10 Nov 2021

ENNHRI expresses grave concerns about the human rights situation at the EU’s Eastern Borders

ENNHRI is deeply troubled by the human rights violations being committed against migrants at the EU’s external borders with the Republic of Belarus. With reports of indiscriminate and disproportionate use of violence, systematic denial of the right to asylum, inhuman and degrading treatment, pushbacks, and even deaths, the situation is critical for the people on the ground.

In its statement on the situation, ENNHRI reiterates the findings, concerns, and recommendations of its members, particularly the NHRIs in Poland (Polish Commissioner for Human Rights), Lithuania (Lithuanian Seimas Ombudsmen’s Office), and Latvia (Ombudsman’s Office of the Republic of Latvia).

Even when a state of emergency is declared, non-derogable human rights obligations still apply. These include the principle of non-refoulement and the prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment. Legislative and policy changes made in response to increased migratory pressures must not dismantle human rights-based and protection-sensitive asylum and border systems or contravene international obligations. ENNHRI also regrets the instrumentalisation of migrants for political purposes on both sides of the border.

ENNHRI underlines the crucial role that NHRIs have in monitoring and reporting on human rights, including issuing recommendations to state authorities and protecting individuals’ rights. Therefore, ENNHRI calls for national authorities to respect NHRIs’ mandates, to protect them from threats, attacks, and intimidation, and to work constructively with them at borders.

European NHRIs stand ready to support all efforts to restore protection-sensitive national frameworks and to pursue a sustainable and fair approach to migration in the region. Human rights must always be respected, including at borders and irrespective of a person’s migratory status.

» Read ENNHRI’s full statement.

» Learn more on ENNHRI’s work on asylum and migration.