Equal Access to Social, Economic and Cultural Rights: Real Challenge for Migration and Asylum Policies

Algeria, Economic & Social Rights, Egypt, Greece, International Human Rights Law (IHRL), Israel / OPT, Migration and Asylum, Morocco / Western Sahara, Press Release, Turkey

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In the context of growing racism in the Euro-Mediterranean region, EMHRN reiterates the importance of universal access to human rights and denounces the lack of access to social, economic and cultural rights for all, in violation of our countries’ international obligations, as enshrined in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and other conventions relating to the rights of migrants and refugees.

Although there has been some positive initiatives on both sides of the Mediterranean, including the EU’s labour migration “pack,” the provision of long-term residence to refugees in Europe, the regularisation process in Morocco, the law on foreigners and international protection in Turkey and the inclusion of domestic workers in the labour law in Jordan, states across the region keep on drawing a hierarchy between nationals and foreigners when it comes to accessing to social, economic and cultural rights.

In a context of political instability in the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean regions as well as economic crises in Europe and in the South Mediterranean, this tendency has intensified, as illustrated by increasing suspicion, fuelled by a hysterical obsession with security, where foreigners are treated as the usual suspects. Denied their economic and social rights, foreign nationals are excluded from society, and thus vulnerable to all kinds of exploitative practices and rampant racism. This is particularly the case for Sub-Saharan migrants and refugees in North Africa, but also in a number of EU countries.

EU Member States are devoting increasing resources for the erection of barriers and reinforcing the means and reach of Frontex, including outside of the EU. Fences and walls are erected throughout the euro-Mediterranean region aiming at sealing the borders, including along the Evros River in Greece, between Morocco and Algeria, Morocco and Ceuta and Melilla, Israel and Egypt.

In Europe, discrepancies in legislations and their application allow the authorities to avoid their reception responsibilities toward migrants and refugees and adopt more restrictive migration and asylum policies. Tensions around the Dublin III Regulation are a good example of this trend.

International human rights law and European law are increasingly perceived as excessive legal obligations challenging the state’s sovereignty. Instead of being treated as rights holders, foreign nationals are considered a burden to society that should be shifted elsewhere.

The growing number of deaths and disappearances in the Mediterranean is emblematic of the failure of EU’s migration policies, while the surge of racial violence across the whole region demonstrates the unwillingness to provide integration prospects to foreign nationals. In this context, equal access to social, economic and cultural rights is essential for combating discrimination between nationals and non-nationals.