PICUM Bulletin — 1 février 2012
- European Policy Developments
- National Developments
- Other News
- Health Care
- Labour and Fair Working Conditions
- Undocumented Women
- Undocumented Children and Their Families
- Detention and Deportation
- Publications and other Resources
Fifty-five undocumented migrants en route to Lampedusa Island, Italy, are missing according to BBC Radio, Somali version. The missing migrants, all reported to be Somali, were part of a group of four boats which departed from the coast of Libya, between Zlitan and Khums, east of Tripoli, on 14 January 2012. Two of the boats, carrying a total of 115 undocumented migrants, were rescued by the Maltese Coast Guard on 15 January 2012. The third boat, with 72 persons on board, was rescued on the same day 40 miles south of Lampedusa Island by the Italian Coast Guard. The authorities in Misrata, Libya, reported the shipwreck of the fourth boat with only one dead body on board.
Source: Fortress Europe, 17 January 2012 and 22 January 2012
Presseurop has posted a summary of an article written by Dominic Johnson in the German newspaper Die Tageszeitung. The journalist contrasted the dramatic accident of the Costa Concordia and the extensive media coverage it received with the more common sinking of migrant boats crossing the Mediterranean Sea that do not receive the same media attention. The argument made by Mr Johnson is that “a boating accident with death is a human catastrophe, no matter where and when, and also no matter where the victims are from.” He condemns the fact that “the victims of the sea of Fortress Europe do not make the headlines and are forgotten by Europe”.
Source: Migrants at Sea, 20 January 2012
GREECE / DEATH AT BORDER / Boats overturn at Greek-Turkish border crossing, 6 migrants still missing
Two plastic boats with undocumented migrants trying to cross the Evros River overturned on 12 January 2012. Greek authorities managed to rescue six migrants (four Afghans and two Bangladeshis), who were transferred directly to the Health Centre of Orestiada, while the other six, including two Afghans and four Bangladeshis, are still missing.
Source: Infomobile, 12 January 2012; Clandestina, 12 January 2012; Thrakinea, 12 January 2012
The contract for the construction of the fence in Evros, of a total length of 12,5 kilometres on the Greek-Turkish border, was signed on 19 January 2012. This comes despite the announcement from the European Commission that EU funding would not be made available for the construction project. (See PICUM Bulletin 17 January 2012) The fence aims to deter irregular migration and trafficking through the overland borders of Greece with Turkey in Evros region. Construction is expected to be completed within five months and it will cost about €5 million. The Minister for the Protection of Citizens, Christos Papoutsis said that the signing of the contract confirmed the government’s intentions to move ahead with construction, and he added that this was the best answer to all those who argued that the project would never begin. Meanwhile, according to three polls that were published on 15 January 2012 by three large Greek newspapers, 60% agreed with the construction of the fence in Evros.
Source: TVXS, 16 January 2012; Clandestina, 20 January 2012; Skai, 19 January 2012 ; Inews, 20 January 2012; Migration News Sheet, January 2012
The UNHCR reported a record 103,000 refugees and migrants crossing the high seas to Yemen in 2011. Among those who made the crossing in 2011, more than 130 were reported to have drowned, while most of the arrivals to Yemen were in desperate conditions (dehydrated, malnourished and often in shock). Originating from Horn of Africa countries, migrants face extreme risks and challenges during the journey. Once in Yemen, they face other difficulties such as inadequate access to basic services, limitations to freedom of movement, and lack of access to employment. While Somalis are automatically recognised as refugees on their arrival in Yemen, Ethiopians face far more dangers and are in a more precarious situation. UNHCR has been gathering data on the migration flows in the region for more than five years. The agency and its partners provide medical assistance and counselling to survivors.
Source: UN News Centre, 20 January 2012
European Policy DevelopmentsTop
Mr Nils Muižnieks from Latvia was elected as the new Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights by the Organisation’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) on 24 January 2012 in Strasbourg. Mr Muižnieks was previously Special Assignments Minister for Social Integration Affairs in the Latvian Government and he currently holds a position as the Director of the Advanced Social and Political Research Institute (ASPRI) at the Faculty of Social Sciences in Riga. Please click here to view a video interview with Mr Nils Muižnieks.
