Mos maiorum, a shortsighted and inhuman policy clashing with the humanitarian issues at the foundations of Europe

Despite the upheavals that are ravaging the world next to Europe, the wars that are becoming ever more dramatic, the Italian presidency of the European Union has surprisingly decided to curb the legitimate exodus of asylum seekers within Europe with military operations, thus revealing the need to protect themselves and Fortress Europe. Here are ASGI’s demands to activate the existing legal channels that allow the regular entry and reception of fleeing migrants.

“The operation Mos Maiorum started in these days, promoted by the Italian Presidency of the Council of the European Union and under the direction of the Italian Ministry of the Interior. Its purpose is to tackle the illegal trafficking of migrants, also by “appreheding” undocumented migrants and gather relevant information, it is said, to fight human trafficking.

Once again, the victims objectively become the target of repressive actions, instead of being protected as required by Directive 2004/81/EC and by the Directives on international protection. There is a real risk that they will be the only people to suffer the serious consequences of the military operation which hides a short-sighted policy and harmful behind its Latin name.

Despite the upheavals that are ravaging the world next to Europe, the wars that are becoming ever more dramatic, the Italian presidency of the European Union has surprisingly conceived an initiative that actually restrains by military operations the legitimate exodus of people fleeing (when they make it) wars and their inhuman violence. Such initiative reveals the need to protect and, therefore, to restore once again, Fortress Europe.

It is a short-sighted and inhumane policy that ignores the right of asylum under the Treaties establishing the European Union, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU and national constitutions, as well as all other instances of humanitarian who founded Europe. At the same time, it does not take account of the reasons for the exodus in course, nor of the actual channels of illegal trafficking, the operational centers of which are certainly not located in Europe.

Faced with the demands of civil society to identify tools and mechanisms already in countries of origin of most of the flow of refugees, Europe is responding with operations for a probable mass identification of people. Such police operations are very similar to round-ups, that is blunt tools from the very start, because they give no actual result, producing a collection of information of arguable use.

In fact, what will happen if migrants seeking protection are intercepted on the streets of Europe, perhaps coming from Syria or Iraq, Somalia or Libya, or other?

And what it means to gather information about the modus operandi which also includes asylum seeking? Does it imply that a request for asylum is instrumental to illegal immigration? May not that lead to criminalize asylum seekers, by suspecting that they may apply for asylum with the only purpose to secure residence in a Member State of the European Union?

There is a real risk of widespread criminalization of new refugees.

With reference to this operation ASGI demands that the Council of the European Union and the European Commission

– Require the participating Member States (including Italy) to quit the operation Mos Maiorum and instead to start rescue operations at sea, in order to save the lives of fleeing migrants;

– Propose and acknowledge the existence of a mass influx of displaced persons and, consequently, immediately apply the Directive 2001/55/EC of 20 July 2001 on minimum standards for giving temporary protection in the event of a mass influx of displaced persons and on measures promoting a balance of efforts between Member States in receiving such persons and bearing the consequences thereof;

– Immediately agree with the UNHCR the setting up of collection points for people fleeing conflicts, including internal ones, in the very countries in which traffickers organisations profit from people in despair. From such collection points displaced persons should be helped to leave to Europe safely. Member States should make use of the option to immediately grant entry to displaced persons for humanitarian reasons according to Article 5 of Regulation (EC) n. 562/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 March 2006 establishing a Community Code on the rules governing the movement of persons across borders (Schengen Borders Code);

– Arrange by agreement with the Member States the resettlement of fleeing migrants, taking into account their choice of destination and in accordance with the reception possibilities of each Member State;

– Establish a common fund, to be distributed among the various countries, to ensure the rescue of fleeing migrants at sea, and more generally the reception of asylum seekers.”

Italian version

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