Amnesty International Report 2008: EU failing human rights at home and abroad

Amnesty International Report 2008: EU failing human rights at home and abroad

28 May 2008

Brussels (28 May) – Sixty years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR) human rights abuses continue to be rife across the globe, says Amnesty International on the day it launches its annual report. The EU and its countries are no exception, with virtually all member states included in this years’ report.

‘Developments over 2007 indicate that the EU and member states are backtracking in terms of human rights protection,’ said Nicolas Beger, Director of Amnesty International’s EU Office.

‘Complicity in the abuses carried out in the context of counter terrorism is one of the most flagrant examples of this worrying trend,’ he added.

Amnesty International has documented human rights violations in the context of the “war on terror” in at least 15 EU member states. EU governments and institutions have still not fully investigated evidence of European collusion in CIA abductions and secret detentions that have led to torture. To date, we have no assurances that such abuses have stopped. EU governments and institutions ought to apologise for their inaction and present concrete steps to address this flagrant violation of human rights.

The organisation found other disturbing patterns of failed human rights protection in the EU: at least 18 EU countries, for example, have breached the rights of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees. Police brutality and ill-treatment while in custody continues to be another problematic area, as is discrimination, mostly on grounds of gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation.

“The EU’s limited response to the recent acts of xenophobia in Italy towards the Roma community, combined with the refusal of the Commission to extend protection legislation to all forms of discrimination, speak for themselves” added Nicolas Beger.

The failure to address these shortcomings at home seriously limits the EU’s credibility to promote human rights in its external relations, where it is also not doing enough. By downgrading the input of civil society in the human rights dialogue with China, the EU weakened its position of principle and missed the opportunity of the run up to the Beijing Olympics to make a real impact. EU inconsistency was further evident in the decision to suspend sanctions on Uzbekistan even though there has been no independent investigation into the Andizhan killings.

In the year of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights Amnesty International calls on the EU to recommit to human rights. A Council resolution launching an overall review of the EU’s human rights policies and mechanisms would be an initial step to create, for the first time, a coherent external and internal EU policy.

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