Report criticizes EU asylum policies
17 January 2005
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A leading human rights watchdog has accused the European Union and its member states of neglecting the rights of asylum seekers in their migration and anti-terrorism polices, the website EU Observer reports.
According to a report published January 13 by the US-based organization Human Rights Watch (HRW), the actions and policies of authorities in Europe adds up to a policy geared toward keeping asylum seekers out.
"The exclusive focus on combating illegal immigration in Europe reflects a disturbing and prevailing attitude that migrants have no rights," the report states.
Many of the 25 EU member states come in for direct criticism in the report. Britain's anti-terrorism act is condemned for indefinitely detaining suspects, as are Spanish policies under which detainees can be held and not allowed to communicate with anyone.
Cases in Sweden, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and elsewhere are described where European Governments allegedly help to erode international bans on torture by returning terrorist suspects and persons deemed national security threats to countries where they are at risk of ill treatment, basing these actions on "diplomatic assurances" from the receiving states. HRW also brings up an incident in which Italy expelled hundreds of asylum seekers to Libya without properly assessing their claims.
The new EU members that joined the EU in May 2004 are accused of having "woefully under-developed and under-resourced asylum systems and immigration procedures."
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