FRA mourns deaths in Copenhagen, an attack on the rights to life, dignity and freedom of expression

The two murders that took place in Copenhagen on 14-15 February, one at an event on freedom of speech and the second at the city’s central synagogue, violate not only the right to life but also a number of other fundamental rights, including the right to human dignity (Article 1 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU), freedom of thought, conscience and religion (Article 10), and freedom of expression and information (Article 11).

“Following just a month after the tragedies in Paris, these acts of terror are heightening the fear and anxiety felt not only by the Jewish community, but also the general population,” said Morten Kjaerum, the Director of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA). “It is to be hoped that leaders of all religious communities again come together to condemn these latest attacks, in order to avoid polarisation in our societies. Political leaders need to use the momentum to formulate far-sighted policy that tackles the root causes of radicalisation.”

In searching for long-term solutions to terrorism and radicalisation, FRA stresses the need for the EU and its Member States to integrate fundamental rights considerations from the outset in order to ensure the proportionality and legitimacy of internal security policies. Short-term measures to increase security could be perceived as discriminatory, thus risking the further alienation of entire communities and raising the likelihood of radicalisation.

In the immediate aftermath of January’s attacks in Paris, FRA collected responses from the Muslim and Jewish communities, as well as from EU policy makers, civil society organisations, and the media. The findings show that while community leaders united in their condemnation of the attacks, fear among the affected communities rose sharply, with Jewish schools closing temporarily and mosques receiving police protection.

FRA affirms the statement made by European leaders following last week’s summit that measures must be taken to “remove  internet content promoting terrorism or extremism, including through greater cooperation between public authorities and the private sector at EU level,” develop “communication strategies to promote tolerance, non-discrimination, fundamental freedoms and solidarity throughout the EU,” and back “initiatives regarding education, vocational training, job opportunities, social integration and rehabilitation in the judicial context to address factors contributing to radicalisation.” FRA emphasises the urgency of this task in the coming weeks and months and stands ready to support the work with all the means at its disposal.