Instrumentalised migration pressure on the borders of Latvia, Lithuania and Poland with Belarus
| Provisional version
- Parliamentary Assembly
debate on 30 September 2021 (30th sitting) (see Doc. 15382rev, report
of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons, rapporteur:
Ms Anne-Mari Virolainen). Text adopted by the Assembly on
30 September 2021 (30th sitting).
1. The Parliamentary
Assembly is concerned by the unfolding situation of hybrid attacks
by the Belarusian authorities resulting in increased migration and
asylum pressures at the Belarus border with Latvia, Lithuania and
Poland. This is all the more worrying as it has been orchestrated
by the Belarusian authorities in response to European Union sanctions
against Belarus imposed for harsh violations of human rights. It
condemns any instrumentalisation of migrants, refugees and asylum
seekers by States for political purposes.
2. The Assembly notes with concern that recent arrivals of migrants
and asylum seekers created significant challenges for Latvia, Lithuania
and Poland, putting a strain on their migrant and refugee reception
3. The Assembly however reiterates the obligations of all Council
of Europe member States to uphold human rights and humanitarian
principles as well as refugee law and the right to seek asylum.
Member States should furthermore ensure necessary humanitarian assistance
to people in need of protection, paying a special attention to the
situation of vulnerable groups, including families with small children,
unaccompanied and separated children and people with disabilities
and special needs. In this they should consider a gender perspective
in terms of protection needs.
4. The Assembly considers that effective border management by
Council of Europe member States should be accompanied by adequate
responses to the rights of asylum seekers. Border management should
be fully compliant with European and international law and in particular
the European Convention on Human Rights (ETS No. 5) and the 1951
Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.
5. The Assembly condemns the growing tendency to restrict the
right to seek asylum of persons crossing a border irregularly and
any practice by member States of pushbacks of migrants and asylum
seekers to third countries, where international protection needs
may not be guaranteed. It recalls the obligation of member States
to respect the principle of non-refoulement and
the prohibition against collective expulsion of aliens.
6. The Assembly considers that the European Union and its agencies
should closely monitor the situation at the border and the actions
by its member States that could lead to violations of human rights
of migrants and asylum seekers.
7. The Assembly is highly concerned that the situation at the
European Union’s eastern border provoked a new wave of anti-migrant
rhetoric, which resulted in countries being forced to build new
fences in Europe to prevent the neighbouring authoritarian regime
from instrumentalising migrants, asylum seekers and refugees for
its political goals.
8. The Assembly welcomes the efforts of the European Union to
reconsider its reception procedures and solidarity mechanism, including
the resettlement solution in the New Pact on Migration and Asylum.
The situation at the European Union’s eastern border has shown that
the Temporary Protection Directive of the European Union should
be reanimated in order to be used in exceptional situations where
there is a mass influx of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees.
It is also important to develop a comprehensive migration risk assessment
algorithm allowing for the elaboration of effective reaction strategies.
In response to the current situation at the border with Belarus,
the Assembly calls on governments of member States of the Council
of Europe to support Latvia, Lithuania and Poland by:
9.1 providing urgent financial and
technical assistance to ensure necessary protection of migrants, asylum
seekers and refugees;
9.2 establishing effective support arrangements for these
countries so that they can ensure efficient reception, adequate
accommodation, effective identification of people with special needs,
timely access to information about asylum procedure and social and
other services for new arrivals while their applications for asylum
are being processed in fair and prompt procedures.
The Assembly calls on the authorities of Belarus to:
10.1 stop the instrumentalisation
of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, in particular those in
a vulnerable situation, and stop facilitating travel to Belarus
of third country nationals under false pretences of tourism;
10.2 take full responsibility under applicable international
law for third country nationals present in Belarus territory, especially
those in vulnerable situations, and refrain from illegal actions
such as taking away their travel documents or forcibly pushing them
towards the border;
10.3 co-operate with its neighbours, Latvia, Lithuania and
Poland, as well as with the European Union, on cross-border arrangements
in order to solve ongoing problems in terms of irregular migration
flows across these borders.
The Assembly also calls on the authorities of Latvia, Lithuania
and Poland to:
11.1 provide access
to asylum procedures to all those seeking asylum international protection;
11.2 refrain from pushbacks to Belarus, and provide necessary
safeguards to ensure the human rights of those seeking entry to
11.3 ensure that detention of asylum seekers is only used as
a last resort and alternatives to detention are explored. When detention
is resorted to, it should be carried out with all relevant safeguards, including
an assessment on the circumstances of the individuals and their
families. Children should never be detained regardless of their
11.4 in co-operation with the European Asylum Support Office,
provide adequate reception, accommodation, identification of people
with special needs, access to information about the asylum procedure
and social and other services to new arrivals;
11.5 ensure that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
(UNHCR) and organisations providing humanitarian assistance and
legal aid are provided with unhindered access to migrants, asylum
seekers and refugees, including at the border;
11.6 despite the state of emergency, ensure that vulnerable
groups, such as unaccompanied minors, survivors of torture, sexual
violence and other forms of serious violence are exempted from accelerated asylum
procedure and referred to more adequate and safe reception facilities,
and ensure that those who need psychological support have access
to specialist services;
11.7 guarantee that returns of migrants to third countries
do not take place without sufficient safeguards for the rights of
those being returned, and work with Belarus and the European Union
to solve ongoing problems in terms of irregular migration flows
across these borders.
12. The Assembly welcomes the support offered by the UNHCR to
the countries concerned in order to provide legal and technical
expertise on reception, site management and processing of asylum
applications, and encourages the UNHCR and the International Organization
for Migration to further strengthen their monitoring of migratory
pressure situations, in co-operation with other human rights organisations,
in order to provide early warning of impending problems.
13. The Assembly proposes the creation, within the Council of
Europe, of a permanent group or body on the human rights situation
in Belarus, one of the tasks of which will be monitoring the situation
of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers from Belarus.