Annual report for 2017 - The rights of refugees, migrants and asylum seekers in the Republic of Macedonia 17 April 2018
Within the "Help on the route - fostering protection of human rights of migrants passing through Macedonia and Serbia" project supported by the European Union and implemented by the Ana and Vlade Divac Foundation- Serbia in partnership with the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights of the Republic of Macedonia, the Novi Sad Humanitarian Center and Arbeiter Samariter Bund Deutchland- Serbia, the Helsinki Committee prepared the Annual Report for 2017 which encompasses the conditions and the respect of the basic human rights of refugees, migrants and asylum seekers which transited or remained in the Republic of Macedonia.
Reflecting on the events and practices in the field, the Helsinki Committee offers a full analysis of the management of the refugee crises, including specific recommendations which should be taken into consideration by relevant authorities in the upcoming period.
The recommendations are:
- 1. To urgently and without delay stop the practice of illegal, group “deportation” of refugees and migrants to the neighboring countries, without an established transboundary cooperation with the security forces. It is a violation of the fundamental human rights and freedoms of migrants and an inhuman treatment. All action of returning (readmission) must be in accordance with the human rights standards and must be conducted through cooperation among the countries.
- 2. In the shortest period of time, the National Strategy for Integration of Refugees and Migrants (2017-2027) has to be adopted, which will enable the quickest conducting of the measures for integration of the anticipated Action Plan and will contribute to an increased respect of the rights of recognized refugees and asylum seekers in the country.
- 3. The new Law for International and Temporary Protection has to be adopted as soon as possible which will eliminate the bad amendments and restrictions adopted in 2016.
- 4. To establish a system of regular, timely and regulated registering of all refugees and migrants transiting the country in order to monitor their movement and increase the possibility of protecting their human rights.
- 5. Measures to influence the public opinion concerning the refugee crisis are necessary, considering the noticed high level of xenophobia among citizens, the lack of awareness concerning refugees and migrants ‘rights, the reasons for their flight and the problems that they are facing. It is necessary to increase the public awareness, as well as the access to information about the crisis which will in turn reduce intolerance and hate speech.
- 6. The right to seek asylum must constantly be guaranteed to all refugees, migrants and foreigners who are detained on the territory of the Republic of Macedonia, without delay or conditioning on the part of the institutions.
- 7. The police treatment has to be in accordance with the national laws and standards, and in accordance with the principle of respecting the human rights and freedoms of refugees and migrants. All police actions where physical force or means of coercion are used must be strictly monitored. All accusations for use of excessive force by the police officers must be thoroughly investigated and the police officers must take full responsibility.
- 8. There is a significant necessity of increasing the surveillance of the unaccompanied minors who are transiting the country and can be found in both reception-transit camps. They are exposed to serious risks and are in a vulnerable state and thus cannot be left without surveillance and protection from the system.
- 9. The educational and recreational activities within the reception and transit centers have to be maintained no matter the number of migrants, their age or status in the country.
- 10. The selective admission of refugees in the reception-transit centers must not be allowed. Humanitarian aid and protection from safety risks must be provided to all refugees and migrants moving through the country in order to avoid placing them under additional risk.
- 11. Refugees and migrants transiting the country must not be restricted their freedom of movement and must not illegally be held in custody as witnesses in criminal procedures against smugglers.
- 12. To increase the presence of police officers in the reception-transit centers which will guarantee the safety of everyone present in the camps.