The objectified migrants: Abstracting regulations and laws
Migration is considered as a cultural and international phenomenon, which has led to dividing the audience and lawmakers into pro-migrants and anti-migrants. The European Union (EU) should be the ideal stage in implementing human rights and respecting migrants’ dignities and rights through conventions, for the protection of human rights should be a shared priority between all European countries (Grandi 2022.) Asylum seekers who are pushed back and turned into their countries suffer from brutal treatment that neglects dignity due to dangerous living conditions in their home countries. However, a lawful avenue of ensuring impartial and proper implementation of human rights without any biases is demanded according to several international conventions and bills that condemn any violence or illegal treatment against asylum seekers. All of which were neglected in the case of migrants and asylum seekers, human traffickers, or the so-called death boats and the tragedies that occurred on the EU’s borders. These were the results of the lack of cooperation and coordination between the European countries, especially the EU’s member states when deciding on whether to accept or push migrants back (Haq, Magee and Nadeau 2023). As the migrant crisis in Europe is still ongoing, the EU is trying to make a betterment of the situation by restricting the accessibility to its territories by creating abstract regulations and laws that are not lawfully enforced, leaving migrants to suffer from their inability to rely on those abstracted laws.
Regulations and Laws:
According to the European Commission, asylum is considered as a fundamental right, as well as an international obligation (Common European Asylum System, 2023). Britain tried to find a solution for the phenomenon through a bill that is supposed to “discourage” individuals from taking migration routes, especially after Britain received a dramatic increase of the number of asylum seekers. In response to that bill, Home Secretary Suella Braverman suggests that the articles of the bill might not be compatible with the European Convention of Human Rights (McGee 2023).
The regulations that are created by the EU should work in accordance with the signed laws. However, in the case of migrants, those regulations can be considered abstract since they violate the migrants’ rights and dignity. The abstracted laws and regulations led to 166,261 unresolved cases at the end of 2022 (McGee 2023). Those regulations consist of many unacceptable treatments that stand against refugees’ rights, which left a place for skepticism in those countries’ credibility when it comes to migrants policy from its audience, especially human rights activists. The actual regulations have been enforced but on all people; meaning that asylum seekers who arrive by boat face a lot of difficulties in the procedures, including the harsh treatment that they suffer on borders. On the other hand, Ukrainians received easier procedures and they were welcomed in Europe after the breakout of the war.
Instrumentalization of refugees as a threatening manner to the EU:
The weaponization of migrants has been a tool that was utilized by some countries as a way of taking advantage of European countries and the EU. According to a report by The Guardian, Tunisia took advantage of the Serbian route which was appealing for two main reasons; first it was safer than the maritime route, and second, asylum seekers were able to lie on the support of a southern Tunisian diaspora mainly founded in France, which financially funded their journeys. Also, this route was able to manipulate the flows of asylum seekers. However, Tunisia was a main beneficiary of it, as it gave thousands of young people an exit route through Serbia to reach Europe; considering those migrants as a “source of much-needed hard currency” (Meddeb 2023). Serbia tried to take advantage of the lack of coordination among EU member states to pressure them by assuring their capability of resolving the migrant issue. According to The Guardian report that Frontex reported, there were 145,600 illegal crossings through Serbia’s route in 2022 and this number is only half of all reported illegal entries into the EU in 2022. 6,782 of those illegal migrants were Tunisians, which threatened the EU with a major influx through the west Balkans (Meddeb 2023). Tunisia and Serbia both took advantage of the initial absence of coordination between the European countries to “exploit the weak spots in pursuit of their financial, social and geopolitical” aims (Meddeb 2023).
Smuggling Migrants in Death boats, and the European borders:
The issue of smuggling migrants through death boats to reach the European borders encompasses several challenges and suggests many unresolved problems. Jenny Phillimore, a professor of migration and superdiversity at the University of Birmingham in central England said “People flee because they have to get away from these very difficult situations at home” (Haq, Magee and Nadeau 2023). These journeys are often accompanied by non-sea-worthy boats, ones that are considered as one of the most dangerous reaching the European borders. Asylum seekers get into them desperately because most of them are assured that they will reach their destination. Despite the hardship upon migrants’ arrival, they also suffer from law enforcement, which is not in accordance with human rights considerations, for instance police and safeguard brutality upon arrival that further exacerbates the suffering of migrants, physically and mentally. Shockingly, reports from The Guardian state that 13 countries started implying gruesome ‘deterrence tactics’ such as beatings, head shaving, sexual assaults and dog attacks against asylum seekers (Rankin 2022). This disregard for human dignity stands in stark contrast with the EU’s principles, which should respect and uphold the right to asylum and guarantee humane treatment for them.
Tragically, many refugees lose their lives in these boats that brings the case to a level that is considered as unacceptable by lawyers and activists. According to a report by the International Organization for Migrants (IOM), 5,684 deaths have been detected since 2021 and surely the number keeps growing due to the unreported deaths of those who drown in 2021 (Black, Galindo, and Prati 2022). However, in the context of Britain, death boats are often considered as an outcome of Britain not providing safe routes to refugees, that further complicates the issue into a sketchy situation, providing space for the audience to accuse migrant policy.
