European NHRIs gather in Zagreb to exchange practices and plan collective work on asylum and migration

Members of the Asylum and Migration Working Group at the meeting in Zagreb (25 April 2019)

On 26 April, ENNHRI’s Asylum and Migration Working Group met in Zagreb, Croatia, to share their recent work and plan future collaboration. Representatives from regional organisations also shared updates on relevant European developments and highlighted potential areas of cooperation.

Participants from 18 NHRIs were welcomed in Zagreb by the Working Group Chair, Maja Kević, Deputy Ombudswoman from the National Human Rights Institutions (NHRI) of Croatia, who stressed the importance of NHRIs coming together to address important migrants’ rights issues in an increasingly challenging context.

The discussion included an overview of the work carried out since the last meeting in 2018, such as the Working Group’s comments to the Council of Europe (CoE) on concerns about the draft Rules on Immigration Detention, the statement of the Global Alliance of NHRIs on the Global Compact on Migration, and the Working Group’s recent comments to the CoE’s Drafting Group for human rights and migration (CDDH-MIG) on their practical guidelines on alternatives to detention.

Through Working Group members’ exchange of their recent work and challenges in their institutions, a few common areas of work emerged. These included: immigration detention, including the processing of asylum applications and the conditions found in detention facilities, the violation of migrants’ rights at the borders and the lack of access to legal and translation resources.

Participants also reflected on the opposition by state authorities faced by their NHRIs when working on migration issues. For instance, the Croatian NHRI shared that it has been experiencing increasing difficulties in accessing information from public authorities, especially concerning violation of migrants’ rights at the border, a trend shared with several other NHRIs.

Strengthened cooperation with regional organisations

The Working Group also strengthened its links and explored areas of cooperation with regional organisations and bodies participating in the meeting. Kris Pollet from the European Council on Refugees and Exiles presented on different EU developments, including the state of play of the EU asylum legislative proposals. The Working Group agreed to follow up on the potential impact of the agreed reform of Frontex/European Border and Coast Guard at the national level.

Lilja Gretarsdottir from the CoE Migration Coordination Unit shared information on CoE developments and highlighted the importance of the Working Group’s statement on the CoE’s Guidance on Alternatives to Immigration Detention. The Working Group agreed to continue its close cooperation with the CoE on migration issues.

Future work

The Working Group agreed that its future work will focus on two pieces of research. Firstly, a data collection on the situation of migrants at the borders will involve NHRIs sharing good practices and building on their existing work in relation to monitoring, reporting, capacity building and advocacy. The second piece of research will examine the intersection of economic and social rights with asylum and migration, with a particular focus on the right to housing.

» Learn more about ENNHRI’s work on Asylum and Migration