Amnesty International has written an open letter to the Irish Government, which holds the EU Presidency, to warn that proposals to send asylum seekers to "safe third countries" rather than processing their claims within the EU could breach international refugee and human rights law.
The proposals, discussed by EU justice and home affairs ministers last week, include the possibility that unwanted asylum seekers could be returned to a third state that they have never lived in. This contradicts international law, which says that asylum seekers must have a meaningful link with the third state.
Amnesty is concerned that the proposals could result in asylum seekers being sent to countries that have no obligation to process their claims, with the result that they are returned to the country they have fled.
"This could lead to each state washing its hands of any responsibility," said Amnesty's UK refugee programme director Jan Shaw.