December 18: International Day of Migrants’ Rights amidst Continued EU Pushbacks

Since 2000, the International Day of Migrants’ Rights has been globally commemorated on December 18th. The selection of this date traces back to poignant events from the past. In 1972, a tragic incident occurred in the Mont Blanc tunnel—a fatal road accident claimed the lives of 28 laborers from Mali who were clandestinely journeying to France. This heartbreaking event prompted action.

In 1990, in remembrance of this catastrophe, the United Nations General Assembly proposed the “Convention on the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Their Families,” aiming to establish fundamental standards of reception and protection. Although the Convention came into effect in 2003, to this day, no EU member state has ratified it, despite its non-burdensome obligations.
Regrettably, the EU prefers allocating resources to repel and deport individuals who do not directly contribute to the economic interests of specific nations. This approach often leaves numerous individuals—men and women—in situations of irregularity and vulnerability, compelled to endure arduous labor for meager wages.

The European Left (EL) persistently urges every EU member state to ratify the Convention—a gesture of both legal obligation and political decency. Concurrently, EL denounces the practice of border pushbacks, advocating for a redirection of resources allocated to Frontex to ensure adequate reception and uphold human dignity.

This stance aligns with our support of the “Abolish Frontex” campaign. Since July, it has been an ongoing European Citizen Initiative, securing 1 million signatures to enforce Article 4 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. This article prohibits torture, inhuman, and degrading treatment, demanding its effective implementation at borders and within the EU space. This initiative, initiated by the Stop Border Violence group, has been acknowledged by the European Commission as a viable proposal.

These initial steps are crucial to combat xenophobia and racism, particularly prevalent against asylum seekers, and to catalyze transformative shifts in the culture, society, and politics of our continent.

Stefano Galieni – Coordinator, Working Group on Migration, European Left (EL)