PICUM Bulletin — 21 October 2015

Borders

  • EU / Operation ‘Sophia’ launched to destroy boats and vessels of smugglers

    The EU started a new operation in the southern Mediterranean on 7 October 2015 with the aim to intercept smugglers. The military mission dubbed Operation Sophia, allegedly was named after a new born rescued on a boat earlier this summer who was named Sophia, involves six naval vessels in international waters off Libya with the power to stop, board, seize and destroy smugglers’ boats. The UN Security Council on 9 October gave its approval to the operation. The UN mandate given to the naval task force was not mandatory for the European Union to take action but gives the operation more legitimacy. Several civil society expressed concern that the operation will only lead migrants and refugees to take even riskier routes.
    Sources: ECRE, 1 October 2015; BBC, 7 October 2015; France 24, 9 October 2015

  • EUROPE / Smartphones and social media play key role for migrants and refugees planning their route

    Newly arriving migrants and refugees rely heavily on smartphone applications such as WhatsApp, Viber, and social media networks such as Facebook, along with other tools like Google Maps in order to make the perilous journey to Europe. According to testimonies, smartphones are among the most important things migrants and refugees bring on their journeys. Smuggling networks have also drawn on social media to promote their services, recruiting people who wish to go to Europe through Facebook and other networks. According to reports, the trip from Syria to Germany currently costs at least 2,500 euros per person. The United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime estimates that smugglers make $550 million annually from transporting migrants. Smuggling services are not limited to offering the crossing of the Mediterranean or borders, but also link migrants to a network of other services such as passports, visas, accommodation, and transportation to the crossing point. Moreover, new technology helps migrants and refugees upon arrival in Europe since on arrival they text the friends and family who have already done the journey to find out what to do and where to go.
    Sources: Der Spiegel, 7 September 2015; Quartz, 14 September 2015; Ekathimerini, 10 September 2015; Time, Special Report Exodus, 8 October 2015

  • HUNGARY / BRIEFING / Violations of migrants’ and refugees’ rights

    Amnesty International published the briefing ‘Fenced Out’ on 8 October 2015 which outlines how the Hungarian government has invested more than 100 million euros on razor-wire fencing and border controls to keep refugees and migrants out. Amnesty states that these measures have repeatedly violated international law. In another statement in September, Amnesty International notes that several migrant and refugee families have been separated by Hungarian police and demanded that at least nine people including four children separated from their families by Hungarian police during the breach of a border fence in Röszke should be reunited with their families. New laws came into effect in Hungary on 14 September 2015 making it a criminal offence to cross the border irregularly or to damage a newly-built four-metre fence along Hungary’s border with Serbia (see PICUM Bulletin 17 September 2015). The situation for migrants and refugees in Hungary also made headlines after a video emerged in which a camera woman working for the Hungarian N1TV channel was seen kicking and tripping children and adult migrants. Another video, about the Roszke camp near the Serbian border, where migrants are kept in camps, also made headlines. The video shows migrants trying to grab food that is being thrown into the crowd by the police. Michaela Spritzendorfer, the journalist and activist who made the video, stated that people are being kept like animals.
    Sources: Amnesty International News, 8 October 2015; BBC, 11 September 2015; Amnesty International, 16 September 2015

United Nations

  • UN / Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities’ concluding observations express concern about situation for migrants with disabilities

    The United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities published its concluding observations and recommendations on the initial Report on the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) by the European Union on 4 September 2015. The Committee expressed concern about the treatment of migrants with disabilities, noting that they continue to be detained in conditions which do not provide appropriate support and reasonable accommodation. Moreover, the Committee also noted that communication and information about migration-related decision-making is not provided in accessible formats for migrants with disabilities. The committee recommends that the EU mainstreams disability into its migration and refugee policy and that the European Union issues guidelines to its agencies and member states that detention of persons with disabilities for migration and asylum seeking purposes is not aligned to the Convention. To read the full concluding observations, click here.

