UNHCR warns asylum is under attack at Europe’s borders

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  • States must protect the right of people to seek asylum by law.
    States must protect the right of people to seek asylum by law. Source:

The international organization calls for an end to pushbacks and violence against refugees and asylum-seekers.

The significant increase of pushbacks and violence against refugees and asylum-seekers all over Europe is alarming. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is calling for union states to investigate and end these practices.

Gillian Triggs, UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection said that “UNHCR has received a continuous stream of reports of some European states restricting access to asylum, returning people after they have reached territory or territorial waters, and using violence against them at borders,”.

Besides that, Triggs expressed concern that “The pushbacks are carried out in a violent and apparently systematic way. Boats carrying refugees are being towed back. People are being rounded-up after they land and then pushed back to sea. Many have reported violence and abuse by state forces.” People arriving by land is also experiencing as their human rights are violated.

States must protect the right of people to seek asylum by law

The 1951 Refugee Convention, the European Convention on Human Rights and EU law require states to protect the right of people to seek asylum even if they enter irregularly.

Accordingly, Triggs asserted the fact that “Respecting human lives and refugee rights is not a choice, it’s a legal and moral obligation. While countries have the legitimate right to manage their borders in accordance with international law, they must also respect human rights. Pushbacks are simply illegal.”

“The right to seek asylum is a fundamental human right. The COVID-19 pandemic provides no exception; it is possible to protect against the pandemic and to ensure access to fair and speedy asylum processes.” explained the UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection.

UNHCR advocates for national independent monitoring mechanisms

UNHCR has made its concerns clear to European states. The refugee agency calls for urgent inquiries into alleged violations and mistreatment based on credible testimonies that are corroborated by non-governmental organizations, media and open-source reporting.

“We advocate for national independent monitoring mechanisms to be set up to ensure access to asylum, to prevent rights violations at borders, and to ensure accountability. Independent monitoring is also proposed by the EU Pact, and we urge EU Member States to support this”, said Triggs, and remarked the fact that “It is regrettable that the issue of asylum remains politicized and divisive despite such declining numbers.”

Íridia also called for an end to violence and mistreatment

The catalan organization Íridia denounced last month, human rights violations in the Centre for the Internment of Foreigners in Barcelona (Spain). Andres Garcia, co-director of the human rights organization, expressed concern about the lack of qualifications of the officers.

In the CIE 2020 report, Irídia talks about people expelled without being allowed to make a statement or receiving an offer of action by the court and inhumane and very degrading quarantine conditions.

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