Humanist position on the protection of human rights and freedoms in the Constitution of the European Union
The debate on the future of Europe has been thus far focused on financial and organisational dimensions of the Union. No one questions the importance of these issues, however, an increasing number of citizens of the Member States and candidate countries, particularly the members of the European humanist community, express the view that Europe of the future should be more conscious of its spiritual and moral heritage and should respect the fundamental principles resulting from its own identity and its values, as set out in the preamble to the Charter of Fundamental Rights:
The Union is founded on the indivisible, universal values of human dignity, freedom, equality and solidarity; it is based on the principles of democracy and the rule of law. It places the individual at the heart of its activities, by establishing the citizenship of the Union and by creating an area of freedom, security and justice.
Moreover, in pursuance of the realisation of these values, the European Union should pay more attention to the specific traditions and current situation in the candidate countries, where - for various historical, cultural and political reasons - the fundamental human rights and democratic principles are not fully respected. In some of these countries, particularly Poland and Slovakia, discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation or belief is widespread - both in law and practice. Women, gay people, humanists, artists, members of religious and national minorities are not equal before law, are not free to express their views and pursue their life goals, life styles and life stances. On the contrary, they are discriminated, marginalised and even prosecuted for exercising their basic rights and freedoms guaranteed under international human rights pacts and conventions.
In view of what has been said above, deeply convinced that that it is necessary to strengthen the protection of human rights and freedoms in Europe and all over the world, we call upon the members of the European Convention and other members of the EU decision making bodies to introduce the following amendments to the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and European Convention of Human Rights and introduce them to the Constitution of the European Union.
We propose to amend the preamble in the following way:
The Union contributes to the preservation and to the development of these common values by recognising that the protection of human rights and liberties shall be its fundamental task and principle, superior in particular to the principles of subsidiarity and respect for the cultural and constitutional traditions of the Member States. In all other fields, the Union fully respects the diversity of the cultures and traditions of the peoples of Europe as well as the national identities of the Member States and the organisation of their public authorities at national, regional and local levels. It seeks to promote balanced and sustainable development and ensures free movement of persons, goods, services and capital, and the freedom of establishment.
This Charter reaffirms, with due regard for the powers and tasks of the Community and the Union
and the principle of subsidiarity, the rights as they result, in particular, from the constitutional traditions and international obligations common to the Member States, the Treaty on European Union, the Community Treaties, the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the Social Charters adopted by the Community and by the Council of Europe and the case-law of the Court of Justice of the European Communities and of the European Court of Human Rights.
Considering that human rights violations are widespread all over the world, in view of its obligations under international human rights instruments, the Union shall take measures to promote and strengthen the protection of human rights and liberties in all countries of the world.
Right to life
1. Everyone has the right to life.
2. No one shall be condemned to the death penalty, or executed.
We propose to amend this article by inserting the following clauses:
Right to the integrity of the person
1. Everyone has the right to respect for his or her physical and mental integrity.
2. In the fields of medicine and biology, the following must be respected in particular:
We propose to amend this article by striking subparagraph prohibiting reproductive cloning of human beings.
Prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment
No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
We propose to amend this article by adding the following:
No one shall be subjected to torture, inhuman or degrading treatment, including sexual mutilation. Any kind of physical or moral violence, including domestic violence, shall be prohibited.
Right to liberty and security
Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person.
We propose to amend Article 6 by adding the amended Art. 5, subparagraph 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights. We further propose to amend this subparagraph by striking at the end of clause "e" the following words:
"of persons of unsound mind, alcoholics or drug addicts, or vagrants"
No one shall be deprived of his or her liberty, save in the following cases and in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law:
Respect for private and family life
Everyone has the right to respect for his or her private and family life, home and communications.
We propose to amend this article by adding the following:
These guarantees may not be interpreted as restricting or adversely affecting the rights and freedoms of individual members of the family or the household.
Right to marry and right to found a family
The right to marry and the right to found a family shall be guaranteed in accordance with the national laws governing the exercise of these rights.
We propose to amend Article 9 as follows:
Everyone over 15 years of age, regardless of the sex of people involved or their sexual orientation, has the right to contract or dissolve marriage and the right to found a family.
Freedom of expression and information
We propose to amend Article 11 by adding the following:
All restrictions of the freedom of expression and the freedom of the media based on
racial, national, ideological or religious grounds shall be forbidden.
Freedom of assembly and of association
We propose to amend this article by adding the following clause: (Declaration 11 annexed to the Treaty of Amsterdam on the status of churches and non-confessional organisations).
The European Union respects and does not prejudice the status under national law of churches and religious associations or communities in the Member States.
The European Union equally respects the status of philosophical and non-confessional organisations.
Freedom of the arts and sciences
The arts and scientific research shall be free of constraint. Academic freedom shall be respected.
We propose to amend Article 13 by adding the following:
Freedom of arts and studies, including all sciences and humanities, may not be restricted in any form whatsoever.
Right to education
Any restriction as to the right to or the scope of education, based on moral, social national, ideological or religious grounds shall be forbidden.
Right to asylum
The right to asylum shall be guaranteed with due respect for the rules of the Geneva Convention of 28 July 1951 and the Protocol of 31 January 1967 relating to the status of refugees and in accordance with the Treaty establishing the European Community.
We propose to amend Article 18 by adding the following:
Any person who is persecuted on political, religious or racial grounds or whose freedom or fundamental rights, including his/her physical or moral integrity, is threatened, has a right to asylum, as well as a right of residence in the State where he/she seeks asylum until the conclusion of the relevant procedure.
Equality between men and women
Equality between men and women must be ensured in all areas, including employment, work and pay.
The principle of equality shall not prevent the maintenance or adoption of measures providing for specific advantages in favour of the under-represented sex.
We propose to amend Article 23 as follows:
We propose to insert after Article 24, a new Article 25: "The rights of young people" setting out the following:
Social security and social assistance
1. The Union recognises and respects the entitlement to social security benefits and social services providing protection in cases such as maternity, illness, industrial accidents, dependency or old age, and in the case of loss of employment,
in accordance with the rules laid down by Community law and national laws and practices.
We propose to amend Article 34 by:
Everyone has the right of access to preventive health care and the right to benefit from medical treatment and other medical services
under the conditions established by national laws and practices. A high level of human health protection shall be ensured in the definition and implementation of all Union policies and activities.
We propose to amend Article 35:
Any restrictions as to the access or the scope of health care services on moral, social, ideological or religious grounds shall be forbidden.
Prohibition of abuse of rights
Nothing in this Charter shall be interpreted as implying any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms recognised in this Charter or at their limitation to a greater extent than is provided for herein.
We propose to amend Article 54 by adding at the end the following:
All restrictions on human and civil rights and liberties, based on national, ideological or religious grounds shall be forbidden.