PICUM Bulletin — 5 June 2015
- European Policy Developments
- National Developments
- Health Care
- Labour and Fair Working Conditions
- Undocumented Women
- Undocumented Children and Their Families
- Detention and Deportation
- Publications and other Resources
- PICUM IN THE NEWS
The Interior Minister of Bulgaria, Rumyana Bachvarova, announced that the fence along the entire Turkish-Bulgarian border will be completed by the end of 2015. While the first 30 kilometres were built in September 2014 following a debate about the construction of the fence (see PICUM Bulletin 15 April 2014), the extended construction which will be up to 160 kilometres aims to further deter refugees and migrants from entering Bulgaria. An additional 100 police officers will be employed for border protection, as stated by Head of the Border Police Directorate Milen Penev. A coordination centre jointly managed by the authorities of Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey is also foreseen. Bulgarian police and border guards have repeatedly been criticised for abusive treatment of migrants and refugees (see PICUM Bulletin 20 April 2015). In a special operation on 20 May 2015, Bulgaria’s State Agency for National Security (SANS), working with police and the Migration Directorate, detained more than 150 irregular migrants, including children, in a market area of central Sofia. According to testimonies, several men were taken away by police in handcuffs.
Sources: Novinite, 5 April 2015; Ta nea, 7 April 2015; The Sofia Globe, 21 May 2015; Spiegel 5 May 2015
Frontex, the EU Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union, published on 28 April 2015 its 2015 Annual Risk Analysis Report. In the report, Frontex highlights that throughout 2014 a total of 280,000 detections of irregular border crossing were reported. The report also highlights that, as in 2013 and in 2011, the central Mediterranean route still represents the main area for irregular border crossing, representing a total of 60% of all detections in 2014. The report also highlights a sharp increase of detections in the Aegean Sea, from 11,829 in 2013 to 43,377 in 2014 and notes that approximately 3,400 people died or went missing at sea throughout 2014. The full report is available here.
Source: Frontex, 28 April 2015
Frontex, in cooperation with the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) and the Superior National School of the French Police (ENSP), organised the official visit of a Moroccan delegation on 24 March 2015. The members of the Moroccan delegation attended a presentation of Frontex with the aim of introducing Frontex’s working methods and to promote the work of the EASO in Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia. In the long term this could lead to cooperation between Frontex, the EASO and these three countries.
Source: Ecole Nationale Supérieure de la Police, April 2015
The Schengen Information System (SIS), a large-scale information system that supports external border control and law enforcement cooperation in the Schengen states, became operational in the UK on 13 April 2015. The SIS is now operational in 29 countries, including 25 EU member states as well as in Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland. The SIS is used for exchanging information on wanted or missing persons and objects. However, since the UK is not part of the Schengen area, it will only use SIS for police and judicial cooperation and not in relation to external border policy. For more information on the SIS, click here.
Source: European Commission Directorate General Migration and Home Affairs, 13 April 2015
EU / Operators of merchant ships and seafarers’ unions call on the EU to address the Mediterranean crisis
European and global merchant ships’ operators, as well as seafarers’ unions, are urging EU member states to address the humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean Sea. While the shipping industry accepts its legal responsibility to rescue anyone in distress at sea, it argues that it is unacceptable that the international community is relying more and more on merchant ships and their crews to undertake large-scale rescues of migrants and refugees. In a joint letter dated 31 March 2015 and addressed to all 28 heads of EU member states, the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA), the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF), the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) have warned that the situation is spiralling out of control. They called on member states to increase resources for search and rescue operations and also suggest that the EU and international community should provide refugees and migrants with alternative means of finding protection.
Source: Maritime Executive, 8 April 2015
Over 4,200 migrants trying to reach Europe were rescued from boats in the Mediterranean within 24 hours on 30 May 2015, according to the Italian coastguard. They were saved from fishing boats and rubber dinghies in 22 operations involving ships from Italy, Ireland, Germany, Belgium and Britain. On 2 May, Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) and the private humanitarian venture Migrants Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) started a joint search and rescue mission to save migrants’ lives in the Mediterranean Sea. The operation is scheduled to run until the end of October 2015. The aim is to fill the gap in search and rescue coordinated by EU member states. MOAS stated that since the start on 2 May, it has carried out six separate rescues, providing shelter and life-jackets to over 100 children, over 200 women and over 1,100 men on board the 40-metre vessel M.Y. Phoenix. MSF provided post-rescue assistance including medical care. In 2014, MOAS saved 3,000 lives over the course of 60 days during the summer months. Through crowdfunding, MOAS is estimated to have raised roughly €1.5 million.
Sources: Migration News Sheet, May 2015; MOAS press release, 16 May 2015; Malta Today, 2 May 2015; The Guardian 30 May 2015
The Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS) published in May 2015 the Policy Brief “Migrants are not ‘problems at sea’: From corpse-free gates towards a comprehensive system of human protection”. The paper argues that instead of focusing on punishing and limiting migrant access, there should be a compulsory resettlement scheme based on a quota system. Moreover, the EU should install external representation offices with a capacity to issue humanitarian visas. The paper further emphasises that those who flee conflict have a legitimate right to protection and that EU member states should comply with their national search and rescue responsibilities. The paper is available here.
Source: FEPS, 8 May 2015
The Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) published on 9 April 2015 a report on its visit to Spain which took place from 14 to 18 July 2014. The main purpose of the CPT visit to Spain was to examine practices concerning the treatment of undocumented migrants intercepted at the external border with Morocco in Melilla and to monitor the implementation of recommendations issued previously by the CPT in relation to migrant detention in Madrid (Aluche) and in Barcelona (Zona Franca). Concerning the situation in Melilla, the CPT requested a prompt and effective investigation to be carried out in relation to the incidents about the mistreatment of at least one migrant by the Spanish Guardia Civil which took place on 15 October 2014 (see PICUM Bulletin – 30 October 2014). The CPT also expressed serious concern in relation to the legislation recently adopted in Spain, legalising the practice of forcibly deporting irregular migrants without any prior identification or assessment of their needs. In relation to the detention centres in Madrid and Barcelona, the CPT notes that the two CIEs still display a prison-like environment, characterised by insufficient living space, absence of furniture and metal shutters on windows and doors and highlights that this environment is not appropriate for people detained under migration administrative law. The formal response of the Spanish authorities to the CPT is available here.
