Asylum and migration is a key collective priority for European National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs), given the reality that migrants – including refugees and people seeking asylum – are disproportionately exposed to discrimination and difficulties in accessing their rights in practice. We facilitate collaboration among NHRIs in this area, particularly through our Asylum & Migration Working Group.

A recent study by the Global Alliance of NHRIs (GANHRI) confirmed this to be a well-established area of NHRIs’ work. The legal mandate and functions of NHRIs make them particularly apt at monitoring the realisation of migrants’ rights at the national level, advising on the national implementation of international human rights law, and interfacing with the government and the international level.

European NHRIs conduct research on asylum and migration, make recommendations to governments for reform of laws, policies and practices in this area, and raise awareness of the rights of migrants, refugees and people seeking asylum. Some also regularly monitor and report on immigration detention facilities and reception centres and may also investigate complaints.

Migrants' rights at the borders

The violation of migrants’ rights at the borders is a key and persisting human rights concern in Europe and, therefore, is a focus for us. We bring NHRIs together to enhance their capacity to monitor and report on human rights violations, such as violence at the borders, pushbacks and denial of access to the asylum procedures, and to advocate for human rights-compliant policies and legislation.

Our work in this area also revolves around strengthening the cooperation of NHRIs with other Human Rights Defenders (such as civil society organisations at the national and regional levels) and calling for an enabling environment for Human Rights Defenders to carry out their work on migrants’ rights at the borders.

We also engage with European actors (EU and Council of Europe) to advance human rights-based policy making on migration, with a focus on the borders.

This work is supported in part by a grant from the Foundation Open Society Institute in cooperation with the OSIFE of the Open Society Foundations (July 2019 – December 2020).

Immigration Detention

Particularly before the Council of Europe, we have spoken against the increasing resort to immigration detention in Europe, often in contravention of international human rights standards. We have called for the implementation of alternatives to immigration detention in practice and for ensuring that children cannot be detained for migration-related reasons.

2 balloons that say "refugees welcome" Download our submission to the Council of Europe’s Drafting Group on Migration and Human Rights (CDDH-MIG) – consultation on the draft “Practical Guidance on Alternatives to Immigration Detention

Migrants' Access to Information

The effective and efficient provision of information to migrants is decisive for migrants’ access to procedures, international protection and remedies, as well as for their future integration. In 2017, 12 European NHRIs joined forces to monitor and improve migrants’ access to information about their rights.

The result of this research shows that there is a substantial gap in the realisation of migrants’ rights to access to information on their rights, such as lack or poor quality of interpretation/translation, lack of effective understanding of the information provided, problems with the identification of and information on the special needs of vulnerable individuals, as well as the lack of training and qualifications of the staff in reception centres.

Two women at table talking Download: Migrants’ access to information on their rights Recommendations to bridge theory and practice

Asylum & Migration Working Group

Our work in this area is facilitated through our Asylum and Migration Working Group, which brings together over 20 European NHRIs. The Working Group acts as hub of experts in this area and a platform to exchange knowledge, good practices and challenges their NHRIs face when working on migration. It also coordinates engagement with regional actors at the levels of the European Union and Council of Europe.

Chair

Maja Kevic – Office of the Ombudswoman of Croatia

Current members

NHRIs of: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belgium (Myria), Croatia, Great Britain, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Kosovo*, Latvia, Luxembourg, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Northern Ireland, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Ukraine

Asylum & Migration Working Group meeting on 13-14 November 2018 in Brussels
Asylum & Migration Working Group meeting (13-14 November 2018 - Brussels, Belgium)

Publications & Statements

* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSC 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence