Trans-Atlantic concern.

Author:Conaway, Janelle
Position:Illegal immigrants - Organization of American States

NEW RULES to standardize procedures on the detention and repatriation of illegal immigrants in the European Union (EU) have raised concerns on the part of the GAS member states and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).

In response to the so-called EU Return Directive, adopted by the European Parliament in June, the OAS Permanent Council called for Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza to accompany a high-level mission to the EU to explore the implications of the measure and "to seek practical solutions through dialogue to the concerns raised by some member states."

The special Permanent Council meeting--which was also attended by the foreign ministers of Peru and Colombia as well as high-level diplomats from Paraguay and Mexico--adopted a resolution expressing the member states' concern about the legislation. They reaffirmed that "when exercising their sovereign right to enact and implement migratory and border-security measures, states have the duty to comply with their obligations under international law, including international human rights law, in order to ensure full respect for the human rights of migrants."

During the meeting, Insulza said it was unfortunate that the Return Directive had not been discussed between the different regions prior to its adoption. For the countries of the Americas, he said, migration is "a very sensitive issue" that cannot be viewed strictly from a legal or law enforcement perspective.

In an era of globalization, he said, "this is an essentially economic and social issue, because...

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