PICUM Bulletin — 20 February 2014

BORDERS

  • MEXICO / REPORT / Central American migrants journey through Mexico to the US

    The Latin America Working Group (LAWG) published a report called ‘Perilous Journey: Kidnapping and Violence against Migrants in Transit through Mexico’” on 20 December 2013. The report highlights the horrific situation that Central American migrants face while trying to reach the United States through Mexico. Kidnapping and extortion of migrants are among the most lucrative and brutal practices of Mexican organised crime and are persistent along the migratory route. The report includes testimonies from migrants who have themselves survived kidnappings. The testimonies help put in perspective the dimension of the sufferings of thousands of victims and their families. To download the report, click here.
    Source: Latin America Working Group, 20 December 2013

  • GERMANY / Intensified targeted checks on long-distance buses

    German authorities have intensified their searches for irregular migrants travelling on long-distance buses. According to newspaper reports, the federal police apprehended 4,200 irregular migrants in 2013. The federal police stated that the checks on long-distance buses aim to prevent and fight irregular entry. The apprehended migrants were mostly from Afghanistan, Serbia, Syria, Somalia, Eritrea, Russia, Macedonia and Nigeria.
    Source: Huffington Post, 30 January 2014

  • ITALY / Lampedusa nominated for the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize

    After about 360 migrants died at sea on 3 October 2013, the Italian Newspaper ‘Espresso’ started a petition to nominate Lampedusa for the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize. 55,650 signatures have so far reached the Oslo committee. The reason for the nomination is explained by Professor Elisabeth Eide, from the Oslo University, in her letter to the Norwegian Nobel Committee. She states that many of the migrants who managed to survive the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean were welcomed on the island by its inhabitants, who showed courage and hospitality. Several times, fishermen have saved migrants from drowning. She added that it would put a spotlight on human compassion. 20,000 migrants have died in the sea while trying to reach the island of Lampedusa over the last 20 years. 640 died between 30 September and the 11 October 2013 alone, including at least 100 children.
    Sources: L’Espresso, 5 February 2014; L’Espresso, 31 January 2014

  • SPAIN / 14 sub-Saharan migrants die in attempt to cross border fence in Ceuta

    Between 250 and 400 sub-Saharan migrants tried to enter Spanish territory at the Moroccan-Spanish border in Ceuta on 6 February 2014. Testimonies of the survivors revealed that Spanish and Moroccan officials had used rubber bullets and teargas to try to prevent the migrants from entering Spanish territory. This caused panic amongst the migrants, many of whom jumped into the water but were unable to swim. 14 people were reported dead after the incident. Spanish authorities first denied the pushbacks by force, but had to discount their statement after a video revealed that some migrants had reached Spanish territory and were then pushed back. Meanwhile, Minister for the Interior, Jorge Fernández Díaz, admitted for the first time that “there may have been isolated cases” in which the Spanish Guardia Civil violated the law by handing sub-Saharan migrants who had crossed the security fences in Ceuta and Melilla back over to Moroccan authorities. In a statement, Migreurop Spain and its partner organisations said that these and previous deaths at the borders are a result of Spanish and EU migration policy. They called for the establishment of a Parliamentary Committee to investigate the circumstances that led to the deaths and to review border control practices in Ceuta and Melilla.
    Sources: El País English, 5 February 2014; El País, 6 February 2014

UNITED NATIONS

  • UN / UNU Migration Network

    The United Nations University (UNU) launched an online portal on 10 February 2014, the UNU Network on Migration, to enable access to data and publications of the United Nations University and other relevant sources. The network aims at contributing to evidence-based policy-making on migration. The portal currently contains information about 37 research projects and provides access to more than 200 migration-related publications. The network currently covers the following issues: forced migration; migration and health; migration and culture; migration governance and policy, and migration and development.
    Source: United Nations University, 10 February 2014

  • UN / Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons documents country visit to Italy

    The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, has published a video documenting her country visit to Italy. Although focusing on Italy, the video addresses the structural problem of global human trafficking as a lucrative business which destroys the lives of millions of people around the world. The Special Rapporteur on trafficking is calling for greater awareness of the work of UN Special Procedures, independent human rights experts who examine issues globally, or focus on specific places, or on particular groups. The video is available here.

