We are living in troubled times, with mounting intolerance and disrespect for our fellow human beings eroding the respect for human rights that Europe has built up over centuries. Human Rights Day serves as a reminder of the need to stand up for universality of human rights.
“More and more, we are seeing a crisis of values, a crisis of fundamental rights,” says FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty. “Many of the most vulnerable people in our societies are finding themselves the target of hatred that is a far cry from the rights set out in the Universal Declaration. We all have a duty to stem this erosion of the humane values that form the cornerstone of European society.”
One example of this growing intolerance is the hostility towards migrants and asylum seekers, as the Agency’s latest summary of migration-related fundamental rights in selected EU Member States reveals. Hate crime incidents range from everyday harassment to arson attacks, violence, and even murder.
Children are also under threat, particular migrant children. Some 30% of the migrants arriving in the EU are children, many unaccompanied. They face enormous risks along the migration route, including sexual abuse and exploitation. Once they arrive, detention of children 'for their own safety' in inadequate conditions is still a regular practice. Although Member States are making efforts to improve guardianship systems, they often remain ill-equipped to deal with the current migration situation.
A recent report from the Agency also highlighted the plight of Roma in the EU and the widespread deprivation that is destroying Roma lives. Families are living excluded from society in shocking conditions, while children with little education face bleak prospects for the future. Only 30% of the Roma in FRA’s newly published survey are in paid work, compared with the average EU employment rate of 70%.
Human Rights Day is celebrated on 10 December each year. This year’s campaign, ‘Stand up for someone's rights today!’, reminds us where human rights begin: “In small places, close to home - so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world,” as Eleanor Roosevelt put it. These include the shops, factories, offices, farms and neighbourhoods where we work and live.
Together, we can make a difference. For this though, we need to reaffirm our commitment to respect, promote and protect human rights for all, no matter who they are. The EU Agency for Fundamental Rights will continue to engage with its partners and stakeholders to champion fundamental rights and to provide the evidence and law-based advice needed to bring about meaningful change.