The Role of the International Community
The European Union effort to harmonize asylum and immigration policy remained a serious threat to asylum rights. The Action Plan on the Influx of Migrants from Iraq adopted in January set the tone, blurring the line between asylum seekers and economic migrants, focusing resources on measures to control borders and keep displaced persons in their region of origin, and, wherever possible, limiting protection in Europe to temporary or non-refugee protection. Many of these same themes were spelled out in a Strategy Paper on Immigration and Asylum Policy prepared by the Austrian government during its E.U. presidency. The European Com-missions effort to address situations of mass influx, its proposed Joint Action concerning Temporary Protection of Displaced Persons, ran into trouble over its burden sharing provisions, unpopular with a number of member states that host relatively few asylum seekers. In June, the commission reintroduced the proposal, deleting references to burden sharing and addressing this issue in a new companion Joint Action on solidarity among member states. Throughout the year, the E.U. used the accession process to put pressure on applicant countries to tighten their borders, combat trafficking, act as a safe third country accepting asylum seekers returned from Western Europe, negotiate readmission agreements with countries to the east and south, and otherwise provide a buffer between the E.U. and refugee producing countries.
Council of Europe
Facing restrictive jurisprudence in national asylum determination proceedings, refugee lawyers increasingly resorted to international forathe European Commission and Court of Human Rights and the U.N. Committee Against Tortureto obtain protection for their clients. Cases against the Netherlands and Germany were declared admissible by the European Commission of Human Rights. The commission also reached a unanimous decision against Sweden, holding that its proposed expulsion of an Iraniancitizen violated the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Reflecting this growing jurisprudence, in September the Committee of Ministers adopted a recommendation that member states should provide an effective judicial remedy for rejected asylum seekers who face expulsion to a country where they could risk being tortured or subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Increasingly called upon to consider cases of rejected asylum seekers on the basis of non-refoulment, the United Nations Committee against Torture denied most such petitions. In one case, however, it concluded that Swedens plan to expel a rejected Iranian asylum seeker would, if carried out, violate the U.N. Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
Republic of Belarus
Bosnia and Hercegovina
The Russian Federation
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
Asylum Policy in Western Europe