EUROPEAN POLICY DEVELOPMENTS

  • COUNCIL OF EUROPE / Spain condemned for denying health care to undocumented migrants

    The Council of Europe expressed concern about the regressive legislative developments concerning access to health care for undocumented migrants in Spain on 29 January 2014. The conclusion is part of a report by the European Committee on Social Rights that examines if national laws are in line with the European Social Charter. On 20 April 2012 the Spanish government issued a Royal Decree-Act limiting access to health care services for irregular migrants to emergency, maternity and child care only (See PICUM Bulletin 29 May 2012). According to the Council of Europe, “the economic crisis cannot serve as a pretext for a restriction or denial of access to health care that affects the very substance of the right of access to health care”, meaning that states have the obligation to provide assistance to citizens regardless of their residency status. The report also listed other countries that violate their health care obligations towards irregular migrants such as Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland and France.
    Sources: El País, 29 January 2014; El País English, 29 January 2014

  • EU / Stakeholders consultation: ‘An open and safe Europe – what next?’

    Succeeding the current framework known as the Stockholm Programme, 2014 will see the European Union setting the agenda for the forthcoming years in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (AFSJ), including migration policies. The Directorate General of the European Commission in charge of Home Affairs policies (DG Home) launched a public consultation entitled “An open and safe Europe – what next?”. Contributions of various entities to the consultation are available here. The European Commission held a high level conference on 29 January 2014 to discuss the future of Home Affairs policies together with other EU institutions, civil society organisations, member states and researchers. The conference was hosted by Commissioner for Home Affairs, Cecilia Malmström, who opened the event and highlighted that migration has to be seen as an asset, not a burden, and that migrants can make very powerful contributions to our societies. The full speech is available here.

  • EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT / Resolution on “Undocumented Migrant Women in the EU”

    Underlining the need for equal access to justice and services for all women regardless of administrative status, the European Parliament passed a resolution on “Undocumented Migrant Women in the EU” on 4 February 2014. The motion for this resolution came from an own-initiative report of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) prepared by Rapporteur Norica Nicolai (ALDE, Romania). The resolution calls on national and European authorities to ensure that a woman’s immigration status does not prevent her from accessing decent housing, health care, education, and justice. The resolution recommends that member states now delink the prosecution of violence from immigration control, so that all victims can safely report crimes. To ensure undocumented women are not turned away in their time of need, violence against women shelters are encouraged to waive requirements that women provide documentation. Finally, access to health care and education should be upheld and there should be no reporting of children of undocumented migrants. While some recommendations were not passed in the final vote, such as a call for member states to ratify the UN Convention on Migrant Workers and the need to increase legal and social assistance for undocumented women, the resolution marks an important step regarding the need to protect undocumented women’s rights in Europe. Information on what each MEP voted is available here.

  • EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT / Non–EU seasonal workers entitled to better working conditions

    The European Parliament adopted new legislation on seasonal workers on 5 February 2014. The new rules that passed with a majority of 498 votes to 56, with 68 abstentions, will give non-EU seasonal workers the some labour rights on minimum pay, dismissal, working hours, holidays, and health and safety requirements, as EU nationals. The legislation requires all applications for entering the EU as a seasonal worker to include a work contract or a binding job offer specifying payments, working hours, as well as evidence that the worker will have appropriate accommodation. Employers in breach of their obligations will face penalties and will have to compensate the seasonal worker concerned.  However, member states will keep the right to decide how many seasonal workers they allow into their country each year and to fix a maximum length of stay of between five and nine months over a year. British Labour MEP, Claude Moraes, stated that the “historic legislation” was the EU’s “first piece of law on low-waged labour”. He added that the legislation had been formulated in the wake of a series of scandals revealing exploitation of seasonal workers, such as the shooting of 29 Bangladeshi strawberry pickers in Greece last April after they demanded unpaid wages (see PICUM Bulletin 17 May 2013).
    Sources: European Parliament News, 5 February 2014; EU Observer, 6 February 2014

