Annual Report 2013
The state of the world's human rights

19 June 2009

Lives in danger as European governments deny refugees protection

Lives in danger as European governments deny refugees protection
Governments in Europe are putting lives at risk by denying refugees protection, Amnesty International warned on Saturday.

“Refugees are risking their lives to find safety only to be turned away when they reach Europe,” said Nicola Duckworth, Europe and Central Asia Director at Amnesty International.

“Governments must stop putting lives in danger and start meeting their international obligations to protect these vulnerable people.”

Amnesty International’s call for government action comes on World Refugee Day, which is held on 20 June every year. World Refugee Day sees thousands of organizations in hundreds of countries coming together to focus global attention on the plight of refugees and the causes of their exile.

Countries at Europe’s border are showing a flagrant disregard for their international obligations towards refugees:

  • Italy is intercepting refugees in international waters and physically transporting them, without assessing their protection needs, to Libya, where migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees are at risk of ill-treatment and forcible return to countries where they risk serious human rights abuses.
  • Greece pushes back people at its land border and sea borders with Turkey without first assessing their asylum claims. For those that do enter the country there are many legal obstacles for refugees to gain protection.
  • Spain’s bilateral agreements with several countries in Africa are used to justify the arbitrary arrest, detention and deportation of asylum-seekers and migrants in these countries.
  • Turkey continues not to recognise people from outside Europe as refugees, meaning thousands of people are denied the protection they need.

On World Refugee Day, Amnesty International warned EU states that their actions are undermining the protection of refugees not only in their own countries but also across the world, by sending a dangerous message on the treatment of refugees.

The organization said that all countries must meet their obligations towards refugees and asylum-seekers not only within their own borders but wherever they exercise effective control.

@amnestyonline on twitter

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