Thursday, October 4, 2018

From Same-Sex marriage to Multiple Parenthood

Redefining family in Holland

I received a lot of questions on whether same-sex marriages have an influence on the redefinitions of the institute of family in the Netherlands and if so, to what extent. 

The Dutch Government believed that the Dutch society had changed considerably during the past decades. For this reason, they established a State Committee to re-evaluate parenthood. The report of the State Committee called "Child and Parents in the 21st century" was presented in 2016.

The most important aim of this report was to equal the genetical bond between the parents and the child with the intention to parenthood. Therefore, they called for a redefinition of parenthood. Besides this, the reports calls for the establishment of juridical frameworks for different forms of families. Additionally, the report calls for the legalization of multiple parenthood (but with a limit to four parents with two different households) and for a regulation of surrogacy.

The report claims that the rights and best interests of children should be safeguarded in different situations. However, reading the report, I conclude that only a minimum of the interests for the child have been met, just enough not to harm their fundamental rights. The Committee mentions for example that the children have the right to know their origins and they advise that parents and/or guardians have the obligation to give this information to the child. 

However, I have the feeling that the mentioned interests of the child are more of an excuse to be able to push new constructions that are not beneficial for the well-being of the child and their biological family. Is it not in the best interest of the child to bond with his biological parents? 

In this report, this is more seen as only one of the available possibilities. The “right to determine” the family situation for the child seems to be more important than the best interest of the child. Namely, to be raised up by a dedicated parenthood of the two biological parents.

Friday, September 21, 2018

The Date for the Referendum in Romania is Finally Set

Now it is up to the Romanian Voters to vote on the 6th or the 7th of October

More than two years ago, 3 million Romanians requested a referendum to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Finally, the hurdles for the organization of the referendum were removed. After the last vote in the Romanian senate with 107 votes in favour, 13 against and 7 abstentions and following the approval of the Romanian Constitutional Court, the Government set the date for the referendum: the 6th and the 7th of October. If there is a majority for YES with a minimum turnout of 6 million (30% of 18 million voters), then the constitution will be amended.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Corruption Scandal on the Sale of Schengen Visas in Malta discussed in the European Parliament

Ivan Grech Mintoff (leader of the ECPM-Member Party Alleanza Bidla) presented in the Maltese court  a transcript of the testimonies of several Libyans who claimed that in 2015, they bought an unknown number of humanitarian medical visas from an official in the Office of the of the Maltese Prime Minister. These medical visas are not supposed to be sold. Following an agreement between Malta and Libya, they are issued for free. The documents submitted in the court also claim that Schengen visas were illicitly sold at the Maltese Consulate in Tripoli over a period of 14 months (in 2013 and 2014). In this period, 88000 Schengen Visas (300 visas per day including Saturdays and Sundays) have been sold. This illegal scheme could have earned the perpetrators millions of euros.  Although the Consulate in Tripoli has closed, it is unclear if this practice has stopped or is still continuing via other countries or Malta up to today. On the 27th of June, ECPM invited Mr Mintoff to the European Parliament. A press conference was organized by ECPM President MEP Branislav Škripek where he presented his evidence. Besides, he drew the attention to this issue in the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE)    and in the plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg. The information presented at the press conference is in line with the conclusions of the Members of the European Parliament Ana Gomes, Sven Giegold and David Casa of a visit to Malta in December 2017, following the  assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia 

The documents submitted by Mr Mintoff also claim that five Libyans are willing to testify that an aide to the Prime Minister, Mr Neville Gafà had asked them for money in exchange for the sale of the medical visas. However, despite the fact that the police were in possession of the receipts provided by the Libyans, they didn’t contact them, nor did they try to verify their claims. The new evidence brought forward corresponds with evidence that was earlier published by several international media outlets as well as by the murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. In fact, Daphne Galizia was investigating this scandal. Three years ago, she had also published information that Algiers issued Maltese visas to 6781 Algerian citizens in just 18 months (between 2014 and 2015). This information originated from an Algerian source.

