Commissioner for Human Rights Chastises Europe’s Actions towards Immigrants

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Thomas Hammarberg is Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights and has held the position since 2005.  The humanitarian/activist has spent decades of his life struggling to advance human rights in Europe and beyond.  He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1977 for his works with a UK NGO.  Hammarberg spoke with Georgi Gotev of EurActiv about the EU’s policy on immigration.

As Commissioner. Hammarberg said, the European Union has basically shut its door on immigrants and forcing them to return to their own countries before they step foot on soil.  The immigrants which do reach Europe are treated as “totally unwanted”.  In an attempt to make immigration even more difficult and demeaning to foreigners, the EU has moved for the re-introduction of border checkpoints within the Schengen zone.  This would obviously present some of the same problems which critics of the US’s immigrant ID laws pointed out: anyone who looks foreign would be subject to abuse and discrimination.

The Commissioner for Human Rights spoke about the ramifications that this sort of policy could have during a time when Europe is working to open itself up as a community.  Enforcing border checkpoints to crack down on immigrants would only re-establish the borders.  If the EU continues these methods, he went on to say, then Europe will have “little credibility to talk about human rights in international fora.”

Human rights have already been violated throughout the EU. Though Commissioner Hammarberg didn’t mention them specifically, the hurts caused against immigrants in France and Switzerland will not soon be forgotten.  He did, however, warn that the problems with the massive expulsion of Roma populations is not nearly over.  More on Hammarberg’s views can be read in his new book called “Human Rights iin Euripe: No Grounds for Complacency.”

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