Source: Council of Europe, 24 January 2012
On 30 November 2011 the government adopted a decree on the protection of social and financial rights of foreign nationals without work permits. The decree is an application of the EC Directive on employers’ sanctions (2009) which is being transposed into the law on migration, integration and nationality of 2011 (“loi Besson”). The decree makes reference to the procedure for foreign nationals to recover salaries they have not been paid for carrying out work without a work permit as well as the sanctions which will be imposed on employers who employ irregular migrants.
Source: Bulletin of Legal and Institutional Policies, 13 January 2012; Legifrance
IRELAND / Another council unanimously passes motion in support of regularization for undocumented migrants
On 16 January 2012 South Dublin County Council unanimously passed a motion to support the introduction of an earned regularization scheme for undocumented migrants in Ireland. The motion was similar to one passed by Dublin City Council on 6 December 2011 (see PICUM Bulletin 17 January 2012). A councilor from South Dublin County Council stated that since two of the largest local authorities in the country supported the scheme, he was calling on the Minister for Justice and Equality to act immediately to prepare and implement it. It is estimated that some 30,000 undocumented migrants are living in Ireland, many for several years. They are frequently subject to exploitation by ruthless employers as a consequence of their irregular status.
Source: The Looney Left, 16 January 2012; MRCI, 17 January 2012
The Republican presidential candidates discussed immigration during the Republican Presidential Debate on 26 January 2012 and shared opinions and ideas on how best the US should respond to irregular migration and the 11 million undocumented migrants currently living in the US. Some candidates supported the idea of “self-deportation”, where undocumented migrants would simply leave the US voluntarily because life was too difficult to lead. Another candidate supported the idea of allowing some undocumented migrants to stay, such as those that were brought there irregularly when they were younger and to perhaps not give them citizenship but residency. Despite the focus on immigration in the debate, a recent poll conducted by the Pew Research Center found that the issue of irregular migration is not as important to Americans as in the past. For example, in 2007 69% of Republicans considered it to be a priority issue, whereas now 48% consider it to be a priority. Source: The Telegraph, 27 January 2012; The Huffington Post, 23 January 2012
NORWAY / Norwegian Board of Health criticizes hospital for denying an undocumented woman an abortion
The Norwegian Board of Health has criticized Oslo University Hospital, one of the largest hospitals in Norway, for denying an undocumented woman an abortion. Undocumented migrants in Norway have the right to an abortion but since it is not considered an emergency it is at their own expense and can be between 4,000 and 12,000 kroner (EUR 450 - 1,350). When the undocumented woman went to Oslo University Hospital for an unwanted pregnancy, she was told that she would have to pay the cost herself. Unable to do so, she turned to Kirkens Bymisjon, an organization which provides health care to undocumented migrants. They were surprised that the hospital would not help the woman, as she was young and in a vulnerable situation. As a result, the centre filed a complaint with the health authorities stating that the hospital acted irresponsibly in their care for the woman. The hospital has since changed its policies.
Source: Aftenposten, 13 January 2012; Kirkens Bymisjon, 13 January 2012
Labour and Fair Working ConditionsTop
The Irish parliament held a debate on forced labour, referring to it as modern day slavery, and some representatives called on the Minister to introduce a law which would criminalise it. A representative referred to statistics provided by the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) recording 169 cases of forced labour, stating that it was just a small example of a serious problem. Without such a law, victims would not be identified and unscrupulous employers would continue to exploit workers in vulnerable situations.
Source: MRCI, 17 January 2012
About 200 African migrant workers from Rosarno, Reggio Calabria, protested in Rome against unfair working conditions. Outside the Ministry for Agriculture and the Ministry for Home Affairs, they denounced the exploitation and the low wages they often endure. The associations Africalabria and Equosud combined efforts and supported them with the campaign “Sos Rosarno”, thanks to which four African workers obtained regular employment conditions and fair pay. Following the economic crisis, many migrant workers lost their jobs in the north of Italy and began to seek employment in the south of the country, mainly in the agricultural sector.
Source: La Repubblica, 13 January 2012
30 companies in the region of Rogaland in Norway have received fines of up to 500, 000 Norwegian kroner (approximately EUR 64 500) as they employed a total of 74 undocumented migrants. Some of the undocumented migrants have been working irregularly for ten years, but the police have become tougher after the government’s decision in January 2011 to deprive undocumented migrants of the right to hold tax cards in Norway. Many of the companies were surprised when receiving the fines, as the policy has been criticised by several politicians, city councils as well as provoking public demonstrations during the autumn. Many of the migrants cannot be returned but have now lost their jobs.
