In January, Greek Prime Minister Kiriakos Mitsotakis featured prominently on the World Financial Discussion board in Davos. Among the many numerous matters, he was requested to touch upon was migration. “Greece has most likely managed the migration downside higher than most different European international locations,” he mentioned confidently in an interview with CNN’s Richard Quest on the sidelines of the discussion board. “We received a convincing victory [in the elections] partly as a result of we succeeded in managing the migration by way of a tricky however truthful migration coverage.”
However this “robust however truthful migration coverage” resulted within the dying of greater than 500 folks, together with 100 youngsters, in a single incident of a migrant boat sinking off the Greek coast close to Pylos on June 14. The Greek coastguard has been accused of inflicting what is taken into account one of many worst maritime disasters within the Mediterranean by trying to tow the boat to Italian territorial waters.
The Greek authorities have denied accountability and as an alternative arrested 9 of the survivors, blaming them for inflicting the shipwreck. As Mitsotakis headed for Davos, the investigation was closed and handed to the prosecution, after requests by the survivors’ legal professionals to think about vital proof of their defence had been rejected.
The injustice and surprising disregard for human life on this story aren’t an aberration, however the fruits of a coverage of systematic denial of safety and violation of the rights of refugees. And they’re additionally mirrored within the new migration pact the European Union has simply concluded.
The tragic tales of dying at European borders and the shortage of motion on them point out the path through which Europe is headed, united beneath a far-right “legislation and order” flag and racist anti-migrant insurance policies. It’s in direction of a darkish future through which human rights will may come to an finish.
A racist EU migration pact
The difficulty of migration has all the time been a helpful political instrument and one of many cornerstones of the far proper in Europe. However up to now decade, the remainder of the political spectrum has additionally more and more instrumentalised and steadily adopted it in a determined try to enhance declining electoral fortunes. Because of this, European migration insurance policies have taken a pointy flip to the fitting, reflecting increasingly intently the far proper’s racist agenda and a rhetoric of exclusion of non-Europeans.
The brand new “Migration Pact” of the EU is a working example. The European Parliament and the European Council reached a provisional settlement on it 5 days earlier than Christmas. Roberta Metsola, the president of the European Parliament, known as it a “historic day”; human rights organisations known as it a “catastrophe”. On February 8, EU member states accepted it, and it’s now pending ultimate formal endorsement by the EU Parliament and the European Council.
The laws that the pact will introduce will cowl all levels of the asylum course of: from screening asylum seekers upon arrival and assortment of biometric information to guidelines for figuring out which member state is answerable for dealing with their purposes. The provisions, which are supposed to “essentially change how we take care of migration and asylum”, nonetheless, comprise quite a few gaps which permit for abuse and additional strengthening of violent insurance policies at EU borders.
Rights organisations have identified that the pact can usher within the detention of asylum seekers, together with households with youngsters, in prison-like services; result in extra violence by border authorities; and permit deportation to unsafe third international locations.
It is not going to present a secure and dignified path to the asylum-seeking process that might save lives and it’ll not stop tragedies just like the Pylos shipwreck from repeating. As an alternative, as Amnesty Worldwide notes, the brand new pact will end in “a surge in struggling on each step of an individual’s journey to hunt asylum” in Europe.
Moreover, international locations like Poland and Hungary have rejected the relocation mechanism, beneath which they must settle for refugees. The pact offers them the choice choice to pay 20,000 euros ($21,550) per refugee; in different phrases, they’ll pay their manner out of their obligations beneath European and worldwide legislation.
This implies not solely that there will probably be a good heavier burden placed on international locations on the EU’s exterior borders, however that primary authorized norms on the safety of refugees are being eroded.
A darkish future for Fortress Europe
Total, the migration pact displays a bent throughout the EU to shrink the scope of worldwide legislation to the purpose the place it turns into irrelevant to these whom it was created to guard.
Failing to place in place a standard European asylum system with clear guidelines and laws, not lifting the stress from entrance international locations, additional militarising border management, and outsourcing the issue of migration to 3rd international locations replicate the EU’s persevering with effort to dodge its obligations beneath worldwide legislation in direction of asylum seekers.
The long-term impact of ignoring and downplaying worldwide authorized norms is the potential collapse of the worldwide worldwide system, which might imply the top of the human rights regime as we all know it.
One other disturbing facet of Europe’s migration pact asylum coverage is that it discriminates between folks searching for asylum. The EU introduced that its provisions is not going to apply to Ukrainian refugees. In different phrases, Brussels formally applies worldwide legislation selectively; it overtly declares that individuals of a sure race are deserving of a pathway to security and others aren’t.
That is all of the extra egregious contemplating that the migration pact is supposed to maintain away folks fleeing battle and different crises in Africa and the Center East, which European international locations are sometimes straight concerned in.
By clearly and formally discriminating between who’s deserving of a secure and authorized route of asylum-seeking and migration and who shouldn’t be, the EU is setting a harmful precedent. Discrimination over the fitting to request safety beneath worldwide legislation and the allocation of various rights for various teams opens the door to authorized apartheid.
It seems the EU has appointed itself because the arbiter of who has the fitting to life and dignity and who doesn’t. That is obvious in its response to the conflict in Gaza as effectively.
Europe has turned a blind eye to the accusations of genocide in Gaza, as European international locations proceed promoting weapons to Israel and parroting its outrageous argument about “its proper to self-defence” from a inhabitants it occupies.
You will need to word right here that among the many most fervent pro-Israeli forces in Europe is the far proper which is utilizing the conflict in Gaza to push its agenda, promote concepts of cultural conflict, and whitewash its anti-Semitism.
Assist for the far proper is surging in Europe and that’s not due to “unlawful migration” as some EU officers, like Ylva Johansson, commissioner for dwelling affairs, have claimed. It’s as a result of European “centrist conservatives”, like Mitsotakis, have embraced the far proper’s agenda for their very own slender political and financial pursuits.
This can actually be mirrored within the upcoming European parliamentary elections scheduled for June.
If there isn’t a profound overhaul of the antihuman and inhumane path European politics and insurance policies are taking, the way forward for the EU seems to be very darkish. Because it stands now, we’re on a straight path in direction of a Europe the place the Viktor Orbáns, Geert Wilderss and Marine Le Pens could have a a lot stronger say about what’s on the agenda and what’s not.
The views expressed on this article are the creator’s personal and don’t essentially replicate Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.