26 Mar 2018

Complaint Mechanisms in Border Management and Expulsion Operations in Europe

Effective remedies for victims of human rights violations?

Sergio Carrera / Marco Stefan

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Authors: Sergio Carrera and Marco Stefan

Border control, surveillance operations and expulsion of irregular immigrants – particularly through return flights – can pose serious challenges to human rights. Is Europe properly equipped to ensure effective access to remedies for alleged rights violations or possible abuses of force against immigrants and asylum seekers?

This book examines whether adequate complaint mechanisms and bodies are in place and to what extent they succeed in monitoring and redressing human rights violations in the context of border management and joint return flights. It makes three main contributions to the current policy and academic debate.

First, it sheds light on the fragmentation of the human rights accountability regimes that currently apply to the various national and EU authorities and actors involved in border management and expulsions of irregular immigrants.

Second, it shows that while the ‘law on the books’ may formally recognise a set of fundamental rights for immigrants and asylum seekers, the ‘law in practice’ does not necessarily offer effective access to justice through complaint mechanisms in many European states.

Third, the book sets out a number of policy recommendations aimed at ensuring access to effective remedies for violations of the human rights of migrants and asylum seekers that might occur in extraterritorial and dispersed locations (such as in cooperation with or in territories of third countries), and in the context of joint return flights aimed at expelling irregular immigrants. Particular attention is paid to issues with access to justice in the context of activities undertaken by the new European Border and Coast Guard (Frontex).

This document was produced with financial assistance received from the Council of Europe.

Sergio Carrera is Senior Research Fellow and Head of Justice and Home Affairs Programme at CEPS, Brussels. He is also Part-Time Professor at the Migration Policy Centre (MPC) in the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence (Italy) and Visiting Professor at the Paris School of International Affairs (PSIA) in Sciences Po, Paris (France). Marco Stefan is Research Fellow in the Justice and Home Affairs Programme at CEPS.