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EU Migrant Pact Formalizes a Violent Status Quo: Sea Watch

  • Migrats at the Mediterranean sea, 2023.

    Migrats at the Mediterranean sea, 2023. | Photo: X/ @AdhikariBN

Published 21 December 2023

The new agreement introduces fast-track asylum procedures at the border to speed up returns.

On Wednesday, human rights defenders harshly criticized the agreement on the Common European Asylum System (CEAS), since it will have a disastrous impact on refugees.


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More specifically, they criticized the agreement for being unbalanced and unfair to potential migrants with a right to claim asylum in the European Union (EU).

"With the CEAS agreement, the EU has decided to formalize a status quo where violence, neglect, torture, and leaving people to die are every day practice," Sea Watch stressed.

"Recent years have shown a wide range of cruel practices towards people arriving in Europe: cramming them into camps like Moria, separating children from their parents, preventing boats from arriving to a safe shore in the Aegean Sea, beating people unconscious along the Croatian border or letting them freeze to death at the Polish border. With the agreement that has now been reached, all of this will continue and, indeed, become formalized," it added.

"The EU institutions have decided to actively gut the rights of those seeking protection, legalising the violations of EU asylum law by the member states. The New Pact will restrict access to protection in Europe by introducing fast-track asylum procedures at the border to speed up returns," Sea Watch explained.

"This agreement will set back European asylum law for decades to come. Its likely outcome is a surge in suffering on every step of a person's journey to seek asylum in the EU," said Eve Geddie, director of the European Institutions Office for Amnesty International.

"The pact will almost certainly cause more people to be put into de facto detention at EU borders, including families with children and people in vulnerable situations," she added.

The EU has seen a dramatic increase in the number of would-be asylum seekers landing on its shores this year. Irregular crossings at the EU's external borders increased by 17 percent in the first 11 months of this year to over 355,300, surpassing full-year totals in any year since 2016, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency said.

Most of these migrants have arrived via various sea routes, and around 153,500, or nearly 60 percent of total sea arrivals have landed in Italy via the deadly Mediterranean route from Tunisia or Libya. 

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