Access to the rights of asylum and formal/informal return of migrants/refugees

"The right to international protection enjoyed by refugees / migrants and asylum seekers is the responsibility of the authorities that we as Ombudsmen must strive to become fulfilled in each individual case. Migration crisis caused by the refugee wave that hit Europe in the past two years put to test the respect of fundamental freedoms and rights of migrants and refugees. Aware of the challenges carried by  the crisis, affirming our common responsibility as protectors of human rights, we achieved several meetings that resulted in the adoption of documents, in which we call on the authorities to unconditionally respect the rights of the migrants and the refugees and emphasize our commitment to their promotion and protection”.

This, among other things, in his welcoming speech he emphasized the Ombudsman Mr. Izet Memeti, in the opening of the two-day Regional Conference titled "Access to the rights of asylum and formal / informal return of migrants / refugees", held in Ohrid, organized by the Office of the Ombudsman and the High Commissioner for Refugees of the United Nations - office in Skopje.

According to Memeti, in a situation of massive violation of the rights of migrants and refugees, the Ombudsmen should not meet only with individual cases of protection of the rights of these people, but inevitably it is necessary to adequately to respond on the global challenge through the implementation of common actions which would influence to fully respect the rights of all persons. 

The research for "The situations with the access to the right of asylum in the Republic of Macedonia, current conditions and the need for further actions," was presented by Dr. Trpe Stojanovski, professor in Faculty of Security in Skopje, whereas Ms. Snezana Teodosievska -Jordanoska, State Advisor in the office of the Ombudsman presented “The perceptions and the experiences of the competent institutions in the Republic of Macedonia.

In the Conference the reviews of the situation in terms of the access to the rights of asylum, in terms of the National Human Rights Institutions were given by the Ombudsmen of the Republic of Croatia Ms. Lora Vidovic, the Republic of Albania Mr. Igli Totozani, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina  Ms. Jasminka Jumhur, the Republic of Kosovo Mr. Hilmi Jashari and the Republic of Montenegro Mr. Shuchko Bakovic.

Speeches on this topic were also held by the deputies  -ombudsmen of Republic of Slovenian Mr. Ivan Shelih and the Republic of Serbia Mr. Milosh Jankovic. For the problems faced by the asylum seekers, speeches were given also by the representatives of the National Preventive Mechanisms of Ombudsmen of the Republic of Bulgaria and Hungary; perspectives were given also from NGO representatives and government institutions.

The UNHCR representative Dejan Kladarin mentioned  the concern of UNHCR, for the illegal returns that are happening everyday in the territory of the Republic of Serbia in Macedonia and urges all countries to fulfill their obligations undertaken in the Conventions.

The NGO sector from Macedonia was provided with special panel where they spoke about their role in dealing with the refugee crisis and their contribution. Although all of different dimensions, however they had a common attitude that the current policy of Macedonia towards refugees is inhumane and opposite to all international and domestic laws. Representative from NGO Legis was the general secretary Mersiha Smailovik that had the participants familiarized about the two-year work in the field of protection of the rights of the refugees and the provision of humanitarian and other assistance. In her speech she welcomed the successful cooperation with the Ombudsman in the protection of the rights of refugees, but eventually criticized the responsible institutions, that in the last period violated the basic rights of the refugees: "Although in the refugee crisis, we could hear the violation of the European Charter of Human rights for the violation of the UN conventions, but at this point, from this perspective, Macedonia violates the Constitution! Trampled the fundamental values ​​on which this state rests. The fundamental values ​​of the constitutional order are: humanism, social justice and solidarity! But with the closure of the borders, with the building of the fences, with the illegal deportations to Greece, neither are we humans nor are we in solidarity. And with the closure of the refugees and the asylum seekers, more than half a year in the camps outside the cities, the social justice also disappeared. “

She ended her speech urging the representatives of the Asylum Department, at Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Judges of the Administrative court, to not reject the asylum claims: “Behind every request for asylum, there is a story, a name, a human destiny. They’re not just “seekers”, that’s Ahmed, Avin, Hamide… They are students, lawyers, intellectuals, housewives… but not only for them, but also for their half and a million fellow citizens that are seeking asylum around the world. Let us not allow to discourage them with the lengthy asylum procedures, as we wouldn’t want our friends, neighbours, relatives, to be stranded in these long procedures.”

Finally, guidelines were given for drafting the conclusions of this conference, conclusions which will be supplied to all participants of the Conference.