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Seville Summit: European Union Must Protect Migrants' Rights

In the run-up to the European Council meeting in Seville on June 21, Human Rights Watch called on the European Union to recognize the fundamental human rights of all migrants, regardless of their status

European Union officials have designated illegal immigration as their top priority for the Seville meeting. Human Rights Watch's research has revealed that efforts to combat illegal immigration and the development of ever more restrictive immigration and asylum policies have led to rampant abuses against migrants and asylum seekers in many E.U. member states.

"Existing immigration policies already result in widespread, serious violations of migrants' rights," said Elizabeth Andersen, executive director of Human Rights Watch's Europe and Central Asia Division. "Seville will usher in a whole new wave of abuse unless E.U. leaders begin to acknowledge that migrants-even those with no right to remain in Western Europe-have basic human rights."

Human Rights Watch has been engaged in a multi-year research and advocacy project on the human rights of migrants in Western Europe. The project, initiated in 2000, has revealed a range of migrants' rights abuses in several European Union member states, including:

Arbitrary detention

Gravely substandard conditions of detention

Procedural violations in criminal and administrative law proceedings, and in the asylum system

Racial and ethnic discrimination

Police abuse

Arbitrary and collective expulsions

Violations of children's and women's rights

Horrendous abuses of migrants and asylum seekers at the hands of human traffickers, often in complicity with law enforcement officials in E.U. member or accession states.
Human Rights Watch is concerned about the failure of the E.U. to incorporate rights protections into a range of legal and policy documents issued in recent years on the subject of immigration and asylum. The singular focus to date on law enforcement efforts to combat illegal immigration sends a message to member states that they can ignore the fundamental human rights of migrants. Recent statements by senior government officials from a number of E.U. member states reflect the continuing neglect of the human rights dimension of migration control. Human Rights Watch is sending an open letter to all E.U. heads of state attending the Seville summit detailing these concerns.

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