Ahead of World Refugee Day, Commissioner Mijatović has issued the following statement today:
“I want to pay tribute to the individuals and non-governmental organisations that are standing up for the human rights of asylum seekers and refugees.
All across Europe, committed individuals and organisations provide persons seeking protection with food and shelter, give them legal assistance, or conduct live-saving search and rescue operations at sea. In doing so, they give practical effect to the fundamental obligation to protect those fleeing war or persecution and uphold their human dignity.
These human rights defenders have played a key role in addressing the recent challenges of protection, reception and integration of refugees in Europe. Crucially, they also continue to remind governments of their human rights obligations which risk to be forgotten.
This is why I’m very concerned about the increasing pressure and restrictions put on the work of individuals and NGOs assisting migrants, asylum seekers and refugees in Europe. More and more, they face administrative burdens intended to make their work impossible, stigmatisation by misleading and hostile political rhetoric, and even criminal prosecution.
This shows contempt for the human rights principles they defend, and for the immense contribution to our societies they have made.
I call on Council of Europe States to refrain from interfering with the legitimate work of individuals and NGOs assisting migrants. States should rather seek to cooperate with them and provide them support. This would not only secure the rights of those in need of protection, but also be beneficial for our societies as a whole.”