AI USA Statement on World Refugee Day
19 June 2009
“[***] Countries at Europe’s border are showing a flagrant disregard for their international obligations towards refugees:
“*Italy is intercepting refugees in international waters and physically transporting them, without assessing their protection needs, to Libya, where migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees are at risk of ill-treatment and forcible return to countries where they risk serious human rights abuses.
“*Turkey continues not to recognize people from outside Europe as refugees, meaning thousands of people are denied the protection they need.
“*Greece pushes back people at its land border and sea borders with Turkey without first assessing their asylum claims. For those that do enter the country there are many legal obstacles for refugees to gain protection.
“*Spain’s bilateral agreements with several countries in Africa are used to justify the arbitrary arrest, detention and deportation of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants in these countries.
“*Other countries in the European Union (E.U.) turn a blind eye to the increasing lack of respect for the rights of refugees and asylum-seekers at the E.U.’s borders as they attempt to receive fewer refugees themselves. Every year, thousands of asylum seekers are transferred under the “Dublin II” system to countries where the rights of refugees and asylum-seekers are inadequately protected.
“On World Refugee Day, Amnesty International warns E.U. states that their actions are undermining the protection of refugees not only in their own countries but across the world, by sending a dangerous message on the treatment of refugees. All countries must meet their obligations towards refugees and asylum-seekers not only within their own borders but wherever they exercise effective control.
“Italy [***] Between May 6-11, approximately 500 people were intercepted by Italy [in international waters] after they sent rescue requests and were transported to Libya, where Italy claimed they could seek protection. They included people from Somalia, Eritrea and other African countries. [***]
“Turkey [***] Turkey is effectively the only state party to the Refugee Convention that does not recognize people from outside Europe as refugees, meaning thousands in need of protection are denied it. Asylum-seekers are often arbitrarily detained for extended periods in poor conditions, and subjected to ill-treatment. Further, forcible returns of individuals from Turkey to countries where they face serious human rights abuses are common. [***]
“Greece [***] Currently Greece is attempting to amend domestic law to further restrict protection by eliminating the right to an effective substantive appeal in the asylum system, in breach of international and European law. Furthermore, serious concerns over the detention conditions of asylum-seekers and migrants continue to exist. [***]”
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