EU asked to stop criminalising undocumented migrants

By staff writers
December 18, 2012

The Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM) has called on the EU and its member states to reconsider policies which criminalise undocumented migrants as well as the advocates and professionals working to ensure their human rights.

The appeal was timed for International Migrants Day on 18 December 2012. It was on this day in 1990 that the UN General Assembly approved a Convention providing specific legal standards and protections to all migrant workers and members of their families.

PICUM commented: "Across the globe, special thought is given today to the presence, contribution and rights of migrants through a broad range of initiatives, actions and mobilizations."

the NGO continued: "For Europe, 2012 was marred with economic, social and political crisis; it was a year in which anti-migrant rhetoric peaked. From the streets of Athens to the summits of Brussels, the marginalised and vulnerable foreign workers on which our recovery depends continued to be disadvantaged, criminalised and chased. Policy makers pursued punitive measures which lower acceptable standards for labour, family and social rights. Those who work to ensure undocumented migrants’ rights were threatened and prosecuted. Migrants and their families faced increasing acts of racist and xenophobic violence. Earlier this month, a PICUM-led civil society event in Greece highlighted the systematic impunity under which anti-migrant attacks are taking place."

In his 2012 message for International Migrants Day UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon made an address to global policy-makers about the challenges which austerity measures pose to migrants rights.

He declared: "When migration policies are developed without attention to vulnerability, marginalisation and discrimination, millions of migrants become cheap, disposable labour, the scapegoats for failed economic and social policies, and even casualties in an ill-defined war against 'illegal migration'.”

The secretary-general continued: "As human mobility becomes more complex, and the journeys taken by many migrants more perilous, it becomes all the more urgent to forge national policy responses that address migration based on human rights principles.”

PICUM responded: "[These] words echo the concerns of the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) that the immigration control measures in Europe encroach on migrants’ fundamental rights. Addressing detection practices which seek out irregular migrants in hospitals, schools, and support services, the FRA has created a set of guidelines to help member states develop a clear firewall between ‘access to rights’ on the one hand, and ‘immigration control measures’ on the other. Fear of detection and being reported should not prevent children from attending school, a sick person from seeing a doctor, a pregnant woman from giving birth in a safe environment, or a victim of crime from accessing justice."

"If the rights of undocumented migrants are to be respected within European borders, Europe must reclaim the foundations on which it was built including principles of equality, solidarity, dignity and non-discrimination to ensure that rights become reality for all," the NGO declared.

PICUM - the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants, is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that aims to promote respect for the human rights of undocumented migrants within Europe.

PICUM provides a direct link between the grassroots level, where undocumented migrants' experience is most visible, and the European level, where policies relating to them are deliberated. PICUM reports on issues regarding undocumented migrants through its members’ experiences and simultaneously monitors developments within the European institutions.

* Picum:

* The importance of International Migrants Day -


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