Progress on rights abuse in EU countries still has long way to go
(Brussels, 5 June 2013) Amnesty International has cautiously welcomed tomorrow’s proposed adoption of what may prove to be a more robust approach to how the European Union handles human rights violations in its 27 member states. The EU’s Justice & Home Affairs Council will be releasing its conclusions on fundamental rights and the rule of law.
“Although we regularly see human rights violations in EU countries, the EU prefers to turn a blind eye,” said Nicolas Beger, Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office. “The Council must get much tougher on enforcing human rights policy inside EU borders. Otherwise its criticism of human rights abuse in non-EU countries will only seem hypocritical. These conclusions are only the start. We’ll need to keep up pressure on the Council to confront the EU’s own human rights challenges head-on.”
The Irish presidency’s decision to launch this initiative acknowledges shortcomings in the Union’s current approach to human rights and rule of law challenges in EU countries. Amnesty International has urged the Council to strengthen the human rights mandate of the Working Party on Fundamental Rights, Citizens’ Rights and Free Movement of Persons (FREMP) to give it the expertise and resources to discuss and respond to human rights violations within EU countries.
Amnesty International has targeted persistent human rights abuse in EU countries. These include systemic and pervasive discrimination against Roma people, setbacks over human rights protection in Hungary following constitutional reforms, and violation of the rights of asylum-seekers, migrants and refugees resulting from EU border management policy.
The organisation has also highlighted the continuing need for national and EU-level accountability for human rights violations, including torture and enforced disappearances which occurred under EU countries’ involvement in US-led rendition and secret detention programmes.
Amnesty International has warned against any approach that questions the EU’s well-established legitimacy and authority to deal with human rights and awaits solid action by the Council. The latter guarantees effective EU intervention when member states flout the founding treaties’ values, which include respect for human rights and rule of law.
The organisation has maintained that strengthening FREMP would ensure a solution which is part of the current institutional framework, and make room for coherent and coordinated human rights discussions among EU countries.
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