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Criminalisation of irregular migrants: a crime without a victim

Doc. 13788: compendium of written amendments | Doc. 13788 | 26/05/2015 | Final version

Caption: AdoptedRejectedWithdrawnNo electronic votes

ADraft Resolution

1Increasingly restrictive migration policies, increased social exclusion and limited access to human and social rights for migrants are all aspects of a situation which the Parliamentary Assembly has been condemning for many years.
2The term “migrant” retains a degree of stigmatisation vis-à-vis the group or person to whom it is applied, especially when it is associated with illegality.
3The Assembly also notes that the external border control policy of the European Union is framed on the basis of designations that associate migration and crime-causing attributes, making migration an internal security matter and associating migration with a threat to public order and the social system.
4In this context, the Assembly underlines the importance of the proper use of terms, namely “irregular” as opposed to “illegal” or “undeclared” migrants. Inappropriate use of the terminology relating to migration plays a part in increasing xenophobic and racist attitudes and heightens fear of migrants, which is already being fed by the economic crisis and political instability, in particular in the countries of the southern Mediterranean.
5Noting that, contrary to Directive 2002/90 (the Reception Directive), some European Union member States sanction humanitarian assistance, thereby creating an “offence of solidarity”, the Assembly underlines the need to end the threat of prosecution on charges of aiding and abetting irregular migration.

In the draft resolution, paragraph 5, after the word “prosecution”, insert the following words: “of those providing rescue at sea”.

6The Assembly condemns the widespread practice of courts being more severe when trying cases where migrants are arrested, imprisoned and convicted as perpetrators of criminal offences.

In the draft resolution, paragraph 6, replace the words “the widespread” with the word “any”.

7It also proposes that detention only be used as a last resort, in particular for asylum seekers, when it should be as short as possible, and that alternatives to detention should be used wherever possible.
8The Assembly recalls that asylum seekers are entitled to receive international protection and to enjoy freedom of movement.
9Given this trend and in breach of the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights (ETS No. 5), irregular migrants are deprived of the minimum level of social rights and live in conditions far removed from the principles of protection and human dignity, and in order to survive, they sometimes have to engage in illegal activities to meet their basic needs.

In the draft resolution, at the end of paragraph 9, delete the words “have to”.

10The Assembly underlines the need to adopt a more objective approach based on consideration of the human being, which would discourage any discriminatory or degrading practices towards migrants, including irregular migrants in Europe.
11Accordingly, the Assembly calls on the member States to:
11.1promote and observe fundamental rights standards for migrants, including irregular migrants;
11.2promote the use of neutral terminology and replace the term “illegal migrants” with “irregular migrants” in speeches and official documents;

In the draft resolution, paragraph 11.2, replace the words “replace the term “illegal migrants”” with the following words: “differentiate between “illegal migrants” and”.

11.3combat misinformation and negative stereotypes concerning migrants; unreservedly condemn the exploitation of migrants for political purposes in populist discourse;
11.4apply stricto sensu to migrants the standards concerning entry, transit and residence in the territory of European Union countries;
11.5ensure that asylum seekers have access to a fair procedure;
11.6give access to the essential rights for human dignity (medical care, education) to irregular migrants;
11.7develop best practice guides on the arrest and detention of irregular migrants;
11.8put in place alternatives to detention wherever possible;
11.9apply the principles governing administrative detention in migrant detention centres;
11.10take measures to step up the fight against migrant trafficking and smuggling;
11.11continue to consider, when appropriate, the definition of maritime boundaries and ensure that people rescued are allowed to land.