26th Jun 2019

EU's human rights protection criticised

The EU and its member states are scaling back human rights protection in both migration policy and anti-terrorism legislation, a leading human rights organisation has concluded.

European governments and institutions are not rising to the challenges brought to post-communist countries by enlargement, Human Rights Watch said in a report published on 13 January.

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.

... or join as a group

"The exclusive focus on combating illegal immigration in Europe reflects a disturbing and prevailing attitude that migrants have no rights. Consequently, regional and national policies and practices have focused on keeping migrants and asylum seekers out of Europe", says the report.

According to the US-based organization, European actors also "missed the opportunity to distinguish European practice from the abusive actions of other countries by employing counterterrorism strategies that also violate fundamental rights, including the prohibitions against torture and indefinite detention".

Anti-terrorism measures

The report criticizes the UK’s anti-terrorism act which provided for the indefinite detention of foreign terrorist suspects. In Spain, suspects are held in isolation, unable to communicate with anyone.

"European governments also contributed to the erosion of the ban on torture by relying on so-called "diplomatic assurances" to return terrorist suspects and foreigners labelled national security threats to countries where they were at risk of torture or ill-treatment", HRW suggested - mainly pointing to cases in Sweden, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and others.

Immigration and refugees

While the EU’s recent refugee-related legislation receives praise, the current trends in immigration and asylum policies face strong criticism by the organisation.

Its report noted with dissatisfaction that the idea of "off-shore processing asylum seekers" is still not dead – despite international protests.

"It became apparent in 2004 that in the face of opposition to the earlier UK proposals, the EU had decided to take a more gradual approach aimed at the development of off-shore centers".

The HRW also pointed to Italy’s case of expelling several hundred persons to Libya without properly assessing their asylum claims, and to extreme restrictions in the asylum procedures in the Netherlands.

The new EU member states, who joined in May 2004, are reported to have "woefully under-developed and under-resourced asylum systems and immigration procedures".

MEP blasts Portugal over football whistleblower

Ana Gomes, a socialist MEP from Portugal, has accused national authorities of erring on the side of corruption by detaining a whistleblower who helped expose tax evasion by some of Europe's biggest football stars.

Europol busts global cybercrime gang

A loose network of cyber criminals recruited from an online Russian forum managed to infect thousands of computers in an effort to steal online banking credentials. The gang has been dismantled, with some now on the run.

Stalling on VAT reform costing billions, says Commission

German media outlet Correctiv, along with other newsrooms, have revealed how criminals annually cheat EU states out of billions in VAT fraud. The EU Commission says solutions exist - but member states refuse to budge on tax unanimity.

News in Brief

  1. EU warns Turkey as 'Gezi Park' trials begin
  2. EU universities to share students, curricula
  3. Migrant rescue ship loses Human Rights Court appeal
  4. Denmark completes social democrat sweep of Nordics
  5. Johnson offers 'do or die' pledge on Brexit
  6. Weber indirectly attacks Macron in newspaper op-ed
  7. EU to sign free trade deal with Vietnam
  8. EU funding of air traffic control 'largely unnecessary'

Stalling on VAT reform costing billions, says Commission

German media outlet Correctiv, along with other newsrooms, have revealed how criminals annually cheat EU states out of billions in VAT fraud. The EU Commission says solutions exist - but member states refuse to budge on tax unanimity.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  4. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  6. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  7. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  8. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  9. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate

Latest News

  1. EU moves to end car-testing 'confidentiality clause'
  2. EU parliament gives extra time for leaders on top jobs
  3. Europe's rights watchdog lifts Russia sanctions
  4. EU-Vietnam trade deal a bad day for workers' rights
  5. EU 'special envoy' going to US plan for Palestine
  6. Polish judicial reforms broke EU law, court says
  7. EU study: no evidence of 'East vs West' food discrimination
  8. Russia tried to stir up Irish troubles, US think tank says

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us