AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL PRESS RELEASE
Don’t deal with despotic regimes: EU must learn its lesson
(Brussels, 9 March) One month after Hosni Mubarak’s forced resignation and ahead of the 11 March Extraordinary European Council, Amnesty International has urged the European Union radically to reassess its policy in the southern Mediterranean, and to respond swiftly to Libya’s unfolding human rights and humanitarian emergency.
“The EU’s absence of credibility with the people of north Africa stems from its willingness to support repressive governments with no democratic mandate in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and elsewhere”, said Nicolas Beger, Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office. “The quaint notion that the EU can achieve ‘stability’ in the region without addressing the people’s needs and aspirations has been toppled by recent events. The EU urgently needs to admit its past policy mistakes.”
In a letter to European Council President, Herman Van Rompuy, Amnesty International has stressed the importance of making human rights the core of its relations with all countries in the region, setting out clear human rights benchmarks, including the full realisation of economic, social and cultural rights.
“The EU has turned a blind eye to Libya's dire human rights record while actively seeking Gaddafi’s collaboration to stem the flow of people arriving in Europe from Africa. This led to the violation of the human rights of these refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants”, said Beger.
In the light of this, Amnesty International is pressing the EU to boost assistance to countries such as Egypt and Tunisia which are seeing large numbers of arrivals. In particular, it has called on European Council members to:-
• Ensure that anyone fleeing from Libya is granted immediate access at the border of any country they can reach, without discrimination
• Provide any necessary assistance to ensure that anyone who has fled Libya is identified and thoroughly screened to identify people with protection needs and those for whom there are grounds for exclusion
• Continue coordinating and helping the safe evacuation of non-Libyans who have fled Libya and wish to return to their home country
• Set up a ‘humanitarian corridor’ for people stranded in Libya, including Eritreans, Ethiopians and Somalis, who face considerable danger and most of whom would also risk serious danger if they returned home
• Support EU countries confronted with people arriving from Libya and neighbouring countries in providing adequate reception and assistance and meeting the most immediate protection needs
• Suspend all enforced removals to Libya and those to Egypt and Tunisia which would jeopardise current humanitarian efforts
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