For freedom of movement

This December 18, 2013, in the framework of [the global action day for the rights of migrants, the Euro- African network Migreurop solemnly launches a call for the freedom of movement of persons. Identifying barriers introduced by migration policies to human mobility (discriminatory visa policies, maritime interceptions, walls, political agreements for the readmission of persons in irregular situation...) Migreurop recalls their dramatic consequences in terms of human rights respect (prolonged detention , violation of the asylum right, deaths on the migratory routes ...). In light of these concerns, and in the name of equality - because freedom of movement does exist for some of the world’s citizens who can easily cross borders by accident of birth - Migreurop requires a radical change in migration policies in order to make possible the freedom to go, to come and settle for everyone, freedom which is the necessary corollary of migrant’ rights.

Solemn call for freedom of movement

Since its creation, the Migreurop network has highlighted the harmful effects of the European Union’s border management policy [1]. It has regularly criticised the securitarian view of migration policies, which translates into a growing militarisation of Fortress Europe, the multiplication of interceptions at sea, or even the closure of possibilities to migrate legally (which translates into obstacles introduced for the issuing of visas) [2]. Migreurop points out the multiplication of controls, which call upon sophisticated and expensive methods, as is demonstrated by the building of new walls and first the creation and then the strengthening of the Frontex agency – the European Union’s veritable armed wing.

Likewise, Migreurop criticises the process of externalisation of migration controls that force third countries to readmit anyone who is chased away from European countries who is believed to have passed through their territory and to strengthen control and repression to prevent the departure and transit of migrants. In this way, there is a proliferation of readmission agreements, which seek to enable expulsions and constitute one of the weapons to prevent the mobility of migrants upstream from the European borders [3]. The EU does not hesitate to use Public Development Aid instrumentally, to pressure migrants’ transit and home countries in order for them to accept such agreements. Through these mechanisms, Europe turns away from its duty to protect people who seek asylum and it ignores the human rights violations that this entails.

In 2010, Migreurop took a stand for the closing of camps for foreigners, the instrument of choice for the management of migrant populations [4]. Migrants, detained or otherwise, are considered criminals and declared to be in an illegal situation only because they have supposedly not complied with the rules imposed for the crossing of borders and the right of residence. Contravening these rules - although they sometimes run contrary to international law - serves to justify increasingly strict policies to restrict people from coming and going, while nobody can ignore their frightening consequences : since 1990, over 20,000 people have died or disappeared while they tried to reach Europe.

Through these struggles that Migreurop has undertaken, we have highlighted the harmful effects of obstacles placed in the way of people’s freedom of movement. Yet, this freedom exists for a part of the world’s citizens who, by chance resulting from their place of birth, have a passport or obtain visas without difficulty that allow them to easily cross borders. Accepting that others should be denied this means approving the existence of a world with two tracks, entailing discriminations based on a relationship of political-economic domination by the so-called industrialised countries over the others. It also means ignoring the existence of fundamental rights, such as the right to migrate, which is recognised by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, or the non-refoulement principle that is sanctioned by the 1951 Geneva Convention.

Claiming the right to come, to go and to settle for everyone, woman or man, in the name of the principle of equality constitutes an indispensable corollary to the defence of the rights of migrants. This is why, in continuity with its activities and struggles, Migreurop demands the effective implementation of freedom of movement, as a means for social change for the sake of a fairer and more equitable model of society.