NATIONAL DEVELOPMENTS

  • BELGIUM / Delegation meets with Guinean authorities to discuss undocumented migration

    A Belgian delegation led by the Belgian Secretary of State for Asylum, Immigration and Social Integration, Maggie De Block, met with Francois Fall, Guinean Minister of Foreign Affairs, on 3 January 2014 to discuss the situation of undocumented Guinean migrants. Belgian authorities seek assistance for the repatriation of migrants and Ms De Block emphasised voluntary return. Currently there are approximately 10,000 Guineans living in Belgium, of which more than half are estimated to be in an irregular situation. In 2013, Guineans were the second largest group of asylum seekers in Belgium.
    Source: Guinee7, 4 February 2014

  • CYPRUS / Action plan to prevent and fight irregular migration

    Speaking at a press conference to launch the programme ‘Colourful Societies’, which promotes the integration of third country nationals who regularly reside in Cyprus, Minister for the Interior, Socratis Hasikos, announced an action plan to prevent and fight irregular migration. Mr Hasikos stated that tackling irregular migration would be essential for the development of an effective migration policy and would help to prevent exploitation of migrant workers and support the labour market. Moreover, he announced that the control system of issuing permits to enter Cyprus, for migrant workers as well as for foreign students, should be strengthened and the Department for the Interior is examining an action plan for the integration of immigrants for the period from 2014-2016. For this purpose, the government hopes to use EU funds under the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund for the period 2014-2020.
    Source: InCyprus, 12 February 2014

  • FRANCE / Stripped of citizenship after 33 years

    The court of Rouen revoked the French citizenship of Sikhou Camara who was born in Senegal and granted French citizenship in 1966. Mr Camara had received French citizenship at the age of 20 when Senegal was still a French colony. However, the legal age at the time was 21. Subsequently, authorities required him to return his documents or otherwise be put on a list of wanted persons. Mr Camara had been working for the past 40 years as a welder in the region.
    Sources: Diawara, 3 February 2014; Oeil d’Afrique 4 February 2014

  • GERMANY / Migration Report 2012 released

    The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees published its findings on migration trends in Germany for the year 2012. This report was adopted by the Federal Cabinet on 15 January 2014. The report dedicates one chapter to irregular migration, stating that authorities are generally obliged to report undocumented migrants to the responsible foreigners or police office. In accordance with the Law for Transposition of Directives (Richtlinienumsetzungsgesetz) of November 2011, schools are exempted from transmitting data to allow access to education for undocumented migrant children. This exemption is also extended to other educational facilities. The number of recorded irregular entries by the federal police was 25,670 persons, which is for the first time since 2001 above 25,000 cases of recorded attempts of irregular entry. The full report is available only in German and can be read here.

  • RUSSIA / Restricted length of stay for migrants

    As of 1 January 2014, in the Russian Federation migrants without a work permit cannot stay longer than 90 days, and no more than once every six months. This new regulation aims to prevent irregular migration. Before, migrants would cross the borders after the expiration of the 90 days and immediately come back, however now, on the 91st day of stay, a migrant is considered undocumented and can be deported. But it often takes years until court decisions are made and in the meantime, irregular migrants are held in detention facilities where living conditions are considered inhumane. Moreover, cases are not always adequately revised. A human rights activist discovered that a court’s decision for deportation in one case was simply copied from another case, without further investigation. The programme ‘Migration Patrol’ in Moscow places officials in many public spaces of the city to undertake checks. Authorities also plan to build new detention centres for migrants awaiting deportation.
    Sources: Russian Newspaper, 30 December 2013; Russian Newspaper, 3 February 2014; Russian Newspaper, 5 February 2014

  • UK / Immigration Minister resigns over employing undocumented migrant as cleaning lady

