European Elections 2019: Young Green Heroes of Human Rights

During this last week of the campaign, the Ecosprinter decided to give you some insights on a few European candidates that are trying to make the Green Wave a reality in their respective country. We let each candidate interviewed chose her/his favorite topic. Today’s article is about human rights.

Wanja Kaufman is a green hero in Sweden. 

Ecosprinter Editorial Board (EEB): According to you, what are the most important things to be done in terms of human rights inside the European Union? How could it be done?

Wanja: Today, the threat against human rights is unfortunately a lot bigger than we probably could imagine some years ago, with leaders like Orbàn, Salvini and Kaczynski who are constantly violating human rights. In order not to let this continue, we need to take joint action within the European Union. For example, we need to put sanctions on member states who do not follow common principles of democracy, rule of law, human rights and protection of minorities, we need to introduce a penalty on hatred and threats against minorities and LGBTQI+-persons (like the Swedish law against threats against minority groups). We also need to demand that all EU member countries shall give people of Roma origin and other minorities full EU citizen rights.

EEB: Do you think the Greens have an important role to play in that area, and why should we?

Wanja: We have SUCH an important role. We, the greens, are one of the few forces which do really stand up for human rights in times like these. If we do not stand up for these issues, who will?

EEB: How do we make sure that human rights are seriously monitored and applied in a fair and consistent manner?

Wanja: It is important that the actions mentioned above are monitored and followed up. Therefore, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights should receive more resources and a larger mandate.

EEB: How do we determine whether to cooperate with human rights groups in countries where we are not very sure of their intentions and other relations?

Wanja: We NEED to put the will to respect human rights before other thoughts. There will always be people using the name of the good to bring in money and use it for non-beneficial activities, but we cannot expect that, and therefore not cooperate with them. Until the opposite is proven, we shall support and cooperate with human rights groups.

EEB: How do we balance the need for respecting human rights and working with authorities that do not necessarily respect human rights, but are still players we need to work with (i.e. Al-Assad, Trump, Putin, etc.)?

Wanja: We need to be hard and make sure it is only painful and hard for them if they go against us and do not follow our rules. We need to stand strong, as a strong joint European Union against these players and show that it is our rules or nothing when it comes to respecting human rights.

Do you think it is important to link human rights, climate justice and rights of nature? Why? 
Wanja: Yes! It is extremely important to link these issues. While we in the West are the biggest polluters, there are people in other parts of the world paying for it, with their security and their lives. 2050, 200 million people are expected to be forced to leave their homes because of climate change – this is not something we can ignore. How we treat the consequences of climate change is a question of human rights –  we need to treat it like that. 

EEB: Thanks, Wanja for answering our questions, we wish you all the best for the elections and we hope your battle for human rights will find an echo in the European Parliament in the next years!

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