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THE EUROPEAN UNION AND THE AFRICAN MIGRANTS: DILEMMA OF BALANCING SECURITY AND HUMAN RIGHTS
With objective of examines the response of the EU toward the rising number of African migrants in the light of human rights principles, this study assess whether the policy as well as practical measures of the EU is parallel with the international obligation under human rights law in the protection of African migrants. The paper also assesses how the economic, social and political condition in Africa has forced Africans to be immigrants. Also examines the EUâ€Ÿs migration-security concern and how it has increasingly connected with the African migrants. To study these issues, the study has used qualitative research methodology. Data have been collected both from primary and secondary sources. Available literatures were highly reviewed to study the recent intertwined themes of migration, security and human rights trends in Europe with the particular emphasis of the African migrants. Furthermore, key informant interviews were conducted with various scholars and officials in the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, African Union and with various personnel in the institutions such as Institute for Peace and Security Studies, Centre for Human Rights Studies and Institute for Security Studies.
Due to quite number of reasons, Africans have been migrating to Europe. Their reasons range from economic impasse in their countries to political persecutions, human rights abuses and intra and interstate conflicts. Recently the issue of migration in Europe is progressively viewed more from „a security-based approachâ€Ÿ and EU governments increasingly have chosen a “more restrictive approach” in policy and practice towards third country nationals. The actual challenge and dilemma that the EU faces currently is the politics of migration with relation to the protection of the migrantsâ€Ÿ human rights. Finding from this study show the responses of the EU towards the African migrants is contradict with internationally accepted human rights standards. EUâ€Ÿs border control patrols respond in denying the migrants to enter the Union without any inspection of migrantsâ€Ÿ case and the treatment during transfer to „third statesâ€Ÿ and condition of the detention centers all appears in contradiction with the fundamental international norms vis-a-vis migrantsâ€Ÿ human rights. Also the policy of externalization and the approach of FRONTEX often contradict with “movement-related rights” according to article 13 (1) of the UDHR and article 12(2) of the ICCPR.
1.1 Background of the Study
Migration has been part of human from antiquity to the present days. It is logical to accept that when our earliest ancestors became fully human they were already migratory, â€•moving about in pursuit of big gameâ€–. The velocity with which hunting groups occupied the entire continents, â€•(except Antarctica) in about 50,000 years attests this propensityâ€–.1
Migration has constantly been a part of human history, but never did it play a prominent role as it did in the last half-century, when more humans decide or were forced to migrate than before.2 Currently we live in the age of â€•unprecedented human mobilityâ€– within the boundaries of countries and beyond that. This large sacale human mobility seems to be continuing and to be a â€—megatrend‘ in the twenty-first century.3
Due to different reasons, the geography of migration has been changing. For example, Europe altered from a land of emigrants to a land of immigrants. Between 1500 and the mid-twentieth century Europeans were major emigrant populations and millions of them immigrated to of the America, Australia, New Zealand, and part of Africa. Conversely, in the late twentieth century, this steadily flow nearly stopped and Europe has turned into a destination for migrants from the Middle East, the Caribbean, Africa and Asia. Several factors are attributed to these changes such as growing economic inequalities between the rich and poor nations; demographic patterns like slow-growing, aging populations in developed states and younger, fast-growing populations in Africa, Latin American, and South Asia; ethnic hostility and political unrests in many parts of the world; cheaper and faster means of transportation; new technologies that make possible to instant communication between immigrants and family and friends at home and other factors has reshaped the societies.4
1William H. McNeill (1984). Human Migration in Historical Perspective, Population and Development Review, Vol.
Approximately 1 billion people out of the world‘s 7 billion people are migrants. Some 214 million are international migrants and 740 million are internal migrants. North-to-South migration is a growing phenomenon.5 Such movement has increased recently globally. For example, according to UN report, globally, the number of international migrants, legal and illegal, was 54.2 million in 1990, 117.45 million in 2000, 220.7 million in 2010, and 231.5 million in 2013. In 2013 somewhat more than three in every one hundred human beings were international migrants. The share of African migrants worldwide reached 18.6 million in 2013 from 17.1 million in the year 2010.6 In addition, according to the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights, since the beginning of 2015, more than 35,000 African refugees and migrants have crossed the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.7
Due to quite number of reasons, Africans have been migrating to Europe, America and Arab counties. Their reason ranges from economic impasse in their countries to political persecutions and intra and interstate conflicts. Such movements have been at the center of international discussions and particularly attracted and became a security concern for western countries.
