The European Commission adopted Friday a Recommendation and Renewed Action Plan for European Union (EU) member states to consider in their procedures to return men, women and children staying irregularly in the EU to their countries of origin or transit.
It encourages member states to undertake swift returns, which limit basic safeguards and rights that should be guaranteed to all migrants, including in cases involving children.
According to UNICEF, the UN agencies and child rights organisations are concerned that the Commission package on Return encourages member states to undertake ‘swift returns’ of people – including children – with reduced procedural safeguards and through the increased use of detention.
This approach would put children’s lives at risk and would be in violation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child,which every EU member state has ratified.
Returnee children and families are at risk of rejection by their families or local communities in their countries of origin, as well as human rights violations. They often face severe discrimination. They are vulnerable to exploitation, to being recruited by armed groups, or pushed into forced labour.
Rather than address the harm to children already caused by the EU and member states return policies, the Commission document recommends measures that would increase it. It encourages fewer safeguards, quicker and automatic return decisions, more forced removals, and more detention.
Far from addressing the real migration challenges that exist across the EU, these proposals will only exacerbate the situation. Further, there is no evidence that forced removal dissuades people from migrating. Returning them to unsustainable situations increases the risk of further cycles of precarious and insecure migration.
Photo courtesy: UNICEF