ADC Memorial, Human Constanta, and Our House, welcoming the dialogue between the European Union and Belarus in the sphere of migration, are concerned that the newly approved Agreement on readmission gives rise to new risks to Human Rights.

On 13 May 2020, the European Parliament endorsed the Agreement between the European Union and Belarus on facilitation of visa procedures. Together with that treaty, the Parliament also endorsed the Agreement on readmission. Following the signature and ratification by the EU member states, the Agreements will enter into force.

The Agreement on readmission envisages a simplified procedure of return of the citizens of Belarus and of the third countries, who transited Belarus, and who irregularly entered the EU from the territory of Belarus or irregularly stayed in the territory of the EU. The Agreement also provides the mirror provisions for the EU states: the citizens of the EU member states who entered or stayed in Belarus irregularly are to be returned to their countries of origins within the simplified procedure. For the implementation of the Agreement, two centers for migrants have been constructed in Belarus financed by the EU.

The mentioned above organisations consider that procedures of readmission give rise to risks to human rights and migrants’ rights violations. The number of persons, both citizens of Belarus and of third countries – «transit» refugees and migrants deported back to Belarus, could increase, as it happened in other countries of Eastern Partnership that concluded the Readmission Agreements with the EU.

We are concerned that the readmission takes place regardless of the willingness of the deported person, that could lead to the violations of the right to asylum and non-refoulement principle. Another issue of concern is possible detention of migrants in the special centres. The Readmission Agreement also covers families with children, and therefore, under the treaty children could also be detained only because of the migration status of their parents. That is the serious violation of children’s rights. Moreover, it is still unclear, whether independent civil society would be enabled to monitor the implementation of the Readmission Agreement and visit detention centers for migrants.

We call the government of the Republic of Belarus and the governments of the European Union member states:

  • To respect and guarantee human rights and migrants’ rights while implementing the Readmission Agreement;
  • To avoid immigration detention, especially of children-migrants based solely on the migration status;
  • To include independent civil society into the monitoring of the implementation of the Agreement, including providing access and opportunities for visiting the detention centers for migrants.