The rising numbers of African migrants and asylum seekers escaping the political, economic and other difficulties in their homeland poses challenges for European policy makers who are these days struggling with weak economic growth and â€•fractured national politicsâ€–.8
Europe strengthens the control of its external borders with the help of the European border control agency and the vulnerability of migrants is worsening by the security-based policies aimed at strengthening controls on migrants coming from Africa. Such pushing of the African migrants, increasingly forced them to cross dangerous routes through the Mediterranean Sea, which is transformed into a â€—gigantic cemetery‘. European countries put the liability for controlling migration on countries of departure and transit, using economic incentives to push southern Mediterranean countries to sign â€•mobility partnershipsâ€–. Such agreements provide the possibility of controls on migration and readmission of migrants expelled from the EU. Recently,
5Frank Laczko and Lars Johan Lönnback (edi) (2013). Migration and the United Nations Post-2015 Development Agenda. p.5
the European Union’s (EU) response to its rising migrant crisis has been â€•ad hoc and, critics charge, more focused on securing the bloc’s borders than on protecting the rights of migrants and refugeesâ€–. The rise of nationalist parties in many EU states and worries about fundamentalism and terrorism â€•looming large across the continent, it remains unclear if political headwinds will facilitate a new climate of immigration reformâ€–.9
The number and magnitude of the African migration to Europe are rising due to several reasons. The Arab Spring has, particularly, resulted in the immigration of thousands from Africa and Middle East to Europe. Also the number of â€•illegal border-crossingâ€– in the EU pours, as thousand of Africans started to arrive at the Italian island of Lampedusa, following the Arab Spring.10
The factor that induced high migration flow from Africa is numerous and varies across the continent. Deteriorating security, human rights abuses and economic challenges cited often. These problems have observed in most of the African countries, but the problem is more deepen in Libya, Central African Republic, and South Sudan to mention some. The current political stalemate in Chad, Mali, Nigeria, and Sudan are adding up to the surge of immigrants to Europe.11
African migrants are using various means and routes to reach European countries such as air, land and sea transports. However, recently crossing through Mediterranean Sea has expanded. This route has various directions and depends on where migrants started their journey it has become a major passageway. The most trafficked route along Europe’s Southern perimeter is the Central Mediterranean passage which is from Libya to Italy. The route is serving as the key entry point to Europe and currently the most regular migrants and asylum seekers from Middle East Countries and African such as Ethiopia, Eritrea, Egypt, and Somalia use this passage.
The Mediterranean route from Libya to Italy has received the weight of the recent wave of irregular migration. According to the EU border agency Frontex12, there were roughly one
hundred seventy thousand border crossing along the route in 2014 and the majority of them are African nationals.13 This passageway is also considered as one of the most dangerous and the IOM estimates that 3,224 Mediterranean migrant deaths in 2014 occurred along this route; migrants who lost their lives are mainly from Africa and the Middle East: 27% from sub-Saharan Africa, 19% from the Middle East and North Africa, 13% from the Horn of Africa.14 Several unpleasant incidents were happening like capsized boats, including one in April 2015 that killed more than 800 people have grasped the world‘s attention and elicited calls from human rights advocates and policymakers for an integrated European response to the migrant crisis.15According to a 2014 report of the IOM, Europe is currently the most dangerous destination for irregular migration in the world, and the Mediterranean Sea becomes the â€•deadliest route worldwideâ€– and the most dangerous border crossing area.
With the growing number of African migrants to Europe the human rights issue becomes the most challenging task for the EU to balance, in the one hand, to protect the rights of African migrants, in the other, to maintain the security concern of the Union. However, with the context of recent migration influx keep balancing these two agendas become challenging and EU now progressively criticized with its response to handle the challenges in accordance with the principle of human rights. One of the manifestation of the this human rights inconsistency is observed in migrant detention centers along Europe’s southern margin—in Italy, Malta, Spain and Greece—and the condition of detention centers in the third states (which are established through agreement among EU and countries where migrants uses as a transit) have all provoked alleges of abuse of human rights. With these contexts different human rights groups have accused EU as violator of international human rights norms which protect the rights of migrants.16
In Europe today, migration from developing regions of the world is usually categorized under the frame of threat, this revealing a deep feeling of insecurity in Europe. And since EU states has management in line with the EU fundamental rights charter applying the concept of Integrated Border Management (FRONTEX 2014).