The latest revelations are only one link in a chain of revelations regarding corruption in Malta. At the end of 2017, several Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) belonging to the European Parliament Ad Hoc Mission on the Rule of Law in Malta visited the country and made worrisome discoveries. For example, the investigation on the assassination of Daphne Galizia is stalling. It is widely suspected that the plan is to keep the blame only among the three suspected bombers and to eventually let them go free, after they have served 20 months in detention. Moreover, as it is also the case with the scandal of the sold passports, the Police is not following all relevant leads to find out who is behind the assassination. The claim that they don’t have the necessary resources and that it is impossible to investigate everyone who was exposed by the murdered journalist. MEPs were also shocked to discover that despite the fact that several witnesses claimed that the Minister of the Economy was seen drinking with one of the alleged bombers before he was arrested, the police did not conduct a thorough investigation of these claims.

First, the persons that received these visas in Libya could be potential security threats and/or illegal migrants. Therefore, the illegal sale of medical and Schengen visas that was allegedly facilitated by highest ranking Maltese officials severely compromised the Schengen system. These visas have been sold in Libya – a country in which ISIS is undeniably present - and elsewhere.  During the press conference in the European Parliament, Mr Mintoff stated the following: “The apparent illicit sales of visas by persons close to the Prime Minister calls into question the security of the Schengen system. I hope and pray that no terrorists gained access to the EU with visas issued by Malta. Furthermore, I believe we have a duty to help those children and adults who were in dire need of medical treatment and didn’t get their medical visas because their families couldn’t afford the bribes and as a result were disabled or died."

Report on the Protection of Children and Families adopted in the Council of Europe!!

On the 28th of June, the report of ECPM MP and Board Member Valeriu Ghilețchi on "Striking a balance between the best interest of the child and the need to keep families together” has been adopted. As I mentioned in an earlier post, this initiative was triggered by the Bodnariu case in Norway. The report has been adopted with an enormous majority of 43 against 2 with 14 abstentions. It was very encouraging to see that during the debate, many MPs expressed their concerns about the Norwegian Child Care system agreeing that the separation of children must be only a last resort and a temporary solution. It was also impressive to note that this was also recognized by an important Norwegian MP. Although a few amendments were adopted, it did not cause very much harm to the report. ECPM also published a detailed article on the adoption of this report.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

New Report in PACE Asks for better Protection of Children and Families

Next week, an important new report is expected to be voted at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) with the title "Striking a balance between the best interest of the child and the need to keep families together". Rapporteur for this report is MP Valeriu Ghiletchi from Moldova, Board Member of ECPM. The confiscation of the children of Marius and Ruth Bodnariu in Norway, a move that caused outrage in Romania and provoked a reaction in many countries, showed the need of an initiative on this issue in the Council of Europe. 

This report asks Member States to uphold the right of children to be protected from all types of violence. At the same time, it asks from Members to protect the right of families to stay together and to refrain from removing children from parents against their will except in cases in which this is absolutely necessary. It was unanimously approved in the meeting of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development of PACE on the 26th of April and is expected to be voted in Plenary in the next PACE session next week.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

“What is man” (Ps 8)

Human Dignity & Christian Social Teaching as basis for Christian Democracy

In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the values of dignity and equality are considered to be the basis for Human Rights. "Human dignity" is also mentioned in many political speeches by both left as right-wing politicians. But what is actually the definition of Human Dignity? Generally "human dignity" is more and more defined as "being human". But is this correct to put the human being itself as a standard? Is this really the correct meaning for human dignity? Further we will investigate how the issue of dignity has evolved in  history and how the core value of human dignity played a crucial role in the development of Christian Democracy and how dignity is related to liberalism. Moreover, we will try to answer the question how Christian values influenced the definition of Human Dignity and how did this influence the development of economy and capitalism in Europe?

Inspired by the question David asked to God in Psalm 8: "What is man that you are mindful of them, human beings that You care for them?" I try to find an answer by exploring the final and related question: What is Human Dignity? 

Read here the article written by Leo vanDoesburg. Edited by Auke Minnema

Thursday, March 29, 2018

40 Members of the European Parliament Ask the President of Romania to Proceed to the Organization of the Referendum on Marriage

40 Members of the European Parliament sent a letter to Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, to the President of the Chamber of Deputies Liviu Dragnea, and to the President of the Senate Calin Popescu Tariceanu. They asked them to respect the sovereignty of their own people and to organize without delay the referendum on the definition of marriage that was requested by 3 million Romanian citizens. The referendum is currently being postponed by more and more procedural delays.