A collective demand
Throughout the world, refugees, asylum seekers and other migrants are being treated in cruel and illegal ways. Some European states are systematically violating the rights of people attempting to escape from persecution, armed conflict, disasters, and deprivation. At Europe’s borders, such people are confronted with the constant threat of destitution, detention, exploitation, and physical violence. In the worst cases, their lives have been lost, both at sea and on land.
Such abuses must stop, and people who are on the move must be treated in a decent and humane manner. This Collective Demand is signed by civil society organisations with a wide range of experience and expertise. While activities of certain organisations relate only to some of the demands below, all signatories are united in their call for humanity in the treatment of people on the move.
This Collective Demand calls for:
1. Stop Pushbacks
European states must immediately desist from pushbacks and expulsions on land and at sea and halt the practice of detaining people in punitive conditions. A ‘pushback’ takes place when the authorities or agents of a state or interstate agency forcibly prevent migrants from accessing the territory of the country they are trying to reach, without regard for the negative consequences for those migrants
in terms of safety, dignity or loss of essential human rights that may result from the forcible action. ‘Pushbacks’ may take place on land or at sea.
2. End ‘deterrence by death’
All activities aimed at preventing rescue at sea must cease. Mediterranean states must agree to facilitate initiatives that prevent loss of life at sea.
3. Humane Borders
Where border control agreements between European and other states cause refugees and other migrants to be treated in a manner that violates their human rights, such agreements must be terminated. Relevant international organisations must have full access to, and be allowed to assist, all those in need of protection and assistance in non-European countries.
4. Justice and Compensation
When refugees and other migrants lose their lives, are criminalized, injured, or suffer other forms of grievous harm at the hands of European states, such episodes must be investigated by an independent judicial authority. The government ministers and officials responsible for such abuses must be held to
account. Justice and compensation must be provided for the victims of such harms.
5. Safe Routes
Cooperating closely with relevant international organizations, European states should explore the potential for refugees to reach and establish productive lives in Europe by safe and regular means, including state and community-sponsored resettlement programmes, family reunion and labour mobility initiatives.
6. No Externalization
States must not adopt de-humanizing legislation that outsources or externalizes their asylum obligations to non-European states. It is unacceptable for refugees and asylum seekers to be treated as commodities and deported to countries where there are inadequate human rights safeguards, which do not have adequate refugee status determination procedures, and where livelihood opportunities are
7. Reform Frontex
The EU’s border agency, Frontex, must be held fully accountable and be transparent in its activities and reporting methods. The agency must operate in a manner that enables member states to uphold their obligations under international law, including the right to seek asylum. The undersigned organisations demand action by governments, politicians, community leaders, and people of courage and conviction. States must end these moral outrages and restore humanity to Europe’s borders. We invite civil society groups to join a European coalition to end the inhumanity at Europe’s borders and to sign up to this Collective Demand.
The list of current signatories to the campaign is available here.