The IOM urges the EU to stop repeated and sustained breaches of human rights and international law and conventions at the EU’s external borders
Rabat – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is calling on the EU to end structural violence and human rights abuses against migrants. The IOM released a statement on Tuesday after receiving a torrent of documentation on the illegal and brutal practices occurring on the external borders of the EU.
The UN agency called on the EU to “to take urgent action to end pushbacks, collective expulsions, and the use of violence against migrants and refugees, including children.” The IOM stated it “continues to receive” evidence of violations of human rights, breaches of international law and the European Convention on Human Rights.
The agency has collected testimonies and photographic evidence through NGOs and direct interactions with migrants. Its evidence confirms “the level of brutality they were subjected to before being pushed back across maritime and land borders.”
Violence against migrants
IOM Chief of Staff Eugenio Ambrosi said, “The use of excessive force and violence against civilians is unjustifiable.” He argued that the sovereignty that EU member states claim in defence of their strategy against migration “must be aligned with their obligations under international law and respect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all.”
The IOM described EU practices at its external borders as an “alarming situation” and called for the bloc to “improve migration and asylum policy and governance, and implement humane and integrated rights-based practices.”
Echoing the IOM’s concerns and findings, several other organizations have highlighted the sustained practice of violence against migrants on the borders of EU member states.
EU border protection agency FRONTEX has been accused of repeated violence and brutality directed at migrants. A 2019 joint investigation by several European news outlets uncovered that FRONTEX was using dogs to “hunt” migrants, used pepper spray and batons against refugees and used force and threats to force migrants back.
One of the gravest violations of international law and conventions is the common practice of “pushbacks,” which EU member states brazenly apply. Hungary is known for publicly recording the number of refugees it forces back across its borders. According to many observers, however, the practice is common, albeit more covert, in many of the EU’s member states.
“Pushbacks and collective expulsions are prohibited under international and EU law, and IOM condemns in the strongest terms the abuse of migrants and refugees at any border,” the IOM stressed.
Forcing refugees or migrants back after entry is a blatant violation of the rights of migrants engraved in international conventions. According to the UN Refugee agency (UNHCR), all refugees have the right to safe asylum. It adds that “international protection comprises more than physical safety.”
The UNHCR states, “Refugees should receive at least the same rights and basic help as any other foreigner who is a legal resident, including freedom of thought, of movement, and freedom from torture and degrading treatment.”
With the EU’s rules for cross-border movement and the rights of EU citizens well established, any mistreatment of migrants and refugees is a brazen violation of the wealthy bloc’s obligations, according to international law and the other human rights conventions all member states have signed up to.