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AEDH opposes the EU’s readmission agreements

Brussels, 7th October 2013

Readmission agreements signed between the European Union and some third countries are becoming a key instrument in return policies, and rely on the outsourcing of migration control. They are bargaining chips in association and cooperation policies with these third countries.

On 9 October, the European Parliament will be called on to give its support to a draft agreement with Armenia. AEDH reiterates its strong opposition to the development of the EU’s readmission policy, even if this policy incorporates small concessions in terms of visa facilitation for the third countries concerned.

In an analysis published today, AEDH states that the EU should not agree to sign readmission agreements until it has undertaken a major reform of its methods, obtained unequivocal guarantees that the rights of migrants and people seeking international protection will be respected, and implemented a procedure monitoring the consequences of return operations on migrants.

At the very least, the association requests the EU to implement the provisions put forward by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA); the Council of Europe; the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR); the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, François Crépeau, and the European Parliament. In particular, the EU should:

  1. Review the criteria that third countries must meet before signing readmission agreements. This includes ensuring there is effective access to asylum procedures, making explicit mention of the obligations set out in the 1951 refugee convention and 1967 protocol, and providing guarantees with respect to the economic and social rights of third-country nationals in transit on its territory.
  2. Include a suspension clause in all agreements in case a risk of persistent violations to human rights exists.
  3. Expressly include a clause for the protection of human rights in all agreements.
  4. Exclude any accelerated return procedure.
  5. Implement training programmes for border guards so they can make sure migrants have access to asylum procedures and that migrants’ rights are protected – especially those of the most vulnerable.
  6. Create an efficient mechanism to compile data, to carry out impact studies before and monitoring after readmission agreements are implemented. This includes ensuring civil society, international human rights organisations and the European Parliament are more involved in the monitoring process.
  7. Work in close partnership with the European Parliament during the different drafting and negotiation phases.

In the case of Armenia, AEDH would like to underline that, despite the reforms underway, the country is far from being able to guarantee the rights of readmitted migrants. According to the UNHCR, the country’s asylum system is struggling to deal with applicants and refugees. The country still has not ratified the United Nations Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families. It should also be emphasised that several thousand Armenian nationals requested asylum in EU countries in 2012 and 2011.

Press contact:
Catherine Teule, vice-chairwoman
Serge Kollwelter, chairman
AEDH, Association Européenne pour la défense des Droits de l’Homme
33, rue de la Caserne. B-1000 Bruxelles
Tél : +32(0)25112100  Fax : +32(0)25113200  Email : info@aedh.eu

The European Association for the Defence of Human Rights (Association Européenne pour la défense des Droits de l’Homme – AEDH) consists of associations and leagues defending human rights in the countries of the European Union. AEDH is an associate member of the International Federation of Human Rights (Fédération internationale pour la défense des droits de l’Homme – FIDH). For more information, visit www.aedh.eu.

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