PICUM Bulletin — 22 August 2013

BORDERS

  • CAMPAIGN / Stop violence at the borders

    On 28 June 2013 four Moroccan associations – ALECMA, AMDH, FMAS and GADEM – launched a campaign called “No. 9 – Stop violence at the borders!” to denounce the daily and systematic repression of migrants by Moroccan authorities as well as the implication of Spanish authorities in the crimes committed against migrants at the borders of Ceuta and Melilla. They also demand an official investigation into the circumstances of the death of Clément, an undocumented Cameroonian migrant, who died as a result of wounds inflicted during repression by Spanish and Moroccan forces, as well as an investigation into the circumstances in which other migrants have lost their lives at the border. To find out more about the campaign and sign the petition, click here.
    Source: Number 9, 31 July 2013.

  • GREECE / 24 irregular migrants drown in Aegean Sea

    A speedboat with irregular migrants capsized in the Aegean Sea off the coast of Ezine, a district in the northwestern province of Canakkale. 24 bodies were found, according to local news agencies. The captain had called the coast guard, reporting that 30 people were on board. A coast guard plane was deployed to search for more people in the sea. No detail was provided on the origin of the migrants.
    Source: Greek reporter, 31 July 2013

  • MALTA / International responsibilities towards rescued migrants

    The crew of the Liberian-flagged oil tanker Salamis rescued 102 shipwrecked migrants on 5 August 2013. Being on route to Malta, the captain of the ship aimed to disembark in Malta. However, Malta refused the disembarkation which led to a debate about the humanitarian responsibilities of EU member states. The tanker was eventually received by Italy despite the EU Commission’s call for Malta to take appropriate action and allow the boat to disembark. Maltese Prime Minister Muscat stated that he would take the same stance again in a similar scenario. He claimed that Malta’s responsibility was fulfilled by providing the migrants on board with food, water and medication and stressed that the captain had disregarded international obligations by choosing to continue to sail to Malta instead of returning to Libya which at the time was the nearest safest port. The incident follows a series of migrant arrivals and rescues near Maltese shores. Commissioner Malmström has confirmed that if Malta comes under increased migratory pressure the EU will be ready to help but Malta must acknowledge that all arrivals on EU territory have the right to seek asylum and any return operations must abide by this principle.
    Source: EUROPA Press Release Rapid ; Malta Today ; Middle East Online , 12 August 2013

  • ITALY / Demands for EU solidarity

    The Italian Prime Minister, Enrico Letta, recalled the EU principle of solidarity after recent tragedies at sea. According to Mr Letta, the migration problem is structural and requires the cooperation of the whole EU. On 10 August 2013, coast guards rescued nearly 100 migrants, mostly from Egypt and Syria, in Catania, Sicily. Six migrants lost their lives in the incident after jumping off the boat trying to reach the shore. Investigators are working on the hypothesis that the fishing boat might have been towed by a larger ship linked to a criminal network. Police arrested two Egyptians, aged 16 and 17, on suspicion of assisting irregular migration. Mr Letta also recalled Italy’s solidarity a few days before when the country agreed to take the migrants on board the ship Salamis which was denied disembarkation in Malta and caused an EU-wide debate on the obligation to relieve shipmasters of migrants recovered by ships at sea.
    Source: Adnkronos ; Lettera 43 , 11 August 2013

  • JUSTICE / Survivors of boating tragedy sue France and Spain

    Two survivors of a 2011 boating disaster, which cost the lives of 63 migrants, have commenced legal proceedings in France and Spain alleging that the French and Spanish military failed to come to the aid of the overcrowded boat which was in clear need of assistance. The boat, which left from Libya, ran out of fuel and was left floating near a busy shipping lane in the Mediterranean for two weeks. One of the nine survivors recalls how a flyover helicopter had identified their boat and dropped them water and biscuits, indicating that it would return but it never did. Last year, following an investigation into the tragedy, the Council of Europe also called on NATO and its member states to launch inquiries into how the military units in the area had failed to assist or respond to the migrants’ calls for help.
    Source: The Guardian , 21 June 2013

  • REPORT / New Amnesty International report draws attention to the situation of migrants and refugees

