In his 2014 annual activity report, Nils Muiznieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights says, the past year was a difficult year for many of the member states. "2014 was a bad year for human rights in Europe. Thousands of people died who should not have died [...] They should have not have died in a Europe that prides itself on being a space where the rule of law and democracy prevails. They should not have died on the doorstep to some of the wealthiest societies on the planet. They should not have died on a continent that claims to have drawn lessons from its own bloody and violent history - a history that includes many Europeans seeking and finding refuge somewhere on the planet."
Among the countries visited during the review period, Commissioner visited Ukraine and Crimea where he remains concerned "by developments on the peninsula, particularly by the situation of the Crimean Tatars".
In Azerbaijan, "reprisals constitute severe violations of human rights and are incompatible with obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights" writes Muiznieks in his report.
Aside from Azerbaijan, Ukraine, and Russia, there were worrying trends across many of the Council of Europe member states notes in the report. "NGO activists and journalists also increasingly became targets of harassment and defamation campaigns [...] These campaigns took place in the context of stigmatising rhetoric employed by those in power against journalists and NGOs. Critical journalists and activists were often dubbed "spied" or "traitors", while independent NGOs were occasionally tarred as being quasi-political parties with a partisan agenda or harbouring aspirations of political power".
The Commissioner for Human Rights is an independent, non-judicial institution within the Council of Europe, mandated to promote awareness of, and respect for, human rights in the 47 member states of the Organisation. Elected by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the present Commissioner, Mr Nils Muiznieks, took up his function on 1 April 2012.