Oxfam reaction to the European Commission proposal that Poland and its two Baltic neighbours Lithuania and Latvia can restrict the right to claim asylum to designated and limited places such as chosen border points

Published: 2nd December 2021

"This proposal weakens the fundamental rights of asylum seekers and strengthens Fortress Europe, and goes against everything that EU should stand for," said Erin McKay, European Migration Campaign Manager at Oxfam.   

In the latest joint Greek Council for Refugees (GCR) and the Oxfam report "Detention as the default" we outline how Greece is generalising the use of administrative detention and keeping people, including those with vulnerabilities, in detention centres much longer than legally allowed. Increasingly, the Greek government, with support of the EU, is opting for detention, including through the building of five new EU-funded ‘closed and controlled’ Multipurpose Reception and Identification Centres. This is not in line with EU and Greek law.  

This trend of externalisation, criminalisation and how this practice is spreading beyond Greece across the EU, as we see in this recent case from Poland, Lithuania and Estonia is an attempt to bend obligations on the treatment of migrants at the borders with Belarus.  

Erin McKay said: “The European Union is allowing member states to use the lives of migrants as pawns in a geopolitical game with Belarus. Stopping, detaining and criminalising people trying to find safety in Europe breaks international and European asylum law. Supporting the detention of migrants at EU borders puts politics over peoples’ lives.” 

Contact information

Caroline Jacobsson | caroline.jacobsson@oxfam.org | mobile +32 473 56 22 60

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