    Mark Harper, the UK’s Immigration Minister, resigned on 7 February 2014 after it was revealed that his private cleaner, whom he hired in April 2007, was undocumented. Mr Harper stated that he should have checked the status of his Columbian cleaning lady “more thoroughly”, but that he had tried on several occasions to make sure she had Leave to Remain in the country. Most recently, Mark Harper was steering an immigration bill through the Commons (see PICUM Bulletin 2 December 2013) which warns employers of their duty to check the migration status of employees, and landlords their duty to check the status of tenants. Liberal Democrat MP Tessa Munt said: “I do wonder, if he [Harper] can’t work out the system, how on earth anybody else is meant to”. Moreover, Mr Harper was behind the controversial campaign that put “go home or face arrest” adverts on UK vans in summer 2013 (see PICUM Bulletin 22 August 2013) urging undocumented migrants to leave Britain and he had favoured the introduction of spot checks in London tube stations.
    Sources: The Guardian, 9 February 2014; International New York Times, 9 February 2014

  • US / Mayor of New York City proposes municipal ID cards for undocumented migrants

    Democrat Bill de Blasio, who was elected Mayor of New York City in November 2013, stated in his first State of the City address that New York would become the largest municipality to offer identification cards to residents regardless of their residence status. This should make it easier for undocumented migrants to open bank accounts, lease apartments, or borrow library books. With this proposal, Mr de Blasio bypasses federal lawmakers in Washington D.C., whose efforts to enact similar policies have recently run to a standstill. Similar initiatives already exist in other US municipalities such as San Francisco and Los Angeles. However, the mayor’s proposal will have to be approved by legislators in New York state capital Albany who are currently resisting another of his proposals to raise taxes on wealthy residents to pay for expanded pre-kindergarten and after-school programmes.
    Source: New York Times, 10 February 2014

HEALTH CARE

  • DENMARK / Majority agrees to link access to health care for undocumented migrants to immigration law enforcement

    Currently, undocumented migrants who seek treatment through the Danish health care system risk detection and deportation. A survey carried out by Altinget.dk shows that 60 percent of respondents agreed with this practice; 26 percent believe undocumented migrants should be able to receive health care without any danger of being deported; whilst 14 percent doubted the practice. The Danish Red Cross has seen an increase in patients in the two health care clinics for irregular migrants in Copenhagen and Aarhus and have advocated for keeping these migrants’ data confidential.
    Source: Altinget.dk, 22 January 2014

  • GERMANY / Federal state provides budget for health care for undocumented migrants

    The federal state of Schleswig-Holstein has included 200,000 Euros in its 2014 budget for medical services ‘beyond the regular system’. This is the result of an initiative of the Green Party’s parliamentary group. The programme targets mainly undocumented migrants in the federal state but the Medibüro Kiel (office for medical assistance in Kiel) states that currently two thirds of their patients are Romanians and Bulgarians who have papers but no insurance, therefore this first step is not sufficient in ensuring the provision of  health care for all those in need. Since the beginning of 2014, the service for child health care of the municipal authority of the city of Kiel offers a free weekly vaccination consultation for all uninsured children.
    Source: Kieler Nachrichten, 4 February 2014

  • MOROCCO / Istiqlal MPs call for health controls on sub-Saharan migrants

    Members of Parliament of the conservative Moroccan Istiqlal party (Independence Party) informed the Minister of Health El Hossein El Ouardi that sub-Saharans migrants in Morocco could be a menace to public health. As a result they argue that the migrants should be vaccinated and controlled in order prevent the transmission of diseases to the Moroccan population. The Minister of Health avoided commenting on the fact that sub-Saharan migrants could possibly spread diseases. Instead, he recalled the Kingdom’s efforts to improve the living conditions of sub-Saharan migrants in Morocco with free access to public health care. The concern expressed by the party members follows the recently launched regularisation campaign (See PICUM Bulletin 27 January 2014). Marcel Amiyeto, Secretary General of the Democratic Organisation of Immigrant Workers in Morocco (ODT) warned of the stigmatisation caused by the allegation that these migrants are responsible for spreading diseases.
    Source: Bladi, 6 February 2014

