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The implementation of the Hirsi judgment: have push backs come to an end?

Motion for a resolution | Doc. 13629 | 07 October 2014

Ms Tineke STRIK, Netherlands, SOC ; Ms Delia BLANCO, Spain, SOC ; Mr Tuur ELZINGA, Netherlands, UEL ; Mr Hans FRANKEN, Netherlands, EPP/CD ; Mr Andreas GROSS, Switzerland, SOC ; Mr Andrej HUNKO, Germany, UEL ; Ms Vasiliki KATRIVANOU, Greece, UEL ; Mr Tiny KOX, Netherlands, UEL ; Mr Rait MARUSTE, Estonia, ALDE ; Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER, Switzerland, SOC ; Mr Michele NICOLETTI, Italy, SOC ; Mr Luis Alberto ORELLANA, Italy, ALDE ; Mr Andrea RIGONI, Italy, ALDE ; Mr Indrek SAAR, Estonia, SOC ; Mr Stefan SCHENNACH, Austria, SOC ; Mr Konstantinos TRIANTAFYLLOS, Greece, SOC ; Mr Ahmet Kutalmiş TÜRKEŞ, Turkey, ALDE ; Ms Olga-Nantia VALAVANI, Greece, UEL ; Mr Nikolaj VILLUMSEN, Denmark, UEL ; Mr Klaas de VRIES, Netherlands, SOC

On 23 February 2012 the European Court on Human Rights judged in the Hirsi Jamaa case that so-called ‘push backs’ violate the obligations of the European Convention on Human Rights, even if it takes place outside the territory of a member State. According to this judgment, a member State is not allowed to return a migrant without a proper examination on the safety of the return for the individual migrant. This judgment was a landmark decision, creating important safeguards for refugees.

Despite this clear prohibition, victims and human rights organisations increasingly report on alleged ‘push back’ operations, at sea as well as on the land along the eastern border of Europe. Although it is difficult to find evidence, it is important to collect and assess those allegations and to examine how authorities deal with these allegations.

More generally, it is worthwhile to assess how member States have implemented the Hirsi judgment in law and in practice. An investigation of the implementation at the land and sea borders can provide best practices and reveal weaknesses at the same time. Both outcomes can help the Parliamentary Assembly bring forth recommendations on how to further implement the Hirsi judgement.