Montenegro Plans to Tighten Asylum Law


News
25 May 15

Montenegro Plans to Tighten Asylum Law

Following a very sharp increase in the number of asylum seekers, Montenegro plans to strengthen its control measures including giving police powers to detain illegal migrants.

Dusica Tomovic
BIRN

Podgorica

The Montenegrin government plans to set clearer rules on granting asylum in order to distinguish “those in need of international protection” from a growing number of illegal migrants, mainly from Asia and Africa.

Explaining the new law on asylum, the government said the intention is to prevent abuse following a sharp increase of the number of asylum-seekers from only 235 in 2011 to more than 3,500 in 2014 – a more-than-tenfold rise that is causing growing concern.

The Office for Refugees says anything from 50 to 90 asylum seekers arrive in Montenegro a day, mostly from Syria.

For most, Montenegro is just a transit country and after a few days the majority of them leave towards Western Europe.

The Montenegrin police in 2014 also recorded a sharp increase in the number of illegal migrants from Asia, Africa and the Middle East crossing Montenegro en route to the West.

The new law introduces the possibility of “administrative detention” for asylum seekers or immigrants who illegally cross the border. They will be detained in police facilities in the capital until the judicial authorities decide their requests for asylum.

The law will also set out the conditions under which the asylum-seeker or migrant must apply for a solution to the judicial authorities.

The new law also enhances police powers to distinguish between irregular migrants and asylum seekers and “between perpetrators and victims”.

“Migrations are often paired with terrorism and organized crime, which, abusing the difficult position of migrants, use such situations to achieve criminal goals,” the government said.

The new law obliges the state to provide asylum seekers and migrants with food, clothing, housing, health care and the right to privacy.

Resolving the issue of asylum seekers is important for Montenegro’s EU membership negotiations, falling under the most demanding chapters in the talks, 23 and 24, on the rule of law.

Last February, Montenegro has opened its first centre for asylum seekers after the European Commission advised it to strengthen its asylum reception capacities in order to cope with an increasing number of arrivals.

The Commission called the centre a positive development but said further steps were needed to ensure the country’s full alignment with EU “acquis” in the field of migration and asylum.

Source: Balkan Insight (Montenegro)