Magazine article European Social Policy

Justice and Home Affairs : Ngos Furious over Adoption of Return Directive

Magazine article European Social Policy

Justice and Home Affairs : Ngos Furious over Adoption of Return Directive

Article excerpt

Leading campaigners for refugee rights have joined the chorus of Socialist, Green and Communist MEPs in chastising the European Parliament for adopting the controversial Return Directive(1). The directive, aimed at setting EU-wide rules on the treatment and rights of illegal immigrants, was adopted by the Parliament on 18 June.

Refugee and human rights NGOs claim that the text does not offer enough safeguards to migrants. "[We are] extremely disappointed that the fundamental rights of persons being removed from EU territory will not be fully guaranteed in this legislative instrument," said Bjarte Vandvik, secretary-general of the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE). Even though the directive attempts to provide some safeguards, they are, according to Vandvik, undermined throughout and EU member states can use many derogations.

"Although the directive purported to harmonise practices, the outcome of this vote is a codification at EU level of the member states' harshest practices and policies," added the head of the organisation which represents 63 refugee-assisting organisations from 28 countries.

This view was echoed by Amnesty International. "The text does not guarantee the return of irregular migrants in safety and dignity," the organisation said in a statement. "On the contrary, an excessive period of detention of up to 1.5 years as well as an EU-wide re-entry ban for those forcibly returned risks lowering existing standards in the member states and sets an extremely bad example to other regions in the world. …

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