The EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) has published its annual report on the protection of fundamental rights in the EU Member States. The Fundamental Rights Report 2022 reviews the major human rights developments in the EU in 2021 and contains proposals for action in the following areas: the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and its use by Member States; equality and non-discrimination; racism and related intolerance; Roma inclusion and equality; asylum, borders and migration; information society, privacy and data protection; child rights; access to justice; and implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
In a focus chapter the report reviews the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people’s social rights, such as education, employment and healthcare. It also looks at how EU countries plan to use the EU funding made available through the Recovery and Resilience Facility to counter the social impact of the pandemic. As suggested in the report, governments should involve national human rights or equality bodies in monitoring that the EU-funded recovery measures are not incompatible with fundamental rights.
In 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic continued to take a toll on children’s well-being and education. Particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds faced a greater risk of poverty and exclusion. The pandemic fuelled discrimination, hate crime and hate speech towards migrants and ethnic minorities. Migrants faced violence or were turned away at EU land borders. Following the report’s recommendations, EU countries should increase their efforts to promote and protect the rights of all children. They should carry out effective and independent border monitoring to counter rights abuses. Their efforts to tackle racism and ethnic discrimination could be strengthened by penalising hate crime and providing better protection for victims, among other measures.
The Institute for Human Rights at Åbo Akademi University, together with the Faculty of Law at the University of Turku, currently form the national focal point of FRA’s multidisciplinary research network, FRANET. The researchers at the Institute for Human Rights and the University of Turku have contributed to the Fundamental Rights Report 2022 by providing relevant data to FRA on fundamental rights issues in Finland in 2021. The Finnish country report is also available on-line on the FRA website.