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EU: Trafficking and anti-terrorism laws: EU must not dilute human rights protections

In recent weeks attempts by the Council of Europe to adopt three new treaties, one on trafficking of human beings, and two on "terrorism", have been stalled as a result of positions taken by EU institutions and some of the member states of the European Union(EU), whose 25 member states now represent the majority of the 46 member states of the Council of Europe.

In particular, the EU is pushing for clauses (known variously as "disconnection" or "transparency" clauses) to be added to these three draft Council of Europe treaties, which would permit EU member states to apply existing or future EU standards, rather than the applicable Council of Europe standards, set out in the treaties.

Amnesty International is gravely concerned that the adoption and implementation of these clauses could result in the EU applying lower standards of human rights protection than those set out in the Council of Europe treaties.

To avoid the risk of dilution of the human rights protections in these Council of Europe treaties, Amnesty International calls on the EU to either drop its demand for the inclusion of the disconnect clauses, or to limit the clauses in a manner that will expressly bind the EU and its member states to apply the standard that requires the highest protection of human rights, whether it emanates from the Council of Europe or the EU.

The organisation is concerned that unless these issues can be resolved in the context of the negotiations which will continue on 13 April 2005 and are addressed during the Council of Europe's Third Summit of Heads of State and Government scheduled to take place in Warsaw on 17-18 May 2005, the future of the drafting and adoption of human rights standards within the Council of Europe lies in the balance.

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