PACE committee calls on Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania to respect right to seek asylum before possible accession to Schengen zone

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe’s Committee for Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons on Wednesday called on Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania to respect the right to seek asylum, on the eve of the Council of the European Union’s possible decision for the accession of the three countries to the Schengen zone.

“While controls at the external borders of the Schengen Area are required, they must not involve excessive measures that result in breaches of refugees’ and migrants’ human rights,” PACE said in a statement.

According to the statement, Council of Europe (CoE) member states are called upon to take effective measures to prevent pushbacks, to protect the victims of pushbacks and to prosecute those responsible for such acts.

The European Commission earlier called on the European Council to adopt the decisions in order to allow Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria become part of the Schengen zone.

Their full accession to the Schengen area was scheduled for a vote on Wednesday at the Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting in Brussels.

“The Committee reiterates that the right to seek asylum must be respected and underscores the need to ensure the individual and fair assessment of protection needs,” the statement said.

Pushing refugees back to countries from which they fled is illegal under the principle of non-refoulement, which forbids a country from forcing refugees or asylum seekers to return to a country in which they are liable to be subjected to persecution.

The PACE committee has 81 members who are appointed by the national delegations to the assembly.

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