(Brussels, 30 November) There are major gaps and inconsistencies in
the draft Stockholm Programme where irregular migration is concerned,
says Amnesty International on the day that Justice and Home Affairs
Ministers will be adopting the five year policy document.
In a letter (available here)
the organization expressed concern towards the EU’s plans on irregular
migration. Disappointingly, the EU’s proposals to achieve a “forward
looking and comprehensive European migration policy” are
disproportionally aimed at returning migrants, without taking into
account the rights of irregular migrants.
“A migration policy that is only concerned with returning people
and that does not take the rights of migrants seriously cannot work; on
the contrary it risks undermining the EU’s credibility even more” said
Natalia Alonso, Acting Director of Amnesty International’s EU Office.
In relation to cooperation with third countries in particular,
Amnesty International is surprised and worried that the Global Approach
to migration is seen as a “success” when there is compelling evidence
that cooperation with third countries, namely with Libya, has often
resulted in serious human rights violations. Amnesty International
regrets that the draft does not contain a provision to create a
mechanism to monitor and assess the abuses committed during such
instances of cooperation.
“We are talking about arbitrary detentions, forcible returns and
even deaths of people who were reportedly left at sea to die. Far from
a success, this type of cooperation is tarnishing the EU’s reputation”
With regard to the regular chartering of joint return flights,
Amnesty International is very concerned that this method can result in
collective expulsions based on nationalities. As is stipulated by
international human rights law, the decision to return someone should
be evaluated on a case-by-case basis and based on criteria that goes
beyond irregular stay.
The EU’s five-year plan also fails to address the exploitation of
irregular migrants and their lack of access to basic rights. The EU’s
silence in this respect is disturbing given that irregular migrants are
already one of the most vulnerable groups of people living in Europe,
routinely denied basic rights and victims of a growing climate of
“If the EU does not intervene, people whose sole crime is that they
don’t have a regular status will continue to be treated like criminals.
In several European countries there are children who cannot attend
school or receive proper medical care simply because their parents do
not have papers. Marginalizing people is not just wrong, it is
dangerous” added Alonso.
Amnesty International urges the EU to fill the gaps of the
Stockholm Programme by ensuring that a rights based approach to
migration is streamlined in such a way that all actions and policies in
this field, including cooperation with third countries, will safeguard
the human rights of migrants.