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.

The legal mandate and functions of NHRIs means they are well placed to safeguard the rights of migrants. This includes monitoring their rights at the national level, advising and making recommendations to governments on the national implementation of international human rights standards, and acting as a bridge between states and international bodies. 

Beyond this, European NHRIs conduct research on asylum and migration and raise awareness of the rights of migrants. Some also regularly monitor and report on immigration detention facilities and reception centres, while alongside this they may 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. We bring NHRIs together to enhance their capacity to monitor and report on these violations – such as violence at borders, pushbacks and denial of access to the asylum procedures – and to strengthen accountability when they occur.

In addition to this, our activities in this area revolve around strengthening NHRI cooperation with other human rights defenders, such as civil society at the national and regional levels, and advocating for an enabling environment for human rights defenders to work on migrants’ rights at the borders.

In addition, we engage with the EU and Council of Europe to advance human rights-based policy making on migration.

This work has been supported in part by a grant from the Foundation Open Society Institute in cooperation with the OSIFE of the Open Society Foundations (July 2019 – July 2023).

Visit our project webpage on “Human rights and accountability at borders. Practices of National Human Rights Institutions in Europe” 

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 their 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. 

This research shows that migrants face substantial problems in accessing information on their rights. There is lack of good quality of interpretation and translation; a lack of effective understanding of the information provided; and problems with identifying and providing information on the particular needs of vulnerable individuals. In addition, staff in reception centres can lack the necessary training and specialist knowledge.   

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. It acts as a hub of experts 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 

Eva Tzavala – Greek National Commission for Human Rights 

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