Open the Borders! Stop the War on Migrant and Refugee Peoples!

AN Open Letter to:

Ursula von der Leyen, President European Commission,
Charles Michel, President of the European Council
David Sassoli, President of the European Parliament 
Responsibles of European Members States

Open the Borders! Stop the War on Migrant and Refugee Peoples! 
To Migrate and Seek Refugee is a Human Right!

These are times of massive threat on human life and human rights. We the undersigned bring to your attention the demands which concluded the Brussels Hearing of the 45th Permanent Peoples Tribunal (PPT) in April 2019 even as we strongly protest the continuing policy of militarised securitisation of Europe’s borders. This was the March 3 message of Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission when she declared at the Greek-Turkey border “Our first priority is making sure that order is maintained at the Greek external border, which is also the European border”. Von der Leyen was accompanied by EU Council President Charles Michel and David Sassoll, President of the European Parliament who echoed her grim message to the thousands of migrant and refugee peoples – denied of their fundamental human rights. In view of the unravelling 2016 EU-Turkey deal, the combined EU leadership could only make a narrative of strengthened militarised borders, 700 million euros and uncritical support for the Greek forces (implementing EU official policy) using tear gas on land and live ammunition on sea in its efforts at push-back of unprotected migrants and refugees. 

During these first days of March 2020, we are witnessing blatant violations of the human rights of migrant and refugee peoples at Europe’s borders with Turkey accompanied by militarised violence carried out by Greek forces, as well as Frontex declaring a further escalation of intervention. Meanwhile migrants and refugees are under attack from Greek guards and Nazi fascists on the island of Lesbos.  This weekend, (March 7-8) the Swiss Cross Service Center was burned to the ground in what is suspected as an arson. 

This situation is not new to us – but it is a new level of a failure of Europe’s politics. We have closely accompanied the massive forced displacement of children, women and men on Europe’s borders, at sea and in the dessert. In the process of the Permanent Peoples Tribunal (PPT) co-convened by 500 organisations across Europe from mid 2017 to April 2019, we have seen a policy of necropolitics ‘let them die’ from the EU Institutions and Member States resulting in thousands of deaths or forced detention in camps and detention centers under inhuman conditions inside and outside Europe’s borders. 

Based on hundreds of testimonies, eye-witness accounts, and exhaustive research, the PPT has called the situation “crimes against humanity and system crimes”.  In view of this, and the current escalation of what we call a war on migrant and refugee peoples on the Borders of Europe:

We have reiterated our solidarity and mobilisation in the Manifesto of Solidarity (undersigned below by more than 100 movements and organisations) and call for an immediate end to the: 

  • Systematic violations of fundamental human rights – to life, to dignity, to work, to health, to seek a future – that refugee and migrant peoples are experiencing on their journeys of forced displacement, on the borders as well as within the Fortress Europe.
  • Policies of the European Commission. European Council and Member States on – zero possibilities for regular pathways to migrate; externalization and securitization of borders and Agreements such the EU-Turkey, Italy-Libya, widespread detention of migrants and refugee peoples; practice of necropolitics forbidding sea rescue.
  • Criminalization of migrants, of refugees and of social actors that, individually and collectively, exercise practices and responsibilities of solidarity towards migrants and refugees.
  • Racist, patriarchal and authoritarian structures entrenching discrimination, xenophobia and islamophobia which generates a hostile environment permitting violations of the human rights of migrant and refugee peoples. 

Declaration FMAS on Global Compact on Migration

FMAS Declaration on the Global Compact of Migration, week of Migration in Marrakech

Stop the war on migration. Yes to a global pact which protects human rights of migrants and their dignity.

The coming December 10 and 11th, Head of States and governments under the aegis of UN are invited to adopt in Marrakech the Global Compact for “Safe, Orderly and Regular migration”.

Lot of hope was placed in the United Nations´ capacities to set up international protection norms for migrant rights and on the consolidation of freedom to move. This Pact inspires diverse reactions in opposite directions. Lot of NGOs see in it a protective text while others are strongly opposing it and articulate a critical view, highlighting, not only its lack of ambition but as well the fact that it represents a regression on current acquired rights.

European States, dominated by nationalist, populist or xenophobic groups find in it an infringement of their sovereignty. A number of EU member States, hostile to welcoming refugees, like Hungary, Poland,Austria or the Czech Republic, already expressed their opposition to the text. Those governments are led by parties which are openly in war against migration, and which see in this pact the possibility of the hyper restrictive policies they carry, being questioned. Donald Trump, for the USA, is remaining with a strong position of rejection of any approach based on multilateralism and made clear for a long time the US rejection of the Pact.