  • PORTUGAL / Manual on access to health care for non-citizens

    In December 2013, the Central Administration of the Portuguese Health System published a manual on access to the health system for foreign citizens, with the aim of reducing the difficulties faced by migrants in accessing health care in Portugal. The document also explains the rights and the responsibilities of third country nationals. Migrants and temporary residents must register initially with the local health care authority in order to obtain a “user’s card”. Only then may they sign up for the National Health Service (Serviço Nacional de Saúde, SNS). A residence title issued by the Service for Borders and Frontiers (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras, SEF) is required to start the process. Expired visas issued by the SEF are also accepted, if accompanied by a demand for visa renewal. Migrants who are unable to provide such documents may still receive the card, but are required to pay for medical services. Cases that pose a risk to public health are exempted from payment. The Central Authority stresses that undocumented migrants do have the right to access the Portuguese health care system. The manual was jointly created by the Directorate-General of Social Security, the High Commission for Migration and Intercultural Dialogue (ACIDI), and the Health Administration Authority of the North and Algarve regions. Further information can be found here.
    Source: Access, 28 January 2014

LABOUR AND FAIR WORKING CONDITIONS

  • RUSSIA / OLYMPICS / Exploitation of migrant workers

    Ahead of the launch of the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia on 7 February 2014, new reports revealed the labour exploitation of undocumented migrant workers in the $50 billion construction of the games. Migrants reported to have worked without a contract and have been threatened when they asked for their payment after finishing their jobs. A group of Serbs reported that they were promised a tourist visa and a monthly wage of 1,500 Euros. However, their visas expired, the workers had to stay in overcrowded accommodation lacking sufficient sanitation, and they were then arrested and detained. After several days in detention, the workers were flown back to Serbia having each earned only 250 Euros. According to the Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak, who has a major role in overseeing the Olympic preparations, the debts would be settled. Russia has been criticised for ongoing human rights abuses by human rights groups, most recently for the adoption of a discriminatory antigay law.
    Sources: Reuters, 5 February 2014; Human Rights Watch, February 2014

  • REPORT / Cooperation and the prevention human trafficking in the Mediterranean region

    The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Office of the Special Representative and Coordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings held a seminar on 8 February 2013 in order to discuss the complexities of trafficking in the Mediterranean region. The discussions have led to the publication of the report ‘Enhancing cooperation to prevent trafficking in human beings in the Mediterranean region’ by the OSCE in November 2013. The report combines keys issues and challenges raised, all the while compiling good practices in the prevention of trafficking. Furthermore, it provides specific targets aiming to improve cooperation on three thematic issues: justice for trafficked workers, financial sanctions for traffickers, and prevention of domestic servitude. It concludes by calling states to work together to prevent trafficking, emphasising the promotion of regular migration and the respect of fundamental worker’s rights to achieve this goal, as well as the role of the business sector. To access the full report, click here.

  • SURVEY / Engaging the private sector in the fight against trafficking

    La Strada International (LSI) has presented preliminary results of a survey carried out among 27 European anti-trafficking NGOs, assessing NGO initiatives and practices in engaging the business sector. The results show the perceived obstacles, enablers and lessons learnt in ensuring effective cooperation with the private sector. 80 percent of the responding NGOs have experience in targeting the private sector and consider it a key target group, 67 percent have actually engaged the private sector, but only half recognise this importance in their strategic planning. Perceived value gaps were a major unease for NGOs to engage with the private sector. Moreover, anti-trafficking NGOs are frequently service providers and are concerned about the confidentiality of the victims of trafficking they assist. Partnerships could, for instance, be established with hospitals to provide free medical support to victims of trafficking. To view the results of the survey, click here.
    Source: La Strada, Quarterly Newsletter, Winter 2014

UNDOCUMENTED WOMEN

  • EU / Insight into trafficking for sexual exploitation

    A series of reports provides insight into the trafficking for sexual exploitation of migrant women across Europe. The journalists focus on trafficking of women from Nigeria to EU countries such as Italy and Sweden, showing how policemen and other officials also take advantage of victims, thus preventing access to justice for the trafficked women. Moreover, the series provides testimonies of trafficked women explaining how the trafficking networks bring the girls to Europe and forcefully create dependence, often with the help of other women. The reporting was made possible through a grant from the Journalism Fund.
    Sources: EU Observer, 10 February 2014; EU Observer, 11 February 2014; EU Observer, 13 February 2014

