Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People
on the Move - N°
82, April 2000
Refugee Law in the European Union
at the turn of the Century:
Rev. Fr. Michael A. Blume, S.V.D.
The furor roused in the European Union (EU) and elsewhere over the formation of
the new government in Austria in February 2000 is a reminder that refugee
emergencies exist not only in Africa or Asia but also in a certain sense in the
European Union. Without entering into the merits of what Jörg Haider's Freedom
Party, a key component of new coalition, may do in the next months, it is good
to keep in mind that his positions on migration helped popularize his party.
Since the Freedom Party supports a near "zero migration" option, there
is understandably much concern about what this means for asylum and refugee law
in Austria and even in the European Union.
The Freedom Party's position, however, is not so novel. What drew less
attention, even though just as problematic, were the positions presented by
Austria when it held the Presidency of the European Union in 1998. Among other
things, the Presidency proposed "zero tolerance" for those who cross
into the EU illegally: They were to be put back on the other side of the border.
In other words, no provision would be made for the fact that asylum-seekers
simply cannot always use legal means or carry proper documents to reach a safe
country. That can mean refoulement for asylum seekers.
Equally serious was its statement that the 1951 Geneva Convention was outdated
and that national interest should be the norm for granting asylum.
Fortunately the proposals were not accepted by the other EU states. They
nevertheless remain a clear statement of a tendency that does not die out simply
by rejecting a position paper. The Freedom Party seems to reincarnate its
sentiments. A recent "Note on International Protection"of the UNHCR
seems to refer to this and similar tendencies:
Overall, UNHCR detected a distinct trend in an increasing number of States to
move gradually away from a law or rights-based approach to refugee protection,
towards more discretionary and ad hoc arrangements that give greater primacy to
domestic concerns rather than to their international responsibilities. These
restrictive tendencies found their most recent manifestation in one country
where legislative proposals aimed at doing away with the distinction between
aliens and refugees, including dropping any requirement for specific
determination of refugee status under the 1951 Convention.
This article, however, is by no means an attempt to enter into polemics with
Austria, which has a long history of being a multi-ethnic and tolerant society
and a land of asylum. This is the experience with deep cultural roots that will
hopefully be more formative of the immediate future than passing government
coalitions as one Austrian historian observes:
From a historical point of view one should not forget, despite all the problems,
how much Austria up till today owes to its tradition as a country of asylum, in
what measure Austrian art and culture, science and economy have been taken from
those achievements that emigrants and asylum seekers introduced to their new
land. . . . The celebration of the 1000 year jubilee of the first mention of the
name of Austria should thus also be an opportunity to make the effort so that
Austria . . . can keep to its traditional role as a country of asylum in the
heart of Europe.
Those are the roots this article wants to examine and use them to evaluate some
tendencies and facts in European refugee regimes at the turn of the century.
1. Europeanizing refugee law
As we follow debates today on refugee law in Europe, we need to keep in mind
that one of the functions of law is to express the deep and long-standing roots
of European civilization regarding the stranger and the refugee. If there are
refugee emergencies in the European Union today, the response cannot be
separated from the cultural and spiritual foundations of European civilization.
Facing them is much more than a question of stopping illegal migration but of
assuring that laws and policies express the best of being European. Racist
banners at soccer matches and "skinhead" violence are warning signs of
problems affecting the best in European society. This is a challenge in which
committed Christians need to be involved, acting in concert with men and women
of good will on this continent, namely to express in law and public policy the
best in Europe, what is enduring, solid, and beyond the media-driven public
opinion of a particular moment.
Culture and social life in all its dimensions precede law and legal traditions,
which express their underlying cultures. Pope John Paul II has spoken about this
on many occasions in audiences with those who have a notable influence on
A few days after the start of the NATO operations against Yugoslavia in March
1999, Pope John Paul II received the members of the Parliamentary Assembly of
the Council of Europe. Recalling 1999 as the fiftieth anniversary of the
creation of the Council, he had high praise for its eminent service to the
peoples of Europe and its purpose to "unite more closely the European
peoples on the basis of the patrimony of values that is common to them."
