Troubled Waters in the Mare Nostrum: Interception and Push-Backs of Migrants in the Mediterranean and the European Convention on Human Rights

Ben Stanford, Silvia Borelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The practice of ‘push-backs’ in the Mediterranean Sea, in which vessels carrying migrants are intercepted and forced to return to the State from which they departed (or from which they are presumed to have departed) raises serious issues from the perspective of international human rights law. In the wake of the spate of recent tragedies, in which innocent women, children and men attempting to traverse the Mediterranean in order to reach European shores have lost their lives, States and European institutions are finally responding to these issues. The present piece explores the legality of the practice of push-backs under international human rights standards, particularly the European Convention on Human Rights, and offers an assessment of the ongoing developments within the European Union. The piece offers a preliminary assessment of the Draft Regulation relating to joint migration control operations at sea under the auspices of Frontex which aims belatedly to ensure that migration control operations incorporate an element of protection of human life and other fundamental human rights.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-69
Number of pages41
JournalUluslararası Hukuk ve Politika – Review of International Law and Politics
Volume10
Publication statusPublished - 3 May 2014

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Keywords

  • European Convention on Human Rights
  • Extraterritorial application of human rights obligations
  • Frontex
  • Jurisdiction
  • Migration control operations at sea
  • Positive obligations
  • Non-refoulement
  • Law of the sea

Cite this

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abstract = "The practice of ‘push-backs’ in the Mediterranean Sea, in which vessels carrying migrants are intercepted and forced to return to the State from which they departed (or from which they are presumed to have departed) raises serious issues from the perspective of international human rights law. In the wake of the spate of recent tragedies, in which innocent women, children and men attempting to traverse the Mediterranean in order to reach European shores have lost their lives, States and European institutions are finally responding to these issues. The present piece explores the legality of the practice of push-backs under international human rights standards, particularly the European Convention on Human Rights, and offers an assessment of the ongoing developments within the European Union. The piece offers a preliminary assessment of the Draft Regulation relating to joint migration control operations at sea under the auspices of Frontex which aims belatedly to ensure that migration control operations incorporate an element of protection of human life and other fundamental human rights.",
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