EU offshore migrant processing would 'breach human rights'

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By Damon Embling
EU offshore migrant processing would 'breach human rights'

With migration stoking bitter splits, could regional disembarkation platforms be the answer the EU's looking for?

The idea is that centres would be set up outside the bloc's territory, and be used to assess asylum claims. Those who fail would be held, before being sent back.

But some say it's doomed to fail.

"To have policies like the offshoring of asylum claims, in North African countries for example, is wrong," said Claude Moraes, Chair of the European Parliament's Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee.

"These are policies that will not work, they breach human rights, and in the worst cases, they will really show the European Union has lost its values. You have experience of these kinds of policies, they have been tried before, and they failed."

The thinking is that the platforms would distinguish between economic migrants - and those in need of international protection.

Experts say it won't address the immediate problems.

"Even if you put into place an external processing scheme, you will always continue to have migration and it will take years and a lot of time, lot of money and lot of diplomatic capital before such schemes would work," said Marie de Somer, Senior Policy Analyst and Head of Migration and Diversity Programme at the European Policy Centre.

"So, in the meantime, we would still need to continue to work on how to solve things internally. Even if you get those schemes running, if they are premised on a system of resettlement - resettling refugees from those countries to the EU - which countries will they be resettled to? And then you come back to the exact same question: how are we going to distribute asylum seekers across different European countries?"