Lithuanian EU presidency must ensure accountability for human rights abuses
(Brussels, 11 July 2013) As Lithuania assumes the six-monthly rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union for the first time, Amnesty International has today delivered its recommendations to the Lithuanian EU presidency to the Chancellor of the Government, Alminas Mačiulis, in Vilnius. The organisation has asked the presidency to take concrete steps on key issues to demonstrate the EU’s commitment to protecting human rights inside the EU and in its external relations.
“Lithuania must build on the momentum of the Irish presidency to strengthen the EU’s action on human rights within the Union,” said Nicolas Beger, Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office. “There are a number of issues that are not being adequately addressed at EU level. These include, for example, fighting discrimination faced by Roma people, upholding migrants’ and refugees’ rights, and accountability for complicity in the CIA-led rendition and secret detention programmes.”
Amnesty International’s submission calls on the presidency to address the discrimination faced by minorities across Europe. Roma people face barriers in accessing housing, healthcare, jobs and education. The Council conclusions on Roma will provide Lithuania the opportunity to take a strong stand to ensure that a human rights based approach is followed when tackling Roma integration.
Border control policies and practices continue to put migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees at risk. A recent Amnesty International report on Greece revealed the shocking human rights violations that are occurring at the EU’s external frontier. The Lithuanian presidency must ensure that the EU and member states are held to account for how they manage their borders. The presidency should lead a discussion on new approaches to responsibility sharing both within the EU and with other regions.
The vast majority of EU countries have failed to publicly acknowledge or fully investigate their involvement in the CIA’s rendition and secret detention programmes. Ongoing investigations in some countries have suffered delays or setbacks, leaving victims without an effective remedy. Amnesty International is urging the Lithuanian presidency to use the forthcoming review in September of the European Parliament’s report on this topic to fully implement the recommendations therein and to push investigations forward at both the national and EU level.
The recommendations also highlight the cases of several prisoners of conscience and people who are at risk around the world. Members and supporters across Europe will be campaigning to press the Lithuanian presidency to bring the weight of the EU to bear on these cases. One example is Azza Suleiman, an Egyptian activist brutally assaulted by soldiers during protests in Tahrir Square in December 2011. Women protesters continue to face sexual violence in the current political unrest in Egypt.
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