Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] on Wednesday urged [press release] the EU to allow migrants and asylum seekers to find refuge in Europe. HRW's statement comes in the wake of a tragedy earlier this month in which hundreds of migrants drowned on their way from Libya to Italy [AP report]. In its statement, HRW criticized the EU for focusing too much on sealing its borders at the expense of migrants and asylum-seekers:
Though framed in terms of saving lives, many of the proposed policy responses reflect the EU's preoccupation with preventing departure and barring entry. ... These responses have brought to the fore longstanding disputes among Mediterranean EU member countries about responsibilities for rescue operations, for determining where those rescued may land, and for processing migrants and asylum seekers.HRW also urged EU leaders to aid refugees from Syria who are fleeing a civil war [JURIST backgrounder].
The treatment of refugees [JURIST news archive] is a controversial issue worldwide. Last month the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) [official website] stated it is increasingly worried [JURIST report] for the safety of civilians in the Central African Republic. Earlier in September the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) [advocacy website] and the League of Defense of Human Rights in Iraq called on the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) [official website] to investigate the deaths of more than 50 refugees [JURIST report] discovered in Iraq. In August the UN Human Rights Committee [official website] declared [JURIST report] that Australia's indefinite detention of 46 recognized refugees on security grounds amounted to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.