Press release - 092(2010)

“Criminalising migration is the wrong answer to a complex social phenomenon” says Commissioner Hammarberg

Brussels, 04.02.2010 – “Criminalising the irregular entry and presence of migrants in Europe corrodes established international law principles and causes many human tragedies without achieving its purpose of genuine control” said Thomas Hammarberg, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, presenting today in Brussels an Issue Paper on this topic.

“I have observed with increasing concern this trend as part of a policy of migration management” he said. “States have a legitimate interest to control their borders, but criminalisation is a disproportionate measure which causes further stigmatisation and marginalisation of migrants. Immigration offences should remain administrative in nature.”

This Issue Paper builds upon these concerns and examines systematically the human rights implications of the criminalisation of migration in Europe. It analyses the external border crossing, migrants’ residence and protection of their social rights including employment, as well as asylum and detention.

It concludes with a number of recommendations to Council of Europe member states, as a starting point to ensure the correct intersection of human rights standards and the treatment of foreign nationals.

Issue Papers are commissioned and published by the Commissioner for Human Rights for the purpose of contributing to debate or further reflection on a current and important human rights matter. The full text is available on the Commissioner’s web-site.

Press contact in the Commissioner’s Office:
Stefano Montanari, +33 (0)6 61 14 70 37;

Press contact in Brussels:
Giuseppe Zaffuto, +32 498 06 54 46

Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights
Communication Unit
Tel: +33 (0)3 88 41 35 38
Fax:+33 (0)3 90 21 50 53