The rights group also urged the 28-member bloc on Wednesday to focus on preventing tragedies such as the recent shipwrecks, which killed hundreds of migrants off the coast of Italy’s Lampedusa Island.
“EU leaders should move beyond expressions of regret and commit to concrete actions to help prevent more deaths of migrants at sea,” said Judith Sunderland, acting deputy director for Western Europe at Human Rights Watch, adding, “New proposals for increased monitoring of the Mediterranean need to focus on saving lives, not barring entry to the EU,” she added.
Furthermore, the group said many of the EU’s policies claim to be about saving lives but in reality the policies are aimed at preventing people from reaching the shores of Europe.
The group’s criticism comes a day ahead of an EU summit to be held in Brussels, in which European leaders have agreed to discuss boat migration in the Mediterranean.
The issue has come up after more than 360 people died when their overcrowded vessel capsized on October 3 off the shores of Lampedusa. Another 155 people survived the ordeal.
Just a week later, another boat sank off Lampedusa, killing nearly 40 people, while 206 others were rescued.
As Italy’s southernmost territory, Lampedusa is a primary entry point for tens of thousands of undocumented migrants sailing from Africa in overcrowded, rickety boats, traveling in inhumane conditions.
During the past 20 years, an estimated 17,000 to 20,000 migrants have perished during the dangerous crossing, as they travel on badly overcrowded fishing vessels or rubber boats.