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HEMAKTUELLT & PRESSNotiser"Säkra länder" osäkrar asylrätten!

"Säkra länder" osäkrar asylrätten!

Förslagen till nytt asylsystem som just nu förhandlas inom EU-organen, kokar ihop till en punkt: att hålla asylsökande utanför EU eller stoppa så många som möjligt vid de yttre gränserna. Detta sker genom konceptet "säkra länder": Den som kommer från ett "säkert ursprungsland", eller via ett "säkert tredje land", eller har varit i ett "första asylland" ska inte släppas in till en fullständig asylprocedur och eventuellt inte ens få söka asyl i EU. I praktiken betyder det outsourcing av asylrätten till länder som är minst av allt säkra. Det har redan börjat med EU-Turkiet-avtalet. Vilka konsekvenserna kan bli om utvecklingen fortsätter ser vi i Libyen.

FARR har skrivit ett öppet brev till LIBE-utskottet, det utskott i EU-parlamentet som behandlar omarbetningen av asylprocedurdirektivet. Brevet är ställt till utskottet, ordföranden och de svenska parlamentarikerna i utskottet. Vi uppmanar andra organisationer och enskilda att göra detsamma - låt våra parlamentariker höra att detta inte är OK, vi vill ha asylrätten kvar i EU!

Hämta brevet till LIBE-utskottet i pdf-format

Läs mer om asylsystemet och gränserna på FARR:s EU-sidor

Se FARR:s tidning Artikel 14, senaste numret om Fort Europa

 

With reference to the EU Commission proposal on the Asylum procedure regulation and a new European asylum system.

The Swedish Network of Refugee Support Groups, FARR, is a politically and religiously non-aligned umbrella organization that assists refugee groups, asylum committees and individuals. We are well established in Sweden and are one of the organizations that has contacts with government and the Riksdag.

FARR wishes to express to the LIBE Committee our deep concern about the European Union's approach to this proposal. We welcome some improvements as suggested but we also see many deteriorations. In general, the proposal  implies the erosion of asylum rights within the EU. Details of the proposal are almost inhuman and do not comply with the principles ​​of human rights, equal worth of all people, legal security and humanism, which the EU presents as fundamental values ​​within the Union.

 

Safe third country concept

First of all, we wish to point out the articles concerning the safe third country concept, country of asylum and safe country of origin (Art 44-48).

Article 45 on the safe third country concept portends, we fear, an outsourcing of the right to seek asylum to countries outside the EU's borders. This has begun through the EU-Turkey statement, and we see in the proposal that this has served as a test model. A country outside the EU can be considered by the EU or the Member states as a safe country without the requirement that this country has ratified the Geneva convention from 1951 and the New York Protocol 1967 or have the right to seek asylum and the right to a safe asylum procedure implemented in law. The assessment "adequate protection" will be sufficient. Such countries can be considered as first countries of asylum, and if the person who is seeking asylum in EU territories has resided in or may only have travelled through such a country, the person may not be entitled to apply for asylum within the EU but will be transferred back to that third country.

 

The EU-Turkey agreement

The consequences of the EU-Turkey statement have been a decrease in the number of refugees in Greece and the EU compared with 2015 and the beginning of 2016. However, the statement has not prevented refugees from coming. We all know that they are stuck under increasingly repulsive circumstances on a number of Greek islands. Countless aid  and human rights organizations have sounded the alarm and protested about the conditions, while the islands' Greek population has vainly demanded that their islands shall not have this role.

Greece has laws on asylum, which has led to the fact that relatively few have been sent back to Turkey until now. The EU Commission has proposed legislative changes to Greece to speed up the deportation processes. The Commission is now attempting to learn from the consequence of Greek law about rights and is suggesting limited opportunities for appeal. As the Asylum procedure directive will become a regulation, there will be no possibility for individual member states to have a more humane legislation.

To treat fleeing people as is done now on the islands or send them back to Turkey is not acceptable. This issue will be addressed further on.

We fear that the EU Commission's goal is to ensure that all countries around the Mediterranean, as well as other transit countries, can be designated as safe or sufficiently safe, with the intention that most asylum seekers will be returned there after a limited legal procedure in an EU Member state. Certain Member states will, through the Dublin regulation, be some of the EU's external border countries, probably Greece and Italy, in particular. The islands of the Aegean and southern Italy will become the permanet EU refugee camps. This is happening over the heads of the resident population and against the will of at least the Greek islanders, whose main source of income is tourism.

To return to Turkey again, it is the first example of a country that is now considered to be a first country of asylum instead of an EUor EEA country. Turkey can neither be described as a safe nor sufficiently safe country in terms of human rights and protection, especially after the coup attempt in the summer of 2016. Here, human rights organizations cannot carry out the monitoring control that is necessary to at least maintain the guise of people being treated in accordance with legal and human rights. In Turkey, the Kurdish population is also living under threat and abuse, and Turkey is currently waging war against Kurds on the other side of the border to Syria. Also, confirmed data indicate that Turkey has sent back refugees across the Syrian borders. Nevertheless, the EU continues to claim that refugees should be returned to Turkey.

