Responding to “Illiberal Democracy” in Central and Eastern Europe: CEELI Promotes Effective Use of the European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights and other International Instruments as Tools of Resistance

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As governments across Europe continue to restrict the independence of the judiciary, limit the free function of the media and generally curb civil and human rights, the CEELI Institute is increasing its efforts to work with lawyers and civil society across the continent to mount effective legal responses. This includes efforts aimed at increasing the capacity of lawyers to enforce rights guaranteed under the European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights.  During the first week of April 2019, CEELI kicked off what will be a series of programs designed to train lawyers on effective use of EU law to protect human rights throughout Europe. To this end, CEELI has assembles an extraordinary faculty of European legal experts from across the continent, including prominent law professors, practitioners at the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights, and representatives of European Institutions. Topics to be addressed include review of the human and civil rights that are protected under the Charter of Fundamental Rights as well as the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR); examination of procedures for using and triggering Article 7 of the Treaty of the European Union (TEU), which provides for suspension of rights of EU member states for human rights violations; use of EU laws to respond to restrictive national legislation that interferes with independent operation of the judiciary; admissibility of claims before EU Courts; examination of EU and ECHR case law limiting restrictions of fundamental rights; and skills for researching and accessing relevant EU documents.  As is always the case with CEELI Institute programming, the program is designed to be highly interactive and includes case studies and small group activities, in addition to traditional lectures.