The “Euro-Med Monitor for Human Rights has strongly denounced the “indifference” with which the Mediterranean countries deal with the lives of the refugees that come to them having escaped fierce battles. The repeated incidents of immigrants drowning on European coasts represent “a blow to all humanitarian work”, with such countries bearing full responsibility for the fate of such migrants.

The “Euro-Med Monitor said in a press statement on Saturday (12th October), that Mediterranean and other European countries are “fail in their ethical responsibilities and failing to protect migrants exposed to the danger of war, and death at sea”, stressing the need for states to ensure asylum seekers, as a minimum, the right to life and the right to protection. Asylum seekers that reach such countries should not be subject to arrest or arbitrary detention, and should have the right to leave the country at any time as under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the “Declaration on the Human Rights of Individuals Who are not Nationals of the Country in which They Live”, issued by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1985.

The “Euro-Med Monitor emphasised that the countries that asylum seekers reach are “obliged to treat them humanely and to provide for their basic needs”, whereby Article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights – applicable to any person in the territory of any of the states of the European Union, regardless of the status of his presence – prohibits the subjection of any person to inhumane or degrading treatment. The European Union recommendation No. (EC/2003/9) issued on (27/01/2003) defined minimum standards for receiving asylum seekers, as well as stating that member states must provide a decent standard of living to them, just as they must also afford freedom of movement, health care and housing.

The Euro-Med Monitor considers the recurrent drownings a “confirmation of Europe’s failure to prepare itself with the necessary tools to avoid loss of life and to provide legal alternatives to refugees surviving war, rather than let them enter Europe through dangerous and fatal ways”. This is especially relevant in light of the recommendations published by the Parliamentary Assembly of the European Parliament following the sinking of around 72 migrants in March 2012, and which published what is called “The Index of Failure”, condemning the “actions that contributed to the deaths of migrants” that were taken at the time by the Libyan, Maltese, and Italian authorities and NATO.

The observer added, “Unfortunately, victims often, rather than being saved, are forced to return in a manner that violates human rights, sending them to an unknown fate, whether at sea or to countries that they fled from”, calling on the European Union and European governments to take strong action to prevent further loss of life at the Mediterranean sea, and to protect the human rights of migrants and refugees.

It further stressed “Europe must review the challenges resultant from the influx of migrants, including the impact of current policies on human rights, it being imperative to recognise that contraventions and violations of human rights and lack of political stability are fundamental factors driving people to flee and migrate from Middle Eastern countries. This therefore means that traditional immigration policies that focus only on preventing migration to Europe will not prevent people reaching it.