EU-Turkey: Say No to this Pact of Shame!

EU-Turkey readmission agreement, EU-Turkey Summit, Europe, Frontex, list of safe countries of origin, Migration and Asylum, Press Release, Turkey

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Brussels, 17 March 2016

On 7 March 2016, European leaders and Turkish authorities gathered in Brussels to discuss the EU-Turkey Joint Action Plan to tackle what the authorities call “the migrant crisis”. A new round of negotiations is taking place today and tomorrow.

EuroMed Rights welcomes the outrage voiced by the European Parliament in Strasbourg last week. Indeed, the European Parliament criticised the « shameful » deal suggested to Turkey.

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) rightly pointed out it was the European Union (EU)’s duty to welcome people in need of international protection, especially as Turkey doesn’t truly respect the principles and rules of International Law found in the Geneva Convention relating to the status of Refugees. Syrians are the only migrants granted a form of temporary protection. However, this protection provides no effective access to social and economic rights, and is regularly marred by cases of arbitrary detention, obstacles to free movement within Turkey, border obstructions and deportations back to Syria

We are pleased that the European Parliament condemns European leaders for turning, deliberately, a blind eye on the authoritarian excesses of the Turkish President Erdoğan, the regime’s domination on the media, the imprisonment and threats to academics, and Turkey’s support to some parties to the Syrian conflict who systematically violate fundamental rights.

In addition, such an agreement strengthen the positions of some member countries (like the Visegrad Group) which base the acceptance of refugees on their identity (preferably non-Muslims), in complete violation of the European principles and treaties.

As the European Parliament is currently working on drawing up a list of safe countries of origin, EuroMed Rights insists: Turkey is not a safe country. We urge the European Parliament to vote against this so-called qualification of safe country for Turkey which would allow the return of asylum-seekers in Turkey. The European Parliament must not back European leaders’ disengagement, especially given the scale of the humanitarian crisis faced by the refugees. MEPs must use their co-legislative power to condemn this list of safe countries which is being drafted and which is undoubtedly detrimental to asylum law. Migration is not a threat. Providing access to asylum rights is an international obligation.

Furthermore, we express our deepest concern at the possibility for the future border guards and coastguards agency to evict people from Turkey to another country (Art. 27 of the mandate proposed by the Commission).

If in recent years the EP has helped to push back, especially to Turkey, people migrating, through, for instance, the validation of the EU-Turkey readmission agreement in 2012, or the voting of an expended budget for Frontex (which has staff on Turkish soil), it is urgent that the Parliament’s new legislature constitutes a turning point in the EU’s cooperation policy on migration issues. Say no to this pact of shame !

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Concerned about reports of escalating violence and serious human rights violations in Turkey, as well as imposition of curfews in the South-East of the country, EuroMed Rights and FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights) organised a joint high-level mission to the country from 20 to 24 January 2016. The mission aimed to show solidarity with human rights defenders and civil society activists in Turkey and gather information on the situation. We present here the main conclusions of our report.