• Spanish authorities summarily expel migrants to Morocco from the enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, sometimes employing excessive force. Police fired rubber bullets at migrants trying to reach Ceuta by sea in February. At least 15 drowned. The government adopted limited reforms to block some evictions on defaulted mortgages, improve safeguards in court cases involving foreclosures and mortgage debt, and allow for debt forgiveness, with advocates arguing for broader measures. The government announced a contentious draft law to restrict access to abortion only in cases of rape and when the woman’s physical or mental health is at risk, and another to restrict spontaneous public assemblies through steep fines. Congress adopted reforms restricting prosecutions for crimes against humanity under universal jurisdiction.

  • European Union flags fly in front of the European Commission headquarters in Brussels. © Reuters 2012
    Amid economic crisis and much contested austerity measures in many member states, discrimination, racism, and homophobia remained serious problems in European Union member states.  Roma, migrants, and asylum seekers are particularly marginalized. The Council of the European Union acknowledged for the first time that more is needed to ensure human rights violations within EU borders are adequately addressed, with an ongoing policy debate focused on improving responses to rule of law crises. Meanwhile, abusive practices around the EU continued without adequate action by EU institutions and member states.


  • No End to Unaccompanied Migrant Children’s Institutionalization in Canary Islands Emergency Centers
  • Spain’s Push to Repatriate Unaccompanied Children in the Absence of Safeguards
  • Spain’s Failure to Protect the Rights of Unaccompanied Migrant Children in the Canary Islands


  • Mar 28, 2014
  • Mar 26, 2014
    From the heights of Mount Gourougou, Melilla -legally, if not geographically, part of Europe- makes Europe appear within reach for migrants trying to get there from Morocco. Looking down, however, they can also see that its nearness is something of a mirage. The Spanish enclave is protected by three fences, razor wire, and constant patrolling by Spanish and Moroccan authorities.
  • Mar 24, 2014
    Spanish and Moroccan authorities should affirm procedures to protect rights for migrants and reject summary returns at the border.
  • Mar 11, 2014
    Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón’s plan to turn back the clock on access to abortion has enraged women across Spain, exposed deep divisions within the ruling Popular Party, and threatens to put Spain out of step with the vast majority of EU member states. Restricting safe and legal abortions will also put Spain at odds with many of its obligations to respect rights under international law, and expose it to intense scrutiny by international human rights bodies.
  • Feb 10, 2014
  • Feb 10, 2014

    Moroccan security forces commonly beat, otherwise abuse, and sometimes steal from sub-Saharan migrants in the northeastern part of the country, said Human Rights Watch.

  • Jan 21, 2014
    European Union (EU) leaders in 2013 acknowledged problems of rising intolerance and persistent human rights violations across the EU, but failed to take concerted action, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2014.
  • Dec 23, 2013
  • Dec 23, 2013
    Over the last five years, grievances over austerity measures and a sense of economic injustice have made raucous, disruptive, but peaceful protest a part of life in Spain. The country’s vibrant social movements have set up protest camps in city plazas, mobilized huge demonstrations, organized flash mobs in front of politicians’ homes, and blocked hundreds of evictions from foreclosed homes. It looks like Spain’s central government wants all that to stop.
  • Dec 4, 2013