International migration has become a global political priority in recent years. Out of a total of almost 200 million worldwide, Europe now has 60 million international migrants, representing approximately 9% of the European population. Refugees in Europe make up 5% of this migrant population and the number of irregular migrants in Europe is estimated at between 5 and 8 million. Migration, in particular economic migration, is driven by people’s desire to secure better living conditions for themselves and their families. There are also refugees who are fleeing persecution or have been forced to leave their homes. Europe has a long tradition of welcoming newcomers and has various policies designed to foster their integration in the country of destination. There are also 2.5 million persons in Europe who have been internally displaced as a result of protracted conflicts. The Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons has a dual purpose: firstly, it develops policies for the protection of the rights of migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and displaced persons and the improvement of their living conditions; secondly, by proposing political solutions in keeping with the humanitarian values of the Council of Europe, it seeks to respond to member states' concerns about significant movements of migrants and refugees, the integration of migrants and population trends.
The Committee (AS/Mig) comprises 84 members and their alternates and has three sub-committees (on integration, on detention and on cooperation with non European countries of origin and transit).
In its work, the Committee deals with a wide range of topics relating to the rights of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, humanitarian law and displaced persons. The Committee appoints parliamentary rapporteurs mandated to prepare reports based on solid in situ research and hearings with experts. This work culminates in the adoption first by the Committee and then by the Parliamentary Assembly in plenary of resolutions and recommendations addressed to member states and the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers.
The Committee works in close co-operation with governmental and non-governmental international humanitarian organisations, such as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Amnesty International and various refugee and migration organisations. Representatives of these organisations attend committee meetings as observers, offering the benefit of their experience. At regular intervals, the Committee submits reports to the Assembly on the activities of the UNHCR, ICRC and IOM.
Within the Council of Europe
The Committee maintains close contact with the intergovernmental committees and institutions of the Council of Europe which are active within its area of competence, including the Commissioner for Human Rights, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), the Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH), the Ad hoc Committee of Experts on Roma Issues (CAHROM) and the European Committee of Social Rights. It also presents opinions to the Assembly on the activities of the Council of Europe Development Bank.
The Committee’s main activities can be grouped under the following themes:
In 2012, the Committee has decided to work in priority around three major poles of activity, namely:
The three sub-committees will focus on:
In the spotlight: Large scale arrival on Europe’s southern shores & Lives lost in the Mediterranean sea
In the aftermath of the “Arab revolutions”, mixed migration flows have arrived, and still arrive, to Europe’s southern shores by boat. Following a number of tragic incidents, causing the deaths of thousands of ‘boat people’, the Committee conducted an inquiry into a particularly tragic incident and issued a report. The report finds a ‘catalogue of failures’ that led to deaths of 63 people fleeing Libyan conflict by sea.Doc. 12895| Resolution 1872 (2012)
The Committee has also recently produced a number of reports which are highly relevant.
Work in progress:
In 2011, the Committee has constituted an ad hoc sub-committee on “Large-scale arrival of irregular migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees on Europe’s Southern shores”. The ad hoc sub-committee, which is constituted of a member of each of the 5 political groups, has paid a working visit to Lampedusa on 23/24.05.2011. It has issued a report after the visit in which it states, inter alia, that “Lampedusa reception centres are not suitable holding facilities for migrants”.
The ad hoc sub-committee also visited the Turkish-Syrian border at the end of July 2011 and issued a report after the visit.
In 2012, the ad hoc sub-committee intends to visit the Greek-Turkish border which is under high migratory pressure.
The Committee is also currently preparing a report on “The arrival of a large number of irregular migrants to Italian coastal areas as a result of tensions in the Southern Mediterranean countries”.
August 2008 war between Georgia and Russia – humanitarian consequences.
The Committee has expressed grave concern about the humanitarian situation following the war between Georgia and Russia. It has already prepared two reports on this subject. Anxious to ensure that its recommendations are followed, the Assembly has instructed AS/Mig to follow closely the implementation of the Resolutions adopted on this subject. The Committee will shortly present a new report on this subject.