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Pavel Burian

April 16, 2020 Europe

AI: Human rights under attack in Europe

AI: Human rights under attack in Europe - Czech Points

Amnesty International (AI) warns of the eroding of human rights in Europe during the coronavirus crisis.

Many governments across Eastern Europe and Central Asia have pursued an “extensive offensive” against human rights, deploying draconian tactics and tools of the state to suppress protests, freedom of expression, and civil society, Amnesty International says in its annual regional review.

The organization warns that the tendency to curtail rights manifested last year and is now threatening to accelerate under the guise of the current pandemic. In particular, AI has criticized Hungary, Poland, and Turkey.

“Protecting human rights is of particular importance in crises such as the global pandemic,” said AI.

Extremely vulnerable people, such as homeless people or asylum seekers, must also be protected, and the fundamental principles of the rule of law must be respected.

While many measures to combat coronavirus are necessary for health protection according to AI, some governments use the pandemic to undermine the rule of law, discrimination, repression, or censorship. They often belong to particularly vulnerable people in general or marginalized groups. “Governments must ensure that their measures are in line with international and regional human rights conventions,” Beeko stressed.

Amnesty International criticizes Hungary, Poland, and Turkey. In Hungary, Viktor Orbán’s government used the pandemic as a pretext to continue the “attack on human rights and the rule of law”, said Europe expert Janine Uhlmannsiek. According to her, the authority is using the crisis to secure unlimited power. Uhlmannsiek pointed to a law that allows the government to rule indefinitely through decrees.

AI reproaches the Polish government for using the crisis to take repressive measures. In Poland, in the shadow of a pandemic, parliament is debating the possible further reduction of abortion and criminalization of sexual enlightenment.

In Turkey, parliament has decided that up to 100,000 prisoners may be released in connection with a coronavirus pandemic. Still, imprisoned journalists, human rights defenders, and opponents are being held.

The governments of some European countries are violating human rights and trying to suppress demonstrations for an independent judiciary and responsible governance. Amnesty International, in its annual report on the state of human rights in Europe.

The independence of the judiciary is under threat in Poland, where the ruling party has taken steps to control the courts and individual judges. They were subjected to a slander campaign for their disagreement with government policy and were denied fundamental rights, AI says. The organization is also increasingly concerned about the independence of the judiciary in Hungary, Romania, and Turkey.

Indeed, an independent judiciary is crucial to defend the right of individuals to assemble safe from state interference. In particular, France, Spain, Poland, and Turkey stepped up efforts to reduce demonstrations in 2019. In many other countries, people were prosecuted for taking part in protests or injured in harsh police intervention.

Mass protests took place last year in addition to France, Poland, and Romania, also in the Czech Republic.

AI’s report also addresses discrimination against the Roma in the Czech Republic, especially in housing and education. According to Amnesty, migrants are also discriminated against.