3rd Jun 2020

EU states criticised for human rights violations

  • Greece, Italy, France and the UK were amongst those mentioned in the report (Photo: European Commission)

Human rights violations in counterterrorism measures, poor detention conditions and curbs on freedom of expression and the right to privacy are the among the key concerns in a new report on human rights issues in Europe.

"Migration and asylum policies remain focused on keeping irregular migrants, including children, out of the EU and removing those who are present rather than ensuring their rights are protected. Racist and xenophobic incidents and policies, particularly affecting the Roma and Sinti, Jewish, and Muslim populations, as well as migrants, were an issue in a number of EU states," the report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) says.

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Carried out in 90 countries and territories worldwide, the HRW report released on Wednesday (14 January) draws on events in 2008.

Referring to the EU agreement on immigration adopted by member states in October, the report notes that it "raises concerns about its potential impact on the right to family life and the prohibition on return to a risk of persecution or ill-treatment."

The common standards and procedures adopted in June 2008 for returning illegally staying third-country nationals, which will come into effect in 2010, "permits the detention of undocumented migrants and failed asylum seekers, including unaccompanied children, for up to 18 months," the report warns.

It points out that in October 2008 the UN high commissioner for human rights criticized the detention periods in the directive as excessive and an erosion of the right to liberty for migrants.

Racism and discrimination on the rise

Italy's policies against Roma populations are strongly criticised by the human rights watchdog, as well as Germany's racism-related incidents against Jewish, Muslim, Roma and Sinti communities, but also against German nationals of foreign origin and African asylum seekers.

Greek asylum and detention policies were also criticised.

HRW reports that Greek police systematically arrest migrants on Greek territory, including a large proportion of Iraqis, detain them for days without providing legally required registration, and in some cases beat or otherwise ill-treat them.

Migrants are regularly forcibly and secretly expelled to Turkey without consideration of their protection needs.

The study also criticises both France and the United Kingdom for their counterterrorism policies, which often leave suspects in police arrest without access to a lawyer or information on their right to remain silent.

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