Migreurop letter about Concerns : EP report on the situation of fundamental rights in the UE 2004-2007

For the attention of the members of the EP Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs

Dear Sir, Dear Madam,

Migreurop network, representing 35 organizations throughout Europe, Africa and the Middle East, would like to share its concerns about some of the amendments proposed on the draft Report on the situation of fundamental rights in the EU 2004-2007.

In view of the vote scheduled on Tuesday 2nd December on the report, we wish to draw your attention on amendments 149 (consequences of the application of the Dublin regulation in certain countries); 150 (detention of asylum seekers) ; 151 and 152 (reception of asylum seekers) ; 153 and 154 (detention of migrants who are not asylum seekers) ; 168, 170 et 171 (situation of rejected asylum seekers).

Amendment 149 seems to ignore a well known side effect of Regulation 343/2003 (the « Dublin regulation »), i.e. in certain Member States, asylum requests are not taken into consideration when the asylum seeker is no longer on the territory of the State. Regarding Greece for instance, a procedure has been launched by the Commission against this country where the treatment of asylum requests is deemed ineffective and several European countries have suspended « Dublin » transfers to Greece because of the failures of the asylum system. Such an amendment opens the doors to an infringement of the 1951 Geneva Refugee Convention under which the right to ask for asylum must be guaranteed and the requested properly examined.

Amendment 150 offers to delete a provision of the resolution according to which asylum seekers should not be detained. However, it is of vital importance to oppose a systematic detention of asylum seekers, which would inevitably lead to more detention facilities and more violations of fundamental rights, as pointed out by the study ordered by the LIBE Committee : The conditions in centres for third country national (detention camps, open centers as well as transit centers and transit zones) with a particular focus on provisions and facilities for persons with social needs in the 25 EU member states (December 2007).

Amendments 151 and 152 would suppress the requirement of appropriate reception conditions for asylum seekers as a necessary part of an asylum procedure and would deprive asylum seekers transferred under the Dublin regulation of the benefits of the “Reception Directive”. This would lead to possible infringements of the Geneva Refugee Convention, since the effectiveness of this Convention depends a great deal on the way asylum seekers are treated.

Amendments 153 and 154 would suppress the recommendation to avoid systematic detention of migrants who are not asylum seekers. The downsides of detention considered as a normal management tool of irregular migration in terms of violations of fundamental rights have been pointed out on several occasions by monitoring bodies, including Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT).

Amendments 168 and 169
would suppress or weaken a provision concerning rejected asylum seekers whose long presence on the territory of a State or the risk they face if the were deported to their country of origin should be good enough reasons to take their situation into consideration, and therefore not to exclude them from social protection systems.

Amendments 170 and 171 would suppress the possibility, opened by the proposed recommendation, to regularise rejected asylum seekers whose deportation would be impossible or inhuman due to the critical situation of the respect of Human Rights in their country of origin, which would amount to a violation of article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Furthermore, it would accelerate forced deportations of migrants on the base of readmission agreements currently negotiated by the EU or by Member States with countries of origin and transit.

Migreurop is especially concerned with the impact of the struggle againt irregular migrations on the fundamental rights of migrants - including the effects of deportation, detention and asylum seekers treatment. It is our opinion that adopting the above-mentioned amendments would go against principles discussed and upheld by the LIBE Committee and we therefore invite you to reject them.

Yours sincerely,

Claire Rodier,