Source: El Economista, 9 April 2014
SPAIN / Law on Public Security approved by Parliament establishes special regime for Ceuta and Melilla
A new Law on Public Security entered into force in Spain on 1 April 2015. It amends the Foreigners’ Act and explicitly allows for the immediate and collective expulsion (“devoluciones en caliente”) of migrants without due process at the Spanish southern borders in Ceuta and Melilla (see PICUM Bulletin 20 April 2015). In a judgment issued on 22 April 2015 by the 7th section of the Málaga Audiencia Provincial based in Melilla, the court established the full conformity with the law of the orders issued on 18 June 2014 and 13 August 2014 by the Colonel-in-Chief of the Guardia Civil in Melilla, Ambrosio Martín Villaseñor, to immediately remove migrants who attempted to cross the border in Melilla. In its judgment, the court states that the law reform adopted after the incidents gives “legal cover” to the return practices carried out in Melilla. A video of the Spanish NGO Prodein showing a summary return of migrants involving violence in August 2014 by the Spanish Guardia Civil is available here.
Sources: Abogacía Española, 15 April 2015; El Mundo, 22 April 2015.
The organisation Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos de Andalucía (APDHA) released its annual report “Derechos Humanos en la Frontera Sur 2015” (Human Rights in the Southern Border 2015) on 20 April 2015. APDHA highlighted the violations of fundamental rights that migrants are suffering in Ceuta and Melilla, an analysis of the cross border fences as well as the situation of migrants in Morocco. The annual report gave special attention to restrictive EU migration policies of border control which are said to have contributed to the deaths of thousands of migrants and refugees in the Mediterranean Sea. The organisation recommends a thorough revision of the European Union migration policy and calls for a rights-based and approach which welcomes migrants. To view the full report, please click here. The English and French versions will be available soon.
An estimated 7,000 to 8,000 migrants are currently trapped in the Andaman Sea, mainly from Bangladesh and Myanmar including ethnic Rohingya fleeing persecution in Myanmar. According to the UNHCR, more than 25,000 people have made the voyage in the Andaman Sea since the beginning of the year. Rohingyas and people from Bangladesh have been fleeing from persecution or poverty for years but the phenomenon became more visible after Thailand’s recent crackdown on smuggling networks. About 3,500 migrants have landed in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, or have been rescued offshore since 10 May 2015, among them are many women and young children. Indonesia and Malaysia agreed on 20 May 2015 to take in thousands of migrants stranded at sea until they can be returned to their country of origin or resettled in a third country. The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) appealed $6 million to assist up to 10,000 migrants in the Andaman Sea.
Sources: The New York Times, 20 May 2015 ; The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) 26 May 2015
SPAIN / Boy smuggled in suitcase across border due to father’s insufficient income for family reunification
A Moroccan woman was caught smuggling an 8-year old boy in a carry-on suitcase across the Moroccan-Spanish border in Ceuta on 7 May 2015. Shortly after, the father of the boy, a migrant from Ivory Coast who has a residence permit and lives and work on the island Fuerteventura, was apprehended. According to Spanish family reunification requirements, his monthly income of 1.131 euros was not enough to regularly bring his second child to Spain. The father therefore first brought his wife and daughter to live with him but would have needed to earn 50 euros more per month to also bring his second child to live with the family. The news made headlines worldwide leading to a petition in favour of the reunification of the whole family which was signed by over 50,000 people within three days.
Sources: Noticias 7, May 2015; Süddeutsche Zeitung, 8 May 2015
European Policy DevelopmentsTop
COURT OF JUSTICE OF THE EUROPEAN UNION / Interpretation of EU Return Directive: Third-country national cannot be imprisoned on the basis of breaking a re-entry ban
In an opinion delivered on 28 April 2015 in response to a question referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) by the Court of Florence, Advocate General Szpunar concluded that the EU Return Directive must be interpreted to not allow member states to imprison a third-country national solely on the basis that the person re-entered the territory of the member state in violation of a re-entry ban previously issued in conjunction with a return decision under the Directive. The case concerns Mr Skerdjan Celaj, an Albanian national who was convicted for attempted robbery in Italy in 2011 and was later issued with a deportation order accompanied by a re-entry ban of the duration of three years. Mr Celaj voluntarily left Italy in 2012. He subsequently returned to Italy in violation of the re-entry ban and was apprehended by the Italian national authorities in 2014. Following the request of the public prosecutor to issue Mr Celaj with a sentence of imprisonment for the violation of the re-entry ban, the Court of Florence referred the question of the compatibility of this measure with the EU Return Directive to the CJEU.
Source: European Database of Asylum Law (EDAL), 30 April 2015
COURT OF JUSTICE OF THE EUROPEAN UNION / Ruling: Member states cannot replace removal order of irregular migrants with a fine
The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) issued its judgment in the Case Subdelegación del Gobierno en Gipuzkoa — Extranjería v Samir Zaizoune (Case C-38/14) on 23 April 2015. The judgment concerned the case of Mr Zaizoune, an undocumented migrant originally from Morocco and residing in Spain. Following his arrest by Spanish national authorities on 15 July 2011, Mr Zaizoune was issued with an expulsion order accompanied by a re-entry ban for the period of five years on 19 October 2011. The expulsion order was subsequently replaced by a fine by a Spanish court of last instance. In its judgment, the CJEU ruled that member states cannot impose a fine on non-EU nationals unlawfully present on their territory rather than removing them, finding that such measures are at odds with the objectives of the Return Directive (Directive 2008/115/EC). The full judgment is available here.
