European Union must guarantee human rights of migrants – UN expert

Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants François Crépeau. Photo: Jean-Marc Ferré

28 May 2013 – Migration policy in the European Union (EU) must incorporate a human rights approach instead of solely focusing on security concerns, a United Nations independent expert today stressed.

“Within EU institutional and policy structures, migration and border control have been increasingly integrated into security frameworks that emphasize policing, defence and criminality over a rights-based approach,” the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants François, Crépeau, told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

“I regret that within the EU policy context, irregular migration remains largely viewed as a security concern that must be stopped,” Mr. Crépeau said. “This is fundamentally at odds with a human rights approach, concerning the conceptualization of migrants as individuals and equal holders of human rights.’’

Mr. Crépeau undertook a one-year study to examine the rights of migrants in the Euro-Mediterranean region, focusing in particular on the management of the external borders of the EU in key transit countries – namely Turkey and Tunisia – as well as two of the main entry points, Greece and Italy.

The Special Rapporteur stressed that, “the systematic detention of irregular migrants has come to be viewed as a legitimate tool in the context of EU migration management, despite the lack of any evidence that detention serves as a deterrent.”

He called on EU authorities to address factors that address irregular immigration in Europe, such as the demand for a seasonal, low-skilled, easily exploitable workforce, and instead open up more regular immigration channels, including for low-skilled workers, that more accurately reflect the labour needs of the EU.

In his report to the Council, Mr. Crépeau also said there has been an ‘externalization’ of border control, through which countries of departure or transit bear all the responsibility for preventing irregular migration, and underlined that the EU must share this responsibility among its Member States.

Mr. Crépeau is among a host of Special Rapporteurs presenting their annual thematic reports during dialogues with the Human Rights Council. That body’s 23rd session opened yesterday and will run through June 14th. Mr. Crépeau will present his report to different EU institutions in Brussels, including a public launch at the European Parliament on Thursday and Friday.


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