'No comment' on EU long-detention proposal

The Council of Europe has warned leaders that a Commission’s proposal to extend and prolong migrant detention ‘leads to the violation of human rights’

miriam
Miriam Dalli
10 March 2017, 11:51am
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker
A European Commission’s proposal to extend and prolong migrant detention "leads to the violation of human rights without obtaining other results, such as facilitating asylum request processing or incentivising dignified repatriations", the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muiznieks, has argued.

Likewise, UN experts have urged leaders meeting in Brussels to explore alternatives to increased detention and swift returns to uphold the human rights of migrants.

“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,” the United Nations has said.

Speaking to MaltaToday following a meeting of the 28 leaders, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat confirmed that “elements” of this issue were brought up.

“I think there’s substantial unity amongst member states on how to move forward, but I can’t comment now on the issue of detention,” he replied.

Malta is currently hosting the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. During the working dinner, Muscat briefed the EU leaders on what has been achieved since the Malta Summit on migration, held last month. Many operational measures are in the process of being implemented, as the European Council reiterated its “determination” to deliver on all the elements of the Malta Declaration.

In its conclusions – the conclusions were vetoed by Poland due to Donald Tusk’s re-election and thus cannot be considered as a formal endorsement – the European Council said that it will continue to remain vigilant on all major migration routes so as to be able to react rapidly to development.

Member States have supported Italy’s deal with Libya to patrol its coasts, amongst others.

“The European Council welcomes the Commission Communication on a renewed Action Plan on Return, called for in the Malta Declaration, as well as the accompanying recommendation to member states, and invites the Council to rapidly examine them,” the document read.

Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos has argued that return rates must be improved: “Member states should also use the possibility to place migrants in detention if there is a risk of absconding and for a sufficient period to be able to complete the return and readmission procedure."

Amnesty International criticized the proposals. "Detention of irregular migrants, some of the most vulnerable people in Europe, should be a last resort," said Iverna McGowan, head of the Amnesty International's EU office.

miriam
Miriam Dalli joined MaltaToday.com.mt in 2010 and was assistant editor fr...