300 representatives of civil society met today to say protection not control.

International trafficking racket is a Frankenstein created by governments.

Governments have the power to make harmonisation work in a positive way.

Over 300 representatives of refugee assisting NGOs from throughout Europe, refugees themselves, politicians, civil servants, the international press and other members of civic society, came together to express their concern at the erosion of the human rights framework within which refugee protection has been traditionally developed. Practical alternatives were put forward for the development of a fair and human asylum policy for Europe, which took into account the root causes of asylum.

Mrs Tarja Halonen, the Finnish Foreign Affairs Minister, was present to receive the Conference Statement. She thanked ECRE for their important input in promoting a humane and fair asylum policy. ‘NGOs are the nearest eyes and ears of human beings,’ she said.

Peer Baneke, Chief Executive of ECRE said: ‘It’s about protection not control. European governments have the power to make harmonisation work in a positive way.’

Nick Hardwick, Chair of ECRE, pointed out that ‘The international trafficking racket is a Frankenstein monster created by governments. The more controls they set up, the more energy they pump into the monster.’

Refugees were present to participate in the debate and reminded the conference that asylum policy was not just about statistics and control but affected real people.

For further information on the EU Tampere Parallel Meeting, contact Friso Roscam Abbing and Hildegard Dumper on 0032 75 251 666, Christian Levrat on 0041 79 240 7557, Leena-Kaisa Aborn 050 336 8050.