16See Human Rights Watch (2014). Abused and Expelled Ill-Treatment of Sub-Saharan African Migrants in Morocco, printed in the United States of America.
increasingly perceived the issue of migration more in the security perspective, the protection of human rights of migrants becomes challenging. Therefore the very objective of this study is to examine to what extent the European human rights regime includes African migrants within its realm of protection and to study the response of the EU whether contradicts with international obligations. It also assesses the Europe‘s migration-security concern and the economic, social and political condition in Africa and how such environment forces African migrants.
1.2 Statement of the problem
The migratory issue in Europe is progressively perceived more from â€—a security-based approach‘.17 The dilemma in the European Union has constantly been how to guarantee that the external borders are well confined against â€•unwanted migration and mass refugee flowsâ€– and, while, how to preserve an efficient system on internal borders that does not weaken the concept of free movement of member states‘ citizens within the Union. On the one hand, EU members have agreed to have the free area of movement for goods and service and of capital and persons among themselves. So, they have been progressively eradicating â€•internal restrictions on the freedom of movement of personsâ€– in the course of a sympathetic set of Community laws, such as the â€•Single European Act of 1986, and intergovernmental agreements, such as the Schengen Agreement18 of 1985 and the Schengen Convention of 1990â€–.
On the other hand, the EU governments increasingly have chosen a â€•more restrictive approach in law and policies towards third country nationalsâ€–. European gives different meaning for the concept of â€•freedom of movement of peopleâ€–. Freedom of movement for EU nationals has meant the eradicating of internal borders restrictions, abolition of controls and the facilitation of travelling. On the contrary, freedom of movement for non-EU members‘ nationals has been linked with more immigration controls; serious identity checks and tightens up external border controls.19
From the last two decades onwards immigration and asylum policies have become expansive in order to accomplish the idea of a â€—fortress Europe‘.20 The territorial extension of the EU has been inextricable with the need for suppressive measures to defend the external borders of the European Union from â€•unwanted threats of migrationâ€–, while the security concerns which have always been at the apex of the Union agenda.21 Particularly, after the terrorist attacks on the US cities on 11 September 2001, on Madrid 2004 and London 2005, managing borders has been viewed as the overall fight against terrorism and the complexity of maintaining internal security in the â€•enlarged EUâ€–.22
The actual challenge that the Union faces currently is the politics of migration in relation to the protection of the African migrants‘ human rights. In fact, when it comes to international values on human rights the condition becomes problematical, as the EU Member States are trapped between the conflicting goals of keeping the values of human rights and the demand to make tighter up immigration and external border controls. The fact that migration creates a dilemma when human rights issues are involved in it might be seen, on the one hand, as an international humanitarian or human rights issue, and, on the other hand, as an immigration affair which could place â€—a strain on the labor market and social facilities, such as housing, education, and medical facilities‘.23 That leads to, and is reflected in, the ongoing tension between international human rights law to protect the African migrants‘ rights and national laws where the prime concern is to protect and promote the rights and welfare of the citizens. Unfortunately, if not purposely
protected under national law and practice, migrants, as aliens, exposed to risks relative to the nationals of the State.24
One can therefore logically question to what extent the European human rights regime includes African migrants within its realm of protection which is protected under international human right laws. Thus, this study will critically examine whether the European Union migration approach towards the African migrants in term of policy as well as practice contradicts with international obligations under international law in general and with the principles of the international human rights law in particular. It also assesses the Europe‘s migration-security concern and the economic, social and political condition in Africa and how such environment forces African migrants.
1.3 Objective of the Study
1.3.1 General Objective
The general objective of this study is to critically examine the European immigration approach and practice towards the African migrants whether contradicts with international obligations under international law in general and with the principles of the international human rights law in particular. It also assesses the Europe‘s security concern and the economic, social and political condition in Africa and how such environment forces African migrants to migrate into Europe. Therefore, the general objective of the research is to investigate the above issues.
