• The French government failed to pursue necessary reforms to counter abusive identity checks, including ethnic profiling. Migrant Roma living in informal camps continue to be forcibly evicted, leading to further social exclusion and precarious living conditions, and removed from France. Modifications to the Criminal Code allow prosecution of French citizens and legal residents for participating in terrorism training abroad. The French parliament passed a law that legalizes same-sex marriage. A new law allows for far-reaching surveillance by the government with no judicial oversight.

  • 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

France

  • Oct 22, 2014
    President Francois Hollande of France should urge President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan to free four human rights defenders jailed unjustly in Azerbaijan.
  • Oct 22, 2014
  • Oct 9, 2014
    A counterterrorism bill before the French parliament would provide overly broad and vague powers that would breach rights to free movement and expression. The bill, proposed by the French government in July 2014 under an accelerated procedure, was adopted by the National Assembly in September and is now before the senate.
  • Sep 23, 2014
    The Open Society Justice Initiative and Human Rights Watch urge the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe to stress in his upcoming report on France the urgent need to put in place effective measures to address ethnic profiling.
  • 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.
  • Jul 3, 2014
    The European Court of Human Rights’ ruling approving France’s blanket ban on full-face veils undermines Muslim women’s rights. The ban interferes with women’s rights to express their religion and beliefs freely and to personal autonomy.
  • Jun 25, 2014
    A 16 year-old boy is fighting for his life in a Paris hospital. On June 13, Darius was found by a neighbor in a supermarket cart, unconscious, on the side of a road.
  • Jun 24, 2014
    When Human Rights Watch first saw Yemi, the 17-year-old boy was huddled on a concrete bench in the corner of a windowless, graffitied holding cell run by the French border police. Clad in a stiff new leather jacket but otherwise without clothing warm enough to face Paris in January, Yemi had been in the cell for nine hours.