AI 2012 report: EU toothless at fighting injustice within own borders
(Brussels, 24 May 2012) With the release today of its Annual Report 2012, Amnesty International has accused the European Union of weakness in the face of violations committed by its member states, many of which are still failing to meet their primary obligation of upholding all human rights for all.
“Too many people are falling through the gap between the EU’s stirring rhetoric on human rights and their lack of implementation,” said Nicolas Beger, Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office. "The EU’s actions have actually blunted its own human rights tools such as the Charter or non-discrimination laws. It seems to prefer going backwards rather than forwards. All too often this makes the EU a decidedly toothless tiger.”
Among the issues documented in the report is the treatment by European countries of thousands of refugees and migrants fleeing turmoil in North Africa and the Middle East. At least 1,500 people drowned attempting to cross the Mediterranean. Those who survived often found Europe less than welcoming. Across the continent, governments continued to violate human rights by intercepting, detaining and expelling foreign nationals.
Another key issue was discrimination. Although affecting the lives of millions, some EU governments actually pandered to the prejudices which fuel intolerance. Gaps in national and European anti-discrimination laws persisted. Indeed, some EU countries have tried to pass new discriminatory laws.
European governments continued to stonewall in the face of efforts to secure accountability for their alleged complicity in the CIA’s rendition and secret detention programmes.
Belarus remained the continent’s last executioner, putting to death two men under a flawed criminal justice system which continued to shroud the process in secrecy.
“On a more positive note, last year’s arrests in Serbia of Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić sent a powerful warning to all those in Europe who felt immune from the reach of justice,” said Beger. “And the Council of Europe provided a powerful new convention on violence against women which, once ratified, will help fight this outrageous and persistent violation of human rights.”
Despite the arrests of the two final suspects indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, progress has been slow in tackling impunity for crimes committed during the Balkan wars of the 1990s. “And the EU may soon have ministers and heads of government at its table who persist in calling those indicted for crimes against humanity ‘national heroes’,” said Beger. “The EU still lacks any appetite for committing itself to monitoring human rights in all member states after their accession.”
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Notes to editors
Amnesty International Report 2012: State of the World’s Human Rights covers January-December 2011 and is available here as from 01.01 CET on 24 May. Facts and figures, audio-visual materials, and other information are available on request.