European Network Against Racism: Joint statement at 49th session of the UN Human Rights Council

Statement at 49th session of the UN Human Rights Council | General Debate Item 8  | Speaker: Ojeaku Nwabuzo, European Network Against Racism (ENAR) | Full Text Statement

Thank you, Mr. President.

This is a joint statement by over 60 organisations.

We call the Council’s attention to the human rights situation of Africans and other racialised groups following reports of discrimination and violence at EU borders. As expressed jointly by Special Procedures including the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent and other Special Rapporteurs with a mandate on racial discrimination and the human rights of migrants, we are deeply concerned that Black people and other racialised groups are subjected to discriminatory treatment as they flee Ukraine and face subsequent discriminatory treatment within the EU. Bombs, cluster munitions and heavy artillery do not discriminate on the grounds of race or nationality. All human beings crossing European borders from Ukraine are fleeing the same dangers to their personal life and bodily integrity requiring them to seek refuge in another land than the one in which they reside.

Over the last weeks, there have been credible reports of officials preventing students of African descent and their dependents from crossing the Ukrainian border and reported restrictions including of visas. These have been widely reported in the media.

The prohibition against racial discrimination is a fundamental right of international law with applicability across situations of conflict and peace. Given the armed conflict taking place in Ukraine, the rights to life, liberty, dignity, and safety of all people must be recognized under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD). Just in February, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi issued a statement concerning the increasing number of incidents of violence, ill treatment and serious human rights violations against refugees and migrants at various European borders, several of which have resulted in tragic loss of life.

It is essential that equal treatment by agents of the State, especially border officials, is upheld. It is concerning, however, that the EU guidelines on external border management is a non-binding document, which does not provide necessary assurances for equal treatment.

We urge European States to uphold their obligations to respect fundamental human rights and the right to asylum and to ensure equal treatment and protection for all those displaced as a result of the crisis in Ukraine, regardless of immigration status, by eliminating racial profiling and mistreatment by state agents.

It’s time that the total disregard for Black lives stops. We can no longer allow for people of African descent and other racialised groups to be dehumanised at the European borders.

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