Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan has called on all member states of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) to take urgent action to protect the human rights of migrants and refugees.
Senator Gavan was speaking in his role as Chairperson of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons.
He endorsed two reports dealing with so called Safe third countries for asylum seekers and measures to tackle the widespread use of illegal pushbacks on land and sea.
Addressing the Parliamentary Assembly Senator Gavan said:
“For member states of the Council of Europe it is not admissible to deport persons to countries where their life or their fundamental rights are threatened.
“Human Rights cannot be negotiated, they must be respected. The 1951 Refugee Convention places an obligation not to refuse refugees the right to apply for asylum.
“At least 1,300 people have lost lives already this year in the Mediterranean and Greek seas. The number of pushbacks or refoulements by member states is a matter of serious concern, violent pushbacks in the more deadly environment of the sea make thousands risk losing their lives.
“In addition the use of anti-smuggling legislation by states to harass and persecute human rights defenders must stop.
“I am endorsing the call for all member states to stop pushbacks at land and sea and to codify the principle of non-refoulement in national legislation.
“Measures must be taken to prevent pushbacks, to protect the victims of pushbacks and to improve international co-operation and co-ordination between border authorities, police and other bodies in charge of border protection.
“Our duty is to remain vigilant to the risks of human rights violations-no one should die for the mere fact that they wish to ask for asylum.”