EU policies put refugees at risk - an agenda to restore protection

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Date of publication:  23 Nov 2016 Publisher:  Human Rights Watch Publication type:  Report / Study / Data

Humam Rights Watch published a 24-page report, “EU Policies Put Refugees at Risk: An Agenda to Restore Protection,” that analyzes the EU’s efforts to outsource responsibility for asylum seekers and refugees to other parts of the world that already host the vast majority of refugees, the trend toward restricting refugee rights in the EU, and the failure to step up refugee resettlement. The report sets out recommendations to guide Europe’s response to boat and other migration and says that EU governments should urgently change course on their policies.

In 2016, the EU focused on preventing arrivals and outsourcing responsibility for asylum seekers and refugees to regions and countries outside the EU, Human Rights Watch said. The EU-Turkey deal on refugees, a new framework for relations with third countries premised on migration cooperation, and the training the EU is providing to the Libyan Coast Guard and Navy all reflect this approach.

The report refers also to the inadequate implemetation and enforcement of EU asylum standards which translates into deep disparities among EU member states with respect to procedures, reception conditions and treatment of asylum seekers, creating distortion in the EU asylum system.The European Commission has proposed a raft of adjustments to EU asylum laws, including measures to make it harder to qualify for protection in EU countries, punish asylum seekers for moving between EU countries, and impose compulsory reviews to facilitate revoking protection and forced returns. More positively, the proposals would increase safeguards in asylum procedures and include siblings and families formed in transit in the definition of family.

The failure to share responsibility for asylum seekers fairly across the EU is one of the key shortcomings of the current system and was a major factor in the chaos at Europe’s borders in 2015, Human Rights Watch said.

The proposed changes to Dublin fail to take into adequate consideration asylum seekers’ preferred destination within the EU, based on family, cultural, and linguistic ties or other considerations, all of which are key to long-term integration, Human Rights Watch said.

The EU’s emergency relocation plan adopted in 2015 has failed to function as needed, with only 7,000 asylum seekers transferred out of Greece and Italy out of the target number of 106,000.

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