Friday

22nd Jun 2018

Amnesty: EU states guilty of racism, homophobia

  • Europe's unwanted: Roma people face harsh treatment in several EU countries (Photo: Boryana Katsarova/cosmos/Agentur Focus)

Several EU countries abuse the rights of migrants and ethnic minorities, while others are not doing enough to combat homophobia, Amnesty International has said.

The British-based NGO named 24 EU states in its annual report on rights abusers out on Thursday (23 May).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

Rough treatment of refugees from Africa and Asia, harsh enforcement of counter-terrorism laws against Muslims and naked racism against Roma people emerged as systematic problems in Europe.

Despite previous promises to the European Commission, France in the first quarter of last year evicted 9,040 Roma people, with local authorities in many cases "flouting" international safeguards against the practice.

French police ignored new rules against ethnic profiling on ID checks.

The names of men who died in French police custody in cases which pre-date 2012 also tell a tale of violence against people of African, Asian or Middle Eastern origin: Abou Bakari Tandia; Ali Ziri; Mahamadou Marega; Mohamed Boukrourou; Abdelhakim Ajimi; and Lamine Dieng.

Germany was taken to task for refusing to grant refugee rights for 195 people from Tunisia and 105 people from Iraq.

It also kept up its use of "diplomatic assurances" - accepting promises of good behaviour from countries which torture prisoners - as a basis to repatriate asylum seekers.

Italy continued to stuff Roma into ethnically segregated camps and to kick them out of their homes onto the street.

In the town of Pescara, following the murder of an Italian man by a man of "reportedly" Romani origin, anti-Roma unrest made "Romani families … afraid to go out and take children to school."

Conditions in refugee camps "fell well below international standards."

In several cases "migrant workers were … exploited and vulnerable to abuses, while their access to justice remained inadequate."

Spain booted out 70 migrants from the island of Isla de Tierra to Morocco without giving them access to asylum procedures.

Another Moroccan citizen, Adnam el Hadj, was snatched off the street by Madrid police and allegedly beaten by five officers who taunted him with "racist insults."

Italy, Germany and the UK faced criticism over their use of counter-terrorist laws to detain or extradite mostly Muslim suspects.

Similar issues came up time and again in Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia (to join the EU in July), Cyprus, the Czech republic, Denmark, Latvia, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Sweden.

In Estonia and Latvia, Amnesty voiced concern over the rights of 400,000 Russophone people who cannot get citizenship and whose "stateless" existence aggravates their poverty and isolation.

Complaints over the handling of homophobic incidents cropped up in Bulgaria, Croatia, Italy, Lithuania and Slovakia.

But Greece and Hungary caused the most worry.

Amnesty noted that the far-right Golden Dawn party won 18 seats in the Greek parliament amid a spike in racist attitudes and a massive economic slump.

It said a new Greek police "crackdown" on migrants "raised concerns about discrimination against people because of their perceived ethnicity and that it would fuel xenophobia."

It dubbed conditions in a migrant detention centre in Elliniko as "inhuman and degrading."

It said the new wall on the Greek-Turkish border "would prevent people seeking international protection from reaching safety and … would lead them to attempt unsafe crossings."

It also noted 87 violent attacks against people from ethnic minorities "connected with extremist right-wing groups that acted in an organised and planned manner."

In Prime Minister Viktor Orban's Hungary, far-right militias continued a campaign of intimidation against Roma people.

In one case on 5 August in the village of Devescer, vigilantes stoned Roma houses while police looked on.

On 18 August in the village of Cegled "people mostly dressed in black uniforms gathered in small groups in Romani neighbourhoods, chanted anti-Roma slogans and made death threats" while police did nothing.

The rights of asylum seekers were violated to such an extent that Amnesty criticised Germany for sending migrants back to Hungary under EU rules on handling cases based on people's point of entry.

Meanwhile, Orban's political meddling with the judiciary and the free press - the basis of an ongoing dispute between Budapest and the European Commission - did not escape the NGO's notice.

"Critics warned that media legislation continued to expose the media to political control," Amnesty said.

“Last year the EU won the Nobel peace prize - a powerful reminder about its founding principles, which include human rights protection. Why has the EU’s resolve to tackle the serious human rights violations within the European Union remained so disturbingly weak?” its Brussels bureau chief, Nicolas Beger, added in a statement.

Rise in attacks on Muslims in Europe

Violence against Muslims in Europe is on the rise among the handful of member states that officially record such incidents.

Feature

EU and Turkey fight for 'lost generation'

Some 300,000 school-age Syrian children in Turkey are not enrolled in classes. Fears they may end up in sweatshops or forced to beg have triggered efforts by the EU, Unicef, and the Turkish government to keep them in school.

News in Brief

  1. Venice Commission: Hungary should repeal NGO law
  2. Trump threatens to slap 20 percent tariff on EU cars
  3. EU closes deficit procedure against France
  4. Romania's ruling party leader gets jail sentence
  5. EU states defer individual decisions on asylum reforms
  6. Commission opens case on Qatar gas flow
  7. EU adopts posted workers directive
  8. EU leaders to call for 'coordinated plan' on AI

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMHRMI Launches Lawsuits Against Individuals and Countries Involved in Changing Macedonia's Name
  3. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  4. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  6. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  10. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  11. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network

Latest News

  1. Migration row at centre of EU summit This Week
  2. Merkel's woes cast shadow on EU's future
  3. Europe's tech race - trying to keep pace with US and China
  4. Merkel and Juncker's mini-summit risks fiasco
  5. Greece and creditors proclaim 'end of crisis'
  6. How a US firm pushed for EU €2.1trn pension fund
  7. Commission defends Africa migrant plan ahead of summit
  8. Bavaria hijacks EU migration talks

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  2. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  4. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  5. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank
  7. FIFARecycling at the FIFA World Cup in Russia
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  9. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and Reconciliation Is a Process That Takes Decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  10. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  11. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  12. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us