ECRE Interview : Thomas Hammarberg, COE Commissioner for Human Rights (News)


“ECRE: The European Union is very keen in strengthening cooperation with neighbouring countries such as Turkey and Libya in order to reduce the number of migrants entering irregularly the Union. Do you think this could have consequences for refugees who try to reach a safe haven in the EU?

TH: Migration policies are to be based on effective consultations and cooperation among host countries, transit countries and countries of origin. However, as stressed in my reports, legislative and other measures adopted by the EU or European states in order to effectively deal with migration flows should fully abide by international and European human rights law and standards. In this regard, I have made known my disapproval of bilateral or multilateral agreements for the forced returns of irregular migrants with countries, such as Libya, with a long-standing, proven record of torture. […]”

“ECRE: What is your opinion on the Italian policy of pushing back migrants to Libya without an assessment of their need for protection?

TH: Both in my latest report on Italy published in April and in subsequent statements that I made I have expressed my deep concern about migrant boat interceptions and forced returns of migrants from Italy to Libya. What requires states’ particular attention is the fact that among irregular migrants there are usually a substantial number of people who flee persecution or violence that necessitate the provision of international protection to them by European states. It is recalled that about 75% of the irregular migrants who reached Italy by sea in 2008 applied for asylum and around 50% of them were granted refugee or subsidiary refugee status. As a consequence, any legislative or administrative measures adopted with a view to tackling the phenomenon of irregular migration and entry into the country should not fail to take into proper consideration the particular needs of people who arrive in Europe and are in need of international protection.”

Click here for full ECRE interview.

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Filed under Italy, Libya, Mediterranean, News

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