Europe’s human rights at risk: Justice Commissioner must act

Europe’s human rights at risk: Justice Commissioner must act
(Brussels, 18 July 2012) Following the European Commission’s declaration that 2013 will be the year of Europe’s people and their rights, Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding launched an online consultation on the obstacles people face in trying to exercise their rights. Amnesty International has criticised the absence of any reference to violations of key fundamental rights, and has released a summer petition for signature, which aims to press Mrs Reding to strengthen the role of human rights.
Unless we can enjoy our statutory human rights, we’re also denied access to the very rights Mrs Reding has mentioned”, said Nicolas Beger, Director of Amnesty international’s European Institutions Office. “Despite the EU’s obligation to respect and promote human rights, it’s simply turning a blind eye to violations in EU countries.
The problem is a desperate lack of political will-power”, said Beger. “We want the Commission to use its existing powers boldly to tackle today’s defects and make a tangible difference for human rights in Europe.
Amnesty International has singled out two of the gravest human rights deficits in the EU, which also deny people access to other rights: discrimination and violence against women. 
Throughout the EU, millions of people are struggling to get education, jobs and homes and many cannot move around freely. Discrimination for example denies Romani people houses, prevents Muslims from finding work, and overlooks homophobic bullying at school. Some countries are simply failing to apply the EU’s existing anti-discrimination law. Millions are exposed to discrimination with no hope of justice.
A quarter of Europe’s women suffer physical violence, and one in ten endures sexual violence at least once. An estimated half-million women and girls in EU countries are living with the after-effects of female genital mutilation (FGM). Another 180,000 are at risk. Health and social workers are frustrated because they lack the knowledge or guidelines to help their clients.
Amnesty International has urged Mrs Reding to devise an ambitious EU human rights policy which tackles existing defects and redresses violations, and prioritise the fight against discrimination and violence against women. This means efficiently monitoring how EU countries apply anti-discrimination law, and forcefully closing gaps in the safety net by enhancing EU anti-discrimination standards. Ending violence against women, including FGM, as the Commission promised in 2010, will mean devising a comprehensive strategy and action plan.
For interviews or further comment, please contact:-
Peter Clarke
Media and Communications Officer
Amnesty International European Institutions Office
Brussels, Belgium
Tel: +32 (02) 548 2773