Members of the Turkish Coast Guard taking migrants, who were allegedly pushed back from the Greece side, on a boat during a patrol to search and rescue for migrants offshore the Ayvalik district in Balikesir, Turkey | Photo: ARCHIVE/EPA/ERDEM SAHIN
Members of the Turkish Coast Guard taking migrants, who were allegedly pushed back from the Greece side, on a boat during a patrol to search and rescue for migrants offshore the Ayvalik district in Balikesir, Turkey | Photo: ARCHIVE/EPA/ERDEM SAHIN

The UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Felipe González Morales, has highlighted that public health crises like the COVID-19 pandemic cannot have the effect of denying asylum and protection to migrants. He denounced to the Human Rights Council last week the practice of collective expulsions carried out by some countries.

Public health crises like the COVID-19 pandemic the world is experiencing can have the effect of denying asylum and protection to migrants, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants of the United Nations, Felipe González Morales, denounced last week.

Addressing the Human Rights Council on June 23, he condemned practices of pushbacks carried out by some countries.

Arrests, pushbacks and repatriations

"Some States conducted pushback operations with the acquiescence, and sometimes the cooperation, of third States to which migrants were forcibly removed," he said.

"Elsewhere, pushbacks were carried out secretively, giving rise to disputes regarding responsibility, as well as political conflict", added the special rapporteur, recalling the obstacles created by States to respond to migratory movements.

"The legitimate interests of States in the management of borders bring, in some cases, to mass arrests and repatriations of migrants, without an individual evaluation of their vulnerabilities or need for protection," added Morales.

The expert cited a series of "worrying global trends, in particular the militarization of border patrols."

Moreover, the conclusion of bilateral and multilateral agreements is sometimes used to "ratify the return of migrants without individual guarantees."

Risk of further violations of human rights

Finally, Morales warned against refoulements at sea, which endanger the lives of thousands of migrants, practices that have led to the "tragic death of many of them, including women and children."

In the absence of an individual evaluation for each migrant and of procedural guarantees, he stressed that pushbacks are a "violation of the ban on collective expulsion and increase the risk of the further violation of human rights."

 

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