Human Rights

Why QCEA is working on Human Rights

We believe that there is that of God in everyone. Human Rights issues have therefore been a core concern for Quakers throughout our history. Our work on Human Rights has focused on a number of distinct issues on which the Council of Europe and the EU have policy development and decision-making roles.

Current Work

The EU’s Response to the Threat of Terrorism

The Threat of Terrorism – though not new in the EU Member States – moved centre-stage in 2001 and become one of the primary focuses in a wide range of policy areas.

QCEA has actively monitored this area of policy since 2005 and has produced a series of briefing papers and a report.

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Past Work

The Right to Conscientious Objection in Europe: A Review of the Current Situation

Aware of the fact that conscientious objectors are still treated harshly in some European countries and that the right to conscientious objection is not even recognized in all the member states of the Council of Europe, the Quaker Council for European Affairs commissioned this report to highlight the problems which still remain in Europe with regard to the right to conscientious objection to military service.


Previous Work: Asylum and Immigration Policy

EU Asylum and Immigration Policy Briefing Papers

In 2004, QCEA produced a series of briefing papers dealing with EU Asylum and Immigration Policy.

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Strangers in a Foreign Land

Under the title, Strangers in a Foreign Land, QCEA organised a conference on campaigning for better treatment of refugees, migrants and asylum seekers for its Associate Members in October 2000.

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Current Work

Criminal Justice

Quakers have always taken an interest in criminal justice matters. Our belief that there is that of God in everyone prompts us to see offenders as human beings with dignity and rights and to care for their welfare no matter what their crimes. We do not believe that anyone is outside of God’s love. Crime is an area where both forgiveness and justice are needed. Quakers’ engagement with social and political problems means we are conscious of the root causes of crime and their effects on individuals’ behavior.

QCEA’s current work at the EU level

Not all 27 EU Member States have the same criminal law and the bulk of justice policy remains where it always was, in the hands of individual Member States’ governments. Neither does the EU run prisons.

However, the European Commission is taking an increased interest in detention because it understands that different standards of detention in some countries undermine the mutual trust that is meant to underpin judicial cooperation. This matters to the European Commission, among whose tasks is the implementation of EU law.

For this reason, the Commission issued a Green Paper for consultation (which closed on 30 November 2011) seeking views on whether the EU’s justice policies are disrupted by the uneven and (in some cases) unacceptable detention practices around the EU.  We believe a strong response is important.  Although detention remains (and will remain) the responsibility of Member States, if the Commission feels that poor conditions are disrupting cooperation in criminal justice matters between Member States, it may decide to do more to help Member States raise their standards, as well as offering greater support to existing inspection and monitoring arrangements for places of detention.

QCEA believes the consultation has the potential to shape EU criminal justice priorities in years to come.  We have produced our own response to the consultation, laying out our position and calling for action in specific areas.

QCEA’s ongoing work on criminal justice issues

QCEA has a particular interest in prisoners’ welfare, both in prison and after their release back into the community. We are working on:

Women in Prison (since 2003)

Alternatives to Imprisonment (since 2008)

The Social Re-Integration of Ex-Prisoners (since 2010)