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Brussels – 6 April 2016

Proposed reforms to the European asylum system presented by the European Commission today must serve as an opportunity to achieve a fairer distribution and better conditions for refugees within Europe,said Amnesty International.

“It would be utterly untenable if any proposed reforms were to largely maintain the status quo. Persevering with a system that has stranded 50,000 refugees in Greece in dire conditions is nothing shortof madness,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia.

“This cannot be yet another missed opportunity to genuinely deal with the challenges refugees arriving in Europe face.”

“It is completely unfair to expect frontline European countries already struggling to deal with this crisis to bear the highest burden, while others fail to pull their weight in supporting both refugees and the countries hosting them.”

“The proposals to strengthen responsibility-sharing among EU countries head broadly in the right direction – but there is potential for plenty of devils to lurk in the detail, particularly if they relysignificantly on sanctions and coercion.”

“When it comes to creating a single common asylum procedure, there is a real risk that the impetus will be to harmonise downwards in an attempt to render the EU inaccessible to asylum seekers. This hasto be resisted.”

Amnesty International believes that any European asylum system reform must uphold the right to asylum, ensure asylum seekers are distributed fairly across all EU Member States, that their human rights are respected and that they will be welcomed and integrated into their host communities effectively.