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EU court: migrants cannot be jailed for illegally crossing border

[JURIST] The European Court of Justice [official website] ruled [judgment; press release, PDF] Tuesday that non-EU immigrants who illegally enter the Schengen area across an internal border should not be jailed solely on that basis. They can, however, be returned first through a time allowing for voluntary return and then through "forced removal measures." The forced removal measures are to be conducted in the "least coercive" manner possible, and these procedures must be utilized before imprisonment.

The rights of migrant populations has emerged as one of the most significant humanitarian issue around the world, as millions seek asylum from conflict nations. In March the Court of Justice ruled that Germany may place "residence conditions" [JURIST report] on refugees. In February 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 in February Amnesty International warned Austria that they are violating human rights through their daily cap on asylum applications [JURIST report]. 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.

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