• 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

  • 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.
  • Sep 18, 2014
    In the 1980s and early 1990s, a large number of Afghans fled to the Netherlands to escape the dire situation in their own country. But they weren't the only ones who left. Senior government officials, including agents of the secret service - the dreaded KhAD - who had engaged in human rights violations also landed on Dutch soil.
  • Sep 16, 2014
    Governments wanting to limit impunity for the most serious international crimes should look to the examples of three European countries showing leadership in this area, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Specialized war crimes units composed of police, prosecutors, and immigration officials have the means to bring those responsible for atrocity crimes worldwide to justice and to ensure that war criminals don’t find safe haven when they flee their own country.
  • Aug 29, 2014
    The government of Azerbaijan appears intent on convincing the world that the oil-rich country is a prosperous and important player on the international stage.
  • Aug 22, 2014
  • Jun 5, 2014
    Nearly a year after the first stories about National Security Agency (NSA) mass surveillance broke, Germany is at the forefront of international reforms. Along with Brazil, Germany sponsored a UN resolution that was the first major UN statement on the right to privacy in 25 years.
  • Mar 27, 2014
    Chancellor Merkel should refuse to be blackmailed by either the Chinese government or the German industry. Both favour reducing the relationship to economic, educational, and cultural exchanges.
  • Feb 10, 2014
    Unlike Germany’s former foreign minister Guido Westerwelle, Steinmeier, the current foreign minister and also predecessor to Westerwelle is considered a realpolitik advocate. To him, when it comes to defining his relationship with countries such as Russia and China, human rights play only a subordinated role. This could be fatal.