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19th Jul 2019

2015 was 'a bad year' for EU human rights

  • There's a crisis of values in Europe, FRA director O'Flaherty said (Photo: Vadim Ghirda)

The EU fundamental rights agency (FRA) in Vienna warned of deteriorating fundamental rights in the EU on Monday (30 May).

"2015 was a undoubtedly a bad year," said FRA director Michael O’Flaherty when presenting the agency's annual report to members of the European Parliament's civic liberties committee (Libe).

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The worsening outlook is largely linked to Europe's management of the global refugee crisis.

"It's a crisis of values and fundamental rights," O'Flaherty said.

The FRA is particularly worried over an increasing number of people who were allegedly pushed back at EU borders. Refoulement is a breach of the human right to apply for asylum.

Noting that an average of two children die every day trying to reach safe haven in Europe, he urged MEPs to protect the rights of refugee children.

"We need to integrate child protection mechanism into migration and asylum processes and do a quicker job of appointing guards for unaccompanied children," O'Flahery said.

He added that member states must become better at prosecuting hate speech, a scourge that increased substantially in the course of last year.

Finally, he noted growing problems in the field of data protection.

"We have found that many states engage in mass surveillance but only five have a legal framework to do it in", he said.

The FRA director invited MEPs to give rights a higher order of importance in their work.

"For example, let's see an intention to [protect] fundamental rights more explicitly in discussion of the European semester," O'Flaherty said, referring to the EU mechanism that monitors and coordinates member states' economic and fiscal policies.

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