[JURIST] Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg [official profile] released a report on Monday emphasizing the need for European governments to critically examine their human rights records and patterns of discrimination. The report, entitled "Human Rights in Europe: no grounds for complacency" [PDF, text; press release] highlights a number of rights issues which have been heavily covered by the media in recent months, including anti-Semitism, racism, and torture. Hammarberg also focused on persecution of the Roma ethnic minority, and late on Monday Italian Interior Minister Roberto Moroni announced that children in Roma camps will be granted "humanitarian" citizenship [ANSA report]. In his forward, Hammerberg wrote:
Some governments in western Europe have tended to see human rights as a foreign policy issue. This has often placed the mandate under the Ministry for Foreign Affairs implying problems in this field could only be found in other countries. They have ratified international treaties as an act of good will, rather than recognising that these norms are relevant and useful in their own country, too. They have reacted with surprise when criticised European and international human rights mechanisms and sometimes in response even attempted to undermine these very mechanisms.The Commissioner's report also cautioned against human rights violations in the name of combating terrorism, and called on European countries to secure the independence of the judiciary and protect their justice systems from corruption.
Hammarberg has been a critic of recent controversial measures taken by European governments. Last week, Hammarberg questioned [JURIST Hotline commentary] the fingerprinting [JURIST news archive] of Italy's Roma minority, calling for assurances that the controversial scheme conformed to international norms. In a June interview with BBC Radio 4, he warned [JURIST report] that the UK's proposed anti-terror legislation allowing law enforcement authorities to detain terror suspects without charge for up to 42 days [JURIST report] should not be passed as it could set a bad precedent for detention laws in other countries.