These are the moral and spiritual forces that humanize society and remain the
basis for the construction of Europe. They include the respect for the dignity
of each person, with all the consequences for the rights, freedom, democracy,
and solidarity. "These values are deeply rooted in the European conscience;
they represent the strongest aspirations of European citizens." The Pope
considered as essential the efforts being made by the Council to "translate
these values and aspirations in terms of law, of respect for freedoms and of
democratic progress." The untiring effort to put the inalienable dignity of
the human person at the center of their concerns and decisions will result in a
solid collaboration for the construction of Europe, which Awill serve man and
Eleven years earlier the Pope addressed the Assembly twice, in March and in
October 1988. He reminded them that the "biblical concept of man has
permitted Europeans to develop a lofty understanding of the dignity of the
person, which retains an essential value even among those who do not adhere to a
Religious faith lived in Europe for hundreds of years has helped form a culture
that recognizes and affirms issues common to our humanity, especially the
dignity of the person. The human rights conventions promoted by the Council of
Europe are expressions of the conscience formed by this religious current and
philosophical reflections linked with it. The Pope also expressed support for
the Council's initiative at that time of promoting north-south solidarity in
Europe and information about the complex relationships existing between the
peoples of Europe and of the Third World. He spoke of "ample room for
interaction and collaboration among all the forces that work for the genuine
well-being of the human family. God help us all to love and serve our brothers
and sisters ever more wisely and generously"
Later that same year, addressing the European Court and Commission of Human
Rights, the Pope recalled that "human rights . . . draw their vigor and
their effectiveness from a framework of values, the roots of which lie deep
within the Christian heritage which has contributed so much to European culture.
These founding values precede the positive law which gives them expression and
of which they are the basis. They also precede the philosophical rationale that
the various schools of thought are able to give to them."
Thus Europeanization, considered from a Catholic point of view and
applied to refugee law, means the project of reading Europe's legitimate
concerns about migration and refugee movements in the light of the fundamental
values of European civilization. These include the affirmation of the dignity of
the person as prime value and the sacred character of life; the role of the
family; the freedom to think, speak and profess one's convictions and religion;
the protection of individuals and groups; the cooperation of all for the common
good; the concept of work as a sharing in the Creator's own work; the authority
of the State, itself governed by law and reason;
and the solidarity with all peoples that emerges from probing the mystery of the
human person. These are the core issues of the religious-humanitarian culture of
Europe. They are like the soil in which a legal system can be cultivated to
produce laws that will be good for Europe and the rest of the world too.
2. Expressing european values in law
There are many laws and legal instruments that can be cited as embodying the
best of European traditions, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
the 1951 Geneva Convention, and post-war constitutions of some European Union
countries. This body of tradition has continued to develop. Today as the
European Union and countries aspiring to become a part of it are committed to a
greater unity in areas of asylum and refugee legislation, the need to draw on
the best of European tradition is more urgent than ever.
What kind of report card can be given for the progress made so far at a level of
law? We look briefly at some current EU laws.
2.1 The schengen convention
The EU has functioning laws and agreements that deal with some aspects of
migration and asylum. The Schengen Convention provides, among other things, for
open borders among state parties to it. At the same time it requires tough visa
requirements for those who request admittance to a Schengen countries. "Fortress
Europe" is the expression often used to describe this situation. The
fortress, however, is an expanding one. As more non-EU countries seek membership
in the Union, they adjust their laws to "EU Standards." The result is
a kind of buffer zone developing around the EU, consisting of countries with
increasingly severe laws but inadequate mechanisms and structures for dealing
with migration, including cases requiring international protection. Hungary, for
example, an aspiring EU country, regularly treated asylum-seekers arriving there
from Kosovo in 1998-99 as "economic migrants" and detained them in
Poland, as another example, has for years has been a country of transit for many
migrants trying to get into Germany. But more recently, as EU border controls
have become more severe, Poland has to deal with thousands of people who are
refused entry to Germany. As a result Poland is now implementing a more severe
migration policy. And finally, shortly before Christmas 1999, the Czech Republic,
also hoping to join the EU, caused considerable delays and inconveniences at its
borders with a hastily formulated and poorly implemented law on the entry of
foreigners. So there
is an EU border that is gradually moving eastwards and affecting the countries
The stricter laws are aimed at controlling a legitimate concern: irregular
entries, particularly through traffickers. Nevertheless among those whom such
policies can excluded are people who really have need of international
protection. Putting all who come to a border without documents or who enter
illegally into the same category of "illegal migrants" and thus
criminals grossly oversimplifies the situation. Furthermore it amounts to
defaulting on international oblations assumed under the 1951 Geneva Convention
if asylum-seekers. The implications of Belgium's recent withdrawal, albeit
temporary, from the Schengen agreement as part of an exercise of regularizing
migrants within the country still need to be evaluated.
