Human Rights Watch (HRW) has criticized Europe’s response to ongoing refugee crisis gripping the continent, saying the European governments’ reaction to the problem has resulted in a crackdown on basic freedoms.
HRW director, Kenneth Roth, made the remarks in his introductory essay to the New York-based rights group's annual report released on Wednesday.
"Fears of terror attacks and of the potential impact of refugee influx led to a visible scaling back of rights in Europe and other regions," Roth said.
The official further warned that “a polarizing us-versus-them rhetoric” adopted by Europe and the United States has moved from “the political fringe to the mainstream.”
"Blatant Islamophobia and shameless demonizing of refugees have become the currency of an increasingly assertive politics of intolerance,” he added.
The HRW report raised concerns about the situation in France, where exceptional measures have been put in place under a state of emergency, giving authorities extra powers to keep people in their homes without trial and search houses without judicial approval.
The measures were adopted after terror attacks in and around the French capital city of Paris on November 15, 2015. Some 130 people lost their lives and 350 others injured in the assaults claimed by Daesh Takfiri group.
The HRW report warned that these "potentially indiscriminate policing techniques" risk exposing blameless young Muslims to racial profiling.
The right response to the inflow of refugees is not more repressive border and immigration enforcement, but a better controlled program for the resettlement of asylum seekers, according to the report.
"The effect of European policy so far has been to leave refugees with little choice but to risk their lives at sea for a chance at asylum," Roth said.
Europe is facing an unprecedented influx of refugees who are fleeing conflict-ridden zones in Africa and the Middle East, particularly Syria.
While a few European leaders support an open-door refugee policy, others prefer controlling the external borders of the EU, deporting more people and paying third countries to keep asylum seekers on their soil.
More than one million refugees have reached Europe’s shores in 2015, while over 3,700 people either died or have gone missing in their perilous journey to the continent, according to figures released by the International Organization for Migration.