30.11.2009

PRO ASYL: Push-backs, arbitrary detention and the deaths of refugees are trademarks of a ruthless deterrence policy

Frankfurt/Brussels- Today, on the occasion of the Justice and Home Affairs Council, PRO ASYL together with the European Council on Refugees and Exiles ECRE (Brussels), the Helsinki Citizen Assembly (Istanbul), the Group of Lawyers for the Rights of Migrants and Refugees (Athens) and the Border Monitoring Project Ukraine (Ushgorod), will present its findings concerning the protection of human rights at the European borders.

“Unlawful push-backs, arbitrary detention, and even deaths of refugees are the dire reality at the external borders and are a trademark of Europe’s ruthless deterrence policy,” said Karl Kopp, Director for European Affairs at PRO ASYL. In regards to the finalization of the Stockholm Programme, which will dictate the political agenda on refugee protection, PRO ASYL urges the European Union to commit itself to the restoration and protection of fundamental human right principles.

Referring to resolution of the European Parliament (25th of November) and the second draft of Swedish Presidency (23 th of November) concerning the Stockholm Programme, PRO ASYL declares that Europe needs to be clear: keeping the human rights and refugee protection priorities does not mix with demanding cooperation with the Libyan dictator Gaddafi in order to prevent migration and flight. (Excerpts below) “The hypocritical human rights policy of the European Union is also responsible for the shameful fact that pushed back boat people from Eritrea, Sudan and Somalia fall victims to severe human rights violations in Libya,” says Kopp. The Italian model – illegal push-backs of boat people – must not become the model for the future European asylum policy.

Fundamental principles of refugee protection are being violated daily at the external borders of the EU. Protection seekers are sent back to transit countries like Libya, Turkey, Mauritania, and Ukraine without any regard to human rights standards there. Along the European coast lines and land borders, more and more detention centres for new arrivals are being set up.

The number of deaths of those attempting to reach the European Union remains shockingly high. More than 500 boatpeople lost their lives in the channel of Sicily alone since the beginning of the year. “The EU and its member states who keep statistics about everything, refuse to document the victims of the fortress Europe, leave alone to find an humane answer to this mass death, ” states Kopp.

Should the EU and its member states be serious about the “Europe of asylum” and should the area of freedom, security and justice be intended to be a common protection area for refugees, any cooperation with governments that violate human rights must be declined. Push-backs at the borders or in international waters carried out by FRONTEX units or member states’ border guards have to be stopped.

Annex

Excerpts

European Parliament resolution of 25 November 2009 on the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council – An area of freedom, security and justice serving the citizen – Stockholm programme

Asylum

49. Calls for the further development of the Common European Asylum System so as to establish a “Europe of asylum” (….)

52. Recalls that asylum is a right to be guaranteed to all people fleeing from conflicts and violence; condemns refoulement and collective expulsions to countries where human rights are not respected or which have not signed the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees;

58. Stresses that all agreements with countries of origin and transit, such as Turkey and Libya, should include chapters on cooperation on immigration, taking due account of the situation of Member States most exposed to migratory flows and with an emphasis on fighting irregular immigration and trafficking in human beings by facilitating the work of Frontex;

The Stockholm Programme- An open and secure Europe serving and protecting the citizens, 2. Draft of the Swedish Presidency 23 November 2009

6.2 Asylum: a common area of protection and solidarity

(…) The development of a Common Asylum Policy should be based on a full and inclusive application of the Geneva Convention on the status of refugees and other relevant international treaties.

7. Europe in globalised world – the external dimension of freedom, security and justice

The EU and Turkey have agreed to intensify the cooperation to meet the common challenge of managing migration flows and to tackle illegal migration in particular. (…) Concluding the negotiations on the readmission agreement with Turkey is a priority; until then, already existing bilateral agreements should be adequately implemented.

….Libya is particularly important, with a view to assisting those countries in their efforts to draw up migration policies and responding to illegal immigration at sea and on the borders. Efforts should be made to conclude agreements on re-admission with Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Egypt.

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