European Policy Developments

  • COURT OF JUSTICE OF THE EUROPEAN UNION / Ruling in case of disproportionately high fees for renewing residence permits in Italy

    In its judgment of 2 September 2015, in the case of CGIL and INCA C-309/14, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled that EU member states cannot require third-country nationals, when applying for renewal of their residence permit, to pay a fee which is disproportionate in light of the objective of integration pursued by the Long-Term Residence Directive (Directive 2003/109/EC), as this could impede the enjoyment of the rights granted within this Directive. The case was referred to the CJEU by the regional administrative tribunal of Lazio, Italy, requesting a preliminary ruling by the Court. According to Italian legislation applicants for the issue or renewal of a residence permit had to pay a fee of between 80€ and 200€, half of which was allocated to the Return Fund. The full judgment is available here.
    Source: European Database of Asylum Law, 2 September 2015

  • EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS / Violation of prohibited collective expulsion in the case of Tunisian nationals

    The Second Section of the European Court of Human Rights issued, on 1 September 2015, its judgment on the case Khlaifia et autres c. Italie (Requête no 16483/12) (official judgment in French). The case concerned three Tunisian nationals who left Tunisia on makeshift boats aiming to reach Italy in September 2011 and, after being intercepted by the Italian coastguard, were taken to the island of Lampedusa and then transferred to the reception centre Contrada Imbriacola. This overcrowded reception centre had insufficient sanitation and inadequate space to sleep and migrants were subjected to constant police surveillance and were not allowed to make contact with anyone on the outside world. After an uprising, the centre was partially destroyed by fire, and the applicants were transferred to a sports park, from which they escaped. The applicants were subsequently arrested by the police and flown to Palermo where they were held in overcrowded ships with limited access to sanitation and no access to information. The applicants were then taken to Palermo airport where they were identified by the Tunisian consul and deported to Tunisia based on a bilateral agreement between Tunisia and Italy. In its judgment, the ECtHR found that the summary procedures used by Italy in 2011 to quickly return thousands of Tunisians who were reaching Italy by sea violated the prohibition of collective expulsion enshrined in Art. 4 of Protocol 4 of the ECHR. The Court also found violations of Articles 3 (inhuman or degrading treatment), Article 5, §§ 1, 2, 5 (failure to promptly explain basis for detention and inability to challenge detention) and Article 13 (lack of an effective remedy). This is the fifth time that the ECtHR has found a violation of the collective expulsion prohibition.
    Source: Migrants at Sea, 3 September 2015

National Developments

  • GERMANY / Draft bill tightens asylum, residence and social law

    A draft bill of the German Federal Government tightens asylum, residence and social law. Published in September 2015, the draft bill foresees that people who are recognised to be entitled to protection in another EU country, but come to Germany, as well as those who are suspended from deportation (Geduldete), will only receive foodstuff and accommodation to secure their physical existence, but will no longer receive financial aid. Pro Asyl criticised this proposal for being unconstitutional, referring to a ruling of the Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) from July 2012 which states that even a short, temporary stay in Germany does not justify the limiting of support for the minimum subsistence level to a level of ‘only securing physical existence’. The draft bill also foresees separate reception centres for people from Western Balkan countries, and faster deportation procedures. According to the Ecumenical Consortium Asylum in the Church in Germany (Ökumenische Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft BAG Asyl in der Kirche), this will classify migrants and refugees into ‘good’ and ‘bad’. The draft bill aims to declare Albania and Kosovo as generally safe countries, to facilitate the deportation of people from these countries. Since the beginning of 2015, Germany has already deported over 10,000 migrants, about the same number as the total of deportations in 2014 (see PICUM Bulletin 17 September 2015).
    Sources: BAG Asyl in der Kirche Press release, 12 October 2015; Pro Asyl Press Release 21 September 2015; Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 21 September 2015

  • MOROCCO / 2015 legislative developments for migration

    Following the 2014 regularisation campaign in Morocco (See PICUM Bulletin 27 January 2014), the annual seminar organised by the Ministry in Charge of Moroccans Living Abroad and Migration Affairs (MRE) took place on 9 September 2015 to assess new migration policies. The assessment report highlights the evolutions, but also the failures, of the national strategy on migration and asylum. Since the 2014 regularisation campaign, the inter-ministerial steering committee (le comité de pilotage interministériel) has managed to open access to some social programmes that were previously available only to Moroccan nationals. Migrants now, for example, can gain access to reproductive health centres, and have detection tests for HIV and tuberculosis. In theory the Ramed (public health insurance) should follow the assessment report published by the MRE. In parallel, new measures (2014-15) were taken to quickly integrate newly regularised migrants into the labour force, trainings were financed by the ministries of migration and social affairs, and the procedure for receiving a work permit, which once required a ‘certificate of activity’, has been simplified.  However, Stéphane Julinet from Le groupe antiraciste de défense et d’accompagnement des étrangers et migrants, GADEM (Anti-racist Group to Defend and Accompany Foreigners and Migrants) criticised the lack of communication from the government to the institutions and labour market about these changing measures and newly opened programmes. He explained that women are still being redirected to teaching hospitals where they are told to pay, and employers are not aware of the changed labour market rules, meaning that migrants are still not seeing the positive results of these developments.
    Source: Yabiladi, 10 September 2015

