The Council of Europe denounces the refoulement of refugees and migrants at Europe’s borders

If Ukrainian refugees are welcome with open arms by the countries of the European Union, this does not apply to all migrants and refugees† In a report published Thursday, the Council of Europe denounced the “widespread” refoulement of “refugees, asylum seekers and migrants” at Europe’s land and sea borders. The phenomenon has grown and is said to have become a “systematic pan-European problem”.

For example, Croatia, Italy, Austria, Hungary, PolandLithuania, Latvia, Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, Bulgaria and even France and Spain have been criticized for sending migrants trying to enter their territory back to neighboring countries. The document is based on NGO reports that, for example, counted between 50 and 130 deportations per day in the summer of 2020, and up to 170 in October of the same year, from France to Italy in the Alpes-Maritimes department.

“Human rights violations”

This report also highlights that in some countries “the use of force” against refugees is “serious and systematic”. He criticizes the tendency of certain states to pass laws that legalize refoulement measures. “The current situation shows that the serious human rights violationswhich have become an essential part of Member States’ border control practices are cruel, contradictory and counterproductive,” said Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic, in the introduction to the report.

The Commissioner pointed the finger at the double standard with the “warm” welcome reserved for Ukrainians fleeing the war : European countries that have opened their arms to them continue to push refugees of other nationalities beyond their borders, she says, “by creating false divisions” between the different groups.

Member States invited to “comply with their obligations”

The Council of Europe, human rights watchdog on the continent, therefore asks Member States to put an end to these refoulements and to “respect their legal obligations” towards refugees by not sending them back to the other side of the border “without an individualized procedure” or without “the right to an effective remedy”.

It also requires states to introduce “codes of conduct” and “clear and mandatory standardized procedures” for border control authorities to treat refugees “in a manner consistent with human rights”.

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