The young call for justice in Europe

Article published on May 29, 2006
community published
Article published on May 29, 2006

This article has not been vetted by an editor at Paris HQ

Nonconformist and demanding, the youth of today ask that the EU distance itself from the USA and develops its own justice system. Survey by

European justice is an abstract concept for the youth of Europe today. We have gone out on the streets to ask young people directly their opinions about recent events in Europe – What does the death of Milosevic mean? What do they think about the CIA’s secret flights over European territory? Here is what they have to say

Torture, in some exceptional cases...

“If there really are reasons to believe that a prisoner can supply information that could save the lives of others, torture may be the only way to make them talk,” says 24 year old Russian Sveltana Chachko. She is referring to the detentions and extraditions of suspected terrorists in Europe by the CIA. Sveltana has lived in Germany since the age of 12 and for the last 5 years has lived in London, where she works as an investment banker. Her strong opinion seems explosive but Chachko defends her statement straight away: “These are methods that should only be used in extraordinary cases. I think that the US has to be more open to public opinion and make it clear as to who is being interrogated and what exactly that person is accused of.”

Europe can say no

“I think it is very important that Europeans make the EU a governable institution before proceeding with future expansions,” thinks Naomi Woltring, 21 from Holland, who has a strong opinion as to what the EU should do: “ Europe has to be prepared to stand up for themselves more often. I think that Europe could easily say no to the US.” Woltring, a member of the Jonge Socialisten, which has connections to the Dutch Labour Party, is outraged about the CIA secret flights scandals which has been escalating around Europe: “It’s intolerable and the worst part is that even though it may be the continent of Human Rights, Europe is an accomplice to American actions.” Naomi remembers the Amnesty International slogan that appeared in all the Dutch papers: “Thanks for flying CIA.”

The US sees themselves as morally superior

Michael Tol is 29 years old, lives in Utrecht, and thinks that Milosevic’s death is a punishment: “Milosevic was a demagogue, but he wasn’t the real cause of the wars in former Yugoslavia, tension already existed long before he came to power. I believe that his death was a way of paying for everything bad he did.” Tol is outraged by the ‘arrogant’ attitude of the US: “they think that they are above the international justice system. They hold the belief that the war in Iraq is justified and they see themselves as morally superior to the rest of the world.” Tol regrets that “the Europeans have passively co-operated with the extradition of prisoners by the US secret services.”

Justice in Europe does not exist

Britt Strarup is a 29 year old Danish woman living in Holland with her Serbian husband. She does not believe that the death of Milosevic will have repercussions: “I have been to Serbia twice and I have noticed that the country is extremely corrupt. The Serbian General, Ratko Mladic (currently wanted by the International Criminal Court) is well protected by organized crime in Serbia. The military and the police do as they please.” Strarup continues: “I do not believe that the European Justice system exists. For instance, immigration laws are stricter in Denmark than in Holland. The differences in legislation between the European countries are too big to be able to talk about the idea of a communal justice system.”

Submissive Europe

Ricardo Bordigioni, a 23 year old Economics and European Politics student from Cagliari, Italy, thinks that Milosevic’s death “is the ultimate sign of the death of communism in Europe.” Bordigioni continues with the discussion over the CIA and their flights out of Europe: “I think we can explain the position of the EU towards the US with just one word: submissive.” However his criticism of the EU don’t stop there. When asked what the justice system means to him, Bordigioni’s response was “the knowledge of our own rights and obligations. In Europe it is much easier for the individual to see their rights and obligations recognised at a national level than at a European one.”

Far from being an alternative to the US

Celia Corriga is 24 years old and studies International Relations in Rome. She believes that “the death of the Serbian ex-President has benefited NATO. It was the best way of getting out of an ambiguous situation which had provoked many of those implicated in the Balkans war. The judicial process had the final say, as the sentence had been written since the beginning of the trial.” She has a strong opinions about European justice and about the secret flights of the CIA: “this piece of history demonstrates just how weak the European states are. It’s clear that many countries don’t believe that Europe could be a real alternative to the US. It is surprising that a country, that claims to be the greatest power in the world, can break all the rules and damage the human rights and international justice system, just so they can carry out their main objective.”

With the collaboration of: Karolin Schaps (London), Thamar Zijlstra and Nils Elzenga(Amsterdam), Giovanni Angioni (Rome).

Copyrights: Karolin Schaps (image 1), Nils Elzenga (2,3,4) and Giovanni Angioni (5,6).