Monday, July 22, 2024

NGOs HRW and Amnesty International call on EU to protect the right to asylum in Europe

NGOs Call on EU to Safeguard Right to Territorial Asylum in Europe

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International lead NGOs in calling for EU to safeguard right to territorial asylum

Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International, along with over 90 other organizations, have come together to urge the European Union (EU) and its member states to uphold the right to territorial asylum within Europe. In a joint statement released on Monday, the signatories emphasized the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the responsibility of member states under Article 18 to guarantee the right to asylum.

The statement specifically criticizes member states for attempting to shift asylum procedures and refugee protection to countries outside the EU, a practice known as externalization. This, according to the statement, allows states to evade their asylum responsibilities and undermines the international refugee protection system, as well as compromises their commitment to the rule of law.

The signatories also condemned the European Commission for enabling such arrangements between member states and non-EU countries, despite earlier claims that such policies were neither possible nor desirable. The statement highlighted specific agreements, such as the Italy—Albania migration deal, as shortsighted measures lacking human rights safeguards and monitoring mechanisms.

The UNHCR Note on the “Externalisation” of International Protection further solidifies the criticisms, stating that such measures violate the 1951 Refugee Convention and fundamental principles of international cooperation and responsibility-sharing. The statement warns of the human rights abuses that arise when asylum procedures are externalized to countries that lack the capacity to provide effective protection.

Iskra Kirova, HRW’s Europe and Central Asia advocacy director, called for the EU to focus on humane and sustainable asylum processing policies within EU territory, rather than pursuing proposals that are incompatible with EU law and human rights commitments. The statement serves as a call to action for the EU to prioritize the protection of refugees’ rights and uphold international principles of asylum.

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