The European Commission published its European Agenda on Migration on 13 May 2015. Priorities outlined in the agenda include to save lives at sea by tripling the budget for the Frontex joint operations Triton and Poseidon; targeting smuggler networks through possible security and defence policy operations to identify, capture and destroy vessels used by smugglers; more shared responsibility among EU member states through relocation and working in partnership with third countries. Moreover, the agenda outlines four pillars to manage migration better: reducing incentives for irregular migration including to increase the enforcement rate of returns of migrants to their countries of origin; border management; a strengthened common asylum policy, and new policy on regular migration. On the eve of the adoption of the EU Migration Agenda, UNICEF called for the rights and wellbeing of migrant children to be at the heart of Europe’s immigration policy including a 10-point plan to protect child migrants. The statement of UNICEF is available here. For more information on the European Agenda on Migration, click here.
The European Commission published a Fact Sheet on “The European Union's cooperation with Africa on migration” on 22 April 2015. The Fact Sheet presents an overview of the legal basis for the cooperation between the EU and Africa on migration and of the Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM), the overarching framework of the EU external migration and asylum policy. The Fact Sheet also describes political agreements establishing cooperation with the African Union, including a political declaration on migration and mobility endorsed by the Heads of State and Government at the EU-Africa Summit in April 2014; the Action Plan (2014-2017), following the political declaration; the policy dialogues of the Rabat Process and Khartoum Process and details of bilateral agreements concluded with Morocco, Tunisia, Cape Verde and Nigeria. After the proposals of the European Union concerning the cooperation of Niger, Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco in pre-screening migrants in countries from where they leave or transit, the African Union Ambassador Ajay Kumar Bramdeo warned the European Union on 1 April 2015 that this is “a dangerous approach”. The Ambassador stated that by outsourcing migration management the EU would be “shirking its own responsibility in receiving refugees and migrants, also in footing the bill for managing and controlling migration”.
Sources: New Europe, 1 April 2015; European Commission, 22 April 2015
The two new EU funds, “Asylum, Migration and Integration fund” and “Internal Security fund”, are allocated 6.9 billion euro for 2014-2020. They replace the four funds set for 2007-2013: the External Borders Fund, the Return Fund, the Refugee Fund and the Fund for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals. The Asylum, Migration and Integration fund is allocated 3.1 billion euro and its focus areas include improving the situation of asylum seekers and the living conditions of documented migrants, as well as the reinforcement of return policies. The Internal Security fund is allocated 3.8 billion euro and is divided in two parts: one focusing on external borders and visas, the second one dedicated to law enforcement cooperation, prevention and repression of criminality as well as the management of crisis. It will give priority to security and combating irregular migration. There are new criteria for the distribution of the funds: not just demographic and territorial criteria, but also the number of passengers and the amount of merchandise that transit through airports and ports. Source: Nouvelle Europe, 7 April 2015
The European Parliament published in April 2015 a briefing entitled: “Irregular Immigration in the EU: Facts and Figures”. The short briefing provides figures concerning detection and removal of irregular migrants in EU member states throughout 2014. The briefing highlights that, of a total of 547,335 irregular migrants detected in the EU in 2014, the majority were from Syria, Eritrea and Afghanistan, with citizens from these countries representing one third of the total. The report also highlights that, throughout 2014, a total of 397,960 migrants were ordered to leave the territory of the EU and that a total of 156,470 migrants have been forcibly removed or assisted to leave. The briefing is available here.
According to reports of the Northern German Broadcast (NDR), German federal police in the city of Hannover abused in at least two cases a refugee and a migrant. In March 2014, a policeman abused a 19-year old refugee from Afghanistan which he documented in messages to colleagues through the mobile phone application WhatsApp. The messages state that he hit the Afghan man whose feet were shackled, choked him and dragged him through the police station. In another case in September 2014, a 19-year old Moroccan who received a suspension of deportation (‘Duldung’) was handcuffed and physically abused by at least two policemen at the same police station. Other policemen reported that they heard screams but did not report cases of abuse and humiliation so as not to be considered ‘traitors’ by colleagues. The cases follow news of abuse of asylum seekers by staff of a private security firm in an asylum seekers’ home in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany which were uncovered by a journalist in September 2014 (see PICUM Bulletin, 10 October 2014).
Sources: NDR, 17 May 2015; ProAsyl, 18 May 2015
In her annual report the Greek Ombudsperson, Calliope Spanou, also addressed the situation of migrants, besides other issues such as the economic crisis and prolonged austerity in Greece. She states in the report that there are still issues concerning residence permits for second-generation migrants. A major issue she notes concerning the treatment of migrants is prolonged detention of undocumented migrants beyond the 18-month limit.
Source: Efimerida ton Syntakton, 6 April 2015
Greek mayors assured their support for the government’s plan to deal with the increasing influx of undocumented migrants through helping to find accommodation as long as the state funds their contributions. The Central Union of Municipalities of Greece (KEDE) met on 16 April 2015 with the deputy Minister of Immigration Policy, Tasia Christidoulopoulou, who asked local authorities to propose venues and facilities where groups of 20 to 100 migrants could be temporarily accommodated. The aim is to swiftly transfer undocumented migrants from Greek islands to the mainland. Christidoulopoulou declared that she requested EU funding to charter ferries and that she will further look for resources to finance the facilities provided by the municipalities. She stated that the Greek government also cooperates with the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in order to test all undocumented migrants for potentially infectious diseases. The Mayor of Athens, Giorgos Kaminis, noted that the obligations must be equally shared throughout Greek territory and that help must be sought from the EU. He said the municipality cannot accept refugees and migrants at existing welfare shelters since these are already occupied and proposed that the Interior Ministry should use community funds to rent some 1,800 unoccupied buildings within the city limits, most of them belonging to private owners.
Source: Greek Reporter, 18 April 2015; Ekathimerini, 16 April 2015
ITALY / Organisations call on government to put decriminalisation of irregular migration into effect
After the Italian Senate in January 2014, voted in favour of the abolition of the crime of irregular entry and irregular stay (see PICUM Bulletin 27 January 2014), the government measures foreseen to put decriminalisation into effect within 18 months were not taken. Therefore, a group of organisations including Amnesty International Italy, the Association for legal studies on migration (“Associazione di studi giuridici sull’immigrazione”), At good right (“A buon diritto”) and Doctors for Human Rights (“Medici per i diritti umani”) wrote a letter on 28 of April to the President of the Italian Council asking to fully eliminate irregular migration as a crime from the legal system. The criminalization of irregular migration meant that undocumented migrants risked to have to pay a fine or be deported.
