“Member states must take a stand against pushbacks at borders and clearly oppose attempts to legalise this illegal practice”, said today the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović.
Human rights violations against refugees, asylum seekers and migrants at the borders of Council of Europe member states have proliferated at an alarming rate, especially the denial of access to asylum and returns without individual safeguards, frequently accompanied by brutal violence or even the endangerment of human life. Such practices at borders (often referred to as ‘pushbacks’) undermine legal guarantees clearly established in the Refugee Convention and European Convention on Human Rights. Practices violating the right to apply for asylum, the prohibition of torture or inhuman or degrading treatment, and the prohibition of collective expulsions, are increasingly justified as a necessary way to address emergency situations.
It is time for the governments of European states to call a halt to any legislative initiatives or policies that would result in the attempted, so-called normalisation of pushbacks and eliminate crucial safeguards to protect the rights of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants at borders.