From file: a Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg | Photo: Patrick Seeger/EPA
From file: a Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg | Photo: Patrick Seeger/EPA

The Council of Europe has approved a report against migrant pushbacks, rejecting numerous attempts by the Italian government to modify the text.

The Council of Europe last Thursday (October 13) approved a report against migrant pushbacks. Italian members of the European Parliament were not able to amend and modify the report of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, which asks EU member states to make pushbacks of migrants at sea and on land illegal and to uphold the principal of non-refoulement.

The only victory, albeit partial, for the group of Italian members of the European Parliament (MEPs) was to twice introduce in the text the need for all member states to work on finding measures at the European level that will permit to create a system of shelter in Europe that is "sustainable and shared".

Founded in 1949, the Council of Europe is completely separate and independent from European Union institutions. The main aim of its 46 member states, 27 of them are European Union countries, is to protect human rights, democracy and rule of law.

Pushbacks of 'worrying proportions'

The Parliamentary assembly "noted that the pushbacks of migrants at the [EU's external borders] have taken on worrying proportions."

According to the report, the illegal practice makes the journey of migrants and refugees even more dangerous. Therefore, the assembly has invited member states to "modify the law and the practices used" in order to end migrant pushbacks and "to codify the principle of non-refoulement in their national laws", as it said in a press notice.

A resolution adopted on Thursday proposed a series of measures to prevent refoulements, protect victims and go after those responsible for similar practices by "improving international cooperation ... and coordination between border authorities, the police and other entities in charge of protecting the borders".

The MEPs also highlighted the need of "independent and well-working monitoring mechanisms for border operations at national and European level" that include civil society.

Lastly, according to the adopted text, EU border and coast guard agency Frontex should "strengthen its capacity to respond to the accusations of refoulement and allow for detailed investigations to ensure those responsible for these practices are brought to justice."

Rejected Italian amendments

The Italian amendments were introduced by six Italian MEPs who insisted on the need for the introduction of the principle of solidarity among countries to handle the migrant flows.

However, four amendments were rejected. In the end, the report was approved with 62 votes in favor, nine against and two abstentions.


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