A report by the CNN issues that on 14th June 2023, the world witnessed a tragic deathboat event that resulted in the death of migrants drowning, and hundreds others missing, rescuing only 104 out of 750 migrants (Davey-Attlee, Labropoulou, Karadsheh, Mezzofiore, and Polglase 2023). Questions were pointed at Greece coastguards as they could have rescued migrants. According to Frontex Greek authorities were aware of the drowning vessel hours before it sank. The coastguard responded that the migrants resisted rescue and continued their journey to Italy. Human rights groups said that the authorities had a duty to act to save lives, regardless of what people on board were saying (Davey-Attlee, Labropoulou, Karadsheh, Mezzofiore, and Polglase 2023).
Pushbacks and deportations:
Asylum seekers and migrants have experienced illegal pushback from European countries, despite that it is prohibited in the EU’s principles and international law. Notably, European countries did not give priority to migrants’ lives, and they simply rejected asylum seekers as they arrived (Barigazzi, 2023). Pushbacks in the context of European borders were always associated with violence, death, and harsh treatment, completely disregarding human dignity or life. Hopelessly, some activists have raised the unsettling speculation that these illegal pushbacks might be legalized by certain interpretations of EU law, as reported by The Guardian. (Rankin, 2022)
In 2020, Greece pushed the same boat to another country to avoid their responsibility of rescuing those migrants (Tuysuz, Karadsheh, and Laine 2020). According to the UNHCR, migrants got brutally pushed back in harsh weather conditions (“increasing violence and human rights violations” 2022). Those inhumane acts against migrants are dishearteningly evident.
Those migrants, who were just looking for a better standard of living lost their lives in these journeys. As issued by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), at least 252 people have died during pushbacks by European authorities since 2021 (Black, Galindo, and Prati 2022). This is a result of not having legal and organized trips to their home country. Instead, they are pushed back with the same boats as a way of avoiding those countries’ responsibility of rescuing them. Some solutions were suggested to resolve the issue of migrants and push them back, under the term of “mandatory solidarity” which is used to authorize a country to help migrants under any circumstances, and treat them properly without denying any of their rights.
This policy authorizes the country to accommodate migrants, and it costs 10,000-22,000 Euros per migrant (Barigazzi, 2023). The payment was questionable for European countries and still did not agree upon this solution. Those inhumane cases and treatment shed light on the urgent need for a comprehensive and merciful approach for this ongoing crisis.
Refugees and asylum seekers are individuals looking for a life in adequate living conditions far from their war-torn countries. European countries individually, and the EU altogether, are equally to blame because of the lack of coordination between them, and the lack of proper enforcement of laws that migrants can rely on without considering death as a probability. All the inhuman actions should be considered human rights violations so they can be stopped, and the actors that took part in this struggle should be condemned. Europe needs to enforce concrete laws that respect migrant rights and implement law enforcements that stop the inhumane treatment of migrants at the borders. Moreover, it is also crucial to provide safe and legal routes for asylum seekers to reduce illegal crossings.
Barigazzi, Jacopo. “A Price Tag to Reject Migrants? It’s Not the Only Fight Threatening a Reform Package.” POLITICO, 6 June 2023, www.politico.eu/article/a-price-tag-to-reject-migrants-its-not-the-only-fight-threatening-a-reform-package/.
Black, Julia, et al. “More than 5,000 Deaths Recorded on European Migration Routes since 2021: IOM.” International Organization for Migration, www.iom.int/news/more-5000-deaths-recorded-european-migration-routes-2021-iom. Accessed 12 Aug. 2023.
Channel 4 News, and Paraic O’Brien. “Migrant Crisis: People Drown as Europe Pushes Them Away – Expert Explains.” Channel 4 News, 5 July 2023. Watch the interview here!
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Haq, Sana Noor, et al. “Europe’s Migration Policies in Chaos as Arrivals Surge.” CNN, 16 Apr. 2023, cnn
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MEDDEB, HAMZA. “Leveraging Lives: Serbia and Illegal Tunisian Migration to Europe.” CARNEGIE MIDDLE EAST CENTER, 20 Mar. 2023, carnegie-mec.org/2023/03/20/leveraging-lives-serbia-and-illegal-tunisian-migration-to-europe-pub-89315.
Rankin, Jennifer. “Migrants Face ‘unprecedented Rise in Violence’ in EU Borders, Report Finds.” The Guardian, 8 Dec. 2022, www.theguardian.com/law/2022/dec/08/migrants-face-unprecedented-rise-in-violence-in-eu-borders-report-finds
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Tuysuz, Gul, et al. “Masked Men, Assault and Abandonment.” CNN, 17 Sept. 2020, edition.cnn.com/2020/09/17/europe/greece-migrants-turkey-intl.