1.3.2 Specific Objectives
The specific objectives of this study can be summarized as:
1.4 Research Questions
This study attempts to answer the following research questions:
1.5 Significance of the Study
Although there are a number of works on migration with a combination of human rights and security, as far as the European approach towards the African migrants and its implication for the African migrants‘ human rights is not studied comprehensively and it is a fragmented one. Also, since various developments have been taking place from the last four or five years onward vis-à-vis the African migrants to Europe, it is appropriate to study the area fully. Therefore, it has its own contribution to further study or to other researchers who are interested to study in similar area. Also it is contributing in some in filling the knowledge gap stated in the above.
1.6 Methodology and Method of Data Collection
1.6.1 Methodology of the Study
Methodologically, due to the nature of the study, this research is used qualitative approach, which is a more descriptive approach. Qualitative research is aimed at investigating behaviors, attitudes, and experiences of the people and most often employed to answer the why and how of human behavior. It is â€•an umbrella for an array of attitudes towards and strategies for conducting inquiry that aimed at discovering how being understand, experience, interpret, and produce the social worldâ€– or social contexts of particular populations.25 Accordingly, to study the European Union‘s immigration approach towards the African migrants from the perspective of international obligations under international human rights law and how European securitize migration, the views, observations and argument of experts familiar with the issue at hand regarded as the main input for this study.
1.6.2 Method of Data Collection
To carry out this study, the researcher employed both primary and secondary sources of data. The study has used secondary sources as the major source and it has primarily relied on it as a data collection method. Accordingly, books (e-books), scholarly articles, archival materials, journals, published reports, conference proceedings, and released newsletters were utilized.
This study also employs primary data such as analyzing official documents (particularly European Union‘s Immigration Policy and communiqués), both International Migration Law and International Human Right Law documents, agreements and communiqués etc. were used. Also for a limited purpose, the researcher gathered primary data through interviews. The type of interview that the researcher employed was Semi-Structural interview. Because unlike formal interviews, which follow an inflexible format of a set of questions, semi-structured interviews focus on particular subjects but cover them in a conversational style.26 â€•They are often the best way for learning about the motivations behind people‘s choices and behavior, their attitudes and beliefs, and the impacts on their lives of specific policies or events.â€–27 Also, since it permits flexibility and easy for amendment on the nature of questions depending on the circumstances in which the interview conducted, semi-structured interview helpful.28 Accordingly, the researcher conducted key informant interview with semi-structured questions with people in different institutions such as with the African Union concerned body, the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Ministry of Foreign Affairs and with various scholars in the areas of security and human rights.
1.6 Scope of the Study
Despite the fact that the issue of migration in Europe is broad and many migrants across the world engage in, this study is delimited in examining the European Union stand on the African migrants only. It also focuses on the policy as well practical action of the European Union toward African migrants and its implications on the African migrants‘ human rights from the human rights perspective.
1.8 Limitation of the Study
To conduct this study, the researcher has faced some challenges. The first constraint for the study was gathering primary data through interviews from different personnel in the intergovernmental organizations, such as the African Union and the European Union Delegation to the African Union and various embassies in Addis Ababa such as Germany, Italian and Greek embassies.
1.9 Organization of the Study
The study has seven chapters:
Chapter one introduces the general features of the study and also underscores what the study is all about and how it is done. Among others, this chapter holds the following: background of the study, statement of the problem and methodology of the study. Chapter two holds conceptual and theoretical framework and literature review on the issue of migration, security and human rights. The conceptual part is discussed about migration, human rights and human security concepts. The theoretical framework part is discusses the theory of securitization of migration, and how it progressively accepted in examining EU stand toward international migration. Chapter three is deals with the European approach for the international migration, security and human rights. Chapter four is dealt with the major causes behind the augmentation of African migration to Europe in details. Chapter five is dealing with the current migration flow and crisis in Europe in relation to the African migrants and the European response Chapter six deals is with the securitization of migration in the European Union and its implication for the African migrants in terms of their human rights protection and examining European responses towards the African migrants in the lights of international human rights principles. The final chapter, Chapter seven is a conclusion based on the findings of the research.
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