  • ITALY / ASGI issues report on unlawful aspects of the readmission of foreign citizens in Ventimiglia

    The Italian association Associazione per gli Studi Giuridici sull’Immigrazione (ASGI) published, on 4 September 2015 a report providing a juridical analysis of unlawful practices of readmission of migrants in Ventimiglia, Italy. The report provides accounts of migrants who wanted to ask for international protection in France but were readmitted to Italian territory, including migrant children. Among the violations the report finds, are informal collective refoulements and a lack of administrative procedures. The report is available in English and in Italian. It was published following a fact-finding mission to Ventimiglia, on the border between France and Italy, where migrants and asylum seekers were prevented from entering France and readmitted to Italy in June 2015 (See PICUM Bulletin, 3 July 2015).

  • UK / Migrant who crossed the Eurotunnel faces charges for causing obstruction

    Abdul Rahman Haroun, a migrant who allegedly walked through the Eurotunnel from Calais to the UK (see PICUM Bulletin 31 August 2015) and was then apprehended near the tunnel’s exit at Folkestone on 4 August, has appeared in court. The 40-year old Sudanese man faces charges for ‘causing an obstruction to engines and carriages using the railway’. He pleaded not guilty and his lawyer, Nicholas Jones, told the court that Haroun’s act did not constitute an obstruction and that under article 31 of the United Nations Convention on the Status of Refugees, he acted within his rights as a refugee to enter the country irregularly to seek protection. Another hearing in the case is foreseen for 9 November.
    Sources: The Guardian, 24 August 2015; Deutsche Welle, 24 August 2015

  • UK / Obligation to check immigration status has many negative impacts for tenants and landlords

    The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) published on 3 September 2015 the report ‘No Passport Equals No Home’, an independent evaluation of the ‘Right to Rent’ scheme in the UK. Under this scheme, launched with the new Immigration Act of 2014, individuals must have the ‘Right to Rent’ in order to enter into a residential tenancy agreement. This means that all persons who require authorisation to enter or remain in the UK but do not have it, also do not have the Right to Rent. Landlords are required to check the immigration status of prospective tenants or face a civil penalty of up to £3,000. The policy has been piloted in certain areas of the UK since 1 December 2014. The report finds that the scheme has severe negative impacts on both landlords as well as tenants, including discrimination based on race and nationality, and fear and confusion regarding their obligations. The report ascertains that the policy has not and will not achieve its stated objective of deterring irregular migrants from settling in the UK. To read the report, click here.

Health Care

  • EU / European Commission invites public input on preliminary opinion on “Access to Health Services in the European Union”

    The European Commission and Expert Panel on Effective Ways of Investing in health (EXPH) have launched a public consultation on the preliminary opinion on “Access to health services in the European Union,” which addresses barriers to accessing health care and explores policy measures to overcome those barriers. The EXPH is a multidisciplinary and independent panel established by the Commission in 2012 to provide non-binding advice on effective ways of investing in health. The preliminary opinion notes that EU member states have a clear mandate to ensure equitable access to health services for everyone living in their countries. In a chapter dedicated to access to health services for underserved groups, in particular Roma, undocumented migrants, and people with mental health challenges, recommendations include guaranteeing entitlements and access to health services; and providing a combination of mainstream and specialized outreach health services. The EU is encouraged to support member states by funding research; promoting dissemination of good practices; and advocating implementation of effective policy responses. All interested parties have been invited to submit their input by 6 November 2015 by completing a form available on the website to enable to EXPH to formulate its final views.
    Source: European Commission

  • EUROPE / Report on undocumented migrants’ entitlement to health care and education

    A report entitled “Out and In: Legal Entitlements to Health Care and Education for Migrants with Irregular Status in Europe” has been published, co-authored by Dr Sarah Spencer and Ms Vanessa Hughes, at the Oxford University’s Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS). The report maps the legal entitlements to health care for undocumented migrants, and to education for undocumented children, across all 28 EU member states. In particular, it examines undocumented migrants’ entitlement to emergency, primary and secondary care, including care for communicable diseases, maternity and healthcare for children. The report notes that, while some member states have rolled back entitlements for undocumented migrants to health care in recent years, others have expanded it, though the overall trend is one of exclusion. In addition to considering the text of the laws, the authors examine the extent to which a service is economically accessible, when determining if it can actually be deemed an entitlement. The authors intend to publish follow-up research into the reasons looking at official rationales for granting entitlements to some services for undocumented migrants at the national, regional and local levels. The full report is available here. See also the Annex: Entitlements in Individual Member States

