The European Union implements border control measures that put the lives of migrants and asylum seekers at risk and fails to guarantees the safety of those fleeing conflict and persecution, Amnesty International said this week as it launched its annual assessment of the state of human rights worldwide.

The report highlights the agreement on migration control signed by Italy and Libya last year. Amnesty criticises the fact that, while Libya committed to strengthening its border controls to prevent departures of migrants from its territory, and Italy agreed to provide training and equipment to enhance border surveillance, effective human rights safeguards were absent from the agreement.

The report also stressed that in 2012, migrants and asylum seekers continued to face obstacles to registering their asylum applications in Greece, and were often detained in substandard conditions. Meanwhile, hate crime on the basis of race and ethnicity escalated dramatically.

Amnesty also recalls that in September, Spain collectively expelled 70 migrants from the Spanish islet, Isla de Tierra, to Morocco, without providing them access to an individual asylum procedure.

Conditions in reception centres and the increased use of administrative detention of asylum seekers fell short of international and EU standards in Hungary and detention for up to 18 months remained mandatory for asylum seekers and irregular migrants in Malta with a lack of adequate safeguards to challenge it. Irregular migrants were also detained for prolonged periods with no alternative measures being considered in Cyprus, where Syrian nationals were held in immigration detention for several months, despite the authorities’ policy of suspending all returns to Syria as long as the internal armed conflict in the country continues.

The report states that German authorities continued to return Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians to Kosovo, and to return asylum seekers to Hungary despite risks of human rights violations there. The German authorities also refused to rule out seeking diplomatic assurances to facilitate the return of individuals to countries where they were at risk of torture or other ill-treatment.

Finally, Amnesty also criticises the fact that, in 2012, Sri Lankan nationals were forcibly returned from the UK despite credible evidence of the real risk of torture and other grave human rights violations they would face on arrival



This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 24 May 2013
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