    Amnesty International (AI) released a report entitled “Frontier Europe – Human rights abuses on Greece’s border with Turkey” as part of a campaign “Greece: Stop putting lives at risk. No more push backs!” on 9 July 2013. The report highlights that migrants and refugees trying to reach the EU through Greece are being regularly returned to Turkey by the Greek border police and coastguards. They are pushed back without an assessment of the circumstances of each person. This practice puts lives of people, including children, at risk and is against domestic, international and EU law. According to AI, almost every person who claimed to have been pushed back said that they either experienced or witnessed violence and ill-treatment. The report also highlights the extensive and indiscriminate use of detention of migrants and refugees, including minors and women, often under conditions considered inhumane. The campaign aims to persuade Greek authorities to stop the violation of migrants’ and refugees’ human rights.
    Source: Amnesty International, 9 July 2013.

  • REPORT / Measures and fundamental rights challenges for arrivals of migrants at sea

    The European Union Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) released a report entitled ‘EU solidarity and Frontex: fundamental rights challenges’ which analyses the extent to which fundamental rights are implemented during joint EU and Frontex operations at sea. The report outlines the guidelines and evaluation requirements of joint operations and suggests improving the compatibility with fundamental rights of EU measures funded under the Internal Security Fund instrument for borders and visa and the Asylum and Migration Fund. Frontex operational plans should include debriefings of officers and follow the guidelines set out in the Council Decision 2010/252/E until a new instrument is in place. The report is available for download here.

  • SPAIN / Attempted crossings of Melilla border fence

    A group of 50 sub-Saharan migrants unsuccessfully tried to scale the fence to enter the Spanish enclave of Melilla on 7 August 2013. The Guardia Civil together with Moroccan authorities stopped the group. This follows a similar incident on 6 August 2013 when 200 migrants attempted a massive crossing with some 50 making it across. A 20 year old man had to be hospitalised after jumping off the 5 metre fence, fracturing his vertebrae. The others were placed in the Centre for Temporary Stay (CETI). The CETI is occupied by about 850 people, well above its initial capacity of 480 places. For this reason, tents and bunks, provided by the army, were set up. The delegation of the Melilla government denounced, on 5 July 2013, that sub-Saharan migrants arriving by sea and trying to reach Melilla, changed their approach, trying to threaten guards. The government released some pictures and a video, which shows a group of African migrants, including children and women, on a small boat threatening the Guardia Civil to throw a child over board and set the boat on fire if their passage should be interrupted. Another 64 sub-Saharan migrants were rescued at the Strait of Gibraltar and 2 more near the Gran Canary on 14 August 2013. In the first half of 2013, 573 people were rescued compared to 269 people in the same period in 2012.
    Source: El País,   14 August 2013; El Mundo, 6 August 2013 ; El País,  4 August 2013

  • US / Young irregular migrants cross border into Mexico to stage a protest

    Three young migrant activists who entered the United States irregularly alongside their parents when they were children crossed the border into Mexico to protest against the deportation of thousands of people over the past few years. The students, wearing graduation caps, chanted “undocumented, unafraid” during their parade and were later joined by more than 30 other young migrant activists at the border. Entering Mexico put them at risk of not being able to return to the US. Deported young migrants can apply for return to the US under the Obama administration. However, as the protest was considered a voluntary return to Mexico, they would not have this option, according to migration experts.
    Source: Los Angeles Times 22 July 2013

  • US / Militarising the border does not deter irregular migration

    After passage of a comprehensive immigration law in 1986, the U.S. began securing the border with Mexico, often referred to as militarisation. Before, many Mexicans who entered the United States irregularly also returned. According to Douglas Massey of Princeton University, the large influx of undocumented migrants is directly related to border militarisation. In 1980, before passage of the 1986 law, 46% of undocumented Mexican migrants returned to Mexico within 12 months. By 2007, that was down to 7%. However, the flow of irregular migration has clearly slowed down over the past year which calls into question the current debate on further securing the border with Mexico.
    Source: Wonkblog (Washington Post) , 10 August 2013

