Wednesday, March 9, 2016

UN, Rights Groups Rip Proposed EU-Turkey Deal; Say Returning Migrants to Turkey Is Illegal, Cruel

The United Nations and several human rights groups warned yesterday that a proposed European Union (EU) deal to send back all irregular migrants to Turkey in exchange for political and financial rewards is probably illegal, the Reuters website reports today (March 9, 2016).

"I am deeply concerned about any arrangement that would involve the blanket return of anyone from one country to another without spelling out the refugee protection safeguards under international law," UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, asserted.

He was speaking hours after the 28 EU leaders sketched an accord with Turkey that would grant Ankara more money to keep refugees in Turkey, faster visa-free travel for Turks, and speeding up Ankara's EU membership talks. Although it requires member nations to strictly adhere to freedom of the press principles, the EU ignored the fact that Turkey violated the freedom of the press last week by closing down its largest opposition newspaper for writing articles critical of Turkish President Erdogan. (See Theology and Society, "Turkish Police Usurp Largest Opposition Paper...," March 6, 2016)

Rights group Amnesty International called the proposed mass return of migrants a "death blow to the right to seek asylum." Also, relief charity Doctors without Borders said the proposed deal was "cynical and inhumane."

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