2.2 The Dublin convention
This agreement provides, among other things, for the implementation of a "safe
third country" policy.
If someone, for example, claims asylum in Germany after having passed through a
safe country where s/he could have made the same claim, that person is liable to
deportation back to it. That country could make a further deportation if the
applicant had passed through another safe country along the way. This process
can be - and has been - further repeated in a chain of deportations, sometimes
sending the person back to the country s/he tried to escape.
There is furthermore a problem about which countries are considered safe and who
determines the safeness. In one EU country, where the "safe list" is
compiled by an office in the Foreign Ministry outside the scrutiny of its
parliament, regimes well known for their human rights violations have appeared
on the "safe list." Economic and political interests can also
influence these safe lists - all to the detriment of the people who have a right
to be protected.
One worrying development is the way the EU has been warming up to Sudan since
the meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Commission of April 1999. There, in
contrast to previous statements, which have regularly criticized Sudan for its
human rights record,
some EU states promoted a resolution that congratulates the government of the
National Islamic Front for its commitment to a process of democratization that
aims for a representative and responsible government.
High level exchanges of visits have also started, yet there is little evidence
that anything has really changed. There seems furthermore to be little or no
informed public debate in the EU about this matter. The reason for the
rapprochement lies in the oil and other minerals in the south of the country,
where a civil war against the Khartoum government has been going on for years.
One wonders whether protection of Sudanese asylum-seekers will eventually be
compromised for a few barrels of oil. The de facto making of policy,
driven by economics and not concern for the human person, affects the protection
of persecuted people.
If some EU members take such benevolent attitudes, will mechanisms connected
with the Amsterdam Treaty require-or at least pressure-all to recognize Sudan as
a "safe country"? Such developments would start rewarding persecutors
and protect the EU from refugees.
2.3 The Amsterdam Treaty
The Amsterdam Treaty of 1997, successor of the Maastricht Treaty, is the
constitutional basis of the EU itself. Regarding migration and asylum issues, it
is an important step in the unification of EU policy and binds the signatories
to do just that within five years after entering into force on 1 May 1999. That
process is going on right now.
Last October the Summit of Tampere (Finland) was held to review progress in its
goals, including the harmonization of EU law. Commentators on the Tampere Summit
have positive comments about its Declaration, especially its commitments to
maintaining the international conventions on refugees.
The process of harmonization, however, is complex, for each country has
developed its own legal tradition over the years. The temptation is to take as
norm, within the limited time available to them, what all the states can easily
agree to. Thus there is danger of EU laws and policies being reduced to the
lowest common denominator. Harmonization has many advantages but must be done on
the basis of high standards. It also needs to deal with areas like procedures.
That will require investment in resources that assure good decision making.
Otherwise there is danger of depriving international agreements of their force,
and that will be to the detriment of migrants and asylum-seekers as well as, in
the long run, of the citizens of the EU.
The harmonizing project could perhaps be called an ethical emergency, especially
regarding the standards used in the exercise. This happens when at a time when
the world of forced migration has become more vast and complex than ever.
Ironically although the information to understand it better is easily available
(e.g. through internet), most people receive only bits and pieces in occasional
news flashes, which at the best are superficial and at the worst colored by
ideological and political interests. The realities of the world of refugees have
to impinge more on the minds and hearts of people to bring out the best in
culture as expressed in law.
3. Some questions of practice
Although all the members of the EU adhere to the major conventions on refugees
and asylum, the selective application of these instruments is a cause of
concern. Alternate forms of protection, such as temporary protection status,
were regularly applied in the 1990's in the case of people fleeing the former
Yugoslavia. Thus the full range of rights of refugees provided in the 1951
Geneva Convention could not be claimed. The practice continues.
Kosovars and asylum policies
Few people would question the fact that the Kosovars forcibly expelled from
their homes and land in 1999 were refugees in the full sense of the word. Yet
the juridical recognition of this fact by individual EU states was less common.
