On Thursday, the non-governmental organization's representatives presented Lithuanian Government Chancellor Alminas Mičiulis with recommendations for the Lithuanian presidency over the European Union (EU) Council.
Amnesty International has asked the presidency to take concrete steps on key issues to demonstrate the EU’s commitment to protecting human rights inside the EU and in its external relations.
"Lithuania must build on the momentum of the Irish presidency to strengthen the EU’s action on human rights within the union. There are a number of issues that are not being adequately addressed at EU level. These include, for example, fighting discrimination faced by Roma people, upholding migrants’ and refugees’ rights, and accountability for complicity in the CIA-led rendition and secret detention programs,” said Nicolas Beger, director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office.
The document calls on the presidency to address the discrimination faced by minorities across Europe, with a focus on Roma people who face barriers in access to housing, healthcare, employment, and education.
"The council conclusions on Roma will provide Lithuania with the opportunity to take a strong stand to ensure that a human-rights-based approach is followed when tackling Roma integration," reads the document.
According to Amnesty International, border control policies and practices continue to put migrants, asylum-seekers, and refugees at risk.
The Lithuanian presidency must ensure that the EU and member states are held to account for how they manage their borders, the organization said, also stating that the presidency should lead a discussion on new approaches to responsibility sharing both within the EU and with other regions.
The vast majority of EU countries have failed to publicly acknowledge or fully investigate their involvement in the CIA’s rendition and secret detention programs. Ongoing investigations in some countries have suffered delays or setbacks, leaving victims without an effective remedy, reads the statement.
Amnesty International also urged the Lithuanian presidency to use the forthcoming review in September of the European Parliament’s report on this topic to fully implement the recommendations therein and to push investigations forward at both the national and EU level.
The recommendations also highlight the cases of several prisoners of conscience and people who are at risk around the world.
“Members and supporters across Europe will be campaigning to press the Lithuanian presidency to bring the weight of the EU to bear on these cases. One example is Azza Suleiman, an Egyptian activist brutally assaulted by soldiers during protests in Tahrir Square in December 2011. Women protesters continue to face sexual violence in the current political unrest in Egypt," reads the statement.