UN rapporteur urges EU and Turkey to respect migrant rights
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
REUTERS photoA UN official urged both the European Union and Ankara Friday to respect the rights of illegal immigrants sent back to Turkey from the EU under an accord signed last week.
"My concern is that (in negotiations) we do not talk of migrants' rights.. There is talk of migrants but we do not care about their rights," Francois Crepeau, UN special rapporteur on human rights of migrants, told AFP during a visit to Turkey.
Crepeau warned Turkish authorities and the EU "not to lose sight of the fact that this negotiation is about humans, not a bag of oranges or computers." The agreement signed in Brussels followed a deal on making it easier for Turkish nationals to obtain EU visas. Turkey has become a hub of illegal immigration to countries inside the EU's Schengen area, particularly after the increase in cheap flights from Istanbul, according to a 2012 report of Frontex, which coordinates the surveillance of the bloc's borders.
Crepeau also suggested that Turkey could explicitly mention the rights of migrants in a new constitution it is drawing up.
The rapporteur welcomed Turkey's decision to take in Syrians fleeing the conflict in their country, whose numbers reached 34,332 on Friday according to official sources.
"This is a very positive gesture on part of the Turkish authorities," he said.
During his five day visit, Crepeau visited the northwestern city of Edirne, on the border with Greece, as well as detention centres and migrant homes.