PHOTO OF THE MONTH – Wilmington, 20 dicembre 2020: Deb Haaland accepts the nomination as first Native American Cabinet secretary heading the Department of Interior
Here were are at the ending of 2020, a year that has challenged us in an unprecedented way and that will mark the years to come. But even so, 2020 has brought more than a global pandemic.
Let’s kick off this December update with a very good piece of news. As anticipated in the previous newsletter, a background report on the Right to Know has been presented in a hearing at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. The hearing took place in a session of the Commission on Culture opened by the General Rapporteur on the Right to Know Sen. Roberto Rampi. Experts, including the director of Access Info Europe Helen Darbishire and members of our Scientific Council Paolo Reale, Claudio Radaelli and Laura Harth took the floor to illustrate the four main pillars of the report which the draft resolution will be based upon: difference with access to information rights; parliamentary debates, public and private media and their monitoring mechanisms; social media and use of algorithm and artificial intelligence in decision-making process. Watch Ingrid Betancourt, Norman Baker, Thubten Wangchen and vice president of the Hungarian Parliament Koloman Brenner stating their support to the Right to Know initiative.
Since we stress the importance of public parliamentary debates, we had a conversation with Carles Puigdemont, MEP and former President of Catalonia, who is soon to be heard, behind closed doors, on the lifting of his parliamentary immunity on the request from the Spanish State. The hearing will take place in the Commission on Legal Affairs of the European Parliament on the 14th of January. As Puigdemont puts it, this case questions the very roots of the European project as the decision taken will be a political one.
This year also delivered a new President of the United States of America. “Once again, the United States have shown that cornerstone is the Constitution. The prove came when Trump, despite appointing two members of the Constitutional Court, failed to overturn the electoral result”, our President Giulio Terzi told in an interview with Italian newspaper Il Tempo on 21 December.
On 22 December, Laura Harth took the floor in a joint hearing organized by the Foreign and Social Affairs Committees of the Chamber of Deputies, on the parliamentary proposal to set up a commission of inquiry into the causes of the outbreak of the pandemic of Sars-CoV-2 and on the efficacy of the measures adopted by the States and the WHO to avoid further spread.
On 30 December, 10 “separatists“, according to Beijing, or 10 “freedom-seeking” youths, according to us, were sentenced to up to three years in jail for fleeing Hong Kong for Taiwan. One day earlier, 19 years old activist Tony Chung was incarcerated after receiving a 4-month sentence for insulting the Chinese flag and illegal assembly. The same day, in Phnom Penh, the Friday Women of Cambodia demonstrated to ask the release of their husbands, sons and brothers, jailed for their membership of support to Sam Rainsy’s party, the now disbanded CNRP. Speaking of abuses, we highlight a statement by Fair Labour Association on the EU-China Investment Deal, “Comprehensive Agreement on Investment” (CAI), in respect of the possibility that the EU sign a deal implicitly accepting forced labour in Xinjiang.
Finally, it is a pleasure to announce that the Global Committee for the Rule of Law “Marco Pannella” has become a supporter of BPUR International, an organization promoting the enactment of an international treaty to ban the political use of religion.
That’s all for this month and this year. Our very best wishes to you and your dear ones.
Asia Jane Leigh