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Amnesty International's annual human rights report warns of rising racism across Europe

Amnesty International's annual human rights report warns of rising racism across Europe

Categories: Latest News

Thursday May 27 2010


Amnesty International has released its report on the state of human rights across the globe in 2010. The report contains disturbing inadequacies in human rights protection in Europe.

The report states:

‘Member states of the EU continued to block a new regional directive on non-discrimination, which would simply close a legal protection gap for those experiencing discrimination outside of employment on the grounds of disability, belief, religion, sexual orientation and age.’


‘A climate of racism and intolerance in many countries fuelled ill-treatment of migrants, and helped to keep them and other marginalized groups excluded from society, blocking their rights to access services, participate in government and be protected by the law. The marginalization was heightened in 2009 by fears of the economic downturn, and accompanied in many countries by a sharp rise in racism and hate speech in public discourse. The endorsement by Swiss voters in November of a constitutional ban on the construction of minarets was an example of the dangers of popular initiatives transforming rights into privileges.’

On the UK, the AI report notes:

‘Reports implicating the UK in grave violations of human rights of people held overseas continued to emerge. Calls for independent investigations into the UK’s role in these violations went unheeded. The government’s attempts to return people to countries known to practise torture on the basis of “diplomatic assurances” (unenforceable promises from the countries where these individuals were to be returned) continued. The European Court of Human Rights found that, by detaining a number of foreign nationals without charge or trial (internment), the UK had violated their human rights. The implementation of measures adopted with the stated aim of countering terrorism led to human rights violations, including unfair judicial proceedings. The executive gained powers to circumvent and undermine the independence of coroners’ inquests. Twenty years after Patrick Finucane’s death, an inquiry into state collusion in his killing had yet to be established.’

The UK section of the world report can be read here.

Update: Amnesty struck a critical tone about Britain’s previous Labour government’s track record on human rights, accusing it of ‘”stonewalling” in the face of repeated calls for an independent investigation into the mounting allegations that UK intelligence officials were complicit in abductions, illegal detention and torture’ since 9/11. The rights group has urged the Lib-Cons to honour their commitment to human rights.

Tim Hancock, Amnesty’s UK campaigns director, stated in the Guardian:

‘”We’re stressing that ‘justice gaps’ – where people are cut off from accessing justice – need to be closed all around the world, and it’s only right that the UK delivers on law and order at home and abroad. While dozens of countries in the world have very poor human rights records, the truth is that ours has been nothing to write home about either.”

Regarding an investigation into human rights abuses promised by William Hague, the Guardian further adds:

‘The Foreign Office was taken by surprise last Thursday when [William] Hague said that an investigation would be held, and Whitehall officials later insisted that any such inquiry could not start while a number of court cases are ongoing. Several men who allege UK complicity in their rendition and torture are currently suing MI5, MI6 and the British government.

The same officials said that any inquiry would need to be held in secret – a proposal that has been condemned by human rights groups.

Those organisations say the inquiry should establish:

• who authorised the bilateral agreements with the US that led to Britain offering logistic support for the CIA’s rendition programme of kidnap and torture, and whether any other agreements led to human rights abuses;

• who authorised the secret interrogation policy, transmitted to MI5 and MI6 officers, telling them they could interrogate people who were being tortured, as long as they did not participate and were not “seen to condone it”;

• what Downing Street knew about the torture of Binyam Mohamed, and about the torture of several British citizens since 2001;

• and what the last foreign and home secretaries, David Miliband and Alan Johnson, knew about the UK’s involvement in torture and rendition.’


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