Source: Stranieri in Italia, 4 May 2015
The Dutch government passed a new policy on 22 April 2015 providing shelter only to rejected asylum seekers who cooperate in the process of being returned to their country of origin. The duration of stay in the centres is limited to “a few weeks”. Those who refuse to cooperate will be denied access to the shelter. Further, only the five biggest cities are allowed to provide shelter while the other municipalities will be penalised when offering services. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, strongly denounced the regulations. The Union of Dutch Municipalities (VNG) also strongly opposed the policy by claiming that it is unworkable and does not improve the situation of rejected asylum seekers. The Netherlands has been criticised for its regulations by various institutions before, among them the Commissioner on Human Rights of the Council of Europe, Nils Muižnieks who highlighted during his visit to the Netherlands in May 2014 that people at risk of destitution should at least enjoy protection of basic needs, such as food and shelter.
Source: Overheid, 22 April 2015; Niederlande.net, 28 April 2015; Migration News Sheet, May 2015
The Serbian police has repeatedly violated the rights of migrants and asylum seekers. This is the result of documentation by Human Rights Watch (HRW). HRW interviewed 81 undocumented migrants and asylum seekers, including children, in Serbia and Macedonia between November 2014 and January 2015 who reported repeated violent assaults, threats, insults and illegal summary returns to Macedonia by the Serbian police. Migrants were also prevented from applying for asylum and had to stay outside in the cold without accommodation. HRW particularly criticises the denial of the required special protection for migrant children and points out the responsibility of the Serbian government to adhere to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. HRW met with key representatives and organisations in Serbia to address the issue but the Ministry of the Interior declined a meeting. Moreover, the government should provide the police with clear guidelines for the treatment of migrants and asylum seekers and should end the practice of collective returns without due process.
Source: Human Rights Watch, 15 April 2015
The Irish government’s long-planned scheme for free GP care for children aged under six is to come into effect in July 2015 after a deal was agreed between the government and doctors’ representatives, the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO). About 270,000 children stand to benefit from the agreement. Currently all people in Ireland are expected to pay for primary health services, including for children, unless their parents’ income is below a certain level. Irregular migrants are not able to apply for the medical card which entitles the holder to these services free of charge, meaning primary care services must always be paid at full cost. The Health (General Practitioner Service) Act 2014 was adopted in July 2014 providing the legal basis for the change, part of a phased introduction of universal GP services in Ireland. Under the new arrangements, all children under six, regardless of migration status, will be eligible for GP care free at the point of service. They will also benefit from age-based preventive checks focused on health and wellbeing, identifying obesity and other problems early, and the prevention of disease. These assessments will be carried out once when a child is aged 2 and again at age 5, in accordance with an agreed protocol.
Source: Department of Health, Press release, 29 April 2015; RTÉ News, 10 April 2015; Irish Times, 10 April 2015.
UK / Health professionals, activists and residents challenge restrictions to health services for migrants
A small group of doctors, nurses, healthcare activists, students, teachers and other residents, called ‘Docs Not Cops’, are using street theatre to bring attention to the new restrictions on access to health services for migrants in the UK and the impacts on health professionals, vulnerable migrants and the NHS as a whole. For example, at demonstrations at hospitals during April 2015, activists dressed as border control agents stopped people walking around the hospitals to ask whether they were aware of the recent changes to access to healthcare, whilst demanding proof of whether they fulfilled the necessary criteria to access NHS treatment. On 6 April 2015, new immigration health surcharges came into force under the Immigration Act 2014. These surcharges affect non-European Economic Area (EEA) nationals who apply to work, study, or visit their families in the UK for a period of longer than six months. They also apply to non-EEA nationals who are already in the UK and apply to extend their stay after 6 April 2015. It is only after this surcharge has been paid that those affected will be able to access NHS services. These changes will affect undocumented migrants and families that are trying to regularise their residence in the UK, and may result in migrants losing their status and falling into irregularity. It is necessary to pay the surcharge before an immigration application (including applications to extend leave) has been completed, and if it has not been paid the application will automatically be rejected. If those who are chargeable fail to pay and incur over £1,000 worth of debts, they will be refused permission to re-enter and/or remain in the UK. ‘Docs Not Cops’ are protesting: that doctors and health services will be required to check migration and residence papers, a task they feel incompatible with their role; that vulnerable people will be afraid to go to the doctor; the lack of evidence behind the reforms (especially regarding financial costs rather than savings that will result); and the further step away from universal services. For more information, including the ‘Docs Not Cops’ manifesto and short video, see their website. For more information on health service entitlements for undocumented migrants in the UK, including the new surcharge, see also new factsheets by Coram Children’s Legal Centre on Access to primary healthcare for migrant children, young people and families, Access to secondary healthcare for migrant children, young people and families and Access to mental healthcare for young refugees and migrants.
Source: IRR News 10, Institute of Race Relations, 23 April 2015
Source: Coram Children's Legal Centre- Migrant Children's Project Newsletter, April 2015
Labour and Fair Working ConditionsTop
The Commission is concerned that Belgium, Spain and Slovenia have not taken enough steps to implement the Directive 2011/98/EU. The Directive, also known as the Single Permit Directive, establishes a single application procedure for a single permit for third-country nationals to reside and work in the territory of a member state and a common set of rights for non-EU workers who regularly live in a member state. It should have been implemented by 25 December 2013. The European Commission sent letters of formal notice to Spain and Slovenia in January 2014 and to Belgium in March 2014 but none of the countries has yet notified the European Commission of the full transposition of this Directive. The Commission therefore decided to issue reasoned opinions to these three countries. This means that they have two months to notify the European Commission of measures taken to bring their national legislation into line with EU law. If they do not, the Commission may decide to refer them to the EU’s Court of Justice.