  • US / Undocumented women find innovative solutions to overcome labour market exclusion

    Adelante, an organisation working to address homelessness among families in Sante Fe, New Mexico, has developed a programme to enable undocumented mothers to improve their skills and gain an income. Mujeres de Adelante, translated as “homeless mothers”, is a small cooperative of undocumented women who either are or have been homeless and have come together to create business opportunities. Despite not having a residence status, speaking English, or having a job, these women produce handmade goods which they sell at local craft fairs. Mujeres de Adelante is currently in discussions with the Sante Fe Chamber of Green Chamber Commerce to develop reusable bags for the city’s upcoming plastic bag ban.
    Source: Santa Fe Reporter, 29 January 2014

UNDOCUMENTED CHILDREN AND THEIR FAMILIES

  • BELGIUM / MEPs criticise Belgian government for treatment of undocumented Afghans in Brussels

    Two MEPs are seeking Parliament-wide support to pressure the Belgian government to resolve the status of a group of homeless undocumented Afghans, including many families, currently staying at the Beguinage church in Brussels. The head of the parliament’s leftist GUE group, Gabi Zimmer, along with Portuguese MEP Alda Sousa from the same faction, announced on 23 January 2014 that they would circulate a letter among euro-deputies to denounce Belgium’s treatment of the Afghans, asking the government to change its position on whether it is safe for them to return to Afghanistan. The MEPs want deputies from all political groups to sign before sending the letter to the Belgian Minister of Interior. Speaking at an event on 11 February, Gabi Zimmer deplored the lack of services, including health care and water, provided to migrants, and particularly children and families, who are unable to return to their country of origin.
    Sources: EU Observer, 23 January 2014 ; GUE/NGL Letter to Belgian Prime Minister, 7 February 2014

  • UN / Call on states to address barriers for children to access justice

    The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has released a report on “Access to justice for children” on 16 December 2013. The report sets out to clarify what is meant by access to justice for children, focusing on the ability to obtain just and timely remedies for rights violations. It also covers the need to establish accessible complaints procedures at the national and international level, to provide children with the advice and assistance they need to engage with the legal system, as well as ways of overcoming the other barriers that children face in upholding their rights. The report notes the additional barriers that migrant children face in accessing justice and urges states to address these and adopt special protective measures. The report is available here (in English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Arabic and Russian). The Human Rights Council’s Annual Day on the Rights of the Child will be held on 13 March 2014, during its 25th session, which is dedicated to “Access to Justice for Children”.
    Sources: CRINMAIL 117, 24 January 2014; Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

  • UN / World Youth Report focuses on Youth and Migration

    The United Nations 2013 World Youth Report addresses the theme of migration and offers a broad understanding of the situation of young migrants from the perspective of young migrants themselves. Based on their own lives and told in their own voices, the report highlights some of the concerns, challenges and successes experienced by young migrants. The report focuses largely on the phenomena of international migration, which increasingly has a significant impact on the origin, transit and destination countries and communities. The consequences are complex, context-specific and subject to change over time. The particular challenges around irregular migration for young potential migrants, as well as the impacts irregular status can have on experiences in countries of transit and destination are considered throughout the report. Read the report here.

  • UN / Germany urged to respect the rights of undocumented children

    The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child periodic review of Germany’s implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child on 31 January 2014 also addressed undocumented children’s rights. In its concluding observations, the Committee urged the state to repeal any obligation for service providers to report undocumented children to immigration authorities.  Moreover, the Committee expressed concern about inadequate health services for undocumented children, including treatment of acute illnesses, preventative health care and psychosocial therapy support when necessary. The report, which included specific recommendations regarding access to birth registration and health services, as well as immigration detention, is available here.
    Source: OHCHR Civil Society Section, News on Treaty Bodies, 7 February 2014

