It felt like a real breakthrough. In June EU justice and home affairs ministers collectively acknowledged, for the first time ever, that more is needed to ensure that human rights violations in EU member states are adequately addressed. The ministers asked the European Commission to "take forward the debate” on ways to tackle challenges to,“in particular the rule of law and the fundamental rights of persons in the Union".
Finally some momentum, after years of struggle to secure a meaningful EU response to a growing body of work by Human Rights Watch and others pointing to serious human rights abuses in EU member states. They range from mistreatment of migrants to xenophobic violence to discrimination against Roma to abusive police sweeps and ethnic profiling, and the list goes on. Even in cases in which EU institutions do take action – such as Hungary’s systematic efforts to undermine the rule of law and human rights, and France’s abusive expulsions of Roma – problems persist while the EU appears to have washed its hands.
Today, as the Commission convenes a high-level conference (21-22 November) billed as "an important opportunity to generate thoughts and ideas", including on the question of EU internal rights enforcement, the situation doesn’t look as hopeful. […]
African Union and European Union countries should work together to strengthen protections for human rights defenders in Africa and migrants in Europe, Human Rights Watch said in recommendations to the AU and EU released today. The annual AU/EU human rights dialogue will be in Brussels on November 20, 2013.
The agenda for the human rights dialogue includes key developments in Africa and Europe as well as thematic issues such as protection of women and children in conflict settings, and the rights of domestic workers, migrants, and people with disabilities.
"The African Union and European Union should together address worrying geographic trends such as increasing attacks on the media and on human rights work in some African countries", said Lotte Leicht, EU director. "They also need to do better to protect migrants and asylum seekers, and to end discrimination and xenophobic attacksin Europe". […]
The Bulgarian authorities must do more to prevent xenophobic hate crimes, Amnesty International urged today amid a rise in racist attacks that has left migrants living in fear.
In the most recent attacks this weekend a Malian teenager was attacked close to a mosque in the capital Sofia, while a Bulgarian man of Turkish origin was left in a coma hospitalized after being beaten up by skinheads.
"There is an alarming and dangerous rise in xenophobic feeling in Bulgaria and the onus is on the authorities to prevent it, but instead many recent government statements risk inflaming the situation", said Barbora Cernusakova of Amnesty International, who will discuss the issue with Bulgarian government officials in Sofia tomorrow.
"Migrants and refugees in Bulgaria are living in a climate of fear and all attacks against these vulnerable groups must be urgently and thoroughly investigated". […]
The arbitrary arrest and detention of more than 1200 immigrants in a sweep operation at a Moscow market yesterday in response to the murder of an ethnic Russian man is just the latest example of disproportionate and discriminatory policing in Russia, Amnesty International has said.
An Azerbaijani man, who was not identified as a result of the wave of arrests, was today named as the suspect for the murder, which sparked major riots targeting migrants over the weekend.
"The Russian police's indiscriminate detention of more than a thousand migrants in the search for one alleged killer was deeply discriminatory and obviously unlawful", said Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International's Russia researcher. […]
Charging migrants is unethical, and would cost taxpayers more than it would save, writes our volunteer doctor, Paquita de Zulueta, who works at Doctors of the World's London clinic.
"I remember trying to talk to a teenager from Afghanistan whose family were killed in front of him and who had been imprisoned, subjected to torture and probable sexual assault. He had tried on repeated occasions to throw himself from the balcony of his cousin’s house. He had received no psychiatric help and had no GP.
"I remember seeing two women in one day who were both 39 weeks pregnant, who’d had no antenatal care because they were refused GP registration. […]