Human rights groups call on EU to abandon new migration, asylum policy

ANKARA: More than 90 human rights and humanitarian groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, on Tuesday called on the EU to abandon its new migration and asylum policy.

‘To ensure that refugees can access protection, states must guarantee the right to seek and enjoy asylum and uphold their commitments to the international refugee protection system,’ said a joint statement by the groups.

Under Article 18 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, all EU member states must uphold asylum responsibilities. However, recent efforts to outsource asylum processing threaten the international protection system, said the groups.

The groups urged the EU and its member states to safeguard the right to territorial asylum in Europe.

‘Discussions on the externalisation of asylum are not new, and have been consistently criticised, contested and rejected over the years,’ the statement said, referring to sending asylum seekers to third countries for processing.

‘The European Commission itself ruled out
the legal feasibility of such models in 2018, describing them as ‘neither desirable nor feasible’,’ it noted, adding: ‘Global protection needs are higher than ever and low-and-middle-income countries are hosting 75% of the world’s refugees.’

The groups also stressed: ‘Despite this, there has been a recent upsurge in proposals to shift the processing of asylum applications, or indeed the responsibility for providing refugee protection, to non-EU countries.’

Italy plans to process certain asylum applications in Albania, risking prolonged detention and unfair procedures.

Denmark and Germany are considering similar measures, and 15 EU member states support shifting asylum processing outside the EU.

These efforts are part of broader strategies to prevent asylum seekers from reaching the EU, often ignoring human rights concerns, they said.

The EU Commission has bypassed scrutiny to make deals with non-EU countries without proper safeguards, aiming to deter migration at any cost, said the groups.

Risk of menta
l and physical harm

Outsourcing asylum to third countries shirks states’ legal responsibilities and undermines the Refugee Convention, making it harder for people to access justice when their rights are violated, they said.

Australia’s offshore detention scheme shows how such models lead to prolonged confinement, mental and physical harm, and persistent human rights abuses, they warned.

Recent attempts, like the UK-Rwanda scheme, have already led to detention and legal limbo, breaching international refugee norms and undermining the rule of law, the statement said.

These measures also waste public money, as demonstrated by the UK’s projected cost of £1.8 million ($1.95 million) per asylum seeker returned to Rwanda, rather than investing in fair and humane asylum systems, said the groups.

The political feasibility of outsourcing asylum has been heavily contested due to third countries’ reluctance to accept asylum seekers that Europe rejects.

This approach signals a refusal by the EU to uphold its refugee
responsibilities, undermining international solidarity and pushing the burden onto less-resourced countries in the global South, said the groups.

The EU has also redirected aid to migration prevention efforts, with 17% of its development assistance spent on domestic refugee costs.

This lack of commitment risks undermining global refugee protection, as other countries may be disincentivized to shoulder the EU’s responsibilities.

Despite reforms under the EU’s recently announced Pact on Migration and Asylum, transferring asylum seekers outside EU territory is not provided for, and the EU should focus on implementing a human rights-centered asylum system in line with international law, the groups urged.

Source: Anadolu Agency