Geneva – The European Union should provide safe and legal pathways for people fleeing violence, persecution and human rights violations to ensure that they are protected and treated with dignity and have access to asylum procedures, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor and Geo Expertise said in a joint speech today at the 46th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC).
Delivered by Euro-Med Monitor’s legal researcher, Michela Pugliese, during the general debate on agenda item 8, the speech said that as the COVID-19 pandemic began to spread in March 2020, European internal and external borders were increasingly locked and fortified, exacerbating the difficulties, risks and obstacles people on the move have already been facing to seek asylum in the EU.
On February 23, in the North African enclave of Melilla, Spanish police had discovered 41 migrants hiding in trucks and waste containers in the hope of reaching the Spanish and European mainland, the speech said. Some of them hid among broken glass bottles destined for recycling and one man was found unconscious inside a plastic bag containing highly toxic ash.
The two organizations pointed out that these incidents remind everyone of the risk’s migrants are forced to endure in their desperate attempts to enter Europe.
The speech said that through limiting and denying access to asylum seekers, Europe fails to uphold not only its international obligations but also its core values: inclusion, justice, solidarity and non-discrimination. The speech also said that these practises contradict the Vienna Declaration of 1993 which reaffirmed that everyone, without distinction of any kind, is entitled to the right to seek and to enjoy asylum in other countries.
The two organizations recalled the importance of providing safe and legal channels for asylum seekers to reach Europe, in order to reduce their need to resort to such tremendously unsafe methods.