Asylum and Migration

Migration affects every region of the world. In Europe, many countries receive people seeking asylum who are fleeing war and persecution in their home states. Freedom of movement is both a human right and a fundamental freedom, which impacts on the enjoyment of many other human rights.

Asylum and migration is a well-established area of NHRIs’ work, as confirmed in a recent analysis by the German Institute for Human Rights on behalf of GANHRI. The nature and mandate of NHRIs make them particularly apt at interfacing with the government and the international level, monitoring and advising on the national implementation of international human rights law. Responding to the human rights challenges of asylum and migration in Europe is a priority in ENNHRI’s Strategic Plan 2018-2021.

At the national level, European NHRIs conduct research on asylum and migration, make recommendations to governments for reform of laws, policies and practices in this area, and raise awareness of the rights of migrants, asylum applicants and refugees. Some also regularly monitor and report on immigration detention facilities and reception centres and may also investigate complaints.

Asylum and Migration Working Group

ENNHRI’s work in this area is carried out through the Asylum and Migration Working Group. This group was established in 2008 by an informal network of lawyers working in different NHRIs. Since then, the Working Group has become more structured and now comprises 25 NHRIs from wider Europe. The current chair of the Working Group is Maja Kevic, of the Croatian Ombudsman.

Working Group members exchange knowledge and experience in order to strengthen regional and international cooperation in the field of asylum and migration and facilitate engagement with regional mechanisms on asylum and migration issues.

The Working Group also supports members in addressing contemporary challenges in asylum and migration and provides a forum for members to collaborate to provide a stronger regional voice to impact on policy, legislation and jurisprudence.

Current priorities and planned activities for 2019

The Working Group has determined its priorities and planned areas of activity for 2019. These are split into three broad areas: data collection (migrants’ human rights at the borders; migrants’ access to economic and social rights), capacity-building (strengthening NHRIs’ work on monitoring and reporting on asylum and migration) and external engagement (focused on developments at the Council of Europe, particularly on the topics of immigration detention and reception conditions for migrant children).

The Working Group also coordinates with GANHRI (the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions) at the international level, such as on the follow-up to the adoption of the Global Compact on Migration.

Past activities

Since 2010, the Asylum and Migration Working Group has held meetings at least once a year. During meetings, NHRIs update each other on their work and priorities in the area, exchange views on regional trends, discuss opportunities for engagement at the regional and international levels and plan their collective work. The last Working Group meeting took place in Brussels in November 2018 and the next meeting is expected to take place in April 2019.

In addition, previous activities of the Asylum and Migration Working Group included:

  • Provided input to GANHRI’s Statement on the occasion of the adoption of the Global Compact for Migration (GCM), focusing on the European developments and the role of European NHRIs in the field of asylum and migration (December 2018)
  • Provided comments to the new GANHRI Report on “National Human Rights Institutions and their work on migrants’ human rights” (November 2018)
  • Conducted monitoring visits to several reception and detention centres throughout Europe and gathered data on migrants’ right to information. (April-July 2017)
  • Following this data collection, the Working Group researched and published a report on migrants’ access to information on their rights (October 2017).
  • Attended a conference co-organised by the Council of Europe and OSCE/ODIHR to discuss and provide input for the first comprehensive set of rules on the administrative detention of migrants (May 2017).
  • Published a statement on solidarity in the field of migration (March 2017).
  • Provided submissions to the Council of Europe on draft rules on conditions and alternatives to detention for migrants (December 2016).
  • Coordinated NHRIs’ visits to several refugee camps in Greece which resulted in a set of recommendations presented before the Greek Parliament. (July 2016).
  • Actively involved in the preparation of the Conference on “Human Rights Challenges in the Refugee/ Migrant Crisis” organised by the Serbian Protector of Citizens, in which, European NHRIs and Ombudsman Institutions reaffirmed their strong commitment to protect and promote the rights of refugees and migrants in the “The Belgrade Declaration” (2015)

ENNHRI statements and publications on asylum and migration

Other statements and declarations