Follow-up letter to Jan Fígel' on the press conference with anti-choice organisations

Met dank overgenomen van S.H. (Sophie) in 't Veld i, gepubliceerd op vrijdag 3 mei 2019.

Mr Ján Figel

Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the EU

Wetstraat 41

1049 Brussel

3 May 2019

Subject: Follow up to the press conference with anti-choice organisations

Dear Mr Figel,

Following the press conference that you attended on 15 January 2019 in the company of the organisations CitizenGo and ADF, I wrote a letter to you in which I expressed my concern about associating yourself with these organisations. They are organisations at the extremist fringes of Christianity. They pursue an agenda that puts vulnerable groups at risk, such as women and LGTBI people. They aim to limit sexual and reproductive health and rights and induce homophobia, sometimes with extremely detrimental effects in the EU and beyond, such as in African countries. I stand for an inclusive Freedom of Religion or Belief, protecting the human rights of all minorities and groups, including religious and non-religious groups.

In your response to my letter, you indicated that you accepted an invitation by MEP Mr Grzyb for the press conference in question and that you only wanted to thank civil society for its support. It left unanswered the specific questions expressed in my letter as to your links to and assessment of the work of CitizenGo and ADF.

Subsequently, and because of this lack of clarity, I lodged an access to documents request, asking you to disclose documents related to contacts with individuals and organisations over the past year, in particular, but not limited to, contacts regarding the European Parliament procedure 2018/2155/INI, and in particular, but not limited to, contacts with the CitizenGo and ADF International organisations, including, but not limited to, email correspondence, physical meetings, public and non-public events, as well as social media interactions.

In the reply that we received earlier this week, only four documents are disclosed, but none of them in relation to the CitizenGo organisation.

This reply surprises me. I have noticed that you attended events over the past year in your capacity as Special Envoy that were co-sponsored by CitizenGo and ADF on at least two occasions.  In addition, you seem to have regular contacts with the founder and manager of CitizenGo Slovakia, Ms Kuzárová, who also attended the EP Press Conference in question and who is associated to the “Agenda Europe” network. You also must have met her at the events I refer to, where she also spoke. You met her as well on March 7 this year for a meeting.  In addition, Ms Kuzárová is a candidate on the European Parliament election list of your party KDH, on which you also have a spot. So perhaps more contacts took place that we are unaware of.

It would thus appear that your response to my access to documents request is incomplete. Would you consider that these and potential other contacts with CitizenGo and ADF should have been included in your reply to the request? And if you do so, why were they not included in the reply? Would you be willing and able to fully disclose your contacts with the said organisations?

More importantly, would you agree that by associating yourself so actively with these organisations, your mission as Special Envoy is hampered? These organisations actively pursue an agenda that puts at risk human rights, such as LGBTI rights. How do you reconcile the inclusive mandate of the Special Envoy you are supposed to fulfil with your active association with these organisations that are at the extremist fringes of Christian belief? It would seem to me that keeping a distance from these organisations is the least you could do to avoid the perception that you, and thereby the EU that you represent, have actively taken the side of these anti-choice activists, against standing EU policy that aims to advance LGBTI and women’s rights.

I would highly appreciate your comprehensive answers to my questions.

Yours sincerely,

Sophie in ‘t Veld

Member of the European Parliament

First Vice-President of the ALDE Group