Although Kosovars would have the right to apply for refugee status under the
laws of EU states, there was a notable tendency to offer only temporary
protection status or even less, e.g. a temporary residence permit renewable
every three months until the situation changed at home. Such arrangements create
considerable insecurity among the temporarily protected, including problems of
upkeep, jobs, and housing. In a related matter, the UNHCR has felt obliged to
point out that the decisions by governments to withdraw even temporary
protection does not mean that the right to asylum does not apply to those
Director of the UNHCR's Department for International Protection recently alluded
to this when she stated: "Subsidiary forms of protection have an important
place in any overall system, but as a complement to, not a substitute for, the
protection to be provided under the Convention."
Though coverage of the situation in Kosovo features little the popular media, it
remains volatile and dangerous. Assuming that asylum-seekers are no longer to be
expected from the region is premature thinking.
Making procedures more difficult
An issue that affects asylum is the ability to apply for it in the first place.
The tendency is to make it more difficult to reach an EU country and get access
to the asylum system. Just before the Tampere Summit of October 1999, the UNHCR
expressed its concerns along these lines:
UNHCR believes that the way forward for the European Union and its Member States
is to take a strategic approach to the development of a just asylum policy - one aimed at the management of refugee claims in such a way that it
guarantees every applicant access to territory and asylum procedures, and
ensures speedy and correct decision-making.
. . . .
A future European asylum system should be underpinned by accessible, fair
and expeditious asylum procedures, to which access is guaranteed. Such
procedures not only identify those in need of protection; they also provide the
basis for the return home of those who do not need protection.
One of the ways of blocking access is by use of "carrier sanctions,"
penalties imposed by governments on airlines or ships that bring improperly
documented foreigners to an EU country.(Finland, Spain and Sweden do not have such sanctions.) While these may be
popular politically because they keep "economic migrants" away from
Europe, they can also amount to indirect refoulement of asylum-seekers
who really need international protection but have no way to obtain it. It
furthermore turns airline staff into de facto immigration officials with
the mandate to stop improperly documented passengers, a task for which they have
no training.This is yet another case of not recognizing there can be valid reasons why a
person is undocumented.
Access to asylum, for example, became an issue in the U.K. House of Commons
following the hijacking of an Afghan airliner to London in February 2000. The
Home Secretary was reported as saying "he would personally rule on the
asylum requests of the people . . . . His main goal . . . . was to eject the
Afghans from Britain as soon as possible. . . . . 'Subject to compliance with
all legal requirements, I would wish to see removed from this country all those
on the plane as soon as reasonable practicable.'"Behind the statement is also the wish to show that hijacking will not be
tolerated. Hijacking and asylum are two separate issues. Putting them together
creates one more case of linking crime with migration and asylum-seeking. The
Home Secretary's promise of rapid removal obviously means the use of
"accelerated procedures" or appeal to "manifestly unfounded
claims," both of which aim at denying access to full status determination
processes. The issue of the Afghanis seems more clouded by political hysteria
than by concern for maintaining a credible asylum regime that protects
Africa at the fence of Europe
If there is a buffer zone on the east of the EU, there is a fence and a sea on
the south, facing Africa, though neither are impenetrable. Africa has seven
million refugees, and other displaced people. Though few actually reach Europe,
some do come both legally and illegally by air and sea. Others take long and
risky land routes that lead to destinations in North Africa, among them being
the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, EU territory, where they can apply
for refugee status. Others risk crossing the Straits of Gibralter at a high
price in money and life.More recently the passage to the Canary Islands, Spanish and therefore EU
territory, which one reaches from Morocco with greater safety,
has become more popular. Then there are the routes between Tunisia and the
Italian Island of Lampedusa, from where a repatriation agreement assures rapid
return. Though a considerable amount has been invested in a security fence at
Ceuta to keep migrants out (between US$ 10 million and UK£ 22 million-depending
on theEuropeansources), its actual effect, in contrast to its symbolic one, is still to be
Can there be other responses that are more faithful to the most noble currents
of the cultural tradition on which Europe rests and which can only enrich it? We
can consider appropriate responses if we take the time to understand who these
people are and what needs of protection they have.
