We need a new “New Pact on migration” and more solidarity on the ground

September 23, 2022 marks two years since the publication of the proposal for the New EU Pact on Migration and Asylum, which the European Commission presented as an opportunity for a fresh start. The period of negotiations on certain parts of the Pact, which is characterized by procrastination, indicates the complexity of the process of adopting this important EU migration policy and does not give a hint that in the coming period it will be covered by solidarity towards the people in the movement themselves, nor by the creation of a policy that will be effective and sustainable. On this occasion, the Euromedrights network published a statement in which it states that the human rights of refugees and other migrants are still being violated, and deaths at EU borders are still our everyday life. The proposed Pact announces the possibility of opening prescreening centers at the external border of the EU, which is also a possibility for Croatia, although there is no word on it yet. The Euromedrights network created a simulation of the EU Pact for Italy and Spain, which (like Croatia) are on the external border of the EU – a graphic representation of what the situation would look like if the EU Pact was in place during 2020 and 2021.

The judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of little Madina Hussiny marked an important step in achieving justice for the protection of the human rights of refugees and other migrants, but it must not remain a dead letter – the Center for Peace Studies and the House of Human Rights emphasized in their statement on the occasion of submitting a proposal for measures to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to stop the practice of illegal expulsions and protect the human rights of refugees and other migrants in the Republic of Croatia. The proposal for measures includes a call that, given that violations are part of a systemic and complex problem, the Committee of Ministers monitors the implementation in the process of enhanced supervision, to ensure effective investigations, full independence, and effectiveness of the mechanism for supervising the work of the police in the area of ​​migration, access to data by the Ombudsman’s Office and areas where persons are deprived of their liberty, access to free legal aid for persons in the process of return and their uninterrupted contact with lawyers and associations, and protection of human rights defenders from the criminalization of solidarity.

Changes in migration movements in recent months are visible in various EU countries, including in the capital of Croatia – where a large number of refugees and other migrants are visibly staying around the main railway station. According to media reports that spoke to some people staying in the park in front of the train station, when entering Croatia – people receive a decision stating that they have 7 days to leave Croatia and the European Economic Area. Media “Jutarnji list” points out: “As we unofficially find out, because the police advertise this problem with short statements, on the ground things look like this: when a police officer notices a migrant on a public surface, he identifies him. If such a person has personal documents, he writes them down and gives him a warning on the spot that he must leave the country within seven days. Those without documents are picked up by the police and transferred to the Center for Foreigners, where their identity and place of entry into Croatia are determined. If and when they determine this, they return him to the border of the country from which he entered illegally. These are Serbia or Bosnia and Herzegovina.” In addition to Zagreb, a large number of people on the move were also seen in Pazin – which was reported by “Glas Istre”, and the City of Pazin itself announced in a statement that: “The mayor calls on the citizens of Pazin to be patient, careful, but also understanding. Something is happening to us that happened months and years ago in numerous areas in Croatia, where the local population, the local government, but also the migrants themselves, are suffering because of European and national policies that did not provide adequate and systematic solutions”. This is not only happening in Croatia but has been happening in other EU countries for a number of years. On the French-Italian border in the vicinity of the Italian city of Ventimiglia, similar situations have been a topic since 2015, and legal analyzes indicate that the situation has not improved even today, but the law is being used to derogate from the asylum system. The idea of ​​the New EU Pact on migration and asylum certainly had its foothold in the situations faced by cities like Ventimiglia and perhaps Pazin, but it has not yet offered an effective solution. Equally, the EU plans to fight against smugglers and human trafficking, and precisely with its restrictive policies that do not offer people safe and legal routes – it forces them to use the services of smugglers and exposes them to the risk of human trafficking, which is especially dangerous for migrant children (about which is written in a report of Save the Children).

Deciding to embark on a dangerous journey in search of a safe life is a brave act by an individual, and for those who manage to find life in exile, it can be a long agony. Researchers from different countries who had to go into exile for their safety shared their stories.

A solidary, long-term, and sustainable asylum system, which respects human rights, as well as alternative safe and legal routes are the ways with which we can transform the previously described agonies during migration movements for entire communities; and make human lives dignified. While there is none – we need greater and stronger solidarity on the streets, in neighborhoods and in cities: we are the ones who can change practice, and then politics. The question is: do we dare!?

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