  • UK / Report on UK Borders

    A new independent report on Britain’s borders suggests that Britain should introduce a scheme of fingerprinting undocumented migrants caught entering the country, particularly as this information could be useful in cases where migrants re-entered Britain and applied for asylum. In response immigration Minister Mark Harper noted that taking fingerprints would not help remove migrants who entered the UK irregularly, though he accepted that the British policy would be reviewed. In addition the Home Office has been criticised for 15 redactions in the report which, although they were made in accordance with the law and in consultation with the independent Commissioner John Vine, caused some campaigners to question the transparency of the report.
    Source: Reuters UK, 14 August 13

UNITED NATIONS

  • YOUTH / International Youth Day celebrated under the theme of migration

    This year’s International Youth Day on 12 August was celebrated under the theme of ‘Youth Migration: Moving Development Forward’. The 2013 observance aimed to raise awareness of the opportunities and risks associated with youth migration, share knowledge and information stemming from recent research and analysis on this topic, and engage young people in discussions on their migration experiences.  Stakeholders reminded of the potential of young migrants to drive development and change but also warned of poor working conditions and discrimination based on gender, ethnicity or religion which they often face. According to the UN, there were 27 million young international migrants in 2010. To find out more about International youth migration and development and the United Nation’s upcoming World Youth Report 2013, click here.
    Sources: UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) Newsletter Volume 17, No.08, August 2013; Associated Press,  12 August 2013

  • UNITED NATIONS / Civil society preparatory events ahead of High Level Dialogue

    Ahead of the UN High Level Dialogue (HLD) in New York from 3 to 4 October 2013, the UN General Assembly brought civil society leaders and networks from around the world to New York on 15 July to present their experience and recommendations to governments in interactive hearings. The hearings focused particularly on the key issues of civil society’s 5-year agenda: migrant labour and mobility, migrant rights and protection, human development and diaspora action and migration governance and partnerships. You can view photos and videos with speeches of the interactive hearing. For more information on the High Level Dialogue and civil society engagement, click here .

NATIONAL DEVELOPMENTS

  • DENMARK / Homeless West Africans caught in limbo

    According to recent surveys carried out by the Christian relief organisation Danchurchsocial and the municipal organisation for homelessness (Projekt Udenfor), there has been a rise in undocumented migrants from West Africa living on the streets of Copenhagen. In 2009 just 4% of the homeless who came to Danchurchsocial’s shelters were West Africans, now they make up 53%. About 80% of these are in search of work and they are deemed very resourceful, but their homelessness results in social immobility. The head of Copenhagen’s social committee Mikkel Warning has called for action. Under existing law municipalities cannot support shelters for the foreign homeless. Essentially, this issue can only be addressed by the government who in Mikkel Warning’s words takes a dismissive standpoint towards the improvement of conditions for these migrants, regardless of which party is in power.
    Source: Dagbladet Information, 12 August 2013 ; Dagbladet Politiken, 30 July 2013

  • GERMANY / Federal state of Thuringia changes residence obligation

    After an evaluation of restrictions of the freedom of movement in the federal state of Thuringia in spring this year, the Residence Obligation (Residenzpflicht) was relaxed. Asylum seekers and migrants suspended from deportation (Duldung) can now move freely within the territory of the federal state. The extension of the freedom of movement followed a large scale campaign by the Refugee Council of Thuringia (Flüchtlingsrat Thüringen) and other groups and individuals who considered the restriction of the freedom of movement to certain districts as inhumane. The change of law was supported by the left party, the social democrats and the green party. The German regulation which allows penalisation of refugees and migrants suspended from deportation is a unique policy in the EU. After the change of law in Thuringia, Bavaria and Saxony remain the only two German federal states which still maintain such restrictive residence obligations. All other federal states have extended the freedom of movement to at least the borders of the respective federal state. But the law to restrict the freedom of movement to certain regions and districts remains enshrined in federal law in Germany.
    Source: Flüchtlingsrat Thüringen, edition 55, June 2013

  • NETHERLANDS / Iraq no longer accepts forced removals from the Netherlands

    The Dutch State Secretary for Security and Justice, Fred Teeven, discussed the forced removal to Iraq of migrants whose asylum application was refused on his visit to the country. A recent Dutch documentary on the forced removal of asylum seeking children titled ’Uitgezet’ (Deported) shows among other things the life of a family deported in 2011, apparently one of the last families forcibly returned to Iraq by the Netherlands. Many of the Iraqis, who are living in tents and in former churches in the Netherlands, can’t be deported without Iraq’s help because they don’t have the proper paperwork. Iraq officials have said that too many citizens are returning to be taken care of and to find jobs for. Last year 65,000 families returned to Iraq and Iraqi authorities say they cannot cope with supporting all the families from around the world returning to the country. The Minster for Migration in Iraq, argued in ‘Uitgezet’ that many people suffer from psychological problems upon return to Iraq after spending many years in the Netherlands.
    Sources: NOS, 10 July 2013; UPI, 10 July 2013

