Europe’s Worst Human Rights ‘Crisis’ in Decades

Written by | Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Europe is facing its worst human rights crisis in over two decades, says a report published recently by the Strasbourg-based Council of Europe (CoE). The human rights watchdog warns that European societies have to put up with increasing corruption, racism, discrimination and human trafficking, which – coupled with unemployment and poverty in many of the 47 countries under its mandate – help feed extremism and fuel conflict. To that end, CoE spokesperson, Daniel Holtgen, explains that “The challenges to security in Europe are more often caused by conflicts within territories, within states rather than classical conflicts between states”.
In a statement entitled “Europe in biggest human rights crisis since Cold War”, Council of Europe’s Secretary General, Thorbjorn Jagland argues the combination of lack of democratic checks and balances, free media and an independent judiciary is the principle cause of widespread corruption and misuse of power and calls for a “new pan-European security agenda” to help stem the abuse. To improve the unfavorable situation on the ground, the CoE report puts forward the idea to ensure human rights are embedded, from the beginning, into security-driven policies and laws.
Greece, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Turkey and Ukraine are the most prominent cases of the deteriorating state of human rights in Europe. While in Greece discrimination and austerity measures gave rise to the far-right political parties and other groups, Bosnia-Herzegovina’s dismal economy, unemployment, and popular resentment against the political elites are fuelling protest movements. Turkey is also mentioned with its Taksim Gezi Park protests last year and its clamp down on free media. The 72-page report also posits that the current crisis in Ukraine, with the lack of an independent judiciary, of free press and of check of balances on government, illustrates “the dangers that we face”.

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