Source: European Commission Press Release, 29 April 2015
COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION / EU Commission welcomes Council political agreement to implement new ILO Protocol on Forced Labour
In a move welcomed by the European Commission, the Council gave on 3 March 2015 its backing to proposals authorising member states to ratify the International Labour Organisation (ILO) new Protocol to the Forced Labour Convention and recommending them to do so by the end of 2016. After the agreement by the Council, the Parliament will need to give its consent to the decisions before they can be formally adopted by the Council. The ILO Forced Labour Protocol, together with a complementary Recommendation, was adopted by the 103rd session of the International Labour Conference in June 2014. Countries ratifying the ILO Protocol agree to prevent the use of forced labour, in particular in the context of trafficking in human beings, to improve the protection of victims, and to provide access to compensation.
Source: European Commission, 3 March 2015
A group of undocumented migrants from West Africa and China working for a hair salon in Paris went on strike to fight against their exploitation in May 2014. They occupied the salon and laid charges for human trafficking. With the support of the CGT trade union, five of them were given a temporary residence permit in March 2015 and in April 2015 the remaining 14 obtained it as well which allows them four months to find work. If they do not find work within this period, the residence permit expires and they risk deportation. The migrant workers had to work in the salon from 9am to 11pm six days a week, earning between 200 and 400 euro per month, when paid. The hair salon is located in the neighbourhood of Chateau d’Eau, where there are about 1,500 undeclared workers, most of them undocumented migrants, according to a trade union representative. In the meantime, the owner of the salon has filed for bankruptcy.
Sources: Le Monde, 10 April 2015 L’Humanité, 7 April 2015
The German NGO network against trafficking in human beings (Bundesweiter Koordinierungskreis gegen Menschenhandel e.V., KOK) published a short film and a book both entitled “Human Trafficking in Germany – An Overview from a Practical Standpoint” on 21 May 2015. The publications present the work of KOK and illustrate the complex phenomena of human trafficking and the related difficulties from the perspective of experienced professionals. In the book, legal and practical aspects are connected and multiple forms of exploitation as well as contiguous topics like data protection or the situation of affected people in asylum procedures are investigated. The book is available in English and German and can be ordered here http://www.kok-gegen-menschenhandel.de/kok-informiert/website-news/detailansicht-website-news/artikel/neues-kok-buch-menschenhandel-in-deutschland-eine-bestandsaufnahme-aus-sicht-der-praxis-erschiene.html against a nominal charge of 4€. The film is available in German and can be watched here.
Source: Bundesweiter Koordinierungskreis gegen Menschenhandel e.V., 13 May 2015
The German NGO Network against Trafficking in Human Beings (KOK) in cooperation with La Strada International have published a practical guide entitled "Data Protection Challenges in Anti-Trafficking Policies" in March 2015. The publication offers an overview of the relevant European data protection provisions, a methodology to conduct privacy impact assessments for anti-trafficking NGO service providers, an analysis for the privacy rights claims for trafficked persons, and data protection standards for NGO service providers. Among other recommendations, the guide calls for all European NGO service providers the right to refuse to give evidence to law enforcement/judicial authorities in order to protect victims. The guide is available here.
The Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM) launched a position paper on 1 May 2015 which analyses the practical impacts of the European Union Employers’ Sanctions Directive (DIRECTIVE 2009/52/EC). The position paper examines how the new EU law has been applied in Belgium, Czech Republic, Italy and the Netherlands, finding that in these four countries, the new legislation on employers’ sanctions has not improved and in some cases has even degraded the situation of undocumented workers. Among others, the paper recommends the establishment of a ‘firewall’ between immigration law enforcement and labour inspections, who should not be required to report undocumented migrants to immigration authorities to ensure safe reporting of exploitation and access to justice. To view the position paper, click here.
A federal jury awarded $14 million in compensatory and punitive damages to five Indian guest workers in February 2015 who were defrauded and exploited in a labour trafficking scheme engineered by a Gulf Coast marine services company, an immigration lawyer and an Indian labour recruiter who lured hundreds of workers to a Mississippi shipyard with false promises of a permanent U.S. residence.
Source: Southern Poverty Law Centre, 18 February 2015
UN / Congress in Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice addresses lack of protection for victims of labour exploitation
The 13th United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice took place in Doha, Qatar from 12 to 19 April 2015 and addressed, among other issues, trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants. In this context, the Director of the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM), Michele LeVoy, addressed the situation of irregular migrants in a workshop on successes and challenges in criminalisation, mutual legal assistance and in the effective protection of witnesses and trafficking victims. The background paper for the workshop on trafficking and smuggling reports that global and national data indicate that trafficking victims are routinely misidentified, especially in cases of exploitation for forced labour or services. They are frequently treated as offenders and irregular migrants. They are detained, punished and deported without due respect for their rights, and without the possibility of reporting the abuse or claiming compensation for harm suffered, including unpaid wages. To view the paper and other documentation of the congress, click here.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has set up a human trafficking case law database, which provides immediate, public access to officially documented instances of this crime. With the database, UNODC aims to increase the visibility of successful prosecutions and at the same time promote awareness of the realities of human trafficking. UNODC would like to further improve its collaboration with NGOs by expanding the number of cases already in the database, as well as other ways of collaborating. Interested NGOs can use this form to contact UNODC. To access the case law database, click here.