DETENTION AND DEPORTATION

  • ITALY / Detained migrants sew mouths in protest

    Thirteen Moroccan migrants who are detained in the migration detention centre of Ponte Galeria in Rome sewed their mouths with needles and fishing wire as a sign of protest on 25 January 2014. They all arrived in Lampedusa in November 2013 and remain detained in poor conditions. As Gabriella Guido, spokeswoman for the campaign LasciateCIEntrare (‘Let us enter’) explained: “They are under stress, angry and they’ve lost faith. This is the only form of protest they have. They’ve been left in complete uncertainty; no-one has explained anything to them”. After five days of protest, two were released and a third was moved to another detention centre where his family was detained. The rest of the protestors removed their stitches and began to eat again but announced to that they would sew their mouths shut again if they should still be detained without any explanation at the end of the month.
    Sources: The Daily Beast, 4 February 2014; Corriere della Sera, 26 January 2014

  • FRANCE / Children still detained

    French President Francois Hollande promised in his presidential campaign to end the detention of children. However, detention of children still occurs and is not supervised in an improved manner. In late January 2014, at least two new families with young children were detained. A woman, her four month-old baby and two year old child were detained in Metz from 28 to 29 January 2014. They were deported the following morning to Italy without being given the opportunity to meet with the Order of Malta, an association that aims to ensure the upholding of rights in this detention centre.
    Source: La Cimade, 31 January 2014

  • MALTA / REPORT / Consequences of returning migrants back to Libya

    “Beyond Imagination, Asylum seekers testify to life in Libya” is a report published by the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Malta in January 2014. It seeks to shed light on the situation of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees in Libya, arguing that migrants should not be returned to Libya. The report is based on interviews and personal accounts of experiences of abuse and violence. JRS Malta calls on authorities to consider the conditions in Libya and that return should not prevent the migrants’ access to fundamental rights. Many migrants who recently came from Libya to Europe are of sub-Saharan origin and had lived in Libya as working migrants until the NATO bombing in 2011. The report can be accessed here.
    Sources: Thomson Reuters Foundation, 4 February 2014;  Malta, January 2014

  • NETHERLANDS / Coalition against child detention presents petition to Department of Security and Justice

    The coalition ‘Geen kind in de cel’ (No child in detention), which includes organisations such as Amnesty International, Defence for Children, VreemdelingenWerk Nederland and UNICEF Nederland, presented the publication ‘Daddy, have we done something bad?’ (Papa, hebben wij iets ergs gedaan?) to the Department of Security and Justice on 28 January 2014. The petition gives a voice to children who have been in detention with the aim of avoiding a debate on child detention which would be held solely along political lines. The report, with the stories of eight families who have been in detention, and six families who still remain detained, shows the long-term consequences detention can have for children and emphasises that child detention is in conflict with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The Labour Party promised to look for alternatives and to engage in a debate with the coalition. Click here to read the publication in Dutch.
    Source: Volkskrant, January 28, 2014

  • REPORT / Research reveals shortcomings of the EU Returns Directive in Spain, Italy, and Cyprus

    Borderline-europee.V., in cooperation with the organisations KISA in Cyprus, Borderline Sicilia in Italy, and Mugak and Acoge in Spain, conducted research between August 2012 and January 2014 on the implementation of the EU Return Directive (2008/115/EC) in the respective countries. A main focus of this research was to investigate the conditions under which migrants are detained in the three countries. The project resulted in the report entitled “At the Limen. The implementation of the Returns Directive in Italy, Cyprus and Spain” . The project identified various breaches of the European Convention on Human Rights as well as breaches of the provisions of the Returns Directive concerning the detention of migrants in all three countries. These include that detention is not used as a last resort but rather long-term detention is the norm; migrants are deprived of their freedom, even in cases in which deportation cannot be carried out; children and other particularly vulnerable groups are detained; there is no effective legal protection, no access to adequate  health care, and migrants are often detained alongside those in custody for criminal offences. The project partners call upon the European Commission to evaluate the Return Directive and its implementation in the member states.
    Source: KISA, January 2014

