Euronews spoke to Amnesty International’s director in Brussels. He said the EU and some of its members have become increasingly reluctant to apply the Geneva Convention rules on taking in refugees, preferring to outsource the tasks involved to third countries such as Libya, which has not signed international treaties on refugees.
Encouraging countries with good or acceptable asylum systems to take more people, Amnesty’s Nicolas Berger said: “For example, if you look at the Calais situation, most of the Afghani people there have family in Britain. They speak the language. There is a good reason why people should be resettled or taken in in countries where they have a potential future. So, from a human rights perspective, we are obviously not against the burden-sharing efforts that the EU might be undertaking. That should not be an excuse for breaking international law to an extent that some southern European states are doing.” Human Rights Watch has said Italy flouts its legal obligations in returning boat migrants to Libya and says the EU border agency Frontex has coordinated some of the returns. Amnesty’s Nicolas Berger made a special plea for younger migrants: “It is very important to understand that minors should definitely not be returned. They should not be imprisoned. It should be made as quickly as possible, available to them to continue their education, to learn a language. There needs to be special treatment for minors because they belong to vulnerable groups. They will have special status and they also need to have a special access.”