As new migration crises emerge in the Mediterranean basin and as Frontex’s responsibilities expand, there is an urgent need for a shift in EU asylum and migration policy from an enforcement-first policy to a protection-first policy. This is not only legally required but is a worthy and achievable approach for the EU, its agencies, and member states to take in addressing real problems that are susceptible to real—and principled—solutions.
The human right watchdog and defense group Human Rights Watch recently released a report (entitled: The EU’s Dirty Hands) outlining the abuses and inhuman treatment of asylum seekers happening on Greece’s borders. In short, the report – based on interviews with 65 refugees as well as police and Frontex (the EU border patrol) officers – claims that asylum seekers are treated as criminals (actually, aren’t even given the basic rights afforded to criminals) at the EU borders in Greece rather than given the protection required by EU law. Although conditions at detention centers can vary, in general the situation constitutes “inhuman and degrading treatment.” It is no secret that the Greek government has no money, but this is not a Greek problem; it is a European problem. Any solution will require a European response. Read the entire report here.