Thursday, 10 June 2010

FRA: Europe must further strengthen fundamental rights protection

Protection mechanisms on paper do not yet fully function in practice

FRA Press Release
Vienna/Brussels, 10 June 2010

The 2010 Annual Report of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) identifies challenges in the areas of data protection, extreme exploitation in the workplace, rights of the child, racism and discrimination, and LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) issues.

“Every second EU citizen ranks the protection of fundamental rights as the most important value to be defended” said FRA Director Morten Kjaerum to the European Parliament today. “The Treaty of Lisbon paves the way for a more fundamental rights-oriented process of law making. Positive initiatives have been developed in many Member States in 2009 to ensure that fundamental rights are protected. However, in these difficult economic times, the EU must guarantee more than ever that there is no rollback on fundamental rights protection. In particular, EU Member States need to ensure that bodies set up to protect and promote fundamental rights are really able to do so in practice, thereby making fundamental rights a reality for everyone in the EU.”

The FRA 2010 Annual Report provides concrete and comparative data on the situation on the ground in the 27 EU Member States. It also provides advice to the EU institutions and Member States, based on the evidence found.

The Agency’s surveys and studies undertaken in 2009 in particular show that many equality bodies, national human rights institutions and data protection authorities lack resources, are not independent enough, and often have very weak mandates. Many separated asylum-seeking children disappear whilst their case is being processed. LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual) persons suffer discrimination in areas of everyday life, such as at work or in bars. Racism continues to be a part of everyday life for many immigrants and minorities living in the EU, and the majority of EU Member States do not keep official records of racist crime.

The Report also collects examples of good practices that Member States can build on to improve fundamental rights protection in their respective country. For example, the law was changed in Scotland (UK) so that if an offence is committed because of a prejudice based on a person’s sexual orientation or transgender identity, this must now be taken into account in sentencing. This is the first European provision specifically tackling transgender hate crimes. Another example is the case of Hungary, where the Prime Minister announced a government plan to offer 200 positions to experts of Roma origin in public administration from January 2010.

The FRA Annual Report 2010 is available at: http://fra.europa.eu