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Pushbacks on land and sea: illegal measures of migration management

Pierre-Alain Fridez (Switzerland, SOC)

Pushbacks have taken on worrying proportions, taking place routinely on land, but also in the more deadly environment of the sea. Pushbacks render the plight of migrants and refugees even harsher, heightening the risk to lose one’s life in an extremely perilous journey.

PACE Committee on migration considers that “changes to the law and practice in the Council of Europe member States to stop pushbacks at land and sea and to codify the principle of non-refoulment in national legislation are indispensable”.

The unanimously adopted draft resolution, based on the report prepared by Pierre-Alain Fridez (Switzerland, SOC), underscores that Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Article 4 of its Protocol prohibit State Parties from returning migrants and asylum seekers to another country without an individual assessment as to whether this is safe. Member States are called upon to take a series of measures to prevent pushbacks, to protect the victims of pushbacks, to prosecute those responsible for pushbacks and to improve international co-operation and co-ordination between border authorities, police, and other bodies in charge of border protection.

According to the Committee, the well-functioning independent border monitoring mechanisms at national and European levels is key, and the EU institutions should serve as guarantors of international human rights protection regarding the right to asylum and the prohibition of refoulment.

The European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex), the parliamentarians said, should enhance its capacity to deal with allegations of pushbacks and allow for thorough investigation to bring those responsible for pushbacks to justice.

Given that civil society organisations play an important role in documenting cases of pushbacks, states should encourage and support their participation in the independent monitoring mechanisms at national and European levels, the adopted text concludes.