Source: La Strada International newsletter March 2015
SWEDEN / Undocumented women who become victims of violence may not get support and protection in six out of ten municipalities
Six out of ten Swedish municipalities cannot guarantee support and protection to undocumented women who become victims of violence. Some municipality officials are afraid of ‘hiding refugees’ and when undocumented women contact them for help, the officials often report them to the Migration Agency, unaware that, due to a change of law on 1 July 2013 (law SFS 2013:654), they are no longer obliged to inform authorities about undocumented migrants. In some cities the only thing offered is help to return to the country of origin. According to the 2015 barometer on violence against women, published by the shelter umbrella organisation Unizon, most cities do not have concrete guidelines on how to treat cases of undocumented women who are victims of violence. The report is accessible in Swedish here. Source: Sveriges Radio, 7 April 2015
Undocumented Children and Their FamiliesTop
The Intergroup on Children’s Rights of the European Parliament published a statement on 30 April 2015 reiterating the need for the European Commission to adopt a successor to the EU Agenda on the Rights of the Child, which expired in 2014. The European Parliament also explicitly called on the Commission to develop a renewed Agenda for the Rights of the Child in its resolution on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in November 2014 (see PICUM Bulletin 10 December 2014). Recognising both the legal basis for and impacts of past EU action on children’s rights, the Intergroup underlines the importance of continued common action, and a renewed Agenda addressing both EU internal and the external action, in line with Better Regulation principles. The statement also supports the similar call made by child rights organisations, including PICUM, on 29 April 2015 in an open letter to the European Commission, for a comprehensive, new and robust Agenda outlining a clear framework for EU action on the rights of the child in Europe and abroad. Read the Intergroup statement here.
FRANCE / A recipient of the Legion of Honour highlights the condition of undocumented pupils during award ceremony
Henriette Zoughebi, a French politician of the communist party promoting social equality and education and Vice-President of the Ile-de-France region, was awarded the Legion of Honour in April 2015. She dedicated the ceremony to promoting the rights of undocumented pupils by inviting several high school students who recently received an order of deportation, as well as students who were previously undocumented and activists from the Network Education Without Borders (Réseau Education Sans Frontières, RESF). During her speech she praised these students who have the bravery to come to school even when they sleep in the streets or have an empty stomach. She called on the French president to reward their courage. She stated that this engagement is linked to her personal history as daughter of Jews from Eastern Europe who came to France undocumented.
Source: Le Monde, 14 April 2015; Le Parisien, 14 April 2015
On 15 April 2015 the Council of State declared that two Turkish children who were born and raised in the Netherlands are not entitled to a residence permit. The Council reasoned that the children, aged 16 and 19, could move to Turkey together with their parents, who have been residing in the Netherlands for over 20 years. During the course of these years, the parents were never granted regular residence, despite multiple applications. The Council reasoned that the parents therefore knew that the residence status of their children was insecure. The Council also considered that the parents would likely get a residence permit as well, if the children were to be granted permits. In February 2013, a public debate about the status of migrant children led to a pardon granting a residence permit to more than 600 children who were raised and with strong connections in the Netherlands. However, the State Secretary of Security and Justice considered this pardon not to be applicable in the case of the two Turkish children, on the assumption that, as the children would be able to relocate to Turkey as a family, the parents could assist them in successful integration. Read the Council’s decision in Dutch here.
Sources: Stichting Los Nieuwsbrief, 27 April 2015, Rijksoverheid, 27 September 2013
NORWAY / Norwegian Supreme Court finds child’s right to family life violated by decision to expel mother
In a case concerning the judicial review of a decision to forcibly remove an undocumented mother and sole carer of a four-year old child with Norwegian citizenship to Kenya, the Norwegian Supreme Court ruled, on 29 January 2015, that the expulsion of the mother would be disproportionate and constitute a violation of the child’s right to private and family life in line with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). In its ruling, the Supreme Court noted that, although the proceedings formally concern the mother only, the child should also be considered a party to the case, both in the administrative and in the court proceedings. The Court also found that deportation of the mother would imply far-reaching negative consequences on the child’s education and security, as the child would have to follow his mother to Kenya. The Court ordered the invalidation of both the expulsion order and rejection of the family reunification application presented by the mother. The full judgment is available here.
Source: Rights in Exile, 1 April 2015
In the region of Stockholm, 245 unaccompanied children have gone missing since 2010 (see PICUM Bulletin 17 March 2015). The majority of those (174) are children who leave the transit centre for unaccompanied children in Sigtuna (near the airport). Some leave the centre the night before their 18th birthday, some are much younger, some disappear after their asylum application has been rejected and some disappear a lot earlier in the process. The complete lack of analysis on the reasons for their disappearances has been criticised by the Ombudsman for children, Fredrik Malmberg. The current legislation is designed for the protection of Swedish children but does not consider undocumented children. The Swedish social services law is based on the principle that municipalities are responsible for providing social services, but if the location of a child is unknown, no municipality will follow up on their whereabouts. In the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child’s latest report on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Sweden received criticism for how it handles missing children. The Ombudsman for children proposed to develop a national action plan to address the issue.
Sources: Dagens Nyheter, 18 March 2015, 23 February 2015, 24 March 2015
The UK Home Office was ordered to locate and transport back to the UK a Nigerian woman and her five-year-old son at the Home Office’s expense in order to avoid contempt of court proceedings. The case concerned a 45-year-old Nigerian woman (known as BF) who was deported along with her five-year-old son (RA) in January 2015 despite evidence of the woman's mental health problems and the risk that the family could end up destitute in Nigeria. The Office of the Children's Commissioner brought a judicial review of the deportation decision on behalf of the boy. The judgment found that the Secretary of State had failed to have regard to RA’s best interests as a primary consideration, and challenges the Home Office’s policy of “deport first, appeal later”.
