Justice and Home Affairs Council: When will we have a Europe of Asylum?

Amnesty International EU Office Press Release
Justice and Home Affairs Council: When will we have a Europe of Asylum

Amnesty International is urging EU member states to work for a Europe of asylum in which the human rights of refugees are respected. In a letter ahead of the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council on 3 and 4 June, Amnesty International is also calling for the EU to put fundamental rights at the heart of the cooperation with third countries when it comes to irregular migration.

The JHA Council will adopt conclusions on the follow up to the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum. One of the main commitments in the Pact is to create a common area of asylum and resolve the gaps of protection that exists in the way EU countries handle migrants and asylum seekers. The European Commission presented recast legislative proposals to address the differences in member states’ asylum systems but discussion between member states have proved difficult, especially on issues such as safeguards against detention, appeal rights, provisions for legal assistance and a more inclusive family member definition. In addition there has been lack of transparency on negotiations from the Spanish EU presidency.

The grave failings of the asylum system in Greece demonstrate that a common asylum system cannot be made reality while the conditions are so widely different in member states. Unless international refugee and human rights standards are properly implemented everywhere, the EU will fail its own goals and more importantly we continue to fail those in dire need of protection,” says Nicolas Beger, the director of Amnesty International’s EU office.

Amnesty International is also urging member states to respect human rights of migrants when it comes to cooperation with third countries. Violations such as arbitrary detention, denial of protection and forcible returns have occurred in the past as a result of Spain’s cooperation with Mauritania. Returns of migrants to countries where they risk torture and other forms of ill-treatment have also been documented with regards to Italy’s cooperation with Libya.  Amnesty International is recommending that the Council consider reviewing the negotiations on an EU-Libya framework agreement on cooperation and make it consistent with the values the Union stands for. The Council should also review its approach on readmission agreements with countries of origin and transit, such as Turkey and Pakistan, to take into account the human rights situation in these countries and the way the migrants and refugees are treated. Any further agreement should also be subject to effective evaluation by the European Commission.

Compromising human rights by diverting responsibilities to third countries is not an acceptable nor sustainable answer to migratory flows. Without a renewed commitment by member states to adhere to their international obligations, we will not be able to address most pressing human problems of the 21stcentury,”concludes Beger.

For further comment/background and interviews:
Amnesty International EU Office (Brussels):
Tel: 32-2-5021499/32 -2 – 548 2773
Email: [email protected]

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