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29 March 2004

The FIDH-AE calls on the European Union to renounce to the conclusion of Readmission Agreements and to commit its Future Cooperation to the creation of equitable asylum and immigration policies

Mr. President,
Dear Madam or Sir

In September 2000 the Council first issued a mandate to the Commission to negotiate the conclusion of readmission agreements with Morocco, Russia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka; since, other countries were added to the list: Hong Kong, Macao, Ukraine and Albania. On the ground of such agreements, contracting countries are not only under obligation to readmit on their territory their own nationals who entered illegally in the EU but also migrants of third countries or stateless persons who have transited or stayed on their territory. In the working group on March 29th 2004 "Migration and Readmission" you will be discussing the progress of negotiations with Morocco.

On behalf of its leagues in the European countries, FIDH-AE deplores the multiplication of such readmission agreements and recalls that they contravene the commitments that the Member States have undertaken by ratifying International Conventions. We ask the leaders of the European Union to cease focusing their Migration policy exclusively on the fight against clandestine immigration and to commit instead to an equitable asylum policy and an actual legal immigration policy.

More precisely, FIDH-AE objects that:
?The readmission agreements allow the Member States to return people potentially in danger in countries that - legally or factually - do not protect them.

The reference to the respect of Humans Rights appearing in the "clause of non-incidence" of article 17 of the agreement signed with Albania is laudable but still not sufficient: It refers to the Geneva Convention on the Statute of Refugees and to the Universal Declaration of Humans Rights, but does not give details on the obligations arising from the clause.

? In the readmission applications as envisaged by article 7 of the agreements, there is no section for information on the particular grounds and circumstances under which a person is expulsed, it is thus impossible to know if the individual benefited from an equitable examination procedure of his asylum application. This is particularly alarming as the European Union is about to establish common minimal standards for the protection of asylum seekers that might allow excluding certain asylum seekers from the right to a regular procedure (the concepts of "safe third country", "safe country of origin").

? As established in article 131 the refusal of transit is not an inalienable right but an option. In this context the clause that establishes the right of the Contracting party to refuse transit of a person in danger2 has solely formal value. It does not at all guarantee protection for individuals in danger.

?These agreements tend to shift the responsibility of protection of migrants in danger to the developing countries. However these countries cannot fulfil the task and have no choice but to reinforce their own policy of border-protection. Instead of promoting its own high standards of humans right, the EU thus places the Non-member states vis-à-vis the dilemma of knowing weather to violate the agreements or to violate Humans rights as they are promoted by the International Community.

?The resources which the European Union provides for the developing countries to fight against the causes of migration, "capacity building", are not invested in the creation of effective protection systems or in the promotion of political reforms but in a reinforcement of border control.

?The Europein Union encourages the contracting countries to conclude their own Readmission agreements. It thus creates a domino effect that reinforces its own policy of closing borders and contravenes the duty of any State to guarantee freedom of movement, the freedom of the individual to leave his own territory.

Beyond the purpose and the contents of the readmission agreements, FIDH-AE observes that the procedures of their negotiation and their implementation contradict the principles which govern our democracies:
?The conclusion procedure of the agreements does not correspond to the criteria of transparency and democratic control as long as the representatives of the European citizens, the members of Parliament, are not properly informed about the negotiations.

?The absence of democratic control is institutionalized in the agreement’s article 18 (COM (2004) 92 final). This article transfers the responsibility to implement the agreement to the "Joint Readmission Committee". This committee will be held by "specialists" from the Member States and representatives of the Commission and of the Contracting Countries, but will not be subjected to any parliamentary control. Nevertheless the mandate of the agency would include "to decide on implementing arrangements necessary for the uniform application of this Agreement", "to decide on amendments to the annexes" and "to recommend amendments to this Agreement".
FIDH-AE considers it unfortunate that the European Union, by these readmission agreements, commits to a policy of exclusion, closure and expulsion rather than to a project of positive migratory policy. FIDH-AE urges the Council not to yield to an isolationist temptation but to promote factual and equitable asylum and immigration policies that will represent our Community’s responsibility on the international scene.



Dan Van Raemdonck

Last Update 29 March 2004
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[1UE-Albania, Article 13 § 3, readmission agreement COM(2004)92 final; UE-Special Administrative Region of Macao, Article 12 § 3 agreement COM (2003) 151 final

[2"Transit can be refused if the third country national or the stateless person runs the real risk of being subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment or the death penalty, or of persecution because of his race, religion or nationality, membership of a particular social group or political conviction in the State of destination or another State of transit "

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