Source: The Independent, 22 April 2015; The Electronic Immigration Network, 22 April 2015; Coram Children's Legal Centre- Migrant Children's Project Newsletter, April 2015
A new report shows that the fear and uncertainty caused by having a parent with an irregular residence status cause difficulties for children (the majority of whom are US citizens or regular residents, while some are undocumented themselves) evident from early childhood through adolescence and emerging adulthood. The negative effects have been measured in educational achievement, cognitive development and emotional stability. The authors, R. Suro, M.M. Suárez-Orozco & S.L. Canizales, assess more than 50 research studies of the children of undocumented migrants in the United States, conducted independently by scholars in a variety of fields. There are four major findings consistent across the studies assessed. 1. As early as ages two and three, children of undocumented parents had lower cognitive skills than comparable children in households where migration status is not an issue. 2. Being the child of an undocumented parent is associated with heightened symptoms of anxiety and depression that are particularly evident in adolescence, and persist even among young adults who have made it to college. 3. Growing up as the child of an undocumented migrant is associated with reduced access to health care and greater levels of food insecurity—even when a US citizen child is eligible for benefits. 4. These negative effects can be reversed if the parents are regularised, particularly if the regularisation takes place when the child is still young. Studies of young adults whose parents were regularised through the scheme enacted in 1986 show strong educational accomplishment and upward mobility. Underlining that there were an estimated 4.5 million US-born (citizen) children living in the United States with at least one parent in an irregular situation as of 2012, the report concludes by supporting President Obama’s executive action that would grant temporary deportation relief to parents of US citizen children and regular permanent residents (DAPA, see PICUM bulletin 19 December 2014), as providing potentially life-altering benefits for millions of American children. The DAPA program has yet to be implemented and faces challenges both in Congress and the courts. The authors also call on Congress to enact permanent regularisation to ensure these benefits are not only temporary and enable these children to have a life trajectory equal to that of their peers. Read an opinion piece by the authors in the New York Times here and download the report here.
South Sudan ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) on 23 January 2015 and has become the 195th country to do so. With Somalia being in the process of ratifying the Convention, the only country that has yet to ratify the CRC is the United States. The Convention sets out basic human rights for all children such as the right to health, to education and to play, as well as the right to family life, to be protected from violence, to not be discriminated against (including on the basis of their or their parents’ residence or migration status), and to have their views heard. South Sudan also recently ratified the Convention against Torture and the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.
Source: OHCHR, 4 May 2015
Detention and DeportationTop
AMERICAS / Mexico increases deportation of unaccompanied children and numbers apprehended entering the USA irregularly reduce
The Mexican government deported 3,819 unaccompanied children from Central America during the first five months of the fiscal year (which began on 1 October 2014). Analysis of Mexican and U.S. government data by the Pew Research Center indicates this is a 56% increase compared to the same period a year earlier. The increase in deportations follows intense media and political attention to the increase in the number of child migrants attempting to cross the USA-Mexico border irregularly during 2014 (see PICUM Bulletin 30 June 2014) and discussions between the United States and Mexican governments on how to address child migration. During the same five-month period, U.S. officials apprehended 12,509 unaccompanied children at the U.S.-Mexico border, down from 21,403 over the same time period a year ago. The Pew Research Center also considers reasons other than the Mexican government’s record number of deportations for the decline in children attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border. The U.S. government has also sped up the processing of immigration court cases for unaccompanied minors, launched public information campaigns in Central America to discourage children from trying to cross into the U.S, and introduced a new programme for family reunification for certain groups of migrants (though to date, no applications for this program have been approved). In addition, homicide rates are declining in some of the Central American countries.
Source: The Guardian, 29 April 2015; The Guardian, 4 February 2015
COUNCIL OF EUROPE / Committee for the Prevention of Torture publishes report on migrant detention in the Czech Republic
The Council of Europe Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) published on 31 March 2015 a report describing the conditions of detention of migrants in the Czech Republic. The report follows a visit carried out from 1 to 10 April 2014 by the CPT to the Czech migrant detention centre of Bělá-Jezová, a facility composed of three buildings under an “open regime” and one building under a “strict regime”. The detention centre has a total capacity of 273 detainees. In its report the CPT highlights that, although during their visits no migrants were being held under the “strict regime”, it carries the risk of solitary confinement and the denial of the daily one hour outdoor exercise. In the Czech Republic undocumented migrants can be detained for up to 180 days, and their detention can be extended up to 545 days in case of denial of cooperation by the third country to which removal has been ordered. Children and families with children can be detained for a maximum of 90 days. The report also highlights that during the visit no health care practitioners were present within the centre at night. Finally, in the report the CPT also notes that migrants held in the detention centre, including children, have to pay a daily fee of EUR 8.50. The full report is available here.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has launched the Parliamentary Campaign to End Immigration Detention of Children during an event in Strasbourg from 20 to 21 April 2015, marking a two-year commitment to work towards ending child detention in Europe. The campaign launch included testimonies of formerly detained people on the impacts of child immigration detention, input from the PACE President, and information on the options available to avoid the use of immigration detention. The campaign follows PACE’s landmark resolution and calls on member states to prohibit the immigration detention of children and implement non-custodial, community-based alternatives for children and families, from 3 October 2014. According to the International Detention Coalition (IDC), there are an estimated 40,000 children who are detained each year in Europe.
Source: End Immigration Detention of Children, April 2015
The German government introduced a draft law to reform the right to stay („Neubestimmung des Bleiberechts und der Aufenthaltsbeendigung“) about which the German Bundestag is expected to decide in June 2015. Migrants and refugee rights’ supporters criticise the draft law for possibly aiming to extend conditions to detain asylum seekers and migrants and for provisions restricting the right to stay. The draft law expands the criteria for ‘danger of absconding’ as the basis of which migrants and asylum seekers can be detained. This includes, for instance, if a third-country national who applied for asylum in another EU member state but left before the application was approved or rejected and irregularly resides in Germany. The organisation ProAsyl published a petition against the new restrictive provisions of the draft law. Meanwhile, some politicians call for faster deportation procedures. At a small Christian Democrat party convention in Hamburg on 26 May 2015 delegates called on the Senate to deport more consistently and systematically rejected asylum seekers who would otherwise irregularly stay in Germany. After the German government declared Serbia, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina as safe countries of origin in November 2014, asylum applications of citizens of these countries are expected to be rejected and they will be deported. For instance, an emergency shelter in a former school in the city of Münster which hosts around 90 asylum seekers from Kosovo was turned into a centre for rejected asylum seekers awaiting deportation in April 2015. Migrant supporters set up a protest camp in front of the school and organised a demonstration in order to raise awareness and prevent deportations. They have been warning of the risks of rights violations, especially of Roma, if sent back to Kosovo.