Apart from the ILO conventions or the International Convention for the protection of migrant workers and their family members, non-ratified by most of the EU member States, a specific legal framework is clearly missing on migration. The adoption of the Global compact is supposed to fill this gap. However, the consensus which followed the negotiations is deeply in favor of setting up of non-binding system which reflects the interests of high income industrialized countries, and ignores the needs of migrants and less developed Southern countries.

Despite the fact that we are conscious and in favor of the need to create an international framework which guarantees and protects the rights of migrants, we do not believe that the COMPACT as it is, is a response up to the protection needs of migrants worldwide. The proposed text is in reality highly inspired by the interests and approaches of Europe and North America on migration.

Is the COMPACT a text which creates an international right to freedom to move? Will it protect migrants as effectively as the international convention on the protection of the rights of migrants workers and their family members?

  • Will it prevent the multiplication of graveyards of dead migrants in our borders?
  • Will it abolish finally migrants’ detention and detention centers?
  • Will it allow a reconsideration of policies and laws which criminalize migrants?
  • Will it prevent the looting of human and material resources from poor countries and the appeal of chosen migration?
  • Will it go beyond good intentions regarding development establishing measurable objectives and evaluation mechanisms for aid programs?
  • Will it prevent the logics of surveillance and control, specifically via the compilation and stocking of migrants´ biometric data in common and standardized databases?

To all those questions we answer NO.

At the end, the Global Compact, remains a non-binding agreement negotiated at intergovernmental level in a context of of conflicts and lack of solidarity between States mainly driven by security concerns. It does not challenge the rationale of the repressive immigration policies, who, far from reducing the number of arrivals of migrants, contribute to severe violations of human rights. Those policies have a high human cost and foster strategies to cross borders illegally, every day more dangerous and complex. They are paving the way for smuggling and other mafia-like networks and bring new insecurities in areas already highly weakened by conflict of multiple nature.

The Global Compact targets to establish for the first time an integrated framework for a global governance on international migration. The way it is formulated in its final version, this pact comes closer to the research of a minimum consensus between rich and poor states, which guarantees to the first ones freedom to keep on going with the militarization of their borders This text does not contribute, in the real world, in inscribing the inalienable right to freedom to move as stated in the article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. On the contrary, it could even legitimize and justify some regressions in terms of rights of migrants instead of contributing to a governance respectful of the human rights of migrants.

In the way that it does not forbid it, it could even serve to justify policies of exclusion and criminalization of migrants and give substance to the wishes of Northern countries to reinforce chosen immigration, which empties Southern countries from their competencies and institutionalize disposable immigration. Together we call for resistance to the criminalisation of migrant and refugee peoples!

Let us mobilise and act to defend the human rights of all migrants and refugees and strengthen transnational activism and solidarity
In Marrakech the 8th of December 2018

The Steering Committee of the Maghreb Social Forum
For all contact and signature by organizations
FMAS: fmas@menara.ma

Agreement on an international pact of solidarity and unity of action for the full rights of all migrants and refugees

The People’s Summit for a Global Pact of Solidarity with Migrants and Refugees, women and men, celebrated in Marrakech December 8th and 9th of 2018, hosted by La Via Campesina and its member organizations of the Middle East and North Africa (MeNa) Process, specifically Morocco’s National Federation of the Agricultural Sector (FNSA), along with the Moroccan Human Rights Association (AMDH), The Maghreb Coordination of Human Rights Organisations (CMODH) and the Platform of Sub-Saharan Associations and Communities (P. ASCOMS), as well as AlarmPhone and many other movements and communities, announce our proposal to agree upon an International Pact of Solidarity and Unity of Action for the Full Rights of All Migrants and Refugees, women and men, based on the following considerations:

Please click the button below to read the full declaration in Eng, Arab, French

Marrakech, Sunday, December 9, 2018
Social movements and signatory organisations:

  • La Via Campesina
  • Association Marocaine des Droits humains
  • Coordination Maghrébine des Organisations des Droits Humains
  • Plate forme des Associations et Communautés Sub-sahariennes au Maroc
  • Alarm Phone Maroc
  • Alarm Phone Sahara
  • Conseil des Migrants Subsahariens au Maroc
  • Collectif des Femmes Migrantes au Maroc
  • Afrique Europe Interact
  • Communauté Congolaise au Maroc
  • Transnational Migrant Platform Europe
  • Transnational Institute
  • Association des Refoulés d’Afrique Centrale au Mali
  • Association pour la Défense des Emigrés Maliens
  • Association Lumière sur l’Emigration au Maroc

Pour signer la déclaration et les requêtes de presse :
Arabe :
Torkia Chaibi : omnidhal.torkia@gmail.com 0021693116634
Mohamed Hakach : hakechmo@yahoo.fr 00212691008705
English :
Carlos Merentes : cmarentess@gmail.com 001915873893
Français & Español :
Federico Pacheco : pachecofederico@yahoo.es 0034690651046
Cristina Brovia : cri.brovia@gmail.com 00393776840085