Amnesty International to create sandy beach on the shores of the European Union Summit in support of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers’ rights




13 March 2013

One week today, on Thursday 20 March at 12:45, Amnesty International will re-create a beach on the ‘’shores’’ of the European Council in Brussels.

Activists (dressed in black or as tourists) will come together on 4 tonnes of sand, against the backdrop of a sea (a construction of 2 metres by 7). They will call on European Union (EU) leaders to do more to protect the rights and lives of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers arriving at Europe's borders.

Amnesty International offices across Europe will hold similar demonstrations outside their national governments. They will urge leaders to act now, put people before borders, and save lives.

These protests come as EU leaders start to define the new five year EU asylum and migration strategy; the so-called post- Stockholm Programme. This will be agreed at the June European Summit. The protests also come as EU leaders meet to discuss the April EU-Africa Summit agenda. This agenda will include discussions on migration, specifically on outsourcing migration control to African countries.

In addition, Amnesty International will launch a 2014 European Parliament elections’ migration pledge at the 20 March event. Amnesty International is urging Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to pledge to put human rights at the heart of EU migration and asylum policies and practices.

Amnesty International is also encouraging the public to join the ‘SOS Europe’ campaign to urge leaders to protect migrant, refugees and asylum seekers' rights, and save lives at Europe’s borders. This will be possible through a series of digital post-cards from the public to EU governments, from March until June. The first digital card (‘Greetings from the Border’) will be launched at the event.

Nicolas Beger, director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office, and Carmen Dupont, migration campaign coordinator will be available for interview.

A full programme of events will be circulated early next week (week beginning 17 March).

Five months after the Lampedusa shipwrecks, which claimed more than 500 lives, many EU member states are still not doing enough to protect people and save lives at Europe’s borders.  And as the war in Syria continues, the EU has also failed to provide a safe haven to the refugees who have lost all but their lives. As such, EU migration policies and practices are focusing on preventing arrivals, over protecting people.

Over the past decade, there has been a move towards trying to exclude people from European soil who are seeking safety and sanctuary.  Member states have resorted to policies and practices including violent interception operations, push-backs at sea, outsourcing migration control to non-EU member states with deplorable human rights records, sub-standard reception facilities, and wide-spread detention practices.

Such measures are in clear breach of member states’ human rights obligations.

This increase in border control measures has done little to dissuade those fleeing poverty, conflict, or human rights abuses. Rather it has forced an increasing number of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers to take dangerous routes to Europe, sometimes with fatal consequences.

The EU and member states must do more to prevent further loss of life. Instead of focusing resources on closing off borders, search and rescue operations must be increased, safe and legal routes for refugees to Europe must be created, and migration control cooperation with countries flouting human rights obligations must stop. The European institutions must also ensure member states are meeting their human rights commitments and obligations under EU law. Member states engaging in serious human rights violations must be held accountable.

As summer nears, and people turn their attention to booking beach holidays, Amnesty International’s 20 March beach protest will be a stark reminder of the dangerous reality faced by many along Europe’s shores. And the urgent need to do more to protect people before borders.

For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact
Maeve Patterson
Media and Communications
European Institutions Office
Amnesty International
Tel: +32 (0) 2 548 2773
[email protected]
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