[JURIST] UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants [official website] Francois Crepea on Friday urged [press release] British authorities to reconsider their decision not to support search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean. Crepea’s statements come as a response to the UK’s announcement earlier this week it will not support any future search and rescue operations to prevent migrants and refugees drowning in the Mediterranean, stating that such operations can encourage more people to attempt the dangerous sea crossing to enter Europe. Crepea criticized the decision, stating, “[t]o bank on the rise in the number of dead migrants to act as deterrence for future migrants and asylum seekers is appalling. It’s like saying, let them die because this is a good deterrence.” He urged governments to bring smugglers to justice and also called for the community to better assist frontline countries such as Italy, Malta, Greece and Spain.
The treatment of migrants and refugees [JURIST news archive] is a controversial issue worldwide. In June the Obama administration [official website] announced [JURIST report] that it would boost the ranks of immigration judges, lawyers and asylum officers to decrease the flow of undocumented children into the country. Earlier this year international medical aid group Doctors Without Borders [advocacy website] condemned [JURIST report] the unsanitary detention conditions of migrants found in Greece without correct paperwork. The report expressed concern over detention facilities where migrants are kept in large numbers in cramped, unsanitary conditions without access to medical care or basic hygiene. Last year Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] urged [JURIST report] the EU to allow migrants and asylum seekers to find refuge in Europe. HRW’s statement came in the wake of a tragedy in which hundreds of migrants drowned on their way from Libya to Italy. In its statement HRW criticized the EU for focusing too much on sealing its borders at the expense of migrants and asylum-seekers.