Making an example of The Gambia? : a human rights assessment of the EU’s (informal) readmission policy

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De Mulder, Sofie
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For decades, the EU has been prioritising returning migrants with an irregular status in its migration policy. One of the means to do so is by concluding readmission agreements with third countries. In the last years, the EU has been shifting its focus and efforts from concluding formal and legally binding readmission agreements (EURAs) to more informal and non-binding readmission arrangements. This thesis researched what the human rights protections entail for the returning migrants under the informal readmission arrangements, compared to the formal readmission agreements. The result is rather disappointing. In practice, there are few human rights protections under the formal readmission agreements and even less under the informal readmission arrangements, as illustrated by the EU-The Gambia informal readmission arrangement. For example, only in a few readmission agreements or arrangements is a non-affection clause included which guarantees respect for human rights, however, this clause is only declaratory and there are no consequences or remedies for human rights violations. Moreover, the safeguards that are put into place by Frontex to protect the returning migrants under the readmission agreements and arrangements are ineffective due to its internal malfunctioning: the fundamental rights monitors do not report all abuses on the return flights, and the complaint mechanism is not effective nor independent. To conclude, given the poor human rights protection and the fact that the readmission agreements and arrangements rarely increase the return rate in the long term (being the EU’s main goal), one could wonder whether the EU should continue its efforts of negotiating new (informal) readmission arrangements and agreements, especially, since it now has the power to coerce third countries into cooperation on readmission through visa restrictions. It would be more beneficial to put this time, effort and resources into improving the human rights protection of the returnees.
Second semester University: Lund University
Republic of The Gambia, European Union, migrations, return migration, irregular migrations, human rights