‘Do the right thing’: Amnesty International challenges EU to protect migrants fleeing North Africa


‘Do the right thing’: Amnesty International challenges EU to protect migrants fleeing North Africa

(Brussels, 23 February 2011) With the European Union’s Justice & Home Affairs Council preparing to meet on 24 February to discuss the increased flow of people fleeing recent unrest in North Africa, Amnesty International has urged the EU to rise to the challenge, and has criticised the short-sighted approach by member states. “This unfolding humanitarian crisis highlights the failings of the current strategy”, said Nicolas Beger, Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office. “There are many different reasons impelling people to flee. Putting obstacles in their path simply isn’t a sensible response. Instead of focusing on policing the EU’s borders, we must accept that the needs of the people of the boats are paramount.”

In a letter to the JHA Council, Amnesty International has called on the EU and its member states to review their approach to the challenges of migration, and focus on the human rights impact of EU policies which aim to block irregular migration. “EU countries must share responsibility for providing humanitarian help to these people”, said Beger. “We must guarantee them access to asylum and tackle the root causes of migration by supporting social and economic development. We must also restart talks on developing credible and accessible legal means of migration to the EU.”

Amnesty International has stressed the need for all the EU’s operations, including those of the borders agency Frontex, to comply fully with international human rights, refugee laws and standards, and Law of the Sea obligations. This includes the need for those arriving to be told about their rights. The organisations which explain asylum procedures, principally the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, must have unrestricted access to migrants and asylum-seekers. Amnesty International has also insisted on the need for effective safeguards to ensure that people are not summarily expelled or otherwise removed before they have an effective opportunity to challenge their removal.

If you would like to arrange for interviews or further comment, please contact:

Peter Clarke
Media & Communications Officer
European Institutions Office
Amnesty International

Tel: 02 548 2773
[email protected]

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