What is the relevance of a break-in into the offices of 3 public health NGOs from a European perspective?
October 15, 2012
I witnessed a very targeted and professional break-in into 3 public health related NGOs offices (I work for one of them) on the early morning of 18 October 2012. We can all agree that is very harsh and brutal action against the representatives of the public health civil society whoever stands behind these attacks (if anybody). Although nothing is sure for the time being, the European community cannot leave without comments such a thing.
What can we conclude without having clear evidences?
Obviously we are not in the position to make clear statements in that issue, yet. However, there are some coincidences which can raise further concerns and conspiracy theories. And obviously, there are not enough clear evidences to make clear deductions.
Thus, the only thing a legal mind can do in that situation is to list some important facts, to refer some policy developments and let the reader to make his/her own conviction.
3 FACTS TO BEAR IN MIND
– As a matter of fact, 3 Brussels based NGOs (European Public Health Alliance – EPHA, European Respiratory Society – ERS, Smoke Free Partnership – SFP) have suffered a break-in during the early morning of 18 October, and with the exception of one unrelated other forced entry – where nothing was disturbed – these were the only organisations targeted.
– As a matter of fact, these organisations are on different floors but in the same building (ERS/SFP (5th floor), EPHA (2nd floor), and a law firm (8th floor),
– As a matter of fact, several laptops were stolen from EPHA/ERS/SFP offices
3 RECENT POLICY DEVELOPMENTS
– All the mentioned 3 NGOs were strongly advocating for stricter legislation on tobacco products
– In respect of the ongoing review of the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) which is on the top of the EU’s agenda, an important and confidential document related to the TBD has been leaked to the press making likely further restrictions on tobbacco products
European policy has a huge influence on our everyday life that is why advocacy is so important. Lobbying should mean a conflict of arguments in well balanced discussions. The only tools which can be accepted in these debates are evidences, facts and arguments. Nothing more.
Therefore, any kind of attempts which go beyond those things and passes the written and unwritten rules of advocacy are simply unacceptable and they should be a matter of concern not only for the public health community but also for every responsible European policy decision makers.
May I draw your attention to the official press releases of the concerned 3 Public Health NGOs.
Last but not least, a recent piece of media coverage:
I remain at your disposal.
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Related earlier updates:
(cover photo (just illustration) © beogles)Zoltán Massay-Kosubek