The European Union and its member states do not do enough to protect and support human rights activists, Amnesty International said on Wednesday.
A report by the NGO said activists across the world are receiving threats and being attacked more and more frequently.
The organisation says the EU sometimes does not do enough about human rights violations in certain countries. EU action can mean the difference between freedom and imprisonment or even life and death for human rights activists.
To illustrate this, Amnesty highlighted the EU’s verybdifferent attitudes when human rights violations are reported in China and Saudi Arabia. Although the EU is very vocal when supporting activists in China, it doesn’t respond the same way when a case involves Sheikhs in the Gulf.
“The EU almost never publicly intervenes when it comes to Saudi Arabia, despite the fact that any form of protest there is severely reprimanded,” Amnesty said. “Maintaining a privileged partnership with Saudi Arabia is more important than human rights,” it said.
In its report, the organisation called on the EU to adopt a more systematic approach to these issues. “The EU and its member states need a strategic and visible approach to support and defend people who are threatened when they defend human rights,” says Eve Geddie, the director of Amnesty’s European office.
“Foreign Affairs ministers could commit to promoting and defending human rights activists. That would be a good start,” she added.