  • INTERNATIONAL / World Health Organisation to assist EU with health care for migrants

    At the 65th session of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Committee for Europe in Lithuania in September 2015, officials urged ongoing involvement from the WHO to help the EU provide adequate public health support for migrants and refugees. In a statement of objectives, principles and modalities for continued cooperation between the European Commission and the WHO Regional Office for Europe in the area of health, the vulnerabilities of groups including Roma and migrants are recognised, and a desire to support governments to identify effective policies for health and other sectors to decrease health inequalities expressed. At the Regional Committee, the WHO presented a report describing the implementation to date of a WHO project on the Public Health Aspects of Migration in Europe (PHAME), established in 2012. According to the report, PHAME’s work focused to a large degree on managing the health-related aspects of acute migration situations, situating its work within the context of Health 2020 and addressing social exclusion faced by migrants, including longer-term provision of care.
    Source: Vaccine News, 15 September 2015

  • GERMANY / International conference calls for legal change to allow access beyond emergency care for undocumented migrants

    The Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM), the Frankfurt based organisation Maisha e.V. and the Health Department of the City of Frankfurt (Gesundheitsamt Frankfurt am Main) jointly organised a conference in Frankfurt on 2 October 2015 on the theme of access to health care for undocumented migrants in Germany. The event gathered practitioners, representatives of authorities at local and regional level, volunteer initiatives and representatives from organisations and institutions of various European countries. Participants discussed the legal obligation on most public bodies in Germany to report undocumented migrants seeking health care to immigration authorities and models of different initiatives in the country which currently fill the gap and provide safe access to health care for all, regardless of residence status. Moreover, the conference brought together international experts and representatives of other EU member states which go beyond emergency care to provide a level of primary and secondary health services to undocumented migrants. The conference concluded that it is an imperative to release all administrators involved in the health system from the duty to report undocumented migrants. To read the press release in English and German, click here. To view photos of the event, click here.

  • INTERNATIONAL / WHO-commissioned Studies and Policy Guidance on Migration and Health in Europe Published

    The World Health Organisation (WHO)’s Health Evidence Network (HEN) has published three reports on public health aspects of migrant health focusing, respectively, on undocumented migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers, and labour migrants in the European region. The report on undocumented migrants synthesises existing peer-reviewed and other literature to answer the question, “What policies and interventions work to improve health care access and delivery for undocumented migrants in the European Region?” The report recommends avoiding the use of the term “illegal,” in favour of “undocumented” or “irregular”. Among the recommended policy options are that states: reconsider entitlement to health care for undocumented migrants, bearing in mind respect for human rights, their national legal framework and health system, and public health considerations; promote inclusive and culturally-sensitive health systems by providing communication services for health care providers, such as cultural mediators and interpreters; collect data on undocumented migrants’ health status and create indicators that make it possible to track the impact of policies; and foster research on the health needs of undocumented migrants, as distinct from other groups of migrants and the general population.
    Source: World Health Organisation, 18 June 2015

  • USA / Two more counties in California to extend health care to undocumented migrants

    Contra Costa County and Monterrey County have become the most recent counties in California to agree to provide health care services beyond emergency care to undocumented migrants (see also PICUM Newsletter, 3 July 2015). Speaking of the program Contra Consta Cares, on 22 September 2015, County Supervisor, John Gioia, stated: “It will mean better health care access for all, improved public health, lower cost to our health care system, and it’s just the right thing to do for people, especially undocumented adults who are not covered under the Affordable Care Act.” The program will cover preventative care, such as regularly physical examinations, immunizations, a nurse advice line and mental health services. The program is being established as a one-year pilot, to benefit up to 3,000 undocumented residents, 16% of the estimated 19,000 undocumented migrants in Contra Costa County. A sum of 500,000 USD has been allocated to the program, and three local hospitals have committed an additional 500,000 USD in total. On 15 September 2015, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously in favour of a pilot project to provide a larger basket of health services to uninsured and undocumented residents of Monterey Country, estimated to number between 30,000 and 50,000. Only the 1,200 to 2,000 uninsured residents who already go to county-run clinics would be eligible for the program. Details concerning the criteria for eligibility and the scope of services have yet to be finalised. Officials acknowledged that the 500,000 USD budget set aside for the program is inadequate but hoped that data from the project might motivate state-level legislators to act.
    Source: WAMU, 24 September 2015; Hospital Council of Northern & Central California, 15 September 2015

  • SPAIN / Report on impacts of restricted access to health care for undocumented migrants

