December 2007

EU must not pay for Kosovo independence with freedom for Mladic and Karadic

Reacting to the likelihood of EU support for Kosovo's 'coordinated' declaration of independence against the background of Serbian anger and threats Liberal Democrat European Justice Spokeswoman Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP said:

"The EU must not allow itself to be blackmailed by Serbia into signing the European association agreement as a sweetener for the loss of Kosovo without indicted war crimes fugitives Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadic in the Hague. The damning judgement of Hague prosecutor Carla del Ponte that the Serbian government has deliberately failed to deliver Mladic and Karadic to justice cannot be swept aside."

Sarah speaking about human rights, Darfur and Balkan war criminals

Sarah Ludford on behalf of the ALDE Group. - Mr President I think the European Parliament has started off well towards the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with the award of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to the impressive Mr Salih Mahmoud Osman.

EU air quality targets need full UK commitment

London Liberal Democrat MEP Baroness Sarah Ludford has challenged the UK Government to sign up not only to the letter but also to the spirit of the EU's imminent new air quality directive which toughens the rules.

Speaking from Strasbourg after the European Parliament voted to accept amendments made by German Liberal MEP Holger Krahmer putting more teeth into the legislation Sarah said:

"The EU has succeeded in both simplifying and strengthening air pollution laws in order to get tough on improving air quality across Europe. If governments act early then they can meet the targets. We must have no repeat of experience in London where deadlines for cutting diesel pollution were missed."

Sarah's speech on extremism in Europe

Mr President eight years ago Jörg Haider's immigrant-hating party entered into a coalition government in Austria. EU governments did not have a clue what to do. As a result of that disarray Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union was inserted. It has never been used and it is clear that Member States have a cultural problem in criticising each other. But we have to have a more proactive policy of peer review when Member States call each other to account because it is an EU concern if extremists and intolerant parties enter into government in one EU country.

MEPs call on EU to take lead on Guantanamo resettlement

In adopting a resolution on terrorism in Strasbourg today the European Parliament included an amendment sponsored by Liberal Democrat MEP Baroness Sarah Ludford calling on EU governments and the European Commission to play a proactive role in the resettlement of Guantanamo Bay detainees who are neither being tried fairly nor capable of returning to their own countries for fear of persecution or torture.

Sarah Ludford who is Liberal Democrat Justice and Human Rights Spokeswoman said:

EU action on Darfur and rendition must match human rights rhetoric

Sarah talking to Salih Mahmoud Osman after the presentation of his award

Sarah discussing Darfur with Mr. Osman after the presentation of his award.

EU trafficking hotline must add value

After the European Parliament adopted the EU budget for 2008 which includes funding for a Europe-wide anti-trafficking hotline which she co-sponsored London Lib Dem MEP Baroness Sarah Ludford has called on the European Commission to make sure that hotline money is additional to other money for the fight against human trafficking.

Speaking from Strasbourg Sarah said:

"It's a great success that we have managed to get the €2 million (£1.4 million) for an anti-trafficking hotline into the budget but we now need to ensure that the funding for this network is not shaved off from the support for other activities and NGOs.".

European courts reject UK bid to opt into EU borders projects

The European Court of Justice the EU's court has rejected a UK bid to 'opt in' to EU measures on an external borders agency and on passport technical standards. It has said that the UK cannot pick and choose which 'Schengen zone' measures to sign up to if it refuses to be part of the whole project.

Liberal Democrat European Justice Spokeswoman Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP commented:

"This makes clear that the UK self-exclusion from the EU's Schengen common travel zone and insistence on maintaining our own border controls has a cost. We are being told that we cannot have our cake and eat it.

EU leads way in historic UN vote for executions moratorium

The United Nations General Assembly has adopted a resolution on a universal moratorium on the death penalty.

In line with longstanding EU policy against executions EU Member States supported by the European Commission tabled the resolution at the UN after an initiative launched by Italy and enthusiastically endorsed by the European Parliament which has long campaigned on the issue.

Liberal Democrat European Justice and Human Rights Spokeswoman Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP commented:

"This is a very welcome example of EU leadership on human rights with all three institutions working together to powerful effect. Adoption of this resolution is a historic moment in the fight to stop states killing their own citizens.

Kenny Richey freedom marks successful end to hard fought campaign

Commenting on the news that Kenny Richey a Scottish man who spent 20 years on death row in America after a botched trial is finally due to be released as part of a plea bargain Liberal Democrat international human rights spokeswoman Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP applauded the campaigners who refused to give up.

"Kenny Richey's freedom at last after a hard-fought campaign is a lesson in how determined and relentless pressure for justice can make a difference."