No-one should ever be detained for the sole reason that he or she is an asylum seeker, said speakers in a debate on Wednesday evening. To apply for asylum is a basic human right, and detention can only be used as a measure of last resort, they insisted.
Several MEPs criticised declarations by European Council President Donald Tusk about detaining migrants for up to 18 months in order to “screen” them. Other MEPs argued that such decisions are better taken at national level.
EU rules require member states to use detention only as a measure of last resort, for as short a period of time as possible, and to respect asylum seekers’ rights, said Luxembourg’s labour minister Nicolas Schmit, representing the Council Presidency. “Member states may only make use of detention if no other, less coercive, measures can be used”, he said. “If EU legislation is not applied in an appropriate way, then it is up to the Commission to take appropriate measures”, he concluded.
EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said that “all aspects of the asylum legislation” must be respected. Asylum seekers may only be detained “in full compliance with these rules”, he insisted, stressing the need to properly transpose EU asylum rules into national law and implement them.