    The Network to Denounce and Resist the Spanish Royal Decree 16 / 2012 (La Red de Denuncia y Resistencia al RDL 16 / 2012 – REDER) released a report in September about the impacts of the Royal Decree Act 16/2012. In 2012, the Spanish government adopted the Royal Decree Act 16 / 2012 which restricted access to essential and preventive health care services for undocumented migrants, entitling them to emergency care, maternity and child care only. Several communities and regions provide greater health care coverage for undocumented migrants, or have recently announced intentions to expand coverage (see PICUM Bulletin 17 September 2015). Between January 2014 and July 2015, the network REDER recorded over 1,500 cases of people whose right to access health care was limited because of the legal change, finding that undocumented migrants were the group which had suffered the most from the reform. Among the 1,500 cases, 224 persons were denied emergency care, despite the fact that health care should be provided for children, pregnant women and in emergency situations. Moreover, the report found that in many cases, severe illnesses were not treated, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, degenerative muscular disease, other types of degenerative diseases and other life-threatening conditions, as well as serious mental health problems. The network REDER is co-hosted by Doctors of the World Spain, Andalucía Acoge, ODUSALUD and semFYC. The full list of REDER member organisations which participate in recording cases is available here.  To access the report (in Spanish only), click here. A summary of the report is also available in English. For more information about REDER, click here.

Labour and Fair Working Conditions

  • Fifth edition of the Anti-Trafficking Review focuses on forced labour

    The latest edition of the Anti-Trafficking Review explores how human trafficking is now associated, and sometimes used interchangeably, with slavery and forced labour. This issue highlights that the usage of these terms has real consequences in terms of legal and policy responses to exploitation. Assessing recent efforts and discourse, the thematic issue looks at unions struggling to champion the protection of migrants’ labour rights, and at governments fighting legal battles with corporations over enactment of supply-chain disclosure laws. At the same time, many of the issues’ authors show how regressive policies, such as the Kafala system of ‘tied’ visas for lower paid workers, are eroding these rights. To read the Anti-Trafficking Review, click here.

Undocumented Women

  • USA / Two new documentaries document abuse of undocumented women and barriers to accessing justice

    Two recent films, “Don’t tell anyone (No le digas a nadie)” which premiered in Chicago, USA on 9 September 2015 and “Rape on the Night Shift” which aired on PBS in June document the abuse faced by undocumented women and girls in the United States, and their reluctance to report these crimes. In “Don’t tell anyone, Angy, a young undocumented woman who was sexually abused for four years by her mother’s former partner, explains her fear of reporting the crime because of the risk of being deported, and the difficulty of knowing that should she report it, her “path to citizenship” is tied to that very abuse. Angy is now an advocate for young undocumented immigrants, and provides advice through an online publication on legal questions posed by young undocumented migrants. The film “Rape on the Night Shift” profiles twenty-one undocumented women who work as cleaners of hotels, malls and other shopping outlets who were sexually harassed or raped while working the night shift. Working the night shift allowed some of these women to tend to family or to work a second job during the day – but also exposed them to attacks from security guards, co-workers, managers or building supervisors. Many survivors did not report the crimes committed against them because of fear of losing their job or that they wouldn’t be believed.
    Sources: MinnPost, 8 June 2015; PBS, 23 June 2015

  • USA / 100 women march for seven days to raise awareness

    About one hundred women from across the United States, many undocumented, walked to Washington, D.C. on the occasion of Pope Francis’ visit to the US, to raise awareness of the situation of undocumented migrants. The march lasted one week and covered 100 miles (about 160 kilometres), beginning outside a detention centre in York, Pennsylvania on 15 September 2015 and ending in Washington, D.C. Signs and t-shirts called for “dignity for migrants”. The march, called “One Hundred Miles, One Hundred Women,” was sponsored by several immigrant and labour advocacy organisations, including the national Domestic Workers Alliance and We Belong Together.
    Sources: New York Times, 22 September 2015; Washington Post, 21 September 2015; Huffington Post, 23 September 2015

Undocumented Children and Their Families

  • EUROPE / REPORT / “No Child Should be Stateless”

    The European Network on Statelessness, which represents over 50 civil society organisations from across Europe, launched its new report “No Child Should be Stateless” in September 2015. The report is part of its ongoing campaign seeking to end childhood statelessness in Europe and reveals that thousands of children are still growing up stateless and are therefore excluded from protections and rights that nationality offers to citizens. The report offers a synthesis of research studies conducted by ENS members in eight European countries as well as analysis of nationality laws in all 47 Council of Europe states. It finds that even among those states that have acceded to relevant international conventions, more than half are still failing to properly implement their obligations to ensure that children acquire a nationality. Children of undocumented migrants are recognised as a high risk group.  The report concludes with a series of recommendations designed to guide action to more effectively address – and ultimately end – childhood statelessness in Europe. To view the report, click here.

