06 Oct Update to Open Letter from International Lawyers to EU States, the European Union and European Publics on the Refugee Crisis in Europe
[Dr. Başak Çalı is Director for the Center of Global Public Law and Associate Professor of International Law at Koç University, Turkey. She the secretary general of the European Society of International Law. The following is written in her personal capacity. This is a follow-up post to the open letter we published 24 September.]
The open letter from international lawyers to the EU, EU states and the European Publics public concerning the existing international legal obligations to those seeking international protection has attracted signatures from over 900 international lawyers after it has been reopened for signature. The signatories include leading experts in international refugee law, Professors Deborah Anker (University of Harvard); Chaloka Beyani (LSE); Vincent Chetail (Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies); Bhupinder Chimni (Jawaharlal Nehru University); Michelle Foster (University of Melbourne); Geoff Gilbert (University of Essex, Editor in Chief, International Journal of Refugee Law); Guy Goodwin-Gill (Emeritus Fellow, All Souls College, Emeritus Professor of International Refugee Law, University of Oxford); Elspeth Guild, (Radboud University Nijmegen); James Hathaway (Professor of Law and Director, Program in Refugee and Asylum Law, University of Michigan & Distinguished Visiting Professor of International Refugee Law, University of Amsterdam); Jane McAdam (University of New South Wales (UNSW)); Boldizsár Nagy, (Central European University & Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest); Gregor Noll (University of Lund); Thomas Spijkerboer (Professor of Migration Law, VU Amsterdam) and many others.
On 30th September, the office of the President of the European Commission, Mr Jean-Claude Juncker, responded to the Open Letter explaining that the Member of the Commission responsible for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Mr Dimitris Avramopoulos ‘is looking into the points you have raised and will respond to you rapidly.’
In summary, the Open Letter urges European states and the EU to:
- meet their obligations of international responsibility-sharing, to resettle significant numbers of refugees and provide aid to countries hosting large numbers of refugees.
- as regards those seeking protection in Europe, abandon those policies which prevent safe and legal access to protection. The UNHCR estimates over 2,860 people have died at sea trying to get to Europe this year alone. Suspending carrier sanctions and issuing humanitarian visas would largely prevent the need for those seeking refuge to make dangerous journeys.
- respect and protect the human rights of those seeking refuge once they are in Europe, including by enabling them to access asylum procedures or ensuring safe passage to countries where they wish to seek international protection.
- immediately suspend Dublin returns of asylum-seekers to their first point of entry, but ensure that its rules on family reunification are implemented fully and swiftly.
- relocate asylum-seekers and refugees in a manner that respects the dignity and agency of those relocated, and increases Europe’s capacity to offer protection.
- replace the Dublin System with one which accords with international human rights law and respects the dignity and autonomy of asylum-seekers, and supports international and intra-European responsibility-sharing.
- implement fair and swift procedures to recognize all those in need of international protection.
- while claims are being examined, afford those in need of international protection, at a minimum, the reception conditions to which they are entitled in international human rights and EU law.
- respect the right to family life, including positive obligations with regard to family unity, facilitation of swift family reunification and family tracing.
- treat all refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants with dignity and respect, respecting and protecting their human rights, irrespective of status.
Read the entire Open Letter here (.pdf).