  • REPORT / Migration in Croatia and Macedonia

    A new report from Jesuit Refugee Services (JRS) entitled ‘From back door to front door: Forced migration routes through Macedonia to Croatia’ released on 29 July 2013, explores the experiences of migrants in Macedonia and Croatia in an attempt to identify the challenges faced by migrants and the strength of both regions’ immigration systems. The report illustrates that both countries tend to be countries of transit rather than destination with a rise in migrants transiting the region to reach EU countries to claim asylum. In light of Croatia’s recent accession to the EU the number of migrants is expected to continue to rise. But according to the JRS report, the asylum system in Croatia is already operating at the limit of its capacity. It cites UNHCR data that since 2004, only 80 people have been granted protection in Croatia and around 85% of undocumented migrants who lodge asylum applications leave before the process is resolved. Under the Dublin Regulation, however, many of those who leave during the procedure will be returned to Croatia. The challenge then is to build Croatia’s migration management in order to prevent its asylum system from collapsing. The report makes a number of key recommendations including proper implementation of EU asylum rules in Croatia, improved processing capacities and standard of care, and the continued positive Croatian policy of engaging in dialogue and cooperation with civil society organisations.

  • RUSSIA / Makeshift camps with more than 1,000 irregular migrants

    After police round-ups, thousands of irregular migrants, mostly from Vietnam, have been detained in makeshift camps in Russia. According to the local police, 612 labour migrants are being kept in a tent camp for allegedly violating migration rules. It is expected that they will be deported. According to news sources, a total of 2,400 people were detained by Moscow police within a week and makeshift camps hold more than 1,000 people. In many cases, employers confiscated their passports which make the procedures longer and their stay in detention indefinite. Human rights activists urged to investigate cases of trafficking and forced labor instead of only persecuting the migrants for irregular stay.
    Source: Ria Novosti, 4 August 2013; Al Jazeera,  15 August 2013

  • UK / Migrant ‘Go Home’ campaign

    The UK Home Office launched a ‘go home or face arrest’ campaign with the aim of encouraging voluntary departure of undocumented migrants. The campaign is set to send out a hard-line message to undocumented migrants and consists of billboards and advertising vans that will drive around several London boroughs. The campaign has been criticised by, among others, the deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, for misleading ads displayed on billboards. A large-print claim of “106 arrests last week in your area” on the billboards is followed by an asterisk referring viewers to a footnote too small to be read when the van is moving, indicating the week in question and a large number of boroughs which are not usually referred to as ‘one area’ including direct arrests at airports of new arrivals. This latest development follows the Home Office’s controversial twitter campaign and recent restrictive legislative measures to curb irregular immigration.
    Sources: The New Statesman , 22 July 2013; The Guardian , 31 July 2013

  • UK / Opposed solutions to growing number of undocumented migrants in the UK

    A proposed amnesty scheme for the estimated 570,000 undocumented migrants living in the UK has been firmly rejected by Prime Minister David Cameron. The suggestion, from British MP Nadhim Zahawi, was based on prospects of both financial and political gains with the hope of winning over ethnic minority voters, particularly as Zahawi expressed concern that party members could not ‘claim to be the Conservative and Unionist Party if large numbers of non-white Britons continue to believe we aren’t capable of representing them’. The idea was expressly opposed by Cameron and many others, but there is continuing concern over the government’s approach to the growing issue of irregular immigration. This is also in light of the upcoming immigrant bond pilot scheme, whereby visitors from certain African and Asian countries will be required to pay a fee of £3,000 which is refunded if they leave the country before their visa runs out. One aim behind this project is to deter migrants from overstaying their visa but it remains controversial and has attracted international criticism for targeting certain countries.
    Source: The Huffington Post, 3 July 2013

