On the occasion of World Refugee Day, representatives of Amnesty International on Wednesday sent bagpacks containing 65,000 signatures by inflatable canoe to the office of Prime Minister Charles Michel. Some 40,000 of the signatories called for a migration policy that reflects greater respect for the rights of people fleeing violence and persecution, namely by providing safe, legal paths and improving the sharing of responsibility at the European level. An Amnesty delegation was received by Prime Minister Michel and bicycles were ridden around 16 Rue de la Loi bearing messages such as “Safe, legal paths, not smugglers” and “Humanity = Solidarity”.
While the Government seems to see in the outsourcing of borders as the future of migratory policies, Amnesty representatives recalled at the meeting the importance of placing this within an analytical framework that respects human rights. They added that cooperation with third countries such as Libya and Turkey lead to serious human rights violations.
Within the framework of the reform of the Dublin rules, which will be discussed at a European Summit on 28-29 June, they heard from the Prime Minister of his will to commit Belgium to a balanced solution based on the principles of responsibility and solidarity and the interest of setting up a compulsory distribution mechanism between States. According to the Dublin rules the country where the application for asylum was filed is responsible for making the final decision.
“While we are satisfied to hear that Belgium is in favour of a solidarity mechanism, we also expressed our strong concern at the Government’s will to maintain its position of locking up children accompanied by their families as a last resort,” said Valérie Michaux, campaign director for the Francophone Belgian section of Amnesty International. “Locking up a child – accompanied or not – for reasons linked to immigration is always counter to the higher interest of the child.”
The Amnesty representatives also pleaded for family reunification to be facilitated.
Two other petitions, bearing more than 12,000 signatures each, were handed in to the Cabinet. They call for a moratorium on sending people back to Afghanistan and for an end to all cooperation with the Libyan authorities since migrants sent back to Libya are subjected to abuses such as rape, slavery and detention.