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EU: New migration plans dangerous and miss the point

“After days of bickering, EU leaders have signed off a raft of dangerous and self-serving policies which could expose men, women and children to serious abuse,” said Iverna McGowan, Director of Amnesty International's European Institutions Office.

“The Summit was a chance to fix Europe’s broken asylum system and create policies based on fairness, effectiveness and compassion. Instead EU leaders have chosen to pander to xenophobic governments who are hellbent on keeping Europe closed, and to push even more responsibility onto countries outside the EU.

“Plans to confine people who do reach Europe’s shores to “controlled” centres are alarming. This flimsy euphemism cannot must not dim our sensitives to the fact that EU leaders moving towards a policy of detention for people who come to Europe seeking safety. A policy that if put into practice would be a far cry from the EU's founding principles of solidarity and respect for human rights.”

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

29 June 2018

NEWSFLASH

EU: New migration plans dangerous and miss the point

European Union (EU) leaders have today chosen fear over compassion by signing off Council Conclusions which could harm some of the world’s most vulnerable men, women and children, said Amnesty International today.

The political agreement, issued today detail new migration proposals which include plans for “controlled centres” for asylum seekers and migrants in EU states, and “regional disembarkation platforms” to disembark those rescued at sea outside Europe.

“After days of bickering, EU leaders have signed off a raft of dangerous and self-serving policies which could expose men, women and children to serious abuse,” said Iverna McGowan, Director of Amnesty International's European Institutions Office.

“The Summit was a chance to fix Europe’s broken asylum system and create policies based on fairness, effectiveness and compassion. Instead EU leaders have chosen to pander to xenophobic governments who are hellbent on keeping Europe closed, and to push even more responsibility onto countries outside the EU.

“Plans to confine people who do reach Europe’s shores to “controlled” centres are alarming. This flimsy euphemism cannot must not dim our sensitives to the fact that EU leaders moving towards a policy of detention for people who come to Europe seeking safety. A policy that if put into practice would be a far cry from the EU's founding principles of solidarity and respect for human rights.”

The Council failed to adopt any decisive measures to deal with the appalling human rights violations refugees and migrants suffer in Libya, including as a result of their own support to Libyan authorities. The EU-supported Libyan Coastguard is intercepting an increasing number of people at sea and returning them to detention centres where they suffer torture, exploitation and rape.

The number of those arbitrarily detained in such centres has recently grown to about 9,000.

Likewise, with Malta and Italy closing ports to NGO rescue boats, leaving refugees and migrants adrift for days, the need for predictable disembarkation plans, a reform of the Dublin system, and safe and legal routes that provide alternatives to people embarking on dangerous journeys, is as urgent as ever.

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Background

Amnesty International have made clear that it is essential that the agreed reform includes a mandatory distribution mechanism, where responsibility for asylum-seekers is shared among all member states. Aside from being fair, this would be efficient:  with all member states involved and no bickering over who is in charge, asylum applications would be processed much quicker than they are at present. It would also be predictable and would thus avoid the tensions that now regularly appear between member states, including when ships rescuing refugees and migrants at sea request instructions on where to disembark them.
A reformed system should strengthen rules for the reunification of family members. Asylum-seekers should not be forced to travel irregularly within the EU to reunite with their families. Stringent rules should require member state administrations to proactively investigate family links, and facilitate family reunion through fast procedures.


Bafflingly, the definition of family in the current rules does not extend to siblings. This must be rectified. A new system should also consider wider family links as a relevant connecting factor. In many cases, relatives are as important to family life as the core nucleus, and, in a context of forced displacement, may provide crucial support to often traumatised and vulnerable asylum seekers.