  • EU / Written declaration on investing in children

    Eleven Members of European Parliament (MEPs) have launched an initiative at the European Parliament to collect signatures to support a declaration on investing in children. The written declaration (number 0042/2015) calls upon the European Commission to introduce specific indicators on children at risk of poverty; it also urges EU member states to use EU funding to implement the Commission Recommendation ‘Investing in Children: Breaking the cycle of disadvantage’. The written declaration on investing in children is a 300 word text with four specific demands that will require 376 signatures by MEPs, from 7 September – 7 December 2015, in order for it to be published in the minutes of the European Parliament and forwarded to relevant EU institutions. Eurochild, together with the EU Alliance for Investing in Children, are urging European parliamentarians to sign the declaration. To support this, and for those interested in encouraging their MEPs to do so, a short paper has been produced explaining why it is important for MEPs to sign the declaration and drive positive action towards tackling child poverty. An infographic has also been produced with more facts and figures on child poverty. The declaration is shared on Twitter with the hashtag #investinginchildren. The declaration is available in 23 languages here.

  • INTERNATIONAL / Child rights bridging papers

    A series of six bridging papers which look from a child rights perspective at different points of the 5-year Action Plan for Collaboration, the civil society proposal for an outcome and follow-up to the UN High-Level Dialogue on Migration and Development 2013, have been published for discussion and comment. The papers have been prepared by Terre des Hommes for the Destination Unknown Campaign and to provide input for the Civil Society Days of the Global Forum on Migration and Development 2015 (Istanbul, Turkey, 12-13 October 2015). The aim is to examine the specifics that affect children in the context of migration, in order to inform more coherent approaches from a child rights standpoint. Each one of the six bridging papers includes 5 or 6 key recommendations for action. All documents are available in English, Spanish and French, and are draft versions – comments should be sent to info(at)terredeshommes.org by 15 November 2015. Download the bridging papers here.

  • REPORT / Persistent violations of migrant children’s rights across the world

    The Child Rights Information Network (CRIN) published its annual report 2014-2015 presenting a global picture of new or persisting children’s rights issues with case studies from around the world, in September 2015. The report highlights child rights violations on land and at sea – for example – Bangladeshi and Rohingya migrants being left adrift in the Andaman Sea and Malacca Straits, people drowning in the Mediterranean sea, immigration detention in Australia and the USA, and two children being charged and prosecuted as smugglers in Italy. Violations of the rights of young people in Eritrea and of unaccompanied children in the CIS countries are also cited. The overview of challenges sets the basis for a global call to action for advancing children’s rights, with a focus on access to justice, accountability and redress as the only way of developing lasting reform for children’s rights globally. Read the report here. CRIN news also draws attention to the arbitrary mass deportations of Colombian migrants from Venezuela, which have resulted in almost 300 children being left behind in the country without their parents, according to the Colombian Institute of Family Welfare; and the exclusion from school of children from migrant families in Russia, if their parents do not have a residence permit, after the country’s Supreme Court upheld a law prohibiting enrolment of children who have no registered place of residence.
    Source: CRINmail 1445, 9 September 2015

  • UK / Durable solutions for separated migrant children

    The Children’s Society recently launched its report “Not just a temporary fix: The Search for Durable solutions for separated migrant children”. The report is one of nine country reports investigating policies and practices the government has in place in order to promote and protect the best interests of separated migrant children. The report found that, while thousands of children are seeking protection in the UK and immediate safety and stability mechanisms are in place, long-term solutions are often left aside. Due to their immigration status, undocumented children are at risk of destitution, exploitation and social exclusion.  For instance, children may often end up becoming undocumented when they turn 18 and remain in the country with irregular status. The report highlights the importance of a framework of emotional, physical and legal support that ensures stability in a child’s life and concludes that there is currently no such framework for separated children in place. Among the recommendations, is that the government should develop a strategy that commit all departments coming into contact with separated children to finding a suitable durable solution for each child, in accordance with the best interests of the child. The report can be accessed here.
    Source: The Children’s Society, September 2015

Detention and Deportation

  • CANADA / UN Human Rights Committee condemns arbitrary and indefinite detention of migrants

