The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) has conveyed a series of recommendations to the new Spanish EU Presidency regarding the Union for the Mediterranean and the European Neighbourhood Policy.
Relevant excerpts include:
“Migration and Asylum
In relation to asylum, the EMHRN wishes to underline the following elements:
Refugees and asylum seekers face great difficulties when trying to reach safe havens in the EU. Due to push back operations and severe, indiscriminate border control policies, including EU supported operations in third countries, asylum seekers often find themselves trapped in North Africa and in the Middle East (MENA), that do not offer them any sort of protection despite the presence of the UNHCR.
Several countries of the region have not yet ratified the 1951 Geneva Convention on the status of refugees and none of the countries from the region has a proper asylum system. Refugees and asylum seekers face extreme vulnerability and are often prevented from accessing their most basic rights. …
In relation to border control, the EU and its member states are keen on promoting cooperation with third countries with the purpose of better controlling migratory flows. It remains that the EU has, until now, failed to properly integrate a human rights dimension to such cooperation policies.
Most countries of the region criminalize irregular migration. Migrants are being arbitrarily arrested and put in detention, with no possibility of appeal. They may face ill treatment and unlawful deportation.
The conclusion of readmission agreements is promoted by the EU and its members. Negotiations have been ongoing for several years between the EU and Morocco to conclude such an agreement. A mandate has also been given by the Member states to negotiate an agreement with Algeria.
The EMHRN believes that returning migrants to countries other than their own, or to countries where they have no anchor and no legal residency, may put them in danger.
Push back and interception operations, including at sea, are other policy instruments promoted by the EU and its member states. Several of these operations have resulted in endangering the security of migrants and asylum seekers and may have resulted in a violation of the ‘non refoulement’ principle.
The EMHRN acknowledges the right of a state to control its borders. However, the EMHRN calls on the Spanish Presidency to actively promote policies ensuring that
- cooperation with third countries from the region does not endanger migrants and refugees.
- cooperation policy in the field of border management considers the impact of such measures on the access of refugees to international protection mechanisms, including in Europe.
- the EU member states strictly respect the principle of ‘non refoulement’ as well as their obligation under article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
- no person is returned to a country other than its own or where he/she has no legal residency.”
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