Migrant rights increasingly flouted in Europe, report says

Refugees heading to Germany

The European Agency for Fundamental Rights points out in a report five persistent challenges for migration to the EU, from access to territory to asylum procedures and unaccompanied children. EURACTIV.fr reports.

In a report published in early February, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) assesses the rights of migrants and asylum seekers in member states from October 2016 to December 2017. Despite improvements in some countries, the Agency notes that “several issues persist – and some have even deteriorated”.

Five of these issues are a source of pressing concerns for the FRA: access to territory, reception conditions, asylum procedures, unaccompanied children and immigration detention.

The report notes an increasingly difficult access in almost half of EU member states because of new fences such as the one erected at the border between Hungary and Serbia, as well as the refusal of entry of some migrants, contrary to the right to asylum.

On asylum procedures, access is increasingly restrictive in many member states due to difficulties in identifying and registering asylum applicants, as well as a lack of legal aid and information on asylum procedures.

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Four countries in the red

Some positive developments have been observed in the report, for example on the capacity and reception conditions in countries such as Bulgaria. However, this is mainly due to a drop in new arrivals during the year.

The situation remains worrying in the four countries that faced a significant increase in arrivals: France, Spain, Italy and Greece, where “reception facilities remained overcrowded,” this led to the establishment of informal camps in three of those countries.

The lack of reception capacity for unaccompanied children is pointed out in all four countries, with “between 900 and 3,300” unaccompanied children having waited in informal camps in Greece during 2017.

Ill-adapted French draft law on asylum and immigration?

In France, several MPs criticised the little thought given to migrants and asylum seekers in the draft law on asylum unveiled by the government on 21 February, as they fall within the remit of the department they are located in.

“They should be in the legal text,” the right-wing MP Bérengère Poletti said on 14 March. She believes “it is more than a billion euro that currently weighs on the budgets of departments currently under catastrophic conditions”. The government does, however, make proposals to support family reunification for unaccompanied minors in the draft law.

The speeding up of procedures, a key point of the draft, is also addressed in the FRA report. The government wants to reduce the average asylum review time to six months, compared to the current 14 months in cases of appeal. This would involve shortening delays in every step, and a decrease in the appeal period from one month to 15 days.

Although the FRA acknowledged France’s shortening of the asylum procedure, it stresses that this acceleration witnessed in several countries in the EU “raises concerns about the quality of interviews and decision making”.

This acceleration of the process coupled with state efforts to make returns more effective could lead to “an increased use of immigration detention, possibly also affecting children”. The agency also highlights that “a high number of children were detained in Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia”, but also in France in cases of “pre-removal detention”.

Serious shortcomings in the French draft law on asylum

The “Dublin Regulation”, the cause of much controversy in the management of migration flows, appears to have been completely left out of France’s draft law on immigration and asylum, put forward by the government on Wednesday 21 February. EURACTIV.fr reports.

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