UN rights chief expresses serious concerns over EU-Turkey agreement
REUTERS photoThe U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein expressed March 24 serious concerns about the recent agreement between the European Union and Turkey, pointing to what he termed “a contradiction at the heart of the agreement,” as well as raising concerns regarding arbitrary detention of refugees and migrants.
“The declared aim to return all refugees and migrants contrasts with the assurances about individual assessments,” the High Commissioner said.
“If the safeguards are to be considered real, then the individual assessments must allow for the possibility that the persons in question will not in fact be returned. Otherwise it could still qualify as a collective expulsion.”
The EU-Turkey agreement calls for cases to be processed under the EU’s Asylum Procedures Directive, and goes on to state that “Migrants not applying for asylum or whose application has been found unfounded or inadmissible in accordance with the said directive will be returned to Turkey.”
Zeid expressed concern that this language presents a real risk of overlooking human rights law obligations, which require States to examine arguments against return beyond those found in refugee law. Such needs could arise, for example, in the case of children; victims of violence, rape, trauma and torture; individuals with specific sexual orientation; persons with disabilities; and a range of others with legitimate individual protection needs.
The UN Human Rights Chief urged Greece to handle all individual cases with genuine attention to all protection grounds required under international human rights law, including at the appeals stage.