EU-Turkey plan disregards human rights

11 March 2016

Brussels, 11 March 2016 – Earlier this week heads of EU Member States met the Prime Minister of Turkey to try to find solutions to the humanitarian crisis playing out in the Aegean. The resultant plan dubbed ‘one for one’ envisages treating people fleeing war and state failure like parcels and would be a huge blow to human rights and the rule of law in Europe if ever implemented.

JRS Europe is particularly concerned that the EU has misappropriated the need to create safe and regular channels for refugees to reach safety in Europe.

The ‘one for one’ proposal means that every Syrian who risks their life and lands in Greece will be immediately returned to Turkey. For every one such Syrian returned, a different Syrian family would be nominated for resettlement to EU Member States. However, without clear commitment from EU Member States, when and how that resettlement would take place remains uncertain. All other nationalities of forced migrants who land in Greece would simply be returned to Turkey.

“Under the pretences of resettlement, this plan by EU states would create two classes of asylum seeker: the ‘good’ Syrian ones who remain in camps in Turkey and the ‘bad’ ones – Syrians and other nationalities – who attempt to maintain their dignity in hopeless circumstances by trying to reach Europe by themselves,” says JRS Europe policy and advocacy officer Mark Provera.

“Making the resettlement of one refugee contingent on another refugee risking their life is perverse. Every person has the right to apply for asylum and have their application individually assessed regardless of race, religion or nationality," concludes Provera.

As other NGOs and partners such as ECRE, Amnesty and Human Rights Watch have stated, the EU-Turkey proposal runs the grave risk of breaching international and EU law and European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) standards. 

JRS Europe adds and amplifies its call for the creation of safe and regular routes for people to reach safety in Europe that are not contingent on any other fact than the dignity of the person and the individual assessment of their claim for protection.

“Making the resettlement of one refugee contingent on another refugee risking their life is perverse.”