In January, Greek Prime Minister Kiriakos Mitsotakis featured prominently on the World Economic Forum in Davos. Among the assorted subjects, he was requested to touch upon was migration. “Greece has probably managed the migration problem better than most other European countries,” he mentioned confidently in an interview with CNN’s Richard Quest on the sidelines of the discussion board. “We won a resounding victory [in the elections] partly because we succeeded in managing the migration through a tough but fair migration policy.”
But this “tough but fair migration policy” 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 duty and as a substitute 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’ attorneys to contemplate vital proof of their defence had been rejected.
The injustice and stunning disregard for human life on this story aren’t an aberration, however the end result 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 course through which Europe is headed, united beneath a far-right “law and order” flag and racist anti-migrant insurance policies. It is in the direction of a darkish future through which human rights will might come to an finish.
A racist EU migration pact
The concern of migration has all the time been a helpful political device and one of many cornerstones of the far proper in Europe. But previously decade, the remainder of the political spectrum has additionally more and more instrumentalised and progressively adopted it in a determined try to enhance declining electoral fortunes. As a outcome, European migration insurance policies have taken a pointy flip to the suitable, reflecting increasingly intently the far proper’s racist agenda and a rhetoric of exclusion of non-Europeans.
The 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 “disaster”. On February 8, EU member states permitted it, and it’s now pending remaining formal endorsement by the EU Parliament and the European Council.
The laws that the pact will introduce will cowl all phases of the asylum course of: from screening asylum seekers upon arrival and assortment of biometric knowledge to guidelines for figuring out which member state is chargeable for dealing with their functions. The provisions, which are supposed to “fundamentally change how we deal with 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 amenities; result in extra violence by border authorities; and permit deportation to unsafe third international locations.
It won’t present a protected and dignified path to the asylum-seeking process that would save lives and it’ll not forestall tragedies just like the Pylos shipwreck from repeating. Instead, as Amnesty International notes, the brand new pact will end in “a surge in suffering on every step of a person’s journey to seek asylum” in Europe.
Additionally, 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 will pay their means out of their obligations beneath European and worldwide legislation.
This means not solely that there will probably be a fair 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
Overall, the migration pact displays an inclination 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 strain from entrance international locations, additional militarising border management, and outsourcing the issue of migration to 3rd international locations mirror the EU’s persevering with effort to dodge its obligations beneath worldwide legislation in the 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.
Another disturbing facet of Europe’s migration pact asylum coverage is that it discriminates between folks searching for asylum. The EU introduced that its provisions won’t apply to Ukrainian refugees. In different phrases, Brussels formally applies worldwide legislation selectively; it overtly declares that folks of a sure race are deserving of a pathway to security and others aren’t.
This 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 Middle East, which European international locations are sometimes immediately concerned in.
By clearly and formally discriminating between who’s deserving of a protected and authorized route of asylum-seeking and migration and who just isn’t, the EU is setting a harmful precedent. Discrimination over the suitable 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 suitable to life and dignity and who doesn’t. This is clear in its response to the struggle in Gaza as properly.
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 right to self-defence” from a inhabitants it occupies.
It is vital to notice right here that among the many most fervent pro-Israeli forces in Europe is the far proper which is utilizing the struggle in Gaza to push its agenda, promote concepts of cultural struggle, and whitewash its anti-Semitism.
Support for the far proper is surging in Europe and that isn’t due to “illegal migration” as some EU officers, like Ylva Johansson, commissioner for residence affairs, have claimed. It is as a result of European “centrist conservatives”, like Mitsotakis, have embraced the far proper’s agenda for their very own slim political and financial pursuits.
This will definitely be mirrored within the upcoming European parliamentary elections scheduled for June.
If there isn’t any profound overhaul of the antihuman and inhumane course European politics and insurance policies are taking, the way forward for the EU appears to be like very darkish. As it stands now, we’re on a straight path in the 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 writer’s personal and don’t essentially mirror Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.