ICJ urges EU and Member States to uphold their duty to protect human rights of refugees and other migrants in Europe

The ICJ today urged the European Council to mandate the EU institutions and Member States to take urgent co-ordinated action to protect the human rights of migrants and refugees who are now arriving in Europe on a large scale, to avoid exacerbating an already grave human rights crisis.

European Council President, Donald Tusk, has called for an extraordinary, informal meeting of heads of State and government for Wednesday 23 September, to discuss a common coordinated approach to address the situation.

The ICJ is following with extreme concern the latest developments in the refugee and migration emergency, with thousands of persons trying to reach the EU every day, including those fleeing war or persecution in Syria, Eritrea, Afghanistan and Ethiopia.

“The current situation represents an acid test for the EU’s identity as a legal order based on human rights and the rule of law,” said Róisín Pillay, Director of the ICJ Europe programme.

“In this rapidly developing human rights crisis, the EU institutions and Member States must respond in accordance with their international human rights and refugee law obligations, which are also founding principles of the EU,” she added.

The unprecedented number of refugees and other migrants – 9,000 persons crossed the Hungarian-Serbian border only on 14 September – has already seen numerous tragedies, including deaths by drowning in the Mediterranean Sea, the ICJ deplores.

It has also seen incidents raising serious human rights concerns, the Geneva-based organization says.

These include the numbering on their skin of refugees and migrants to the Czech Republic; ill-treatment of persons trying to cross the Greek-Macedonian border; and, most lately, deployment of the Hungarian army at the border with Serbia and allegations of ill-treatment, seizure and push-backs by the Hungarian authorities.

“The EU must urgently take co-ordinated action to provide adequate reception conditions and effective access to international protection for people fleeing war, persecution and other serious violations of human rights,” said Massimo Frigo, Legal Adviser of the ICJ Europe Programme.

The ICJ stresses that all refugees and other migrants, regardless of their status, are entitled to full protection of their human rights under international law.

The EU institutions and all EU Member State authorities have a duty to safeguard these rights at all times, including under the EU Treaties and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, the ICJ adds.


 Massimo Frigo, Legal Adviser, ICJ Europe Programme, t: +41 22 979 3805 ; e: massimo.frigo(a)icj.org

Europe-Migration statement-Advocacy-analysis brief-2015-ENG (full text in pdf)

Photo: EPA

AdvocacyAnalysis briefsNewsPress releases