PACE President Mevlüt Cavusoglu announced today that the PACE Migration Committee will conduct an inquiry into the incident that occurred in April when 61 migrants died at sea after leaving Libya. Survivors from the boat reported that several ships, including naval ships, ignored their calls for assistance. The Committee will designate a Rapporteur this week who will look into this incident as well as “other cases where better interception and rescue co-ordination could have saved human lives.”
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“Strasbourg, 09.05.2011 – Mevlüt Çavusoglu, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), today expressed his distress and deep concern following reports that 61 boat people have died after their appeals for rescue were ignored. Reportedly, their boat was left to drift in the Mediterranean for 16 days.
‘If this grave accusation is true – that, despite the alarm being raised, and despite the fact that this boat, fleeing Libya, had been located by armed forces operating in the Mediterranean, no attempt was made to rescue the 72 passengers aboard, then it is a dark day for Europe as a whole,’ he declared.
‘I call for an immediate and comprehensive inquiry into the circumstances of the deaths of the 61 people who perished, including babies, children and women who – one by one – died of starvation and thirst while Europe looked on,’ he added.
‘At the same time, we have also witnessed acts of solidarity: over 400 boat people were rescued yesterday by the Italian coastguard, with the help of Lampedusa’s inhabitants,’ he said. ‘This is something Europe should be proud of.’
‘Finally, Europe should stop exaggerating the impact of these arrivals. Libya’s neighbouring countries, mainly Egypt and Tunisia, are dealing with over 650 000 refugees who have fled the conflict there. In a spirit of solidarity and of burden-sharing, the 27 EU member states should at least be able to deal, in a humane way and in compliance with their international obligations, with the arrival by boat of several thousand,’ Mr Çavusoglu added.
‘Our Assembly will be sending a delegation to Lampedusa on 23-24 May 2011 to evaluate the situation there, ahead of two major debates – possibly in June – on the rescue of boat-people and the need for Europe to share responsibility. The Assembly has produced a string of critical reports on these matters, and will continue to urgently insist on the humane and lawful treatment of asylum-seekers, refugees and irregular migrants coming to Europe.'”
Click here for link to statement.
Statement from Mevlüt Çavusoglu, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe: “Refugees and migrants are trapped by the conflicts [in Libya]. In Libya, 8000 persons have been recognised as refugees by the UNHCR and are particularly vulnerable…. UNHCR and IOM have today made a joint appeal to governments around the world to provide support for an emergency humanitarian evacuation ongoing at the moment. I join their appeal by adding my plea: the help of the entire international community is urgently needed, and Europe should be at the forefront of the response to this crisis.”
Click here for full statement.
PACE President Mevlüt Çavusoglu released a statement today concerning the arrivals in Lampedusa and elsewhere in Italy and called for the proper treatment of those who are arriving, including granting of international protection where appropriate, and asking that there be no mass expulsions. The statement also said that “it is also absolutely necessary that Europe share the responsibility for these people. Today it is Italy taking the brunt. Tomorrow it could be Malta, next week it could be Greece, in a year Turkey. All of Europe is concerned. In this context, the EU Agency Frontex has an important role to play, but it must abide by all the maritime and human rights provisions applying to rescue and interception at sea.”
The statement also referenced PACE Resolution 1637 (2008), “Europe’s boat people: mixed migration flows by sea into southern Europe” whose provisions include the following:
“9. The Assembly calls on Mediterranean member states of the Council of Europe receiving mixed flows of irregular migrants, refugees and asylum seekers to:
9.1. comply fully with and, when applicable, implement international and regional human rights law, including the European Convention on Human Rights (ETS No. 5), international refugee law, and European Union legislation, including Council Directives 2003/9/EC (laying down minimum standards for the reception of asylum seekers), 2004/83/EC (“refugee qualification directive”) and 2005/85/EC (“refugee procedures directive”);
9.2. comply fully with international maritime obligations on search and rescue, and examine fully any allegations of breaches of these obligations, including allegations of boats being refused assistance and being “pushed back”;
9.3. progressively proscribe administrative detention of irregular migrants and asylum seekers, drawing a clear distinction between the two groups, and in the meantime allow detention only if it is absolutely necessary to prevent unauthorised entry into the country or to ensure deportation or extradition, in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights; [***]
Click here for Statement.
Click here for PACE Resolution 1637 (2008).
PACE President Çavusoglu: ECtHR Decision “explodes myth that Europe is able to protect the rights of refugees”
“‘The European Court of Human Rights today delivered a milestone judgment damning how Europe is protecting its refugees, asylum seekers and irregular migrants,’ today said Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) President Mevlüt Çavusoglu.
‘While the M.S.S. v. Belgium and Greece judgment is only against two member states, the implications of the judgment will be rippling through the capitals of Europe,’ he added. ‘The myth that European Union member states are safe places to return asylum seekers has been exploded by the European Court of Human Rights.’
The President stated that the Court had found massive deficiencies in detention conditions in Greece and in the procedures and remedies designed to safeguard the rights of asylum seekers, refugees and irregular migrants in Europe. He commented that Greece was not alone in failing on detention safeguards and that the Assembly had recently addressed recommendations to all member states on steps to improve detention facilities in Europe.
‘What is also clear from this judgment is that the so-called EU ‘Dublin system’ for determining the state responsible for deciding an asylum decision has to be changed as a matter of urgency. It is based on the false premise that EU member states are all safe and able to cope. They are not, and the ‘Dublin system’ creates enormous burdens on front-line states, such as Greece,’ the President declared.
He called on the EU to work with the Council of Europe, UNHCR and others, to solve the problem of returns under the “Dublin system” and reiterated a concern repeatedly highlighted by the Assembly that Europe needs to make its asylum systems fairer (see PACE Resolution 1695 (2009)) and needs clear rules on detention of irregular migrants and asylum seekers (see PACE Resolution 1707 (2010)).
‘Europe has European Prison Rules applying to criminals, but we still do not have similar rules for irregular migrants and asylum seekers who have committed no crime,’ he concluded.”