The 34th edition of Human Rigths Watch World Report has been publised. It examines human rights conditions in over 100 countries globally. One general trend highlighted among countries is that ‘Global leaders have failed to take strong stands to protect rights, often with deadly consequences’, HRW however notes positive developments on some fronts, showing that the power of global human rights NGOs is not to be underestimated. However, there is a lot of work to be done and countries have to be held accountable for their obligations.
HRW states; “European Union (EU) member states and institutions made new and renewed existing commitments to uphold and protect rights in 2023. In practice, however, the willingness of the EU to give effect to those commitments too often fell short, particularly when it came to the rights of people at its external borders and members of marginalized communities and in its response to the troubling spread of curbs on civil society”. The chapter on the EU, reaveals that the EU and its member states adopted highly repressive deterrence measures against people arriving in at EU borders. Some EU member states, such as Bulgaria, Croatia, and Hungary continued to engage in unlawful pushbacks at their borders while Italy and Malta participated and added to interceptions at sea and returns to Libya. The fact that two EU member states, Hungary and Poland, continue to disregard Article 7 of the treaty on the European Union, with their governments’ persistent disregard for democratic and human rights values, is also reported.
These developments deepen concerns about declining democratic freedoms and shrinking civil society space within the Union. Further data from the report shows that 21.6% of the EU population were at risk of poverty or social exclusion. The primary cause for that is unemployment, raising concerns about the susceptibility of human trafficking cases.
The full report can be found here, including detailed reports on over 100 countries, including most European countries.