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Turkey-EU cooperation on migration must prioritise human rights – UN expert

GENEVA (2 July 2012) – The UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, François Crépeau on Monday called on Turkey and the European Union to prioritise the human rights of migrants in the context of their migration management cooperation.

“I welcome the significant legislative and institutional changes in the migration policies of Turkey, including the development of a new Law on Foreigners and International Protection, which is due to be adopted at the next session of Parliament and implements the EU acquis in relation to migration,” the Special Rapporteur said.

“While the EU and Turkey have developed close cooperation on migration issues, which has led to some notable positive developments, the assistance offered to Turkey regarding migration management appears to focus largely on securitising the borders and decreasing irregular migration to the European common territory through focusing on the detention and removal of migrants in Turkey. Often neglected from this equation is an equivalent emphasis on the human rights of those most vulnerable and most affected by the migration process: the migrants themselves,” the expert added.

At the end of a five-day official visit to Turkey, including Ankara, Istanbul and Edirne province at the Greek border, the Special Rapporteur noted that the Greek-Turkish border point remains one of the key passages of irregular migration into Europe.

“Despite the fact that Turkey is at the geostrategic juncture between Europe and Asia, the pressures on Turkish authorities to control irregular migration should not trump the human rights of migrants,” Mr. Crépeau said.

Detention of migrants also remains an issue of utmost concern to the UN Special Rapporteur, who visited the Kumkapi and Edirne removal centres.

“I have observed that the European Union’s focus on heightening border security has led to an increased prioritization of detention as a solution for migration control, including plans for funding new detention centres in Turkey by the EU,” he said.

“Moreover, the lack of safeguards for detainees in these centres is notable, and I insist that all centres of detention uphold human rights standards and organisations be provided full and free access to monitor them appropriately,” he said.

“I am further troubled about the detention of some vulnerable migrants in an irregular situation, including families and children,” he said. “Alternatives to detention must always be explored.”

Mr. Crépeau’s visit to Turkey was the third stage of his special study on the management of the EU external borders. He visited Brussels in May, and Tunisia earlier in in June, as another key transit country for migrants to Europe. Late in the year he will visit the two main entry points into the EU, Greece and Italy. The study will culminate in a special thematic report to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2013.

* Read the full end-of-mission statement:
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=12307&LangID=E

ENDS

François Crépeau (Canada) was appointed Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants in June 2011 by the UN Human Rights Council, for an initial period of three years. As Special Rapporteur, he is independent from any government or organization and serves in his individual capacity. Mr. Crépeau is also Full Professor at the Faculty of Law of McGill University, in Montréal, where he holds the Hans and Tamar Oppenheimer Chair in Public International Law and is scientific director of the Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Migration/SRMigrants/Pages/SRMigrantsIndex.aspx

Check the Address by the Special Rapporteur to the UN General Assembly (21 October 2011): http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=11523&LangID=E

Read the International Convention for the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/cmw.htm

UN Human Rights, Country Page – Turkey: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/ENACARegion/Pages/TRIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact:
Ahmet Parla (+ 90 312 454 1051 / Cell: + 90 533 500 1497 / ahmet.parla@unic.org)
Christel Mobech (+41 22 917 9995 or +41 79 752 0483 / cmobech@ohchr.org) or write to migrant@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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