A recent conference of the Caritas Organizations of North Africa provided some
useful information about them. There are, for example, students who become
refugees, e.g., those at universities in Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia from
countries that include Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Congo-Zaire, and
Congo-Brazzaville. These easily become refugees sur place almost
overnight as wars flare up, produce anarchy, unimaginable violations of the
human person, give free rein to the militias, and force people to flee. These
constitute grounds for recognition under the 1969 OAU Convention.
Faced with that situation some students try to pursue further studies; others
try to extend their residence permits; and others "go underground" to
eventually "head for the hills," that is, to places like Ceuta and
Melilla in hope of seeking refugee status.
Then there are others, young men, between 20 and 40 years old, mainly from West
Africa. Unfortunately they tend to have little education and are only
semi-skilled. The are the migrants whose countries of origin give them little
motivation to remain or hope of a future. To their numbers we can add more and
more women and even families, particularly from the former Zaire. Besides these,
there are also some who have fled civil wars virtually unknown in the West,
e.g., in Sierra Leone, Guinea Bissau, Angola, eastern Democratic Republic of
Congo. These are "mixed groups," all fueled by the desire to earn a
If the refugees among them try penetrate the EU borders, it is because they have
very few choices. Even escaping to a neighboring country is no guarantee they
have reached a safe country. Those who make it to North Africa contacted
complain of little food, police harassment, and many things that make a
dignified human existence impossible. Those who do formally apply for asylum
must wait for months before receiving an answer.
Among them we should not forget the Rwandans who fled their country in 1994 and
are still on the move. While there may be génocidaires among them, they
cannot all be considered guilty without due process of the law. Yet they can be
found in practically every country of Africa, living as exiles in great
insecurity. Those not affected by the Exclusion Clauses of the Geneva Convention
need to find a place where to begin life anew.
The refugees and asylum-seekers waiting in north Africa for the chance to come
to Europe are symbols of their seven million other brothers and sisters who will
never get this far. The solution to their problems lies not in handouts or
simply in increasing aid, which are at most interim emergency measures. An
important part of it lies in the economics and politics of First World Countries
towards them. The best proposals for refugee law will always fall short of their
task if the already assumed international obligations of protection are not
clearly reflected in a whole gamut of related laws and policies. If economics
and politics can be regulated by legislation that springs from something that is
not economic but transcendent, that is, from the best of European humanitarian
and cultural tradition, the world may change, at least a little bit. Less people
will seek asylum because less will feel obliged to leave their countries to find
safety and protection of their human dignity.
4. Concluding reflections
It would not be an exaggeration to speak of a refugee emergency in the EU today,
not in the sense of new and dramatic flows of people into the territory but of
an ethical and moral emergency for the future of its asylum system. The means to
face this emergency, however, are within easy reach. There is, first of all, a
cultural tradition with a history of offering asylum and integrating foreigners.
This is intimately connected with the Christian roots of Europe and expressed in
many Christian communities and organizations. The Council of Europe has also
developed this tradition as an official institution that provides a forum
through which such humanitarian concerns reach government levels. There are also
NGOs like ECRE, which is referred to in this article, that continue this same
line of scholarly research into legal issues affecting refugees and advocacy at
political levels. Lastly, the means of obtaining reliable information on
migration issues in the Europe are available, e.g., through the many sources
available on the internet.
On the shadowy side of preparedness are the factors that can annul or impede an
effective response to the emergency. The practices that make access to asylum
procedures difficult could well gain an upper hand: "safe" country
lists, visa requirements and carrier sanctions, deportations to "safe third
countries," substitution of refugee status with other forms of protection -
just to name a few. Then there are political movements that directly attack
Europe's cultural tradition of welcoming the stranger: the tendency to blame
foreigners for social problems in the EU, the confusion between migrants and
refugees, the criminalizing of immigrants and refugees by the popular media and
politicians, and an overall lack of interest more reliable information about the
realities of migration. A more subtle form of all this - and less within the
range of public scrutiny - are political activities that weaken humanitarian
protection in favor of economic advantages some business interests in Europe and
repressive governments elsewhere.
The hopes and the shadows are the context in which the Church as institution and
community is continually called by the Holy Spirit to make its contribution of
encouraging the good and working to correct the negative. The much needed search
for the truth is surely a value that both Christians and European humanism can
embrace and promote. This that can be added the affirmation of human dignity
regardless of the legal situation and media image of refugees and
asylum-seekers. These are the chief means the Church has in hand. It is
remeniscent of St. Paul's exhortation: "Stand therefore, and fasten the
belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As
shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel
of peace" (Eph. 6,14-15).
