Lawyer: Latvia should not deny all migrants asylum

Preventing third-country nationals from entering Latvia across the Belarus border in order to claim asylum is a violation of human rights, said Latvian Human Rights Center lawyer Edgars Oļševskis in an interview on Latvian Radio August 12.

He said that the right to seek asylum was one of the fundamental human rights. Therefore, removal and prevention of entry are considered to be prohibited methods. The practice of not allowing people into the country can only be used in extreme circumstances, which Latvia does not currently have, in his view.

According to Oļševskis, it is important to maintain the values of the rule of law.

“We must not treat people like authoritarian and totalitarian countries do,” he said.

If the Saeima re-affirms the state of emergency adopted by the government the lawyer considers that not only condemnation from the European Union's (EU) institutions is expected, but also possible legal proceedings before the European Court of Human Rights and the EU Court of Justice.

In order to act in accordance with EU values, Latvia should consider each individual case, deciding whether the person meets the criteria of the asylum seeker. If there is no such compliance, he can be prevented from entering Latvia. “Generally arguing that people are fleeing because they have nothing to do is false. Such rhetoric is more of authoritarian power. We are not that,” the lawyer said.

According to Oļševskis, without panic and hasty decisions, it is necessary to provide infrastructure and environment for migrant accommodation that can ensure humane conditions. Third-country nationals who wish to enter Latvia could be deployed at both the border and in Daugavpils, where people should wait for their case to be evaluated.

 

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