The EU’s Migration and Asylum Pact: 

Somewhere between confessing the weakness of our European sovereignty and rejecting our founding values

To the French Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin,

As representatives of Generation for Rights Over the World (GROW), a youth-led human rights think tank deeply committed to upholding fundamental rights and dignity for all individuals across the world, we write to you with a sense of urgency and concern regarding the recent vote and upcoming review of the EU Pact on Migration and Asylum.

In light of the recent approval of the text by the European Parliament, we understand that the fate of this crucial document now lies in the hands of the Council of the European Union for formal approval. It is therefore with profound concern that we implore you not to vote in favour of the approval of the text, as it stands in direct contradiction to the very beams on which the European Union system was built, to the programmatic commitments outlined in the EU Action Plan on Integration and Inclusion, the EU Action Plan on Integration and the EU Action Plan Against Racism, as well as practice deriving from the case-law of the European Union Court of Justice (CJEU).

First and foremost, the proposed measures within the pact not only fail to address the root causes of the challenges faced by migrants and asylum seekers in their search for a better future, but also actively undermine their fundamental rights and dignity. Indeed, rather than embodying a genuine reform of Europe’s asylum and migration policies with a view to guaranteeing the indivisible, universal values of human dignity, freedom, equality and solidarity etched into the Preamble of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, the pact perpetuates containment and deterrence policies that have proven ineffective and have led to widespread human suffering.

The outsourcing of border management to countries with inadequate human rights safeguards, such as Libya and Tunisia, in particular is deeply concerning as it violates the principle of non-refoulement and formalises the cooperation of the European Union with countries whose human rights track record has been condemned by multiple international institutions. Publicly acknowledged as a place not safe for disembarkation by the Council of Europe and the United Nations, Libya has throughout the years been the object of international scrutiny for the inhuman conditions of detention sustained by migrants and asylum seekers being held in official and unofficial detention centres. As recently as February of this year, reports by multiple NGOs underlined widespread instances of torture, mistreatment, abuse of force, sexual and sexist violence, as well as human trafficking in various detention centres across Libya1. Furthermore, the UN Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya has also expressed concern about the conditions of migrants and asylum seekers in Libya2. Already authors of a joint report in 2016 on the issue, the UNSMIL and OHCHR published another report in 2018, “Desperate and Dangerous: Report on the human rights situation of migrants and refugees in Libya”, which concluded that: 

To address the systemic violations and abuses of human rights suffered by migrants in Libya with impunity, Libya’s approach to managing migration must be overhauled, with human rights protections placed at the centre of response plans. Further, as armed groups and criminal gangs continue to enrich themselves from trafficking in persons, smuggling of migrants and refugees, extortion and other abuses against migrants and refugees, tackling such crimes is not only in line with Libya’s obligations under international law, but also essential to the establishment of the rule of law in Libya.”3

Vis-à-vis the commitment of the European institutions to the principles of liberty, democracy, and human rights detailed in the Treaty of the European Union, it is unacceptable that individuals seeking safety in Europe are subjected to conditions that include detention, violence, sexual assault, extortion, and forced labour upon their return to the countries they traversed seeking safety and the betterment of their livelihoods.

Moreover, by prioritising rapid processing and returns, the pact fundamentally institutionalised practices that undermine the right to seek asylum and contradict the values enshrined in other EU initiatives. By failing to provide adequate protections for those in need and instead perpetuating a system of de facto discrimination, the pact runs counter to the EU Action Plan on Integration and Inclusion and its project of giving equal opportunities to all to enjoy their rights and participate in community and social life, regardless of the background and in line with the European Pillar of Social Rights. 

Finally, the initiatives sketched out in the proposed pact undoubtedly clash with the established practice of the Court of Justice of the European Union that has, since its onset, guaranteed that the interpretation and application of the Treaties is to depend on the principles of democracy, rule of law, and human rights. Notably, the aforementioned proposal of outsourcing migration management to unsafe third countries positively contrasts with the decision of the CJEU on the joined cases C-540/17 and C-541/17 in which the Court reaffirmed the prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment at any stage of the asylum procedure4. By providing countries where the rights of migrants and asylum seekers are routinely infringed with logistical and financial support, the European Union undoubtedly its own commitment to protecting those seeking asylum from being exposed to a serious risk of inhuman or degrading treatment. Moreover, the European Union and its Member States regularly talk about the need to strengthen their sovereignty; it has to be said that this text is nothing more than an admission of weakness, delegating the sovereign prerogative of border management and, at the same time, consigning to oblivion in Libyan prisons, where people who are victims of international crimes are languishing, the founding values of our democracies in terms of acceptance and integration.

As young advocates for human rights and social justice, we urge you to reject the current version of the EU Pact on Migration and Asylum. Instead, we call upon you to pursue policies that uphold the dignity and rights of all individuals, regardless of their background or immigration status. This includes ensuring equal opportunities for integration and participation in community life, as well as respecting the principles of non-discrimination and equality.

As such, we suggest to call upon European institutions to review the text with the objective of:

  1. Guarantee dignified reception conditions by advocating for inclusive access to shelter, healthcare, education, and other essential services;
  2. Denounce all forms of migration management collaboration, whether logistical or financial, with third-countries whose human rights practices are lacklustre at best and deplorable at worst;
  3. Call for the implementation of fair and efficient asylum procedures that prioritize the protection of vulnerable individuals, including unaccompanied minors, survivors of torture, and victims of trafficking;
  4. Encourage enhanced cooperation between EU member states, as well as with non-governmental organisations, civil society actors, and international partners in the development, implementation, and evaluation of EU migration and asylum policies;
  5. Encourage the exploration of alternatives to detention for migrants and asylum seekers, such as community-based alternatives and case management systems, to ensure that detention is used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest possible period.

We ask you to give priority to the safety and well-being of migrants and asylum seekers, and to work towards comprehensive and humane migration policies that reflect our values of solidarity, compassion and respect for human rights.

Behind every death in the Mediterranean and every person detained and tortured in Libyan detention centres or by networks of smugglers, there are people like you and us. Their humanity and dignity must not be sacrificed in the name of a policy based on the fear of the other.


Generation for Rights Over the World (GROW)


Patrick Baudouin, Chair of the LDH (Ligue des droits de l’Homme)

©Photo by Sandor Csudai is licenced under licence CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 DEED

1 Amnesty International, ‘No one will look for you’: Forcibly returned from sea to abusive detention in Libya, 2021, p. 26. Available at:; Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2022/23: The state of the world’s human rights, 2023, p. 238. Available at:; Amnesty International, “Between Life and Death”: Refugees and Migrants Trapped in Libya’s Cycle of Abuse, 24 September 2020; Human Rights Watch. (2023). World Report 2023 – Events of 2022, pp.391–392. Available at: Human Rights Watch, No Escape from Hell, EU Policies Contribute to Abuse of Migrants in Libya, January 2019; UpRights & StraLi, Navigating Troubled Waters: Italy’s Human Rights Dilemma in the Mediterranean, 2024.
2 United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), “Detained and Dehumanised” Report on Human Rights Abuses Against Migrants in Libya, 13 December 2016; UNSMIL, Desperate and Dangerous: Report on the human rights situation of migrants and refugees in Libya, 20 December 2018.
3 UNSMIL, Desperate and Dangerous: Report on the human rights situation of migrants and refugees in Libya, 20 December 2018.
4 Bundesrepublik Deutschland v. Adel Hamed (C‑540/17), Amar Omar (C‑541/17) [2019] (Court of Justice of the European Union) Available at: [Accessed 24 Apr. 2024].

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