catholic Relief Services fails to act on VP in gay ‘marriage’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne
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Rick Estridge, Catholic Relief Services' Vice President of Overseas Finance, is in a same-sex "marriage," public records show. Twitter

BALTIMORE, MD, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Nearly a week after news broke that a Catholic Relief Services vice president had contracted a homosexual “marriage” while also publicly promoting homosexuality on social media in conflict with Church teaching, the US Bishops international relief agency has taken no apparent steps to address the matter and is also not talking.

CRS Vice President of Overseas Finance Rick Estridge entered into a homosexual “marriage” in Maryland the same month in 2013 that he was promoted by CRS to vice president, public records show.

Despite repeated efforts at a response, CRS has not acknowledged LifeSiteNews’ inquiries during the week. And the agency told ChurchMilitant.com Thursday that no action had been taken beyond discussion of the situation and CRS would have no further comment.

"Nothing has changed,” CRS Senior Manager for Communications Tom said. “No further statement will be made."

LifeSiteNews first contacted CRS for a response prior to the April 20 release of the report and did not receive a reply, however Estridge’s Facebook and LinkeIn profiles were then removed just prior to the report’s release.

CRS also did not acknowledge LifeSiteNews’ follow-up inquiry later in the week.

“Having an executive who publicly celebrates a moral abomination shows the ineffectiveness of CRS' Catholic identity training,” Lepanto Institute President Michael Hichborn told LifeSiteNews. “How many others who hate Catholic moral teaching work at CRS?”

CRS did admit it was aware Estridge was in a “same-sex civil marriage” to Catholic News Agency (CNA) Monday afternoon, and confirmed he was VP of Overseas Finance and had been with CRS for 16 years.

“At this point we are in deliberations on this matter,” Price told CNA that day.

ChurchMilitant.com also reported that according to its sources, it was a well-known fact at CRS headquarters in Baltimore that Estridge was in a homosexual “marriage.” 

“There is no way CRS didn't know one of its executives entered into a mock-marriage until we broke the story,” Hichborn said. “The implication is clear; CRS top brass had no problem with having an executive so deliberately flouting Catholic moral teaching.”

“The big question is,” Hichborn continued, “what other morally repugnant matters is CRS comfortable with?”

While the wait continues for the Bishops’ relief organization to address the matter, those behind the report and other critics of prior instances of CRS involvement in programs and groups that violate Church principles continue to call for a thorough and independent review of the agency programs and personnel.

“How long should it take to call an employee into your office, tell him that his behavior is incompatible with the mission of the organization, and ask for his resignation?” asked Population Research Institute President Steven Mosher. “About thirty minutes, I would say.”

“The Catholic identity of CRS is at stake,” Hichborn stated. “If CRS does nothing, then there is no way faithful Catholics can trust the integrity of CRS's programs or desire to make its Catholicity preeminent.” 

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Thousands of marriage activists gathered in D.C. June 19, 2014 for the 2nd March for Marriage. Dustin Siggins / LifeSiteNews.com
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Watch the March for Marriage online—only at LifeSiteNews

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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- At noon on Saturday, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and dozens of cosponsors, coalition partners, and speakers will launch the third annual March for Marriage. Thousands of people are expected to take place in this important event to show the support real marriage has among the American people.

As the sole media sponsor of the March, LifeSiteNews is proud to exclusively livestream the March. Click here to see the rally at noon Eastern Time near the U.S. Capitol, and the March to the Supreme Court at 1:00 Eastern Time.

And don't forget to pray that God's Will is done on Tuesday, when the Supreme Court hears arguments about marriage!

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Hillary Clinton: ‘Religious beliefs’ against abortion ‘have to be changed’

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By Ben Johnson

NEW YORK CITY, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Speaking to an influential gathering in New York City on Thursday, Hillary Clinton declared that “religious beliefs” that condemn "reproductive rights," “have to be changed.”

“Yes, we've cut the maternal mortality rate in half, but far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health,” Hillary told the Women in the World Summit yesterday.

Liberal politicians use “reproductive health” as a blanket term that includes abortion. However, Hillary's reference echoes National Organization for Women (NOW) president Terry O’Neill's op-ed from last May that called abortion “an essential measure to prevent the heartbreak of infant mortality.”

The Democratic presidential hopeful added that governments should throw the power of state coercion behind the effort to redefine traditional religious dogmas.

“Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources, and political will,” she said. “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.”

The line received rousing applause at the feminist conference, hosted in Manhattan's Lincoln Center by Tina Brown.

She also cited religious-based objections to the HHS mandate, funding Planned Parenthood, and the homosexual and transgender agenda as obstacles that the government must defeat.

“America moves ahead when all women are guaranteed the right to make their own health care choices, not when those choices are taken away by an employer like Hobby Lobby,” she said. The Supreme Court ruled last year that closely held corporations had the right to opt out of the provision of ObamaCare requiring them to provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization to employees with no co-pay – a mandate that violates the teachings of the Catholic Church and other Christian bodies.

Clinton lamented that “there are those who offer themselves as leaders...who would defund the country's leading provider of family planning,” Planned Parenthood, “and want to let health insurance companies once again charge women just because of our gender.”

“We move forward when gay and transgender women are embraced...not fired from good jobs because of who they love or who they are,” she added.

It is not the first time the former first lady had said that liberal social policies should displace religious views. In a December 2011 speech in Geneva, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said perhaps the “most challenging issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens.” These objections, she said, are “not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation.”

While opinions on homosexuality are “still evolving,” in time “we came to learn that no [religious] practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us.”

Her views, if outside the American political mainstream, have been supported by the United Nations. The UN Population Fund stated in its 2012 annual report that religious objections to abortion-inducing drugs had to be overcome. According to the UNFPA report, “‘duty-bearers’ (governments and others)” have a responsibility to assure that all forms of contraception – including sterilization and abortion-inducing ‘emergency contraception’ – are viewed as acceptable – “But if they are not acceptable for cultural, religious or other reasons, they will not be used.”

Two years later, the United Nations' Committee on the Rights of the Child instructed the Vatican last February that the Catholic Church should amend canon law “relating to abortion with a view to identifying circumstances under which access to abortion services may be permitted.”

At Thursday's speech, Hillary called the legal, state-enforced implementation of feminist politics “the great unfinished business of the 21st century,” which must be accomplished “not just for women but for everyone — and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States.”

“These are not just women's fights. These have to be America's fights and the world's fights,” she said. “There's still much to be done in our own country, much more to be done around the world, but I'm confident and optimistic that if we get to work, we will get it done together.”

American critics called Clinton's suggestion that a nation founded upon freedom of religion begin using state force to change religious practices unprecedented.

“Never before have we seen a presidential candidate be this bold about directly confronting the Catholic Church's teachings on abortion,” said Bill Donohue of the Catholic League.

“In one sense, this shows just how extreme the pro-abortion caucus actually is,” Ed Morrissey writes at HotAir.com. “Running for president on the basis of promising to use the power of government to change 'deep seated cultural codes [and] religious beliefs' might be the most honest progressive slogan in history.”

He hoped that, now that she had called for governments to change religious doctrines, “voters will now see the real Hillary Clinton, the one who dismisses their faith just the same as Obama did, and this time publicly rather than in a private fundraiser.”

Donohue asked Hillary “to take the next step and tell us exactly what she plans to do about delivering on her pledge. Not only would practicing Catholics like to know, so would Evangelicals, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and all those who value life from conception to natural death.”

You may watch Hillary's speech below.

Her comments on religion begin at approximately 9:00. 

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