Source: Aftenbladet, 10 January 2012 and 10 January 2012
To highlight the shortcomings of family reunification policies in Europe, the European Network of Migrant Women (ENoMW) has produced three short films. Illustrating the experiences of three migrant women affected by existing policies, the films highlight restrictions for female migrant workers to unite with their children, the barriers facing those on a spouse dependent visa who seek to leave a violent relationship, and finally, the difficulties for non-EU nationals to join a partner in the EU. As the European Commission has recently launched a consultation to review the Directive on Family Reunification, the organisations have also developed a “Lobbying Kit” with tools to facilitate engagement in the consultation process in order to bring about a more gender-sensitive policy framework on family reunification in Europe. Dowload the Lobbying kit and the short films.
Source: The European Network of Migrant Women, 18 January 2012
Undocumented Children and Their FamiliesTop
A new study has found that undocumented children face persistent inequalities in accessing and benefiting from quality education. Despite good legal protection of the right to education for undocumented children in Belgium, they continue to face both individual and institutional barriers to school access. Psycho-social and institutional impediments during the schooling process seriously limit equal schooling and opportunities. Different responses by schools to the organisational and pedagogical challenges of having mobile students also reinforce educational inequalities for undocumented children. The study notes that a key factor which limits the right to education in practice for undocumented children is the policy towards migration in general, which increasingly approaches migration as a security issue. The article, entitled “Undocumented children and the right to education: illusory right or empowering lever?”, was written by Wouter Vandenhole, Estelle Carton de Wiart, Helene Marie-Lou de Clerck, Paul Mahieu, Julie Ryngaert, Christiane Timmerman, and Marie Verhoeven.
Source: The International Journal of Children's Rights, Volume 19, Number 4, 2011, pp. 613-639(27) (for abstract, full article requires purchase)
The Dutch town of Anna Paulowna is the first to have employed an irregular student as an intern. In late 2011, a 17 year old was hired as an intern in the Legal Service. The municipality responded to a call by the TV program “De Ombudsman” of a Dutch public broadcaster asking companies to hire undocumented students and help them finish their studies, which is often impossible without undertaking a mandatory internship. According to Dutch law, undocumented students are not allowed to undertake an internship as it is considered a work activity. But some municipalities and other employers now challenge the legislation as even the Dutch Parliament is split on the issue (See PICUM Bulletin 24 October 2011)
Source: Noord Hollands Dagblad, 13 January 2012
NORWAY / State secretary defends asylum system and suggests return arrangements should be made more efficient
The State Secretary from the Ministry of Justice, Pål K. Lønseth defended government policy in an interview in Aftenbladet on 12 January 2012. He opposes the term 'undocumented migrants’ and prefers ‘returning migrants’ as they are migrants who have gone through an asylum process and been denied asylum in Norway, at which point they are expected to return to their countries of origin. The State Secretary admits that special consideration must sometimes be given to children who have lived many years in Norway, although the parents are ultimately responsible for them. No decision has yet been made as to whether a time limit should be introduced which would grant all children who have lived many years in Norway the right to stay regularly. The State Secretary does not favour a general amnesty for adult migrants living irregularly in Norway, claiming it would undermine the legitimacy of earlier decisions taken during the asylum process. Instead he suggests that efforts on return arrangements should be stepped up to reduce the number of undocumented migrants in the country.
Source: Aftenbladet, 12 January 2012
It has been revealed that under the secret "Gentleman's Agreement" with France, UK Border Agency staff returned unaccompanied children who did not claim asylum when they arrived at UK ports. England's children's commissioner Maggie Atkinson has revealed in her report “Landing in Dover”, that under the 1995 deal, unaccompanied children who did not register a claim for asylum at the point of entry faced a real risk of being returned immediately to France under the terms of the Agreement. The practice of returning children from the border in this manner conflicts with the UKBA’s duty to safeguard children and promote their welfare. The UKBA ended the removals in 2011 after she intervened. She is now seeking the details of how many children were affected. Download the report (EN) here.
