Since the beginning of the last decade, human rights violations have been escalating in the Middle East and North Africa. People have taken to the streets to protest against the dire political and economic conditions, and armed conflicts have ravaged some countries. Governments in the region have used violent tactics to subdue and silence dissenting voices and have systematically targeted political activists and journalists.
In October 2022, repressive regimes continued to target peaceful activists and journalists, suppress popular protests, and restrict public freedoms. In Eastern Europe, the Russian-Ukrainian military conflict claimed the lives of hundreds more civilians, and continues to cause the displacement of now millions of Ukrainians to neighbouring countries. The crisis has exposed the discriminatory double standards of European politicians, officials, journalists, and celebrities, who have called for embracing Ukrainian refugees because they share the same ethnicity, colour, and religion, unlike asylum seekers and migrants from regions outside Europe.
Last month, our team worked alongside partner organisations and dozens of regional and international organisations to generate real change by speaking to decision-makers about practises and methodologies that must be addressed and reformed or abolished. We also harnessed the power of social media to virtually engage the public regarding issues that affect their rights, as well as human dignity as a whole.
On 18 October, the High Court of Justice in London ruled that seizing the phones of irregular migrants when they arrive on British shores, as well as extracting and retaining data from those phones, is illegal.
For years, Euro-Med Monitor and other human rights organisations have urged the British and European governments to stop violating migrants’ and asylum seekers’ right to privacy, and to respect relevant European and international laws.
[At HRC: Euro-Med Monitor calls on European countries to respect asylum seekers’ privacy]
On 6 October, a local court ordered the Dutch government to improve reception conditions for migrants and asylum seekers immediately, declaring that current conditions do not meet international standards. The court also ordered that authorities provide shelters for asylum seekers.
Euro-Med Monitor had written to the Dutch Minister of Migration in July, urging him to take immediate action to ensure asylum seekers’ access to shelter, food, health care, and other basic necessities.
[In a letter to Dutch Migration Minister, Euro-Med Monitor demands immediate accommodation to Ter Apel asylum seekers]
Activist and prisoner of conscience Anas al-Jamal was released on 23 October, after being detained for more than five months for exercising his legitimate right to free expression.
Since the beginning of his detention, Euro-Med Monitor has urged Jordanian authorities to unconditionally release activist al-Jamal, allowing him to exercise his constitutional rights to freedom of opinion and expression, and ensuring that he is not subjected to security harassment for exercising his legitimate rights.
[Jordan: Repeated targeting of activist Anas Al-Jamal reflects securitisation of political protests]
On 19 October, Saudi authorities released Palestinian Mohammed al-Khoudari, who had been arbitrarily detained for about three and a half years despite being in poor health.
In April 2019, Euro-Med Monitor revealed that Saudi authorities had detained al-Khoudari. Since then, the Euro-Med Monitor team carried out a pressure campaign, including correspondence with relevant UN bodies and publishing updates on al-Khoudari’s health status and detention conditions. The team also urged Saudi authorities to release al-Khoudari without any restrictions or conditions.
[Saudi Arabia: Denying medical treatment to Palestinian detainee and his son betrays slow killing tendency]
Bahraini authorities released prisoner of conscience Hussain Ramadan in October, after he had been imprisoned for 10 years for his participation in the country’s 2011 popular protests.
For years, Euro-Med Monitor and other human rights organisations have urged Bahraini authorities to release prisoners of conscience and respect individuals’ rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.
[Bahrain: Unfair Convictions & Arbitrary Execution]
Long after their sentences expired, Algerian authorities finally released prisoners of conscience Mohamed Molouj and Jalil Bouamer in October. Molouj and Bouamer were each detained for different lengths of time for exercising their right to freedom of opinion and expression.
Euro-Med Monitor and other human rights organisations have urged Algerian authorities for years to unconditionally release prisoners of conscience, stop confiscating the freedom of individuals, and allow people to exercise their legitimate rights.
[Algeria: Punitive measures against striking prisoners of conscience are arbitrary, illegal]