The UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, François Crépeau, has called on Turkey and the European Union to prioritise the human rights of migrants in the context of their migration management co-operation.
“I welcome the significant legislative and institutional changes in the migration policies of Turkey, including the development of a new Law on Foreigners and International Protection, which is due to be adopted at the next session of Parliament and implements the EU acquis in relation to migration,” Crépeau said on July 2 2012.
“While the EU and Turkey have developed close co-operation on migration issues, which has led to some notable positive developments, the assistance offered to Turkey regarding migration management appears to focus largely on securitising the borders and decreasing irregular migration to the European common territory through focusing on the detention and removal of migrants in Turkey. Often neglected from this equation is an equivalent emphasis on the human rights of those most vulnerable and most affected by the migration process: the migrants themselves,” he said.
At the end of a five-day official visit to Turkey, including Ankara, Istanbul and Edirne province at the Greek border, Crépeau said that the Greek-Turkish border point remains one of the key passages of irregular migration into Europe.
“Despite the fact that Turkey is at the geostrategic juncture between Europe and Asia, the pressures on Turkish authorities to control irregular migration should not trump the human rights of migrants,” Crépeau said.
Detention of migrants also remains an issue of utmost concern to the UN Special Rapporteur, who visited the Kumkapi and Edirne removal centres.
“I have observed that the European Union’s focus on heightening border security has led to an increased prioritization of detention as a solution for migration control, including plans for funding new detention centres in Turkey by the EU,” he said.
“Moreover, the lack of safeguards for detainees in these centres is notable, and I insist that all centres of detention uphold human rights standards and organisations be provided full and free access to monitor them appropriately,” he said.
“I am further troubled about the detention of some vulnerable migrants in an irregular situation, including families and children,” he said. “Alternatives to detention must always be explored.”
Crépeau’s visit to Turkey was the third stage of his special study on the management of the EU external borders, a media statement said. He visited Brussels in May, and Tunisia earlier in in June, as another key transit country for migrants to Europe. Late in the year he will visit the two main entry points into the EU, Greece and Italy. The study will culminate in a special thematic report to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2013.