• Asylum seekers and refugees regularly protest against conditions in reception centers and restrictions on freedom of movement. Parliament rejected bills to enhance penalties for racially-motivated crimes as well as a bill to introduce hate crimes as specific offences. Following violent clashes with protesters, Hamburg police imposed in January 2014 a ten-day “danger zone” in much of the city, allowing them to stop anyone without reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing. Opposition parties raised questions about the involvement of German government agencies in mass surveillance by the US authorities. At least three German states forcibly return Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptians to Kosovo despite concerns about discrimination and inadequate integration measures upon return.

  • 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.

Reports

Germany

  • Feb 25, 2015
    On the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa stands a graveyard filled with simple wooden crosses. We don’t know the names and stories of those buried there, except that they perished at sea trying to reach Europe, fleeing conflict in Syria, human-rights abuses in Somalia and Eritrea, poverty in West Africa.
  • Feb 20, 2015
    “Aman.” a 29-year-old Eritrean, had just described his arduous journey to Europe when I heard the news about hundreds of deaths in the Mediterranean.
  • Feb 18, 2015
    When I was a child, my mother used to tell me how when he was only 11 years old, my grandfather left his hometown of Danzig (now Gdansk, in Poland), and traveled alone on a boat to England. My grandfather is Jewish and the trip saved his life.
  • Feb 11, 2015
    One month after the worst terrorist attack in Europe since Anders Breivik’s murder of 77 people in Norway, the contours of the response are becoming clear. Three areas stand out – new counterterrorism laws and policies; the related, though distinct, efforts to curb radicalisation and recruitment into terrorism, and a focus on tackling rising anti-Semitism.
  • Jan 29, 2015
    European Union leaders during 2014 were too often willing to sideline human rights at home when expedient in a year marked by success for populist and Eurosceptic parties in European Parliament elections and beyond, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2015. It highlights developments in 10 EU member states, EU human rights foreign policy, and Union-wide developments on migration and asylum, discrimination and intolerance, and counterterrorism.
  • Jan 20, 2015
    Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel should urge president Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan to free leading human rights defenders, journalists, and other government critics jailed unjustly in Azerbaijan. Merkel is scheduled to meet Aliyev in Berlin on January 21, 2015, to discuss bilateral relations, energy policy, and other issues.
  • Jan 6, 2015
    Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany should press Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk to ensure that Ukrainian forces take all feasible precautions to minimize harm to civilians.
  • Dec 10, 2014
    Listening to the debate in Europe on the threat from the extremist group Islamic State (IS) and returning fighters feels like Groundhog Day. Its black-and-white presentation, the existential nature of the alleged threat, the notion that governments should stop at nothing in responding—these were all characteristic of the discussion on countering al-Qaeda, particularly in the wake of the 2004 Madrid and 2005 London attacks.
  • Dec 1, 2014
  • Sep 19, 2014
    With many hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the violence in Syria, the focus—as it should be—has been on finding them safety, shelter and aid. But some governments are also looking to hold those responsible for the underlying mass murder and torture to account for their crimes. This requires an proactive approach, with appropriate laws to pursue suspects, skilled professionals to investigate these crimes and strong political will to support accountability efforts.