The recent influx of refugees into Europe has created grounds for violation of refugees’ rights and by extension human rights. Turkey and the European Union have been at the heart of these violations. In 2014, Turkey and the EU entered into an agreement to create a system to oversee an efficient management of refugees in Europe1. Part of the agreement was for turkey and the European Union to co-operate as they attempt to return refugees and immigrants to their countries of origin. The member states of the union and turkey were to allow for smooth transit of individuals as they return to their countries of origin2. The agreement also espoused processes and procedures between the EU and Turkey on how to readmit migrants. This was a violation of the convention of refugee rights because it states clearly that refugees have the right to stay in the country they enter and be accorded protection by the receiving state. The problem with this agreement is that it puts people’s lives in danger. It is obvious that turkey was affected by the unrest in Syria and the larger Middle East including the unsuccessful coup in Turkey3. Additionally, Turkey is known for its ethnic profiling and discrimination against some ethnic groups in the country. Therefore, such an agreement pertaining to the repatriation of Turkish refugees to turkey is a violation of refugee rights as well as international laws4. The same agreement had more sinister terms that those espoused in the agreement. Turkey was the gate keeper to Europe. It was given the role of stopping the migrants before they reach Greece for them to be able to travel to Austria, Germany and beyond5. The blockade was orchestrated on the grounds that the migrants did not meet asylum status hence not refugees. The problem with this arrangement is that turkey was to benefit financially with 3 billion Euros to care for the refugees6. In turn turkey was promised future possibility of joining the EU and future possibility of the Turkish citizens to enter EU without visa. All turkey had to accomplish was to block migrants most of whom are refugees fleeing persecution and war from entering the Euro Zone. This is a violation of human rights and refugee rights that violates the Convention on human rights raising the question about the universality of human rights.
Brief Background on Refugee Rights
The situation EU and Turkey agreement raises questions as to the importance of international conventions and the recognition of human rights. The Convention on Refugee Rights of 1951 is an important document that forms part of this discussion. The 1951 refugee convention is grounded on the Article 14 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights7. The article in question acknowledges the rights of displaced persons to seek asylum in other countries. The convention became operational in April 1954 and has only been amended once by the 1967 protocol8. The aforementioned amendment removed temporal geographical limitations that allowed only European migrants fleeing from conflicts or persecution to migrate and live anywhere in Europe. However, the 1967 protocol removed the limitation giving the convention a universal coverage. Today the convention has been made stronger by regional refugee regimes and by the development of international refugee human rights law. The 1951 convention is a consolidation of various international refugee policies making it one of the most comprehensive international refugee codes9. Unlike previous codes that had several meaning for refugee, the international convention recognizes only one definition of refugees. This is aimed at creating universality of refugee rights. The international convention of refugee rights describes a refugee as a person who is unwilling or unable to return to his country of origin by the virtue that he or she may face persecution owing to race, politics, and religion among others10. The convention confers both rights and status and is guided by the following principles; non-refoulment, non-penalization, and non-discrimination11. Consequentially, the convention requires that the provisions of the convention shall be applied non-discriminatorily in terms of religion, race, or country of origin. Additionally, the convention principles also hold that the convention should be applied without discrimination in terms of sex, age, sexuality and disability among others. These principles that established the international convention of 1951, especially non-discrimination, form the basis of the current discussion of refugee rights and discrimination in Europe. Among other things the paper will look at why human rights are different from refugee/migrants rights yet they are all human. Additionally, the compilation will also investigate why there is a prevalence of violence against women refugees.
In the interrogation of the differences between human rights and migrants/refugee rights, it is important to focus on the fundamental philosophies that have led to the reaction by several European countries in regard to hosting migrants on their soils. According to the International Convention on Refugee Rights, the refugee rights borrow from the international declaration of human rights12. It is imaginable that the drafters of the convention, imagined a situation where it would be necessary to protect the refugee, who leaves home in fear of persecution or running from war, from being persecuted in the country he enters. This has not been the case in the recent refugee crisis that hit Europe. The truth is many people from war torn countries of Africa and Middle East were running from war seeking refuge abroad specifically Europe. This created a situation that the European Union had not imagined. The reaction was detention of refugees in concentration camps where social amenities were in adequate and even erection of border walls at border entry points to keep the refugees out. In some European countries, the situation for refugees was worse with some even becoming victims of violent attacks. This was characterized by a rise of Nationalism with many nationalists calling for the ousting of the refugees from their countries. All this happened while the international convention of refugee rights was in operation. The above actions were violation of almost all articles of the international convention