Human Rights of Refugees Must Also Be Protected

Published: June 21, 2016; 14:00 · (FriedlNews)

On the occasion of World Refugee Day, the OSCE and the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) emphasized that any solutions to the refugee crisis in Europe must ensure the dignified treatment and protection of the human rights of all refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced persons and migrants.

Lamberto Zannier, Secretary General of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) / Picture: © OSCE / Micky Kroell

States must protect human rights of refugees and work for sustainable solutions, say OSCE Secretary General Zannier and ODIHR Director Link.

On the occasion of World Refugee Day, Lamberto Zannier, Secretary General of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and Michael Georg Link, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), emphasized that any solutions to the refugee crisis in Europe must ensure the dignified treatment and protection of the human rights of all refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced persons and migrants.

“As Europe faces the most serious refugee crisis since World War Two, authorities must respect and protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all those caught up in this crisis, without discrimination” Secretary General Zannier said.

“The powerful images of sinking boats, rising fences, desperate protests at closed borders and burning asylum centers have highlighted the urgent need to safeguard human rights through fair and efficient asylum procedures, immediate humanitarian assistance, and proportionate security responses to this emergency.”

Secretary General Zannier and Director Link noted that some OSCE participating States have struggled to ensure the decent treatment of migrants and asylum seekers at their international borders, including minimum standards of living and protection from exploitation, harassment and abuse by both State and private actors.

Asylum seekers face selective admission practices based on their nationality or are refused equal access to asylum procedures in a number of States.

There have also been reports of a marked increase in incidents of indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force by border police, resulting in serious injury and, in some cases, fatalities.

Women and girls on the move are especially vulnerable to sexual violence and exploitation by criminals.

They also stressed that people continue to risk their lives to reach safety, irrespective of closed borders.

“The protection of external borders and regulations on the entry of foreigners are sovereign prerogatives of each OSCE participating State, which is in turn expected to respect international legal prohibition to return or expel refugees to places where their lives or freedoms could be threatened; international standards on the use of lethal force; and the commitment to promote the dignified treatment of all individuals wanting to cross borders,” Director Link said.

“ODIHR remains ready to assist all OSCE participating States affected by this migration and refugee crisis to ensure the promotion and protection of human rights in their responses, and to find sustainable solutions.”