In addition to these "arms of the Spirit" there are also institutions
that can employ them. In this Jubilee Year, when we hear Christ's proclamation
of God's year of grace and freedom from slavery, including modern day versions
that refugees live through, a programmed catechesis on refugees, asylum-seekers,
and migrants is very desirable for parishes and Catholic organizations. Refugees
are part of the sign of the time of human mobility today. This needs to be
studied and prayed over by as many people as possible. An excellent starting
point for this kind of Christian formation can be found in the Papal Migration
Day Messages. That is what can inspire a necessary form of Christian activism in
politics that aims also at getting at some of the root factors in refugee flows,
particularly those where European countries are involved, e.g., the shadowy
areas of arms sales and promotion of business interests.
Finally, one element of this kind of Jubilee formation should include the
reminder that the EU's welcome of refugees and asylum-seekers is not just an act
of benevolence towards the unfortunate. It is also something in the interest of
developing European civilization itself. That is the sense of the following
statement of the Migration Commission of the French Episcopal Conference,
which boldly proposes France's and Europe's need of the foreigner:
It is true that we still have to learn to live together and that a climate of
distrust and insecurity should not be allowed to gain a foothold. . . . It would
be dehumanizing for all not to follow up the effort undertaken years ago with
you to form bonds day to day among the French and immigrants, for we are
constantly witnessing many fraternal gestures. They manifest a will to live
together and are bearers of a veritable integration and mutual enrichment.
We need you then to prepare here in France and beyond its borders a future of
peace and of fraternity in the respect of the dignity and the liberty of
everyone. This is a struggle to carry on together on the terrain of daily life
and that of legislation. . . .
It is urgent to find with you new forms of solidarity in a world where peoples
depend more and more on one another. Working at that is fildelity to God, Father
of all. Yes, we need you.
European Union, The Council, AStrategy paper on immigration and asylum policy@,
Note from the Presidency to the K4 Committee, Brussels, 1 July 1998 (13.07)
9809/98,CK4 27, ASIM 170, n. 92.
Refoulementor forcibly expelling a refugee to a place where s/he would be persecuted is
forbidden by the 1951 Convention art. 33. Art. 31 of the same Conventionprohibits penalties on the illegal entry of refugees.All EU states are signatories.
Commenting on the AStrategy Paper@ mentioned in note 1, The European Council
for Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) observes:AThe exclusion of the vast majority of spontaneous asylum seekers would be
combined, in the Paper=s strategy, with a general substitution of political discretion for legal
certainty which would spell the end of asylum as a right. . . . The argument
is made that the Geneva Convention has become outdated (Pars 27, 103 and 42,
point 6). (AObservations by the European Council on Refugees and
Exiles on the Austrian Presidency of the European Union=s Strategy Paper on
immigration and asylum policy,@ ECRE, September 1998, p. 4 [emphasis in the
Hans Dopsch, "1000 Jahre Österreich?Seine Tradition als Asyl im Herzen Europas,"address to the 46th
Congress of the Association for the Study of the World Refugee Problem, AWR-Bulletin,
35.(44.) 1997, p. 40.
The rest of this article is updating and expansion of the author's
"Europeanization of Refugee Law: A Catholic Perspective", AWR-Bulletin
37.(46) (1999), 50-54.
Talk of John Paul II to members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of
Europe, L'Osservatore Romano, 139-n.73 (42.100), 29-30 marzo 1999, p. 5.
Address to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Strassbourg, 8
October 1988, L'Osservatore Romano, English edition, 14 November 1988.
To the Committee on Parliamentary and Public Relations of the Parliamentary
Commission of the Council of Europe, "Return to the values arising from
Christianity to restore to Europe its fundamental unity", 17 March 1988 in:
Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II (Città del Vaticano, Libreria Editrice
Vaticana, 1989) 11,1 p. 663.
Addresss to the European Court and Commission of Human Rights, Strasbourg,8
Oct. 1988, L'Osservatore Romano, English edition, 14 November 1988.
See Address at the University of Upsalla, 9 June 1989, L'Osservatore Romano,
English edition, 19 June 1989.
