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Costa Rica Urges EU To Honor Immigrants’ Rights

May 16, 2008

As European Union nations debate proposals to tighten their bloc’s border controls, Costa Rica has warned that the measures under discussion could breach the human rights of Central Americans.

“We’re very concerned about ideas coming out of the European community, that they might adopt administrative measures on migration matters that are much more restrictive than those already in place,” said Foreign Minister Bruno Stagno, speaking on Radio Columbia.

Stagno pointed to a proposed measure to enforce up to a six-month “administrative detention” for people who try to enter Europe without a required visa or permit.

The jail time, Stagno said, could rise to 18 months in poorly defined “exceptional cases.”

“By our criteria, (these measures) would be a violation of human rights,” he said.

Stagno’s statements came this week as senior officials from Latin American, Caribbean and European countries met in Lima, Peru, to open preparatory meetings for the fifth European Union-Latin American and Caribbean Summit.

Officials from more than 60 countries, including Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, will attend the Lima summit, whose main themes are poverty, inequality, environment and sustainable development.

Newswire ACAN-EFE reported this week that Zapatero will meet with Central American presidents to address immigration and other issues.

President Oscar Arias will not attend for health reasons, according to a government statement, which said he lost his voice after the recent food crisis summit in Managua, Nicaragua. Vice President Laura Chinchilla will attend.

However, within the framework of the pending trade association accord with Europe, the foreign minister said, Costa Rica has been pushing for an “assurance for the dignified treatment of all Central

American emigrants.” That’s something “we will fight hard for.”

Stagno also called on Spain to stand up for this region’s rights.

“It’s necessary for (Spain), a country that understands Latin America better than anybody in Europe … to defend the need for an orderly, law-abiding flow of migration and that the administrative measures be respectful of human rights,” he said.

Spain and France entered fresh talks earlier this month to harmonize Europe’s immigration policy.

“We are working with France to propose a European pact on immigration, covering controls, influx management and policies aimed at eliminating the structural causes of irregular immigration,” Diego López, Spain’s secretary of state for the EU, told the newswire Europa Press.

 

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