  • US / Concerns on immigration reform bill

    Compromises made in an effort to strengthen support for the US immigration reform bill have given rise to several concerns amongst pro-immigration reform groups. The commitment to allocate up to $40 billion to enforcement measures over the next decade has particularly weakened support amongst groups which formerly were regarded as reliable backers of the new legislation. The proposed provisions, the toughest in the history of border control, have led to fear of increased deaths at the US-Mexico border and critics have accused the Democratic Party of giving up on a balanced compromise on reform in order to move the bill forward.
    Source: The New York Times ; No More Deaths , 30 July 2013

  • US / International Migrants Bill of Rights

    Starting in 2008, Georgetown University Law School students developed the initiative ‘International Migrants Bill of Rights’ (IMBR) which, for the first time, compiles a single legal framework to protect the rights of all international migrants. The IMBR has drawn from various sources of international law so as to provide migrants and advocates with a comprehensive tool for guaranteeing migrants’ rights and also can be utilised by countries to better comply with existing international law. A handbook listing the 23 articles can be found here.

HEALTH CARE

  • GERMANY / Man on hunger strike directly deported from hospital

    A man from Georgia who had entered Germany irregularly was deported directly from a hospital in the city of Eisenhüttenstadt to Georgia. After his application for asylum was rejected by the Federal Authority for Migration and Refugees he went on a hunger strike to protest against detention and deportation practices and was treated in the hospital. After a physician assessed that he could be released, he was immediately deported although he had allegedly started not to eat again and was only drinking liquids. Supporters of refugees and migrants in the region protested against the deportation.
    Source: Deutsche Presse Agentur ,26 July 2013

  • ITALY / Children of undocumented migrants have no access to pediatricians

    The Lombardy Regional Council rejected a motion on 7 July 2013 which would have extended basic pediatric care to children of undocumented migrants (see PICUM Bulletin 22 January 2013 ). The motion was in line with the agreement of the Italian State-Regions Permanent Conference of December 2012 that aims to harmonise the norms that currently regulate access to health care for undocumented migrants in Italy. Other Italian regions such as Lazio, Apulia, Calabria, Campania and the autonomic province of Trento voted in favour of the motion. According to PICUM Member ASGI, Associazione Studi Giuridice sull’ Immigrazione, the rejection of the motion by the Lombardy region violates the fundamental rights of vulnerable individuals, is in breach of both international and national obligations and is at odds with the agreement adopted by the Italian State-Regions Permanent Conference in December 2012.
    Source: Corriere Immigrazione, 7 July 2013

  • PUBLICATION / Mexican migrant workers

    The lifestyle and perception of Mexican fieldworkers is examined in Seth Holmes’s new book ‘Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies: Migrant Farmworkers in the United States’. Holmes, a physician and anthropologist, spent five years working in the area of migrant workers, including 18 months living and migrating full time with indigenous Mexican migrants. The final product of his work focuses on the health problems and daily struggles of migrant workers, which have become accepted as the norm in society including among migrants.
    Source: Berkeley Health Online , 20 June 2013

  • SPAIN / More than 870 000 undocumented migrants have no access to health care

    Amnesty International denounced on 4 July 2013 that 873,000 undocumented migrants in Spain do not currently hold a health insurance card, as a consequence of the recent amendments within the Spanish health care system. Amnesty International stressed that undocumented migrants’ access to health care services has now become more difficult or even impossible and that the recent reform puts undocumented migrants’ lives at risk. The director of Amnesty International Spain, Mr Esteban Beltrán, defined the reform as “discriminatory” and “regressive”. He also called for the modification of the Royal Decree-Act (see PICUM Bulletin – 29 May 2012 ) that restricts access to health care for undocumented migrants. Mr Beltrán added that the key problem is that the Spanish constitution does not yet consider health care and housing as fundamental rights.
    Source: El Mundo, 4 July 2013