"The defender of civil rights . . . denounced today, Thursday, the inhuman
conditions . . . in which refugees find themselves, confined in
nine places . . . under the custody of the Border Police. . . . The majority of
cases deal with Kosovar refugees, to whom . . . Hungary refuses to concede
temporary residence. . . . The problem is rooted in the fact that the . . .
authorities consider those coming from Kosovo, Irak and Afghanistan . . . as
economic refugees when in reality they are there owing to danger to their lives.
. . . [The] Head of the Border Police argued, from his part, that his men limit
themselves to carry out the laws to detain allthose who illegallyenter the country, because by doing so they are committing a crime" (report
of the Spanish news agency EFE, 4 Feb. 1999). See also Mejok-Magyar
Emberi Jogvédö Központ, "Report on the . . . Start of a Prison-Lager
Network for the Detention of the Asylumseekers [sic!] on area of the Hungarian
Republic," Budapest, Sept. 28, 1999 (more information through firstname.lastname@example.org).
See Ladka Bauerova, "Check Border Is Snarled by a New Law" in: IHT,
14 January 2000, p. 2.
See A''Safe Third Countries' - Myths and Realities", Feb. 1995 in The
ECRE Compilation: Overview of Positions Taken by the European Council on
Refugees and Exiles on European Asylum and Protection Issues (London 1999),
See United Nations Commission on Human Rights, Fifty‑fifth session, March ‑
April 1999, Report of the Special Rapporteur, Mr. Leonardo Franco, submitted in
accordance with Commission on Human Rights, resolution 1998/67.
See United Nations Commission on Human Rights, Fifty‑fifth session, March ‑
April 1999, "Resolution on Human Rights in the Sudan" of 23 April
On the attempts of the Sudanese government to normalize relations with the EU,
see "Paris veut aider le Soudan - réintégrer la communauté
internationale", Agence France Presse, 2 June 1999, as cited by Vigilance
Soudan (nn. 80-81, June-July 1999). On the NIF's politics of approaching the
EU, see "Soudan : l'offensive de charme du NIF", Africa
Confidential, édition française, n°334, 28 June 1999 as cited by Vigilance
Soudan (nn. 80-81, June-July 1999).
See, for example, "Observations by the European Council on Refugees and
Exiles on The Presidency Conclusions of the Tampere European Council, 15 and
16 October 1999" ECRE, October 1999, p. 1: ECRE "broadly welcomes
the Conclusions. . . . The organisation is encouraged by the positive commitment
of the Council=s Conclusions with regard to the right to seek asylum and by the
impetus given to the development of harmonised asylum policies with 'guarantees
to those who seek protection in or access to the European Union'.
These guarantees are crucial, as the best asylum policy in the world is of no
use unless refugees can access its protection." (Emphasis in original).
See, for example, the Comunicato Stampa / Press Release of the UNHCR Delegation
to Italy, Malta and the Holy See, "La revoca della protezione temporanea
per i nuovi arrivi dalla Repubblica Federale di Jugoslavia non inficia il
diritto d'asilo," 21 July 1999.
"Refugee Protection at the Turn of the Century: Looking Back - Looking
Forward: Statement by Ms. Erika Feller, Director, Department of International
Protection to the 50th Session of the Executive Committee of the High
Commissioner's Programme," 7 October 1999.
UNHCR Press Release, "EU Common Strategy on Asylum Must Meet Highest
Standards of Refugee Protection," Geneva/ Brussels, 8 Oct. 1999. Italics
See comments on this byStefan Ericsson, Asylum in the EU Member States (Brussels, The European Parliament,
2000), p. 14.
Sarah Lyall, "Hijacking Ends with Most Asking for Asylum," International
Herald Tribune, 11 Feb. 2000, pp. 1 and 4.
See the critical observations of the chief executive of the U.K.'s Refugee
Council, Nick Hardwick, "Piling on the hysteria," The Guardian (internet
version), 11 Feb. 2000.
Jaime Pérez-Llombert, "El Gobierno canario teme que las islas se
conviertan en nueva ruta de pateras," El Pais, 2 August 1999 - n.
Article 1.2 recognizes as refugees persons who flee their country owing to
"events seriously disturbing public order in either part or the whole of
his country of origin or nationality."