    The United Nations Human Rights Committee (HCR) published, on 13 August 2015, its concluding observations on the sixth periodic report of Canada. In the document the HCR expresses grave concerns about indefinite detention of migrants, the mandatory detention of those who enter Canada through irregular means, and recent cuts to the Interim Federal Health Program which restricts access to health care for non-citizens. The HRC recommended Canada to establish a reasonable time limit on immigration detention, to ensure that immigration detention is used as a “last resort,” and to develop non-custodial alternatives to detention. Highlighting the urgency of the recommendations, the Committee has requested Canada to provide information on the implementation of its recommendations related to immigration detention within one year of the publication of the concluding observations.
    Source: University of Toronto Faculty of Law, International Human Rights Program, 23 July 2015

  • COUNCIL OF EUROPE / Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) issues report on Finland

    The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) published, on 20 August 2015, a report to the Finnish Government on the visit to Finland carried out by the CPT from 22 September to 2 October 2014. Focusing on detention, the report highlights that undocumented migrants should not be detained in police stations and expresses criticism concerning the Joutseno Detention Unit for Foreign Nationals. This centre is a former prison with single rooms resembling prison cells and insufficient space for activities and for socialising with others. Reiterating that unaccompanied or separated children should never be detained, the CPT also recommends the amendment of the national ‘Aliens Act’, which currently limits the detention of children to a maximum of 72 hours. In relation to short-term detention of third-country nationals at Vantaa Airport, the CPT highlights that detention by border guards at the airport is still poorly documented and recommends the need to ensure access to legal counsel to third-country nationals temporarily held at the airport. The full report is available here.

  • REPORT / There are alternatives: a handbook for preventing unnecessary detention

    The International Detention Coalition (IDC) has released a revised edition of ‘There are alternatives: a handbook for preventing unnecessary detention’. The Revised Edition contains a number of additions including: A Revised Community Assessment and Placement (CAP) Model- while the core elements of the CAP Model remain the same, the model has been redesigned to provide a clearer indication of overarching principles and standards (including the presumption of liberty), and the key processes of identification and decision-making, case management and placement; New and updated country case studies based on further research; and a revised and strengthened definition of ‘alternatives to detention’ which incorporates the broad range of persons who may be subject to or at risk of detention by virtue of their immigration status. The Handbook identifies and describes a number of alternatives to immigration detention, and sets out evidence on the financial, legal and migration management benefits of such models, as well as the relevant international human rights law and standards. Read the report here.

  • UNITED KINGDOM / Over 1,100 migrants deported between January and August 2015

    A written response to a question referred by Chris Stephens MP and James Brookenshire MP, on behalf of the Secretary of State for the Home Department (SSHD), disclosed that, since 1 January 2015, 1,110 migrants have been subjected to forced return procedures from the United Kingdom on commercial aircrafts chartered by the Home Office. The SSHD confirmed that the average cost per deported person is GBP 5,209.49. The full answer is available here.
    Source: House of Commons Daily Report, 3 August 2015; Rights in Exile, 1 September 2015

  • US / Health and social service needs of children with detained or deported parents

    US-citizen children whose parents have been detained or deported have been exposed to a number of harms. This is the result of a study by the Urban Institute published in September 2015 in cooperation with the Migration Policy Institute, entitled “Health and Social Service Needs of US-Citizen Children with Detained or Deported Immigrant Parents”. The study was carried out in five metropolitan areas in the US. Key findings include that children experienced negative emotional and behavioral outcomes after a parent was detained or deported. Communication with a detained parent was difficult due to the distance and partners and spouses reported suffering from depression and social isolation following the detention. In some cases, Immigration and Customs Enforcement aimed to reduce harm to the children concerned by facilitating communication between them and their detained parents and several state and local organisations developed approaches to meet the children’s needs. However, children of detained or deported parents also had difficulty accessing conventional health, mental health, early education and social services. Moreover, families also had difficulty finding emergency financial, food, and housing assistance after a parental detention or deportation. The report concludes that even without more deportations, nearly one million children have already had a parent deported, and these children remain at risk for adverse outcomes. To read the report, click here.

Publications and other Resources

  • PAMPHLET / Changing the debate on migration

    The Migrants’ Rights Network (MRN) together with the Centre of Labour and Social Studies (CLASS) jointly published a second edition of the pamphlet ‘Changing the debate on migration’ on 11 September 2015. The pamphlet challenges myths about patterns of migration, the real impact of migration on the economy and about alleged pressure from migrants on social welfare, health care and housing. The publication shows that such myths are a simplification of the real situation. The pamphlet targets people involved in the labour movement to get across new ideas about migration. The pamphlet has a progressive approach which centres on solidarity and support for the rights of migrants, rather than opposing their right to be in the UK. To find out more about the pamphlet, click here.

