Committee urges states to allow applications for refugee status from abroad and to create safe 'refugee shelters'

Recalling that, as a general principle under international law, persons should apply for refugee status in the first safe country of arrival and that any country of first arrival must receive and duly process such applications, PACE’s Migration Committee has called on Council of Europe member States to allow applications for asylum from outside the country “as an exceptional measure on humanitarian grounds”.

Citing the high number of migrants who lose their lives when boarding human smugglers’ boats in the Mediterranean, the committee said in a resolution – based on a report by Domagoj Hajdukovic (Croatia, SOC) – that enabling extra-territorial procedures would provide for safe ways of applying for asylum in conformity with the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees of 1951 and stop people “being deceived by human smugglers about opportunities for asylum”.

“If sufficient provision were made for refugee status determination in applicants’ home countries, in countries of first arrival, or in third countries, migrants would not have to expose themselves to life-threatening journeys or human smuggling,” the committee pointed out.

States were invited to consider introducing in their domestic law the possibility to apply for asylum or humanitarian visas at diplomatic missions abroad through accelerated procedures and to provide safe refugee shelters in those countries.