The Chair of PACE’s Migration Committee has urged national parliaments to lead the political debate on devising humane refugee policies, reminding states that “it is a legal and moral obligation to treat with humanity everyone seeking refuge in Europe”.
Speaking on World Refugee Day, Doris Fiala (Switzerland, ALDE) said this was all the more important at a time when racism, xenophobia and nationalism were challenging the Council of Europe’s common values and legal standards on refugees.
“While the number of asylum-seekers in Europe has dropped since 2015, it remains high in historical terms, and people are continuing to die attempting to cross the Mediterranean – 569 people have died so far in 2019, according to IOM figures,” said Ms Fiala. “While migrants’ journeys become longer, harder and more dangerous, the proportion of deaths can only increase.”
“The message of these figures is that refugee policy must remain a priority at national, European and global levels,” she added. “It is up to national parliaments to assume their role and responsibilities, both nationally and as part of international bodies, in leading political debate and devising adequate policies in conformity with the European Convention on Human Rights. Without our genuine commitment and without a greater show of solidarity, further divisions are inevitable throughout Europe.”
“For our part, the Assembly and its Migration Committee will continue to provide a parliamentary forum for co-operation on refugee policies, awareness-raising and sharing of best practice, as well as promoting the actions of other relevant Council of Europe bodies.”