• Press Release

Europe’s Deadly Frontiers: European Parliament Must Stand Up for Migrants

June 13, 2012

Launch of Campaign, New Report by Human Rights Organization Underscores Europe's Failure to Protect Refugees and Asylum-Seekers

Contact: Sharon Singh, [email protected], 202-675-8579, @spksingh

(Washington, D.C.) — Amnesty International calls on European Union governments and E.U. institutions to respect the rights of migrants and stop exposing them to danger on Europe's borders. A new report released today, S.O.S Europe: Human Rights and Migration Control, documents human rights abuses for migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers attempting to reach Europe from North and West Africa.

Last year, at least 1,500 men, women and children drowned in the Mediterranean while struggling to reach Europe. Many of these deaths were avoidable; the desire of some European countries to prevent 'irregular migration' has undermined safe and timely rescues at sea. Desperate individuals have been left for days while countries argue about where they should be taken, resulting in lost lives.

"For the European Union, reinforcing Europe's borders clearly trumps saving lives," said Nicolas Beger, director of Amnesty International's European Institutions Office. "By attempting to curb 'irregular migration,' European countries have bolstered border control measures beyond European frontiers without regard to the human cost. Far from public view, these measures are putting people at risk of serious abuse."

Many migrants who survive the perilous sea voyages are forced back to the countries from which they departed, often to face abuse and ill-treatment.

An April 2012 agreement between Libya and Italy aiming to "curtail the flow of migrants" gives rise to a number of serious human rights concerns. On several occasions, Italy 'pushed back' people to Libya, who were later detained and mistreated, despite publicly available information exposing widespread human rights abuses against migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees in Libya.

Amnesty International's report accompanies the launch of an online public petition to members of the European Parliament, urging them to fulfill their 'watchdog' role. Governments and institutions must be held to account for human rights violations that result from the enforcement of migration control policies.

Today also sees the launch of Amnesty International's When You Don’t Exist Campaign, which underscores the plight of "people on the move" throughout Europe. Hostility against migrants is widespread and mistreatment often goes unreported. As long as people on the move are invisible, they are vulnerable to abuse.

For information on the When You Don't Exist Campaign or for a copy of Amnesty International's report, S.O.S. Europe, please visit: www.whenyoudontexist.eu/. To view the campaign video, visit here.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.