Fundamental Rights Conference 2011 - Summary conclusions by the FRA

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights held its annual Fundamental Rights Conference 'Dignity and rights of irregular migrants' in Warsaw on 21-22 November 2011. This paper summarises the discussions that took place during the conference and presents follow-up activities to be undertaken by FRA.

The conference was organised in cooperation with the Polish Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU) and discussed how to improve access to fundamental rights for migrants in an irregular situation, namely of those persons without authorisation to stay in the EU. 

While recognising the sovereign right of every EU Member State to manage its borders and combat irregular migration, the Fundamental Rights Conference (FRC) highlighted that once a person is within a state's jurisdiction, this state has to guarantee his or her human rights. As highlighted by the FRA research, further efforts are needed to eliminate existing legal and practical barriers that prevent migrants in an irregular situation from accessing their most basic rights. The conference discussions underlined the importance of applying a fundamental rights approach to migration management and offered a number of practical suggestions to:

  • facilitate access to justice;
  • respect the right to education and health;
  • preserve the best interests of the child;
  • combat labour exploitation;
  • reduce the use of immigration detention;
  • end situations of legal limbo for persons who are not removed.