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Over 50 NGOs call out human rights risks of EU Migration Pact

December 18, 2023 at 1:25 pm

Undocumented workers and human rights activists march to protest against the immigration bill on April 29, 2023 in Paris, France. [Pierre Crom/Getty Images]

Some 56 organisations have written an open letter to European legislators demanding safeguards on human rights in the EU Pact on Migration and Asylum ahead of final negotiations on the proposal this week.

International NGOs including Amnesty, Oxfam, ActionAid and Save the Children, alongside smaller frontline organisations working at European borders have come together to warn that the pact “will normalise the arbitrary use of immigration detention, including for children and families, increase racial profiling, use “crisis” procedures to enable pushbacks, and return individuals to so called “safe third countries” where they  are at risk of violence, torture, and arbitrary imprisonment.”

“The EU Pact on Migration and Asylum will mirror the failed approaches of the past and worsen their consequences. There is currently a major risk that the Pact results in an ill-functioning, costly, and cruel system that falls apart on implementation and leaves critical issues unaddressed,” they said in the letter.

“The Pact, as it stands, risks perpetuating discriminatory practices within the very structures meant to uphold justice and protection for all,” the rights groups continued.

Read: Migrants in Tunisia transferred to Libya prisons

Earlier this year the EU signed a deal in which Tunisia will get €105 million ($112 million) to curb irregular migration, €150 million ($160 million) in budgetary support and €900 million ($959 million) in long-term aid.

The deal comes as many have expressed concern over the decline of democracy after the Tunisian President Kais Saied, suspended parliament in 2021 and sacked the prime minister. In February 2023 Saied made a racist, inflammatory speech about black Africans in Tunisia and since then many have been attacked and forced out of the country. Fears have been raised about the possible return of irregular migrants from Europe to Tunisia where they may face abuse and possible torture.

“Rather than channelling funding towards more camps, walls, and surveillance, resources should go towards providing effective solutions, based on protection and assistance, of the kind offered to people fleeing Ukraine,” the rights groups said. “Europe’s solidarity and commitment to human rights cannot be defined by place of origin, race, ethnicity, or immigration status.”

“We should strengthen, not weaken, our reception and asylum systems and provide mechanisms to fairly share responsibility between European states… And we need more safe routes for people to move, work and settle in safety and dignity.”