(Brussels) – Leaders of European and African countries should ensure that intensified migration cooperation does not come at the expense of respect for human rights, Human Rights Watch said today. Over 60 heads of state from the two regions will gather on November 11, 2015, in Valletta, Malta, for a two-day summit the European Union sought with African nations, to discuss the refugee and migration crisis.
“Ensuring that people can live in safety and dignity should be the overarching aim of migration cooperation and development assistance,” said Judith Sunderland, associate Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “For that to happen, at the Valletta Summit and beyond, it’s vital for human rights and refugee protection to stand as core principles for any common EU-Africa efforts.”
- Development benefits of migration, and addressing root causes of irregular migration and forced displacement;
- Legal migration and mobility;
- International protection and asylum;
- Preventing and countering irregular migration, migrant smuggling, and trafficking in human beings; and
- Making progress on return arrangements and readmission agreements.
EU governments should design, carry out, and monitor their migration cooperation with African and other third countries to ensure that it does not effectively trap people in abusive situations, prevent them from accessing fair asylum procedures, or return them to places where they would risk persecution or inhuman or degrading treatment, Human Rights Watch said.
EU governments should also avoid migration cooperation with refugee-producing countries given the significant risk that such efforts would be used to block departures and access to protection, Human Rights Watch said. Failure to focus on human rights abuses contradicts the cornerstone of EU foreign policy as required by the EU human rights action plan and is counterproductive to the EU’s long-term objectives of managing migration and tackling the root causes of refugee flows.
“Like the wire fences being erected across Europe, deals to stem migration flows at the expense of human rights will only work in the short term,” Sunderland said. “EU governments should lead by example, take responsibility for asylum seekers on their territory, and ensure that respect for human rights remains a cornerstone of EU foreign relations with African and other partners.”