Europe is a catalyst of social change and overall a champion of human rights, however abuses continue to exist in select regions, including eastern Europe. Human Rights Watch says “the EU must be more forceful in combating human rights abuses at home, including restrictions against asylum seekers and migrants, and violence and discrimination against minorities.” Bulgaria, in south eastern Europe, has been singled out by neighboring countries for illegal sex trafficking and human trafficking and the US State Departments says the “government of Bulgaria does not fully comply with the minimum standards for elimination of trafficking.”

AWARE seeks to increase awareness of human rights abuses in Europe and bring the issue of worker’s rights, women’s rights, and LGBT rights to the forefront of the political discussion in an effort to end abuse by enacting effective measures of reform.

Key Abuses: Azerbaijan

  • Amnesty International reports that “Azerbaijani authorities persecute journalists (and now bloggers), shut down international and independent media outlets and violate other rights.”
  • Children in Azerbaijan are engaged in child labor, including in agriculture, and in the worst forms of child labor, including in commercial sexual exploitation.
  • The organization Civil Rights Defenders notes that “other grave human rights issues include a corrupt judicial system, frequent cases of arbitrary arrests, detentions, torture, ill-treatment of prisoners and discrimination against sexual and ethnic minorities and persons with disabilities.”
  • Police brutality against LGBT people has been reported as “common” and often not reported because of fear of harassment.

Specific Examples of Abuse:

Key Abuses: Russia

  • New laws restricting the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association have been introduced since Putin’s re-election.
  • The issue of torture and inhumane treatment is systemic throughout the Russian penal system, with the judicial system still infected with corruption.
  • It’s been reported there is a high level of discrimination against LGBT people, ethnic and religious minorities, women and persons with disabilities.

Specific Examples of Abuse:

Key Abuses: Turkey

  • A new report by Turkey’s Ministry of Family and Social Policy has concluded that 40% of women in Turkey suffer from violent abuse from a spouse or family member.
  • According to a Turkish human rights group, more than 30,000 women were exposed to violence in 2014 while nearly 300 were killed.
  • Workplace safety is a major concern in Turkey, including dangerous working conditions, with very long work hours, and insufficient usage of protective equipment.
  • According to the Istanbul-based advocacy group Worker Families in Pursuit of Justice, many fatal falls happen at construction sites because proper mechanisms for attaching safety harnesses are never installed, forcing workers to clip and unclip themselves to the scaffolding as they move around the building.

Specific Examples of Abuse: