The UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Francois Crepeau [official profile] on Monday called on the government of Turkey and authorities in the European Union (EU) to respect the rights of migrants [statement; press release] in the continent. Crepeau acknowledged the need for governments to ensure border security but stressed that the need for secure borders must not outweigh the human rights of irregular migrants. He praised the Turkish government for accepting Syrian refugees and providing them with adequate living conditions but expressed concern that other migrants were arrested or turned away. Crepeau urged the government of Turkey to stop detaining migrants for entering the country, noting the importance of Turkey as a passage to Europe:
Turkey is one of the key bridges to Europe. Its unique geographical location positions it as a hub for migrants from all over the world including Sub-Saharan and North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Many of those migrants are in an irregular situation and some are transiting through Turkey with the wish to enter the EU. ... While the EU and Turkey have developed a close cooperation on migration issues, which has led to some notable positive developments, the assistance offered to Turkey regarding migration management appears to focus largely on securitising the borders and decreasing irregular migration to the European common territory through focusing on projects related to the detention and removal of migrants in Turkey and the increased monitoring of the Turkish border.The special rapporteur noted that international pressure to prevent an influx of migrants in Europe has led to stricter policies in Turkey and called on EU governments to consider measures to share the responsibility of protecting human rights conditions with Turkish authorities.
Laws and policies governing the treatment of migrants continue to raise international human rights concerns. Last month, Amnesty International (AI) said the Cyprus government's practice of detaining all illegal migrants seeking asylum in the island nation violates international law [JURIST report]. In January, the Israeli Knesset passed a bill that imposes harsher penalties on illegal migrants [JURIST report] in Israel, as well as on Israelis who help illegal migrants. AI criticized the bill as a violation of human rights. Last March, AI released a report documenting discrimination and human rights violations against Roma migrants [JURIST report] in Slovenia and urging the Slovenian government to protect Roma communities. In September 2010, the Global Migration Group (GMG) adopted a statement urging all governments to respect the human rights of migrants [JURIST report], who are more likely to face various forms of abuse as they lack proper legal status. The GMG stressed that every person, regardless of migration status, should enjoy the fundamental rights to life, liberty and all fundamental human rights.