Everyone’s reason to apply for asylum is unique! “Yes” to individual assessment of asylum application. “No” to concept of “safe country of origin”
Thu, 23/06/2016 - 12:47

In Caritas Europa’s newly issued position paper on the concept of “safe country of origin”, the pan-European network argues against the idea of using nationality as a filter to dismiss asylum applications. Caritas Europa urges the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Member States to reject the concept of “safe country of origin”. Instead, Europe must protect the principle of individual right to asylum, as agreed in the UN Refugee Convention of 1951.

“In the past, we have witnessed a practice that differentiates people based on their nationality. Those coming from sub-Saharan African countries, for instance, are typically considered ‘safe’ and are thus issued deportation orders as soon as they arrive on the EU territory. In many cases, they are not informed of their protection possibilities, and the national authorities and European agencies present, thus effectively refrain from giving them opportunities to claim asylum. Caritas is concerned that this approach may be reinstated and that deportation measures will be expedited as a result of an applicant’s country of origin,” said Shannon Pfohman, Head of Policy and Advocacy at Caritas Europa.

On 27 June, the Members of the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee will vote on a report on the European Commission’s proposal for amendments to the directive regulating this policy field.

“We ask all Members of the Parliament to be true to the core values of the EU and defend everyone’s human dignity and human rights. In our position paper, we explain why the concept of ‘safe country of origin’ goes against the UN Refugee Convention,” said Shannon Pfohman, Caritas Europa’s Head of Policy and Advocacy.

The 1951 Refugee Convention requires that refugees have an individual right to claim asylum and are not treated on the basis of their country of origin, as this would otherwise warrant as grounds of discrimination based on nationality. Moreover, some of the countries included in the “safe lists” do not meet the EU’s Copenhagen criteria that comprise democratic institutions, stability, rule of law and accession to major international human rights instruments.

In addition to urging the European Parliament to reject the concept of safe countries of origin, Caritas Europa also calls on the European Commission and the EU Member States to put the EU’s core values back at the centre of their work on asylum and migration.

Read our position paper: 

This press release is available in Spanish (courtesy of Caritas Spain). 

For more information, please contact:

Marie Tempesta
Policy and Advocacy Officer Migration and Asylum
Caritas Europa

Alain RodriguezAlain Rodriguez
Communication Officer
Caritas Europa
Tel: +32 (0)2 554 02 23