Geneva – The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor and the Global Institute for Water, Environment and Health (GIWEH) made a statement before the 41st Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday which highlighted the fact that migrants arriving in Europe are subjected to violations and hate crimes. This contradicts commitments made by European Union member states to uphold the rights of asylum seekers.
Noor Kharma, legal researcher at Euro-Med, said that policies adopted by some European governments at the behest of right-wing politicians, such as reducing asylum seeker numbers, encouraged hate against refugees. Such policies risked breaching the rights enshrined in the Universal Deceleration of Human Rights and the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, both of which have been signed by European Union members states.
"The rights set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees give vulnerable persons the right to seek asylum to avoid persecution and conflicts, while the host State is obliged to respect the rights of refugees and not to expel or deport them," Kharma stressed.
She noted that the right-wing extremist policies by member state governments had legitimised hate speech and violations of refugee rights, as demonstrated by escalating rates of racist attacks against refugees. Furthermore, European countries have filed complaints against individuals and volunteers working to help refugees or to rescue them from drowning as they cross the sea, such as Miguel Roldan in Italy. Another example of this worrisome trend can be seen in the publication of anti-immigrant material in Berlin's central metro station.
The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor called on Human Rights Council member states to accept the refugees and migrants forced to flee their home countries as a result of wars and death, and to stop persecuting them. The Geneva-based monitoring group also called on the UN Human Rights Council to ask EU states to comply with their principles of refugee assistance and to renounce hate speech.