[JURIST] The Cyprus government’s practice of detaining all illegal migrants seeking asylum in the island nation violates international law, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] reported [text, PDF; press release] Tuesday. AI claims that Cyprus systematically detains migrants without exploring alternative methods of dealing with the individuals, in violation of European Union law. The report also alleges that the detainees are held indefinitely in poor conditions without adequate access to health care or legal aid. AI called on the Cypriot authorities to improve their policy immediately:
The routine detention of irregular migrants and of a large number of asylum-seekers clearly violates Cyprus’ human rights obligations. This pattern of abuse is partly due to inadequate legislation, but more often it is down to the practice of the authorities, particularly when it comes to their failure to examine real alternatives to immigration detention and their disregard of Supreme Court orders to release detainees. Urgent action is needed to rectify this situation that results in serious violations of the human rights of asylum-seekers and migrants.
AI recommended that the government repeal any legislation authorizing the imprisonment of asylum-seekers and to examine and implement alternative means of dealing with illegal migrants who have committed no other crimes.
Laws and policies governing the treatment of migrants continue to raise international human rights concerns. 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.