Media statement


European Court of Human Rights          (Picture: Wikimedia Commons, Alfred Schaerli)

Human Rights Court strengthens refugee rights

Brussels, 23 February 2012

In May 2009 a boat with about 200 forced migrants was pushed back by the Italian authorities to Libya. The forced migrants never got a chance to lodge a claim for protection. Instead they were handed over to the Libyan authorities under dictator Ghaddafi where they were in danger of being forcibly returned to the countries of persecution. Today the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg made public their judgment in this case (Hirsi Jamaa And Others vs Italy). The Court unanimously held that several human rights of the applicants had been violated, including the prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment and the right to judicial remedies.

The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Europe welcomes the judgment as a major step forward towards a better treatment of persons seeking protection from persecution and other human rights violations. Border controls and migration management remain legitimate but must never violate the rights of asylum seekers and refugees.

JRS Europe calls on the European Union and its member states to draw the necessary consequences: If asylum seekers are intercepted at the European borders they must have a chance to lodge a claim for protection and to challenge any negative decision. Simply closing the borders against these human beings would violate the values and standards which the EU is built on. Therefore all border control operations, be it on the Mediterranean Sea under the aegis of the EU border agency FRONTEX, or the erection of the infamous fence at the border between Greece and Turkey, must contain effective safeguards for the rights of forced migrants who seek protection.


Note to the Editor

The Jesuit Refugee Service is an international Catholic organisation. Its mission is to accompany, to serve and to plead the cause of refugees and forcibly displaced people. JRS was set up by the Society of Jesus in 1980 and is now working over 50 countries worldwide. JRS works with all persons in need of protection but has a particular concern for those who are "forgotten" due to the absense of media exposure (like detainees, protracted refugees, etc.).


For more information please contact Stefan Kessler at +32 (0)2 250 32 21 or





Jesuit Refugee Service Europe - Rue du Progrès (Vooruitgangstraat) 333/2 - B-1030 Bruxelles - Belgium
Tel: + 32 2 250 32 20 - Fax: + 32 2 250 32 29 - Email: europe(a)