MEPs urge for better protection of migrants’ rights

They called for an independent and accessible complaints mechanism on all activities carried out by Frontex

Photo: EP Tineke Strik.

In a report adopted during this week’s plenary session in Brussels, the EU Parliament aims to ensure that the EU’s cooperation with third countries on migration respects and promotes the human rights of migrants and refugees.

Cooperation with third countries does not absolve the EU of meeting its human rights obligations towards migrants and refugees, rapporteur Tineke Strik (The Greens/EFA, Netherlands) underscored. In her words, these obligations must be fulfilled through better monitoring, more transparency on the use of EU funds and enhanced democratic oversight from the European Parliament.

We must ensure access to justice for migrants and refugees whose rights may be affected by the EU’s cooperation with third countries, rapporteur Strik urged adding that “this is the only way to ensure that our external migration policy complies with international law”.

The report provides recommendations on human rights protection in the framework of the EU’s external asylum and migration policy. It notes that since 2016, the EU and some Member States have made many informal bilateral agreements and arrangements with third countries on strengthening their border control and management capacities, fighting human trafficking and on the return and readmission of irregular migrants.

The report zooms in on several worrying trends and the practical human rights implications stemming from such informal arrangements, “which are concluded without due democratic scrutiny and parliamentary oversight and are not subject to judicial scrutiny”.

The Commission should negotiate and sign formal readmission agreements with third countries, MEPs urged. They accented on the absence of adequate operational reporting, monitoring, evaluation and accountability mechanisms to track individual cases and respond to potential violations, as well as the lack of effective judicial remedies for persons whose rights have been allegedly violated.

They called on the Commission to establish an independent, transparent and effective monitoring mechanism on all activities carried out by Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, which would be in addition to the internal complaint mechanism in place.

Lawmakers underlined as well that the rights of asylum seekers are inherently dependent on having human rights violations assessed by a court.

MEPs insisted the Commission to ensure full transparency, including by establishing a complete, public overview of EU funding to third countries to facilitate cooperation on migration issues.

According to them, a detailed information is needed also on any other support measures provided by EU agencies such as Frontex, in order to ensure that the EU Parliament can efficiently scrutinise how the EU money is spent.

 

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