Human Rights: New EU recommendation on return procedures a “slippery slope” to solve European migration challenges – UN experts

EU countries must explore alternatives to increased detention and swift returns to uphold the human rights of migrants, UN experts* urge, as the EU prepares to adopt a new recommendation on return procedures.


Geneve, March 09, 2017.- “The European Commission’s recommendation provides guidance to Member States on how to step up return rates which waters down safeguards and rights that should be guaranteed to all migrants. The return policy also encourages EU countries to increase the use and length of detention of migrants, including of children.

If accepted by Member States, such measures expose vulnerable people to further harm and risks of ill-treatment in detention. Detention of irregular migrants should be a last resort, only permissible for the shortest period of time and if no other less coercive measure can be applied.

Placing children in detention on the basis of their or of their parents’ immigration status is never in the best interests of the child and constitutes a violation of the rights of the child. Locking up children and their families has a profound and negative impact on children’s health and well-being. Undertaking “swift returns” of children with reduced procedural safeguards will put children’s lives at risk. EU Member States must ensure the best interests of the child as a primary consideration during all stages of the migratory process.

There is no empirical evidence that detention deters irregular migration or discourages persons from seeking asylum. Despite increasingly tough detention policies being introduced over the past 20 years around the world, the number of irregular arrivals has not decreased. This may be due to the fact that migrants possibly see detention as an inevitable part of their journey.

The EU recommendation on return procedures is a “slippery slope” to solve European migration challenges. Alternatives to detention, such as registration and reporting requirements, should be developed and implemented.”

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