An example of what desperation such situations can lead to is found in the
touching La lettre des deux adolescents africains, reported by Agence
France de Presse of 4 August 1999.
ComitJ Jpiscopal des Migrations, "Nous avons besoin de vous", Un
People en Devenir: L'Iglise et les migrants (Paris, Les Iditions de
l'Atelier/Iditions OuvriPres, 1995) 61-62.
Der Artikel ist eine Überlegung über die in der Europäischen Union (EU) tief
verwurzelten kulturellen Werte, die überwiegend biblisch oder christlich sind.
Wie können sie die Gesetzgebung und das Verhalten den Asylanten und den Flüchtlingen
gegenüber beeinflussen. Diese Tatsache sollte die Grundlage für die europäisierenden
Flüchtlingsgesetze sein. Heute ist dieser Aufruf zu einem solchen Verhalten
dringlicher denn je, weil man darüber nachdenkt, die Migranten- und Flüchtlingsgesetze
in Einklang zu bringen, wozu ja das Abkommen von Amsterdam die Staaten der EU
verpflichtet. Diese Koordinierung erscheint äußerst wünschenswert, ist aber
sehr komplex; sie müßte in jedem Fall das höchtste Niveau als gemeinsamen
Nenner nehmen, nicht das niedrigste. Der Autor geht in seinen Darlegungen dann
zu einigen konkreten Situation über, wo die europäische Handhabung den Flüchtlingen
und Asylanten gegenüber einer gründlichen Aufmerksamkeit bedarf, wie zum
Beispiel: In Fällen, bei denen ein zeitlicher Schutz-Status (oder andere ähnliche
Maßnahmen) den Flüchtlingsstatus ersetzen, wenn die Antragsteller ein Recht
auf den letzeren habe, bei Schwierigkeiten überhaupt bis zu einem Verfahren zu
kommen, und dann beim Verfahrensverlauf; weiter ist eine europäische Antwort
vonnöten für die afrikanischen Asylanten, die nicht wissen, wohin sie gehen
sollen, auch sollte das Problem, wer über "sichere" Länder
entscheidet (deren Bewohner, die um Asyl ansuchen, automatisch
einem"beschleunigten Verfahren" übergeben werden) überdacht werden.
Der Beitrag der Kirche ist eingebettet in diesen Kontext. Er schließt die Förderung
der positiven Aspekte ein, wie auch die Suche nach wahren und korrekten
Informationen als Grundlage für eine verantwortliche Politik, für den Schutz
der Menschenwürde der Asylanten ohne Berücksichtigung ihres Status. Den Europäern
sollte in Erinnerung gerufen werden, daß sie die Ausländer brauchen, um das
Beste aus ihrer eigenen Kultur hervorzubringen.
El artículo reflexiona sobre los valores culturales más enraizados en la Unión
Europea (EU), predominantemente de origen bíblico y cristiano, y sobre la
manera como pueden influir en la legislación y las actitudes frente a los que
solicitan asilo y a los refugiados. Sobre esta realidad deben formularse las
leyes europeas para los refugiados. Recordar estas actitudes es hoy tanto más
urgente, cuanto el Tratado de Amsterdam obliga a los estados miembros a
armonizar sus leyes para emigrantes y refugiados. Siendo esta armonización del
todo deseable, es igualmente muy compleja y es necesario que tienda al estándar
más elevado, y no a unos mínimos comunes.
El autor pasa a considerar algunas situaciones concretas, referentes a
refugiados y solicitantes de asilo, que merecen una atención especial:
situaciones en que un estatuto de protección temporal (o modelos similares)
sustituye el estatuto de refugiado en casos en que el solicitante tiene derecho
a este último, obstáculos en las formalidades y en su accesibilidad, la
respuesta concreta a los solicitantes de asilo procedentes de África y sin otra
salida, o el problema de los ciudadanos de los denominados países “seguros”
(cuyas peticiones de asilo son sometidas automáticamente al “procedimiento de
La contribución de la Iglesia debe insertarse en este
valores positivos, como son la búsqueda de la verdad y de una información
correcta, bases de una política responsable, insistiendo en la protección de
la dignidad humana de los solicitantes de asilo y recordando constantemente a
los europeos que ellos necesitan de los extranjeros para ir desarrollando lo
bueno y mejor de su propia cultura.