From Dublin to Moscow: The EU's Failure to Protect Asylum Seekers

The French office of the Education Without Borders Network (Réseau Éducation Sans Frontières) has initiated a petition for the Dzhanaralievs, a Chechen family that is facing deportation from France to Poland, the first EU member country that they entered after fleeing the Russian backed oppression that is rampant in their native Chechnya. France’s decision is in accordance with the Dublin II Regulation, a piece of legislation from 2003 that claims to prevent refugees from being shipped around Europe but in reality, is a protection for EU member states against “asylum shopping.” Regardless of EU intent, it is clear that the refugees are the victims.

According to the EU, the Dublin II Regulation:

establishes the principle that only one Member State is responsible for examining an asylum application. The objective is to avoid asylum seekers from being sent from one country to another, and also to prevent abuse of the system by the submission of several applications for asylum by one person.

The regulation has been criticized, namely by Thomas Hammarberg, the Swedish diplomat and former Commissioner for Human Rights for the Council of Europe in Strasbourg.  He has not minced words and been very clear in illustrating the problems inherent in the Regulation:

This has not been successful in practice. Countries such as Greece and Malta have, during recent years, been unable to provide adequate protection because the numbers of asylum seekers have exceeded their capacity. This is simply not fair and has, in extreme cases, even put lives at risk. It is now high time to revise the Dublin Regulation.

The regulation is not designed to guarantee that the responsibility for asylum seekers is shared among the EU member states. Nor does it ensure that asylum seekers have access to adequate asylum procedures. It is based on the false assumption that the national asylum systems in place in Europe all provide similar, high standards of protection to people who seek to escape from violence and persecution.

He goes on to say:

The system does not function – refugees are the victims.

Hammarberg’s criticism is not unfounded.  It is indeed true that EU border states, such as Greece, Poland and Finland have had a reputation for failing to protect asylum seekers and deporting them back to dangerous situations in the countries that they had originally fled.  For example, earlier in 2012 Finnish authorities deported Makhmud Dzhabrailov, a Chechen man who had been tortured and threatened by Russian authorities, to the Russian Federation. 

Sadly, despite its recent Nobel Peace Prize award ““for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe”, the EU has failed many people in human rights, especially those fleeing the brutality and terror waged by Putin’s Russia. 


Please support the Dzhanaraliev family by signing the petition.


Michael Capobianco 10-28-12

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