Big gaps in EU human rights protection

Big gaps in EU human rights protection
(Brussels, 23 May 2013) Today sees the launch of Amnesty International’s global annual report which charts the state of human rights worldwide. It reveals a range of policies in EU countries which expose migrants and minorities to human rights violations. 
There were some EU wins last year. It adopted a new human rights package and appointed a special representative for human rights. The challenge now is implementing it and ensuring human rights play a central part in all areas of policy,” said Nicolas Beger, Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office. 
“Last year the EU won the Nobel Peace Prize, a powerful reminder about its founding principles which include human rights protection. Why has the EU’s resolve to tackle the serious human rights violations within the EU remained so disturbingly weak ”
Across EU territory, there is persistent discrimination against minorities including Muslims, Roma and lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people. Roma people in EU countries are often forcibly evicted from their homes and driven into deeper poverty. Many Roma children, for example in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, are still being sent to sub-standard, segregated schools. Muslim women who seek jobs face restrictions on religious symbols such as headscarves. 
In 2012 there was progress towards concluding the European Common Asylum System. But compromises included a failure to rule out the detention of minors under the Reception Conditions Directive. Amnesty International has criticised the widespread detention of people who seek asylum and has protested at how European governments apply other migration controls which endanger people’s lives. 
Another year has elapsed with no sign of the EU’s promised comprehensive strategy on violence against women. Amnesty International sees this strategy as essential if violence against women is to be tackled. It is also pressing the EU and its member states to sign and ratify the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention. 
Last year the European Parliament successfully adopted a report condemning governments for failing to account adequately for human rights violations, including torture and enforced disappearances, committed under the US-led rendition and secret detention programmes. The Commission, Council and EU countries remain unwilling to be held accountable or to carry out the report’s recommendations. 
For more information please contact:
Peter Clarke  
Media & Communications Officer
European Institutions Office
Amnesty International
Tel: +32 (0) 2 548 2773