Sources: Flüchtlingsrat Niedersachsen 29 May 2015; SHZ, 27 May 2015; Westfälische Nachrichten, 24 April 2015; 7 May 2015
The Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants released on 28 April 2015 a position paper on the Return Directive (Directive 2008/115/EC). The paper highlights the importance of ensuring compliance with fundamental rights in migration control and return mechanisms and presents examples from a number of member states to illustrate the shortcomings of the EU Return Directive in several national practices, such as systematic and prolonged detention, the detention of children and families, the lack of effectiveness of return policies, and human rights violations in the context of removal procedures. The paper is available in English and Spanish.
Source: PICUM, 28 April 2015
The International Detention Coalition (IDC) published the Briefing Paper entitled “Does Detention Deter?” in April 2015. The brief argues that detention is not only ineffective at reducing irregular migration to desired levels, but also weakens other migration management outcomes such as case resolution, integration for approved cases and departure for refused cases. The brief shows policy development and targeted resource allocation are needed to improve the prospects of migrants by increasing avenues for migration through regular pathways and improving life chances in countries of origin and/or transit. To download the briefing paper, click here.
The Global Detention Project released a background paper in April 2015 to highlight some of the difficulties faced by vulnerable people when they are taken into custody in the Mediterranean region and to emphasise how EU policies have impacted the migratory phenomenon in the region. The report focuses on eight countries in Europe and North Africa (Italy, Malta, Spain, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco). The backgrounder provides information on conditions of detention, figures and related decision making for each of these countries. The conditions of detention of migrants in North African countries are often described as horrific and inhumane, and there are also serious shortcomings in Europe. The report is accessible here.
An Iraqi man who had been living in Sweden for eight years died during a deportation attempt on 17 March 2015. It is the first reported case of the death of a migrant during deportation in Sweden but the 17th reported case occurring in Europe since 1991, according to the Institute of Race Relations. The man had been applying for asylum on the grounds that he risked being killed if returned to Iraq because he had worked with the US army. His asylum application was denied, he was placed in the Märsta detention centre near Stockholm and was taken to the airport on 17 March 2015. The guards put a waist-cuff on him and put him on a commercial plane that would take him to Iraq via Istanbul. He started resisting when he got on the plane, the guards wrestled him to the ground and he lost consciousness. Instead of taking him to the airport’s medical facility the guards drove him to the hospital where he was declared dead upon arrival. A preliminary investigation was opened for misconduct but the prosecution then changed the charges to manslaughter. The Institute of Race Relations highlighted 160 cases of deaths of migrants in detention and during return procedures in a recent report on Asylum and Immigration-related Deaths in Europe .
Sources: Sveriges Radio, 4 April 2015; Institute of Race Relations, 9 April 2015; Dagens Nyheter, 23 March 2015
A majority of Democrats of the House of Representatives sent Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson a letter on 27 May 2015 highlighting the detrimental effects immigration detention has on children and families and calling for an end to family detention. The signatories also express their concern about the fact that children and mothers are detained despite serious medical needs. A federal court distributed a tentative ruling in April 2015 by U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee in California concluding that the policy of detaining families violates parts of an 18-year-old court settlement regarding the detention of migrant children. According to memos describing the tentative ruling obtained by the publisher McClatchy, the tentative ruling states that children and their mothers cannot be held in unlicensed secure facilities, such as those in the towns of Karnes City and Dilley, Texas, and that it is inappropriate to hold a child and accompanying parent unless there is a flight or safety risk. The tentative ruling was distributed to the legal representatives, but not officially filed, to allow the two sides 30 days to negotiate an agreement. On 20 February 2015 the federal judge Judge James E. Boasberg ordered the Obama administration to stop the systematic detention of undocumented women and children. Judge James E. Boasberg of Federal District Court for the District of Columbia issued a preliminary injunction which prohibits the administration from detaining migrants solely “for the purpose of deterring future immigration.” He ordered immigration authorities to consider each asylum case to determine if the migrants would present risks to public safety if they were released while their cases moved through the courts. A group of 78 detained women went on a hunger strike in April 2015 in Karnes County, Texas protesting against the deterrence policy. US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which has responsibility for immigration detention centres, announced on 13 May that it would create new oversight mechanisms for family detention including regular reviews of detained families. More than 1,000 women and children are in US immigration detention.
Sources: Sputnik News, 28 May 2015; New York Times, 20 February 2015; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 13 May 2015 ; The New York Times Magazine, 20 April 2015
Publications and other ResourcesTop
The Joseph Roundtree Foundation has published a programme paper on destitution in the UK in March 2015. The aim is to analyse expert definitions of destitution, provide new evidence on the general public's views on destitution and summarise early results from a statistical analysis of households in severe poverty and potentially at risk of destitution. The report includes a specific focus on undocumented migrants and is available here.
The European Network Against Racism (ENAR) published a Shadow Report 2013-14 on racist crime in Europe in May 2015. The findings of the report reveal that there is no systematic recording of racist crimes across the EU and in some countries data collection is non-existent. Civil society organisations across the EU reported an increase in racially motivated crimes in 2013. The report also notes that victims of racist crimes are often reluctant to report racist crimes to the police. This is especially true for undocumented migrants who often do not report crimes for fear of deportation. The report also notes cases in Greece where police threatened undocumented migrants with detention if they insisted on seeking justice. The report is accessible here. Alongside the report, ENAR also launched an animated film which presents some of the key findings.
Source: ENAR Press statement, 6 May 2015
PICUM IN THE NEWSTop
The Austrian weekly news magazine Profil published an opinion on how the use of terminology impacts the debate on migrants and refugees and mentioned PICUM’s campaign ‘Words Matter’ as an EU-wide initiative to promote accurate terminology.
Source: Profil, 5 May 2015
The British Medical Journal (BMJ) published a feature on health care for irregular migrants including an interview with PICUM Programme Officer, Lilana Keith.
Source: BMJ, 6 May 2015
The news publication Quartz covered the issue of large numbers of migrants dying in the Mediterranean and calls for EU leaders to act. The article quotes PICUM Programme Officer, Maria Giovanna Manieri.
Source: Quartz, 23 April 2015