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UN rights chief expresses 'serious concern' over security measures adopted by European nations

[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein [official profile] on Thursday expressed "serious concern" at the recent adoption of security measures by several European countries by joint agreement [text, PDF]. The measures were adopted at a recent meeting between police heads from Austria, Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Zeid fears that the measures may have already negatively impacted refugees to the countries and notably in Greece. Specifically, Zeid expressed concern [press release] with provisions limiting the scope of migration to "fleeing war" and also mentioned that the agreement, "contains no measures aiming at protecting these extremely vulnerable women, children and men on the move." He stressed that such limitations and lack of protections for the refugees are placing a significant strain and burden on the population.

The rights of migrant populations has emerged as one of the most significant humanitarian issues around the world, as millions seek asylum from conflict nations. Earlier this week the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said that new measures put in place by many European countries are too restrictive and place undue hardships [JURIST report] on refugees and asylum-seekers. Also this week Amnesty International warned Austria that they are violating human rights through their daily cap on asylum applications [JURIST report]. The country had previously received a warning from an EU official not to go ahead with these plans, stating that any such move would be unlawful [JURIST report]. Earlier this month the German Cabinet approved new asylum laws [JURIST report] in response to the hundreds of thousands of refugees that have entered the country since the beginning of 2015. The bill will speed up asylum procedures and related legal appeals and will bar entry into the country for some asylum seekers' families for a period of two years. In January Danish lawmakers approved a controversial bill that will allow Danish authorities to seize assets [JURIST report] from immigrants seeking asylum in order to cover their expenses. In December the EU opened an infringement case [JURIST report] against Hungary's new asylum law and the country's response to the refugee situation.

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