EU-Turkey deal: Ombudsman says that Commission must do more to assess human rights impact
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The European Ombudsman, Emily O'Reilly has today issued a decision (pdf) that says the European Commission must undertake a more thorough assessment of the human rights impact of the EU-Turkey deal on migrants and refugees, which could be done by including a section on human rights in its future progress reports on the implementation of the deal.
The Ombudsman's investigation was launched after a complaint by some 300 organisations and 11,000 individuals. It was recently revealed that the UNHCR is unable to monitor the rights of all people returned under the EU-Turkey deal.
Press release from the European Ombudsman
EU must continue to assess human rights impact of EU-Turkey deal (originally posted here)
Press release no. 1/2017
19 January 2017
Following complaints on the issue, the European Ombudsman, Emily O'Reilly, has asked the European Commission to carry out a more thorough assessment of the human rights impact of the EU-Turkey Agreement.
Under the Agreement, concluded in March 2016, asylum seekers and migrants crossing from Turkey to Greece whose applications are then declared inadmissible are to be returned to Turkey; and Turkey is to take measures to prevent the opening up of new sea or land migration routes.
The Ombudsman called on the Commission to include in its future progress reports on the implementation of the Agreement agreed by the European Council - a separate section focusing on human rights risks and on measures to reduce them.
Ms OReilly stated: I am conscious of the extremely difficult challenge and political realities facing both the EU Institutions and Member States in attempting to deal with the migration crisis, however the Commission continues to have a responsibility to carry out a human rights impact assessment of its implementation.
The complainants, Spanish NGOs (the Spanish Committee for Helping Refugees (CEAR), the Spanish Association of Young Lawyers and Womens Link Worldwide) and individual citizens, turned to the Ombudsman after the Commission failed to reply or inadequately replied to the concerns they had expressed about the impact of the Agreement on human rights of the asylum seekers and the migrants subject to return to Turkey from Greece. Specifically, Womens Link Worldwide urged the Commission to carry out a human rights impact assessment of the Agreement, by focusing in particular on the situation of migrant women and children.
The Ombudsman in this case built upon principles arising from an inquiry concerning the Commissions failure to carry out a human rights impact assessment of the free trade agreement between the EU and Vietnam.
In that inquiry, closed in February 2016, the Ombudsman noted that a human rights impact assessment is not a collection of data or a response to public opposition, but rather an analytical tool for demonstrating that all necessary factors and circumstances have been taken into account in framing a policy. The human rights impact assessment tool identifies the sources of risks and the human rights impacts on the affected stakeholders at each stage of the projects life.
See the full-text of the: Decision of the European Ombudsman in the joint inquiry into complaints 506-509-674-784-927-1381/2016/MHZ against the European Commission concerning a human rights impact assessment in the context of the EU-Turkey Agreement (pdf) or on the European Ombudsman website (link)
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