Source: BBC News, 17 January 2012
In the state of Colorado in 2011, a piece of legislation called “Colorado ASSET” was introduced which would allow undocumented students in-state tuition but the bill was voted down along party lines. In 2012, the lawmaker who first proposed the bill has made some changes and will present it to the Senate Education Committee on 26 January 2012. The proposed changes include a third level of tuition for undocumented students which would be at a sliding rate and slightly higher than in-state tuition but not as high as out of state tuition. Qualifying students would not be eligible for state or federal financial aid. In addition, colleges and universities would be allowed to opt out of the tuition scale.
Source: Fox News Latino, 24 January 2012
Detention and DeportationTop
The European Court of Human Rights recognised, unanimously, a violation of Article 3 (prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights on 17 January 2012, in the case of Zontul v. Greece. The applicant, Necati Zontul, is a Turkish national who in May 2001 boarded a boat in Istanbul along with other irregular migrants which was bound for Italy. The migrants were captured by Greek coastguards and escorted to the port of Chania in Crete. Besides denouncing the very poor and harsh detention conditions, the applicant alleged that he was victim of rape and torture. The Court reiterated that the rape of a detainee by an official of the State was to be considered as an especially grave and abhorrent form of ill-treatment and held that Greece was to pay the applicant EUR 50,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage and EUR 3,500 in respect of costs and expenses.
Source: European Court of Human Rights, 17 January 2012; To vima, 19 January 2012; Imerisia, 19 January 2012
In the case of Kanagaratnam and Others v. Belgium the European Court of Human Rights ruled that a violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment) had taken place in relation to three Sri Lankan children of Tamil origin who had been held in an immigration detention facility with their mother for four months in 2009. The ECHR stated that by placing them in a closed centre, the Belgian authorities had exposed the children to feelings of anxiety and inferiority and had risked compromising their development. Consequently, the situation experienced by the children had amounted to inhuman and degrading treatment in violation of Article 3 of the Convention. The Court also found a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) due to the fact that by placing the children in a closed centre designed for adult undocumented migrants, in conditions which were ill-suited to their extreme vulnerability as children, the Belgian authorities had not sufficiently guaranteed the children’s right to liberty. Read the full judgment here (FR).
Source: Association for the Prevention of Torture, 22 December 2011; European Court of Human Rights Press Release, ECHR 282 (2011), 13 December 2011
On behalf of the European Commission, ECRE and Save the Children have produced a comparative study on the return of children in order to support Member States in developing an effective system for considering the return of children (unaccompanied or within families) to non-European states. The study found that children in families are more often subject to forced returns and to detention than unaccompanied children. Unaccompanied children are in most states not forcibly returned, but some states deport them when they turn 18. The study also includes a checklist to assist Member States in designing clear procedures and process under which the return of children can be considered properly, based on obligations deriving from EU and international law and standards. The checklist and inventory of noteworthy practices do not necessarily reflect the policy positions of ECRE and Save the Children. For instance, whereas the checklist addresses detention conditions for children as permitted under EU and international law, ECRE and Save the Children call on states not to detain children for immigration purposes as evidence has shown that it can have a devastating impact on children. Download the report here (EN).
Source: ECRE Weekly Bulletin, 20 January 2012
The arrest of an undocumented pupil provoked a strike at the vocational school Théodore-Monod in Noisy-le-Sec in Seine-Saint-Denis on 9 January 2012. The majority of the teachers went on strike to denounce the arrest and placement of the young undocumented woman in a detention centre. According to Solène Etrillard, the student’s teacher, the strikers demand release of the 21-year old Cameroon national, and for her to be given papers to stay in France.
Source: Le Parisien, 9 January 2012
Two border police (police aux frontières - PAF) in the overseas French territory of Mayotte received a six month suspended sentence, six months unpaid leave and were ordered to pay €1,000 in damages for beating a detained migrant woman with a baton. The incident, which occurred on 5 January 2012 in the Petite-Terre detention centre, left the 25-year old Comorian woman with such severe injuries that she required five days of treatment in intensive care. The court case, held on 25 January 2012, found one official guilty of assault and ‘use and threat of a weapon in the line of duty’, while the second policeman was charged with ‘non-assistance to a person in danger’.
Source: Linfo, 26 January 2012
In the Dutch town of Haarlem the immigration police has entered discussions with the diaconal centre ‘Stem in de Stad’ (Voice in the City) after three African migrants were arrested in December 2011, detained for three weeks and then again released as they did not have the right documentation. The centre aims to prevent the arrest and detention of irregular migrants who cannot be repatriated.
