Rights groups: UN summit falling short on refugee issues News
Rights groups: UN summit falling short on refugee issues

Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy websites] on Tuesday said that the draft of the final outcome document for the upcoming UN summit on refugees falls short of dealing with the issue effectively. According to the rights groups, the UN is missing an opportunity [AP report] by not proposing anything of substance. Salil Shetty, Secretary General of AI, stated [press release], “[f]aced with the worst refugee crisis in 70 years, world leaders have shown a shocking disregard for the human rights of people who have been forced to leave their homes due to conflict or persecution.” Originally, the outcome document included a proposal that would require member states to annually be open to 10 percent of the world’s refugee population. However, these proposals were removed from the final draft, leaving no concrete obligations regarding how member states must handle refugees. US President Barack Obama [official profile] will host a meeting of world leaders in New York after the summit to discuss refugee initiatives.

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. Austrian Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka said [JURIST report] earlier this month that Austria will take Hungary to the International Court of Justice [official website] if Hungary does not begin accepting returning migrants that crossed into Austria from Hungary. Last month the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein [official profile] expressed concern [JURIST report] over Bulgaria’s criminalization of migrants leaving and entering the country. In June the European Court of Justice (ECJ) [official website] rejected a challenge [JURIST report] to Britain’s refusal to pay family welfare benefits to unemployed EU migrants who do not have the right to reside in the UK. The judges ruled that such unequal treatment is justified on the basis of protecting a member state’s finances. Also in June the ECJ ruled that non-EU immigrants who illegally enter the Schengen area across an internal border should not be jailed [JURIST report] solely on that basis. In March the ECJ 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.