The EU Fundamental Rights Agency – a playground for social radicals?

1024px-GuentherZ_2012-04-03_4030777_Wien04_Schwarzenbergplatz_European_Union_Agency_for_fundamental_Rights_TafelWhoever may have hoped that the departure of Morten Kjaerum as Director of the might offer the controversial EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) the possibility of a fresh start must have been very disappointed when learning the names of the three candidates that have been short-listed to replace him. Indeed, with each of these candidates there is reason to fear that the Agency rather than providing, as its statutes require, politically neutral but scientifically credible expertise on human rights, will continue to produce bogus science in order to promote a radical political agenda clad in (seemingly harmless) “human rights language”.

The European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties (LIBE) is set to hold a hearing with the three candidates on Thursday 25 June from 16.30 to 18.30 (watch the lifecast here), and will take a vote on them on 2 July. That vote is not binding for the Agency’s Management Board, which will make the appointment.

Lousewies vd Laan.jpgThe first of the three candidates is Lousewies van der Laan from the Netherlands. It is quite unclear how she managed to be short-listed for a job that requires academic expertise on fundamental rights as well as management skills in that area, given that her profile is neither that of a scholar nor of a manager, but purely and simply that of a politician – and indeed of a politician with a very controversial agenda. She is affiliated to the radically secularist “D66” Party, which she represented first in the European and then in the Dutch Parliament. During that time, her engagement for what she considers to be “human rights” mainly consisted in pushing for the legalisation of drug use, the recognition of same-sex “marriages”, and the promotion of abortion and euthanasia:

“Ik zeg vaak dat Nederland een soort van hogedrukpan is, een voorbode van wat elders gaat gebeuren. Nu overheerst het beeld van Nederland als tolerant en progressief land nog. Denk aan onze soepele omgang met abortus, het homohuwelijk, euthanasie en drugs – allemaal D66 speerpunten trouwens.”

By necessity, therefore, she is openly denies real human rights such as the right to life of unborn children and the freedom of conscience of healthcare workers. As a Director of an Agency that has (at least in theory) been set up to provide the EU and its Member States with expertise and data on fundamental rights, she appears to be a grotesquely unsuitable candidate. 

Maybe even worse is the second candidate, Prof. Michael O’Flaherty from Ireland. Contrary to the Dutch lady, he has (seemingly) impressive academic and managerial credentials as Professor of Applied Human Rights and Co-director of the Human Rights Law Centre at the University of Nottingham. During his tenure as a Professor he also served as Member (latterly Vice-chair) of the UN Human Rights Committee. Upon closer examination, however, these credentials turn out to be of little value, given that Mr. O’Flaherty has a proven track record not as a neutral and objective expert, but as a political activist with a set agenda. He is the author of the “Yogyakarta Principles”, in which he and 28 other signatories, using as a point of departure the (completely uncontroversial) statement that homosexual persons have human rights, seek to provide the appearance of moral and legal legitimacy to the most far-fetched and extreme political “rights” claims of the homo-lobby. The “Rights” that Mr. O’Flaherty and his friends seek to promote range from same-sex “marriage” (which he thinks all countries are obliged to legally recognize as a requirement of international human rights law), the free choice of one’s “gender identity” (i.e. the right of a man to be legally treated as a woman, and vice versa), the dissolution of the traditional family (because families should “not be defined through marriage and descent”), and of course – quite unsurprisingly – the curtailing of the freedom of expression for all opponents of these views…

A detailed analysis of Mr. O’Flaherty’s demagogic (but clearly un-scientific) chef d’oeuvre can be read here, and another one here. We invite our readers to make their own judgment; – our opinion, however, is that the author of such a document may be credited for his seeming cleverness in twisting words however he thinks it suits his political agenda, but is simply not credible as a provider of objective and reliable expertise. Appointing him as the new Director would turn an open secret into a glaring self-evidence: the FRA, which costs EU taxpayers more than 20 million Euro every year, would no longer have the innocent appearance of a politically neutral research institute, but that of an official think-tank of the Homo-and-Transgender-Lobby.

An interesting detail is that Mr. O’Flaherty is a (laicised) Catholic priest (maybe that’s where his taste for pontificating comes from?) His official CV states that he served as a priest from 1987 to 1992 and was subsequently laicised, but the official records of the Diocese of Galway listed him as a priest in good standing as late as 2011. This notwithstanding, he has radically broken with the Christian view in all matters related to sexuality, marriage, and the family. During his tenure at the UN he was not only one of the most active promoters of homo-“marriage” in the international human rights establishment, but also a supporter of a pretended “right to abortion”. As political stances such views are controversial – but as human rights expertise they are just falsehoods.

It is not known, however, whether he himself practises sodomy.

This leaves us with the third candidate, Ilze Brands Kehris from Latvia. As a scholar in the field of human rights and former Director of the Latvian Centre for Human Rights, she seems to have the kind of profile that would be required for the post, and her academic writings do not betray the same extremist stances (and willingness to manipulate human rights in order to further a certain political agenda) as those of the other two candidates. Among the three candidates, she is probably the least bad one.

This does not, however, make her a good candidate. Having served as a Vice-Chairperson of the Management Board of the EU Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (the FRA’s fore-runner) from 2004-2007, and Member (and latterly Chairperson) of the Management Board and Executive Board of the FRA from 2007 to 2012, she is not on record for having done anything to prevent the Agency from being turned into the failed institution it is today. For example, as a Chairperson of the Management Board she bears at least indirect responsibility for the Agency’s grotesquely un-scientific “LGBT-survey”.

In other words, the appointment of Mrs. Brands Kehris would mean for the FRA to continue as before; it would not be a starting point for the renewal that the controversial Agency so urgently needs.

One question that needs to be asked is how these three candidates came to be selected. The procedure set out in Article 15 (2) of Regulation 168/2007 is that

“(a) on the basis of a list drawn up by the Commission after a call for candidates and a transparent selection procedure, applicants will be asked before an appointment is made to address the Council and the competent European Parliament Committee and to reply to questions;

(b) the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union will then give their opinions and state their orders of preference;

(c) the Management Board will appoint the Director taking these opinions into account.”

In this incidence, there is a need for somewhat more transparency. One would like to know who else applied, and on which basis the Commission (who precisely inside the Commission???) determined these three persons to be the most suitable candidates. It seems hardly believable that the Commission is not aware of the highly controversial stances that some of the candidates have taken in the past, and which compromise their ability to be providers of objective and reliable expertise on a range of politically sensitive issues.