NEWS

Greece urged to focus on human rights

Amnesty International on Monday appealed to the government to set human rights at the top of its agenda as European Union president, claiming that the international fight against terrorism and the crackdown on illegal immigration have provoked a rise in violations of human rights – especially those of refugees. As Europe continues to grow and transform, with the imminent accession of more member states and the progress towards the creation of a European Constitution, there is a need to reaffirm that the union is based on values including democracy, human rights and the rule of law, according to a statement by the human rights group yesterday. If Greece is to attain its goal of creating a «value-based society,» it must make the most of its six months at the helm of the EU to transform these values into action through its domestic and foreign policies, the statement continued. The group urged the government to ensure greater European Union involvement in tackling humanitarian crises across the world, by implementing effective systems for the monitoring of human rights abuses in all EU states as well as in Russia, the Middle East, North Africa and Colombia. The government should use its advantage as EU president to also ensure that the EU does not abandon its commitment to the terms of the Geneva convention in finalizing a common asylum policy, the group added. The union’s efforts to crack down on illegal immigration should not be allowed to have an adverse effect on the rights of refugees, the group stressed, noting that Afghans, for example, should not be compelled to return to their country if their safety is not guaranteed. Finally, Greece should also track the effectiveness of the new EU police force in Bosnia in upholding law and order, and in counteracting the failure of local police authorities to tackle violations in the past, Amnesty said.