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Member States must halt 'pushback' policies and expulsion of migrants

The Migration Committee, meeting in Zürich, on 29th May expressed concern at the persistent practice and policy of pushbacks, which are in violation of the rights of asylum-seekers and refugees, including the right to asylum and the right to protection against refoulement, at the core of international refugee law.

These pushbacks take place at EU borders as well as on the territory of member States further inland and are partly a consequence of the shortcomings of the Dublin Regulation and of the failure of attempts to introduce fair responsibility-sharing in Europe, explains the report by Tineke Strik (Netherlands, SOC) adopted by the committee.

The parliamentarians are also concerned at reports and evidence of inhuman and degrading treatment of member States and their agencies in the framework of those pushbacks, through intimidation, the confiscation or destruction of migrants' property, the use of violence or depriving them of food and basic services.

Faced with the seriousness of this phenomenon, the committee has formulated a set of recommendations to member States with respect to border controls; services at borders; legal assistance; medical and psychological assistance, and NGOs.

It called on States to put an end to any measure or policy leading to pushbacks or expulsions; to inform migrants at borders about their legal position and their right to apply for international protection in languages they can understand; and to ensure the registration and processing of asylum applications.

In addition, States should consider NGOs as partners and not undermine their legitimate activities aimed at saving human lives, while refraining from using stigmatising rhetoric, the committee said.

The adopted text also calls on the members of the EU and the Schengen area to improve mechanisms for relocation, in order to reduce the pressure on the countries bordering Europe and avoid overcrowding and unnecessary detention. For its part, the European Commission should set up a systematic and independent mechanism to monitor how far border management policies comply with the provisions of asylum law.

Finally, the committee proposed that the Committee of Ministers encourage EU member States to accelerate their work on a revised Dublin Regulation, to further promote responsibility-sharing and to relieve the burden on frontline states.