Amnesty International says human rights respect regressed amid EU migrant crisis

Respect for human rights regressed across Europe in 2015, as countries moved to restrict the massive inflow of migrants and adopted sweeping anti-terrorism measures, Amnesty International says.

Amnesty: at least 30 countries illegally sent refugees back to countries where they could face danger

An Afghan migrant waits behind a fence on Tuesday in the northern Greek border station of Idomeni to board a bus bound for Athens. (Petros Giannakouris/Associated Press)

Respect for human rights regressed across Europe in 2015, as countries moved to restrict the massive inflow of migrants and adopted sweeping anti-terrorism measures, Amnesty International said in its annual report Wednesday.

The rights group's chief, Salil Shetty, criticized the European Union — with the exception of Germany — for failing refugees in need, saying that European summits increasingly focused on measures designed to keep out refugees or hasten their return.

"The richest bloc in the world, which is Europe, has really not been able to come together and find a sensible, agreed, coherent, safe way in which people can access Europe at a time when they're fleeing from war and persecution," he said.

The Amnesty report said 30 or more countries illegally forced refugees to return to countries where they would be in danger.

Shetty also said France, Russia and the U.S. were among several countries which are sacrificing human rights in the name of fighting terrorism. He called the French government's emergency crackdown imposed after the deadly Paris attacks three months ago — including house searches without warrants and the power to dissolve associations — "increasingly questionable."

In Syria, Shetty said he was skeptical whether the cease-fire negotiated by the U.S. and Russia this week would have any effect on the ground.

The report documented the state of human rights in 160 countries and territories last year. That included what it called an escalating crackdown against rights defenders in China, an increasing climate of intolerance in India backed by its Hindu nationalist government, and the arrest of thousands in Egypt on grounds of national security.

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