UN Special Rapporteur: report on the human rights impact of pushbacks

Pushback practices are widespread and have become "a routine element of border governance", says the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants.


The UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Felipe González Morales, dedicates his report to the Human Rights Council's 47th session to the means to address the human rights impact of pushbacks of migrants on land and at sea. Statewatch, among many civil liberties organisations, responded to the Rapporteur's call for submissions for the report in February this year.

The report concludes that the practice of pushbacks is widespread, and has "in many contexts...become a routine element of border governance". As well as resulting from "enhanced prejudice against migrants", a lack of awareness of obligations and a "genuine lack of preparedness to provide human rights-based entry and reception support", the Rapporteur concludes that "pushbacks are also sometimes carried out as a form of punishment and supposed deterrence." Impunity for pushbacks is prevalent.

The Special Rapporteur's report focusses on:

  • An examination of current pushback practices and trends, including in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Analysis of their impacts on the human rights of migrants;
  • Views of states, or challenges and obstacles they face in ensuring access to due process and safeguards;
  • Promising practices and initiatives that exemplify human rights-based border governance;
  • Recommendations to states.

Within the EU, the report outlines pushback practices of Greece, Croatia, and chain pushbacks from Italy among others, and details reports of the use of force in pushbacks, extraterritorial processing, and pushbacks at sea, including through delays in search and rescue and disembarkation. Numerous submissions detailed the governance of Greece's land and sea borders with Turkey:

"On top of an increased militarization of the Evros land border region since March 2020, which has effectively resulted in preventing entry and in the summary and collective expulsion of tens of thousands of migrants and asylum seekers, the Special Rapporteur has received allegations that pushbacks over the land border are also reportedly carried out from urban areas, including reception and detention centres."

A short section is dedicated to Frontex operations:

"During joint operations at the external borders of the European Union, serious claims of Frontexs implication in pushbacks have been made, alleging that Frontex-operated surveillance technology on board aerial assets and vessels may have been misused to facilitate pushbacks to Turkey and Libya."

Documentation

Human Rights Council forty-seventh session, 21 June - 9 July 2021: Report on means to address the human rights impact of pushbacks on migrants on land and at sea: Report of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants.

11 February 2021: Submission by Statewatch to the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants - Report on means to address the human rights impact of pushbacks on migrants on land and at sea.

All submissions to the call for inputs for the Special Rapporteur's report on pushback practices and their impact on the human rights of migrants.

 

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