January 25, 2022
Senator Paul Gavan calls for human rights overhaul of EU Migration Pact

Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan has called for radical changes to the proposed European Pact on Migration and Asylum to ensure compliance with human rights standards. 

Senator Gavan was leading a debate for the United European Left on the proposed EU Migration Pact at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

Addressing the Assembly, Senator Gavan said:

 “This pact raises significant issues for the human rights protection of migrants and refugees. As it currently stands the proposals will reinforce current failed policies by focussing on externalisation, deterrence, containment and return.

“Far from protecting the right to seek asylum the proposals contained in the pact will reinforce the moves towards a Fortress Europe policy. The new mandatory pre-entry screening will in practice be used to send people back without due regard for their human rights.

“The claim by the Commission that they will end pushbacks with the setting up of a monitoring mechanism during the screening procedure does not stand up to scrutiny. 

“What is needed is a truly robust and independent monitoring mechanism, properly funded and based within existing independent national human rights institutions.

“The promise that this pact will ensure no more examples of a Moria camp scenario where a camp on the Greek islands with a capacity of 3000 people ended up hosting 25000 people is patently false. In fact this pact will lead to detention quickly becoming the norm.

“As regards the EU’s relationship with so called third countries, the EU’s silence over rights violations at Sudan, Libya, Egypt, Turkey and Morocco are deafening, and needs to be highlighted. 

“To take just one example, The EU and Italy’s cooperation with the Libyan coastguard has meant that member states are complicit in crimes against humanity. The mission for this coastguard is clear-intercept all those trying to flee Libya and send them back into detention, where torture is endemic.

“The major beneficiaries of this Pact will not be desperate human beings seeking shelter and safety, but rather the construction companies building fences, the maritime and defence companies that provide ships, aircrafts, helicopters, drones as well as the security companies contracted to develop biometric systems in the EU and third countries.

“The right to international protection should be effectively guaranteed across EU member states. Instead of lowering standards the European Commission must ensure that existing asylum acquis is upheld and should focus on its actual implementation. The right to family reunification should also be guaranteed across the EU.

“The European Commission must open safe and legal channels to the EU, they must stop criminalising humanitarian assistance at sea or land, and establish state run search and rescue operations across the Mediterranean to end the yearly horrors of mass drownings of human beings.

“Finally the European Commission should reverse the outsourcing of EU border management, search and rescue and asylum processing to third countries including the immediate suspension of the agreement with the Libyan coastguard.”

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