Migrants and refugees: fostering the right to family reunification and women’s role in the integration process

Stressing that the right to family life applies to everyone, including refugees and migrants, the Assembly today called on member States to develop common guidelines to implement the right to family reunification. “Families must not be torn apart and they should not be prevented from reuniting after an often dangerous departure from their country of origin,” the parliamentarians said, adopting a resolution based on the report by Ulla Sandbæk (Denmark, UEL).

The adopted text emphasizes that people fleeing persecution or war have the right to international protection and their separated family members as well. Consequently, States should ensure consistency in granting refugee status to members of the same family, according to the Assembly.

Noting that family reunification was often hindered by the fact that the whereabouts of family members were unknown, the Assembly recommended that national authorities register all migrants upon arrival, and share such data with other member States, in particular through the EU Schengen Visa Information System.

PACE also proposed that the Committee of Ministers develop guidelines for the application of the right to family reunification, as well as mutual legal assistance and administrative co-operation between member States and with third countries.

In a separate resolution, based on the report by Gabriela Heinrich (Germany, SOC), the Assembly stated that, because of the role that migrant and refugee women played within their families and communities, investing in their integration enabled the creation of a solid basis for the integration of future generations.

In this view, PACE called on member States to promote empowerment of migrant women, to facilitate their access to education and work, and to provide them with opportunities for language and vocational training.

“Migrant and refugee women should also be given information on the cultural norms and expectations of the host society, to help them identify their roles, responsibilities and available opportunities,” the parliamentarians said.