  • REPORT / OECD Migration Outlook 2015

    The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) published its Migration Outlook 2015 on 22 September 2015. Concerning irregular migration, the report notes that Australia, Canada, Switzerland, Turkey, Bulgaria and Russia have introduced new border control measures including punitive measures, physical control measures and deploying new IT technology. Greece, the United Kingdom, Norway and the Netherlands have put more emphasis on deporting people. The report notes that several countries have focused on sanctioning irregular work including Luxembourg, the Czech Republic and Spain. Since 2000, OECD countries have granted citizenship to 25 million foreign nationals. Overall, about 4.3 million people migrated to OECD countries in 2014 compared to 4.1 million the year before. The annual publication analyses development in migration movements and policies in OECD countries and some non-member countries as well as the evolution of recent labour market outcomes of migrants in OECD countries. To read the Migration Outlook 2015 online, click here.

  • DATABASE / Tool to find help if fundamental rights are violated

    The EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) launched on 6 October 2015 its Clarity interactive tool which allows people to find the right organisation to help with their fundamental rights issues. So far, the tool is a beta version and currently covers 13 countries, as well as Northern Ireland, and is only available in English. The pilot version of Clarity provides information in English about bodies such as equality bodies or national human rights institutions, which may be able to provide assistance in situation of rights’ violations. The tool also contains information about EU and international complaints bodies which may also provide assistance. Users first have to select the country where a right was violated and then need to specify in what area to get to a list of recommended entities and institutions. To access the tool, click here.

Other News

  • FILM / Short film competition awards films about undocumented migrants’ lives

    The Counselling Centre for Undocumented Migrants in the city of Bern in Switzerland (Berner Beratungsstelle für Sans-Papiers) launched a short film competition specifically on the issue of undocumented migrants to raise awareness about the realities of undocumented migrants. During a ceremony in Bern, three of the short films were awarded a prize. The 16 films which were contributed during the competition discuss issues such as discrimination of undocumented migrants and how undocumented migrants aim to belong to a society which excludes them by using different elements of narration. More information and the films are available here.

  • VACANCY / Programme Officer ‘Labour rights and social inclusion’

    The Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM) is looking for a maternity leave replacement for the position of “Programme Officer Labour rights and social inclusion”. The candidate would further develop PICUM’S programmatic areas on ‘labour rights’ and ‘social inclusion’, for a six-month period from 18 January to 15 July 2016. To view the full position description and details for application, click here.

  • SWITZERLAND / Audio tours to inform about realities of undocumented migrants

    The Swiss organisation Sans-Papiers-Anlaufstelle Zürich (SPAZ), a contact point for people with irregular status, is using audio tours in Zurich to inform the public about the everyday realities of undocumented migrants. The tour lasts about an hour and leads visitors through the building of a cooperative with stores, different rooms and facilities which serve as space to show real life situations undocumented migrants face and show how they are unable to make use of public services. There is an estimated 20,000 undocumented migrants living in the city of Zurich.  The audio tours by the contact point for undocumented migrants are offered from Monday to Thursday from 10:00 to 17:00. Further information can be obtained here.
    Source: Tagesanzeiger, 14 September 2015

PICUM IN THE NEWS

  • GERMANY / No sick person should be denied health care

    The daily newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau covered a conference organised by PICUM, the organisation Maisha and the Health Department of the city of Frankfurt on 2 October 2015 in Frankfurt am Main which discussed access to health care for undocumented migrants. The article discusses how the city of Frankfurt and other volunteer initiatives in Germany provide access to health care for undocumented migrants who risk to be reported to authorities if they seek health care in the regular system due to the legal obligation to denounce undocumented migrants.
    Source: Frankfurter Rundschau, 4 October 2015

  • SPAIN / Guide to understand massive deportation of undocumented migrants

    The Spanish edition of the Huffington Post published an article looking at the EU’s systematic deportation and deterrence of undocumented migrants. The article is also based on an interview with PICUM Programme Officer, Maria Giovanna Manieri about EU return policy, the role of Frontex and readmission agreements.
    Source: Huffington Post Spain, 15 October 2015

  • USA / EU migrant deportation policy

    The US radio NPR news featured a report on EU policy on deporting migrants. The report focuses on the situation in Germany and at EU level. It includes a quote of PICUM Programme Officer, Maria Giovanna Manieri about the need to establish more regular routes for migrants to come to Europe to address the situation at the border.
    Source: NPR News, 9 October 2015

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