 

The EU-Italy-Libya agreements

Another country that the EU and the member state Italy have given much support to is Libya. In order to prevent refugees and migrants from coming into the EU, support is given to Libya's coastguards and to Libyan authorities responsible for the closed detention centres where refugees and migrants are held under disgusting and inhuman conditions. The official purpose of the EU is said to be the fight against smugglers, but the consequences are that hundreds of thousands, perhaps up to a million, refugees and migrants are stuck in Libya under repulsive conditions. The country does not have a functioning state, there is no asylum legislation, the country has not signed the Geneva convention nor the New York Protocol. Nevertheless, Italy, in particular, contributes to the situation where refugees and migrants, of whom many probably had wanted to request asylum in the EU, are forced back without having their asylum grounds examined. Instead of respecting international conventions on refugees' rights, this may be more likened to the EU conducting a campaign against refugees and migrants seeking protection.

FARR also means that careful consideration must be given to whether a country of origin can be considered safe for the asylum seeker. The laws of one country and the will and / or ability of the authorities to follow the law and provide protection may look very different in practice than in theory. Particularly this frequently applies to sexual and ethnic minorities.

 

FARR opinon on other parts of the proposed regulation

We enclose below the main points from our submission to the Swedish government, that FARR was invited by the government to hand in. We believe that we have good reasons to convey this to the LIBE Committee.

  • FARR is against the plans to transform the Asylum procedure directive into a regulation even if we understand the ambition with establishing a uniform level. We think differences between the member states will remain and be cemented.
  • FARR consider that terminology such as "asylum shopping" should not be used. Trying to obtain international protection is not a light shopping expedition. Moreover, the situation in many EU countries asylum reception systems would have been much worse if asylum seekers had been unable to move.
  • Art 7-8. The difference between "making", "registering" and "submitting" an application can create confusion and these differences can have drastic consequences. The formal barriers introduced to the ones who attempt to get protection in a country of one´s choice or resume an asylum application after expulsion are not acceptable. Article 14 of the Universal declaration of human rights reads "Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.". It does not mean that the right is limited to a country or to a country nearby. Asylum seekers' fundamental rights will be restricted.
  • It is not acceptable that asylum seekers who did not meet the requirement to apply for asylum in the "right" country are usurped of their fundamental rights.
  • Art 12-15. We welcome a number of improvements, such as the requirement for personal interviews, applicants' access to the interview, the opportunity to comment before decisions and that interviews are recorded. Also, that legal assistance is included from stage 1 and that the applicant is entitled to meet the assistant before the interview.
  • Art 19-21. We welcome improvements for particularly vulnerable groups and for children.
  • Article 24. The formulas on age assessment and how medical assessments can be used are better than in the directive. But we are against the proposal that an assessment in another EU country will not be allowed to be reconsidered. Usually in doubtful situations it is customary to call for a second opinion from another physician. Children should not be punished because they have been treated incorrectly in another country or because they have said they are 18 to avoid being locked in a home or receive bad treatment.
  • Art 27, 28, 31. More legal safeguards for unaccompanied children are welcomed.
  • Article 33. If country information can be reliably prepared and updated quickly, it is good.
  • Art 36. It is hard to  understand how an application can be rejected as manifestly unfounded if it is not examined. The article should state that an examination and an assessment must be made.
  • Article 39. It is not reasonable that the reasons stated can lead to an application being withdrawn or to other penalties. Traumatization and fear of government can take many expressions. The consequence of the proposal may be that persons with real protection grounds may be expelled due to irrelevant details in the asylum interview. This is a very serious shortcoming in the proposal.
  • Article 42. We see several problems with the division between the first and second subsequent applications.
  • Art 44-45. Which countries that are to be considered "safe" (in the sense of third country, country of origin) is a very, very serious questions. These countries should not be stuck in a document that will take several years to change, as there may be swift changes of circumstances. Turkey is a good example. We refer here  also to what we have written in the beginning about the idea of a first asylum country outside the EU.
  • We are deeply concerned that the EU Commission seems to have had as its starting point to create a minimum level of asylum rights to become supranational law and to try to outsource the asylum procedure to non-EU countries. The standard of human rights for refugees and of the right to seek asylum is now very low. The consequences of the EU-Turkey statement horrify, as do the activities of the European Union and the Member state Italy in Libya, and what we fear other countries in North Africa. We do not consider that this can be accepted by a Union that claims to defend human rights, the equal worth of all people, and everyone's right to seek protection.

Undersigned in Februari 2018

Sanna Vestin
Chair of the Swedish Network of Refugee Support Groups, FARR

Rapporteurs:
Ph.dr Annette Rosengren, board member of FARR
Michael Williams, vice chair of FARR

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