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Committee warns against increasing instrumentalisation of the theme of migration and asylum in election campaign

The theme of migration and asylum in the election campaign and the consequences on the welcoming and rights of migrants

The Migration Committee, meeting today in Reykjavik, expressed its concern at the increasing instrumentalisation of the theme of migration and asylum in election campaigns, often reduced to security matters. A partial and biased treatment of this theme legitimises political programmes aimed at hindering migrants' access to their rights, in contravention of the Council of Europe’s standards, the committee underlined.

The parliamentarians noted that this phenomenon was accompanied by a rise in hate speech and verbal and physical attacks on migrants, undermining not only their rights, but also social cohesion and public order.

In adopting the report by Pierre-Alain Fridez (Switzerland, SOC) on this issue, the committee put forward a series of proposals for political parties, parliaments, Council of Europe bodies, the media and NGOs, to support the staging of measured debate on this theme, in keeping with the principles of freedom of expression.

In particular, it called on political parties to adopt self-regulation instruments which prohibit and sanction the use of hate speech by their members, and invited them to endorse the Charter of European political parties for a non-racist and inclusive society.

The committee also recommended formalising coordination between Council of Europe entities with a view to looking at how migration and asylum questions are treated in election campaigns.

It has called on parliaments to recognise the seriousness of hate speech, and provide for effective mechanisms for reporting and taking action against it, and to amend electoral legislation so that electoral management bodies are recognised as a monitoring body empowered to seize the competent authority in case of hate speech by a candidate during the election campaign.

Lastly, the committee believes that the media should always contextualise commentaries on the theme of migration, rectify incorrect reporting, and decline to relay statements that are anti-democratic or against freedoms.

The report is due to be debated by the Assembly on Thursday 12 October during its autumn plenary session.