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Commemorating International Migrants Day: “We have to realise a system that will offer refugees reliable protection, and which will ensure respect for the rights of all migrants!”

On the basis of the United Nations Resolution, 18 December has been declared International Migrants Day. This day is dedicated to raising awareness about the experiences of migrants, their rights and the challenges they face, and about their contribution to society.

The Slovenian Human Rights Ombudsman Peter Svetina has warned that “Europe has faced an unacceptable deterioration in respect for the human rights of refugees and other migrants for many years. Instead of focusing on achieving a uniform and legal system, member states too often utilise their own measures, including the unfortunate compulsory return and other disputable practices.”

The Ombudsman has also found several violations of migrant rights in matters referring to the execution of procedures on Slovenian borders, which was documented in the report on the situation of the human rights of migrants on borders, issued this year. He has emphasised several systemic problems, especially the measure of rapidly returning aliens to Croatia and other neighbouring countries without issuing an explanatory decision against which they could appeal. The Ombudsman has also warned in the report that border regimes that are currently implemented by national authorities (Slovenia, Croatia and other countries in the region) are forcing migrants to travel in more dangerous ways. “Such border crossing also leads to fatal accidents, which we have unfortunately witnessed in the past,” emphasised Svetina.
According to the Ombudsman, International Migrants Day is an opportunity to contemplate the future and consider possible solutions. “We need to strengthen the work of human rights advocates and other surveillance mechanisms and, without compromise, strive to terminate all measures and practices imposed by national authorities in which the human rights of migrants are violated,” Svetina said.

According to the Ombudsman, the governments of the EU member states, including that of Slovenia, should approach the preparation of the new joint system for migration management more decisively. “As a society, we need to believe that we can realise a just, legal and organised system that will enable the reliable protection of refugees and respect for the human rights of all migrants, which will also be beneficial to our society,” Svetina emphasised. He has also pointed out that we cannot approve the normalisation of irregular migrant travels, i.e. without documents, illegally, and bypassing all rules. As reports and personal stories of many people have revealed, they have been exposed to danger and the violation of their dignity and other fundamental human rights. The occurrence of irregular migrations could be reduced with a more appropriate migration and asylum policy. “We need to approach resolving the issue by ensuring the effective protection of refugees, including the introduction of legal routes and their actual protection in third countries,” Svetina explained. 

“International Migrants Day is an opportunity to strengthen awareness about the necessity of establishing appropriate solutions, including the strengthening of hope that we will manage to take steps in the right direction,” the Human Rights Ombudsman, Peter Svetina, emphasised.


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