  • UK / Concerns regarding impact of administrative detention upon migrant women

    A report from the organisation Women for Refugee Women, entitled ‘Detained: Women Asylum Seekers Locked Up in UK’ , found that almost one third of the women who sought asylum in the UK in 2012 were detained.  Following interviews with a sample of 46 migrant women in immigration detention, the research found that 72 percent of the women had been raped, 41 percent said that they had been tortured and over 85 percent had been either raped or tortured before coming to the UK. All of the women in the sample said detention made them unhappy; 93 percent felt depressed, 85 percent felt scared. More than half had thought about killing themselves and more than one in five had tried to kill themselves. Ending the detention of migrant women is the objective of an online petition addressed to British Home Secretary Theresa May which has already reached 25,000 signatures. Initiated by the daughter of an undocumented woman who was detained alongside her mother in Yarls Wood when she was thirteen years old, the petition demands that the government stops detaining women who have sought asylum in the UK; that detention centres refrain from employing male staff in roles where they come into contact with women; and that allegations of abuse made against staff are properly investigated. The petition is available here.

  • US / Increasing number of deportations

    The United States deported about 369,000 undocumented migrants in 2013, an increase of nine times within 20 years. This brings the number of deportations of undocumented migrants to almost two million during Barack Obama’s presidency. Meanwhile, irregular entry at the country’s south-western border has reportedly dropped and estimates show that in the past couple of years the outflow has been greater than the inflow. The increase of deportations is partly due to an immigration law in 1996 which lowered legal barriers to deportation by reclassifying “aggravated felonies”. This means that if an undocumented migrant fails to appear in court, or uses false papers, it could be considered a crime and lead to deportation. Besides, time limits of offences were suspended, meaning that crimes committed by teenagers could lead to deportation 20 years later. Moreover, the Department for Homeland Security has continued to raid workplaces where undocumented migrants are expected to be found, such as in the agricultural sector, and the police have been tasked with tracking down undocumented migrants. The United States’ deportation policy aims to deter. The vast majority of foreigners expelled last year were Mexicans (322,900) according to Mexican government statistics.
    Sources: The Economist, 8 February 2014; The Economist, 8 February 2014

EVENTS

  • EVENT / Global Forum on Migration and Development

    The seventh Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD)  will take place from 14-16 May in Stockholm, Sweden. The GFMD Civil Society Days will take place from 12-14 May in Stockholm, Sweden, and will bring together 200 migration and development leaders from all over the world. The event aims to drive forward the five-year eight-point Action Plan which was proposed at the UN High Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development in October 2013. The deadline for registrations for the Civil Society Days is 19 February 2014. For registration and further information, click here.

OTHER NEWS

  • UK / Documentary on undocumented migrants in London

    The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) has between September 2011 and January 2014 funded the research project ‘Undocumented migrants, ethnic enclaves and networks: Opportunities, traps or class bases constructs’ (UndocNet). As an outcome of the project, three films have been produced which depict the experiences of being irregular migrants in London. The films show migrants from three countries of origin – Bangladesh, China and Turkey (including Kurds and Northern Cypriots). The difficulties in accessing the labour market and hopes for the future are topics dealt with in the films. The project comes at a time when UK politicians have proposed more restrictive immigration policies. The films are available here.
    Source: Migrants’ Rights Network, 7 February 2014

PICUM IN THE NEWS

  • EU / Seasonal Workers’ Directive

    PICUM was interviewed by EuroparlTV of the European Parliament on the adoption of new legislation on seasonal workers on 5 February 2014 by the European Parliament. The legislation will give non-EU seasonal workers the some labour rights as EU nationals on minimum pay, dismissal, working hours, holidays, and health and safety requirements.
    Source: EuroparlTV, 14 February, 2014

  • EU / Human trafficking in the EU

    PICUM was interviewed by EU correspondent Bjarke Smith-Meyer reporting for Jewish News One about human trafficking in Europe and the barriers victims of trafficking face when trying to access justice. The report focuses on the EU’s efforts to fight trafficking.
    Source: Jewish News One, 12 February, 2014

  • ITALY / Resolution on “Undocumented Migrant Women in the EU”

    The Italian social affairs news agency, Redattore Sociale, interviewed PICUM on the outcome of the European Parliament’s vote on the resolution “Undocumented Migrant Women in the EU” on 4 February 2014. The resolution calls on national and European authorities to ensure that a woman’s immigration status does not prevent her from accessing decent housing, health care, education, and justice.
    Source: Redattore Sociale, 5 February, 2014

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