Source: Haarlems Dagblad, 19 January 2012
A video report of the Dutch TV programme Zembla claims that detention conditions for rejected asylum seekers are often worse than those of convicted criminals. In the Netherlands about 6730 migrants are in detention, of which about a quarter will be repatriated, while the other three quarters cannot be returned because of lack of papers or the state of origin’s refusal to accept their return. They are therefore released and ordered to leave the country within days. The producers of the programme visited a centre in Zeist and interviewed lawyers, doctors and inspectors who criticized the air quality, the failing ventilation system and the lack of proper medical assistance. The association of asylum lawyers is now suing the Dutch state.
Source: BN de Stem 20 January 2012; RTL, 20 January 2012
Two migrants held in Aluche and Barcelona migrant detention centres (CIEs) died, one on 19 December 2011 and the second on 5 January 2012. Their deaths were followed by criticism of institutional neglect and raised the issue of the centre’s overcrowding and poor health conditions. The dissatisfaction of various organizations and parties with the centre’s protection of human dignity has led to a 'non-legislative proposal', presented on 17 January 2012 by a leftist parliamentary group (IU, ICV-EUiA, CHA) to encourage respect of detainees’ rights; the immediate closure of Aluche centre; access for NGOs to the facilities; and the progressive replacement of the centres by facilities respecting undocumented migrants’ dignity, amongst other proposals.
Source: IRR Europa Press, 18 January 2012; Migrar con derechos, 17 January 2012
Publications and other ResourcesTop
Christal Morehouse and Michael Blomfield, from the Migration Policy Institute published a report on “Irregular Migration in Europe” in December 2011. The report outlines the increasing collaboration between EU member states to manage their external borders particularly through Frontex. The authors argue that despite an overall decrease in irregular migration since 2002, this trend has been hidden by ‘localized surges’ where increases of irregular entries are recorded and make the headlines. The report concludes that combatting irregular migration will continue to be tough in the current economic situation but long-term investments combined with appropriate polices are necessary to tackle the root causes of irregular migration. Download the report here.
Source: Migration Policy Institute
The Pew Hispanic Centre, a non-partisan research organisation, published a report on the characteristics of irregular migrants. Based on statistics from the March 2010 Current Population Survey (CPS), conducted jointly by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau, and the Pew Hispanic Center’s 2010 National Survey of Latinos (NSL), the analysis makes a number of key findings including: nearly two-thirds of irregular migrants have lived in the USA for at least 10 years; nearly half of irregular migrants are parents of minor children; and 39% attend religious services weekly. Access the report in English here.
Source: Bulletin of Legal and Institutional Policies, 13 January 2012
From 24 January to 11 February, the National Theatre of Brussels will stage a play called “EXILS” by Fabrice Murgia and host a series of side events (screenings and debates) on the subject of migration and asylum organized by Ciré. Classed somewhere between a documentary and imagination, reality and virtual reality, actors and marionettes tell how the destiny of an exile stranded at Lampedusa intertwines with that of a police officer charged with the expulsion of new refugees.
The Lisbon-based Institute for Strategic and International Studies - Instituto de Estudos Estratégicos e Internacionais (IEEI) – will hold a workshop on “Human Trafficking and Exploitation of Minors” on 2 February 2011, at the Portuguese Youth Institute, in Castelo Branco. The workshop is part of a project carried out by IEEI with the aim of fighting human trafficking within Portuguese and European contexts. The program is available here.
When Photographer Ben Krawinkel wanted to make a photographic report on undocumented migrants in Amsterdam he found one person willing to let him document his life. They got to know each other in 2006 and the photos can now be seen at the exhibition “A Possible Life. Conversations With Gualbert” which will be held at CBK Centre, in Amsterdam, from 19 January till 7 April 2012.
Source: Radio Netherlands Worldwide, 20 January 2012; A Possible Life. Conversations with Gualbert - Blog
The European Programme for Integration and Migration (EPIM) has made a public call to support NGO (registered charities) projects on the issue of migration and integration. The grants will be for periods ranging from one to three years with a budget of €50,000 - €300,000. In order to be successful, the projects must focus on influencing EU policies and their national implementation in one of the following areas: asylum seekers, undocumented migrants and equality, integration and social inclusion of vulnerable migrants. For further information on eligibility, please refer to the ‘EPIM 2012 Call for Proposals Information Sheet’. The deadline for application is 1 March 2012 and the process is outlined on the EPIM website.