The preamble of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights, an instrument applicable to all member states of the European Union (EU) when implementing EU law, holds that “the Union is founded on the indivisible, universal values of human dignity, freedom, equality and solidarity,” centralising the idea that EU member states must protect human life. Yet, several Southern European Member States have criminalised search and rescue (SAR) operations in the Mediterranean Sea and charged the rescue operations with the criminal act of smuggling. Therefore, the operators face years in prison if convicted. At the same time, the EU has closed down its own SAR operations, relying on its deals with the Libyan coast guard to intercept boats.
In this week’s news highlights: UNHCR in Libya accused of neglect and mismanagement in 4-part investigation; First group of people evacuated from Libya to Rwanda; Returnees flee after arrival in Libya; IOM urges closure of Tajoura detention centre; New Country of Origin Information on Eritrea confirms no change in human rights; RSF accused of pressuring the European Union; Bad conditions at Shagarab Camp in Sudan; Belgian and Eritrean Catholic Church representatives meet in Belgium; Three Jehovah’s Witnesses imprisoned for 25 years in Eritrea; Operation Sophia continues for an additional six months; Two people die in a fire at Greek refugee camp; Greece calls for help from other EU member states and Frontex; and Germany strengthens random checks at borders.