  • UK / Medical justice report on pregnant women in detention

    The British based charity, Medical Justice, recently released ‘Expecting Change: The Case for Ending the Immigration Detention of Pregnant Women’, a report which analyses the history, policy and legislation of immigration detention of pregnant women. The report expresses concern about inefficiencies and inadequate care for pregnant women in detention centres which can carry risks for the health of pregnant women and unborn children. According to the report, in 2011 there were 93 pregnant women detained in the Yarl’s Wood detention centre. However the Home Office does not have a record of how many pregnant women are detained, which raises questions about how effectively the policy of only detaining pregnant women in very exceptional circumstances is implemented. Medical Justice, along with many other organisations, calls on the British government to end the practice of detaining pregnant women.
    Source: Medical Justice, 11 June 2013

LABOUR AND FAIR WORKING CONDITIONS

  • GREECE / Undocumented migrant workers claim for fair working conditions after Greek ‘bloody strawberry’ shootings

    A few months after the shooting of 35 Bangladeshi migrant workers during a dispute over unpaid wages on a strawberry plantation in Manolada, Greece in April (See PICUM Bulletin, 17 May 2013), the poor working and living conditions of migrant farm workers remain the same. The 150 migrant workers who were shot at, most of whom are undocumented, demand a residence permit as a way to stop the abuses they suffer on a daily basis. The Greek government granted a temporary residency permit only to the 35 injured migrants. However, the Greek Council for Refugees (GCF) is demanding a residence permit for all the 150 migrant workers, as well as recognition that the crime was racially motivated. Attacks on migrants are becoming increasingly frequent in Greece. The owner of the field is under arrest along with the three men who shot at the group. According to Greek media, the All-Workers Militant Front (PAME) and the Amaliada Labour Center, among others, demanded punishment for criminal employers through filing a complaint with the country’s Supreme Court.  The EU Employers’ Sanctions Directive which all member states must have transposed, allows irregular migrants to demand six months of back pay.
    Source: El País, 30 June 2013; Newsbeast,  23 July 2013

UNDOCUMENTED WOMEN

  • TRAFFICKING / New guide on the experience of women victims of trafficking

    Border Women (Mujer Frontera), a network of migrant women, many of whom have been victims of trafficking, released a new guide on trafficking. The guide, available in English, French and Spanish, gives advice to victims, identifies the existing support mechanisms, analyses the main policy instruments and summarising the experience of the women themselves. The guide was written by trafficking survivors in the United States and Spain, and is aimed at policymakers and social and institutional agents concerned with preventing and combating trafficking.
    Source: Mujer Frontera, June 2013.

UNDOCUMENTED CHILDREN AND THEIR FAMILIES

  • EU / New ruling of member state responsibility for the asylum application of unaccompanied minors

    The Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg announced a new decision in respect to the Dublin II regulation on 6 June 2013. If an unaccompanied minor has lodged an application for asylum in a member state and then moves to another member state and lodges another application for asylum, the member state responsible for examining it will be that in which the minor is present. However, the Court noted that this does not mean that a minor whose application has been substantively rejected in one member state can move to another member state and compel that second member state to examine an identical application. The decision follows the requirement that all actions taken by authorities in relation to children should always be in the child’s best interest which means that transfer to other member states should be avoided.
    Source: Press release Court of Justice of the European Union , 6 June 2013

  • NORWAY / Temporary halt on deportations of unaccompanied child asylum seekers

    Norway has temporarily suspended its procedure of returning unaccompanied asylum seeking children to the first European country where they applied for asylum. The decision to amend the practice, which has been in place since 2008, follows the ruling from the European Court of Justice ruling that defined the return practice as illegal.
    Source: The Foreigner, 18 July 2013

  • DENMARK / European return centre for children to open in Kabul, Afghanistan

    The Danish Ministry of Justice is currently negotiating with the Afghan Government to establish a return centre for unsuccessful, unaccompanied asylum seekers under the age of 18. The initiative named European Return Platform for Unaccompanied Minors (ERPUM) is led by the Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket). Along with Denmark, the UK, the Netherlands and Norway participate in the project that during the last couple of years has proven difficult to implement. During the last 6 years, over 1,100 Afghan children have come to Denmark without their family. Some are granted asylum or a temporary residence permit until the age of 18 after which they can more easily be sent back to Afghanistan. Still many, however, are unsuccessful in their application for asylum. Last year 54 unaccompanied Afghan children were deported, the year before 31. The government parties and Save the Children Denmark have expressed their deepest concern in relation to this project on the basis of security.
    Source: Berlingske Media, 1 August 2013,

  • NETHERLANDS / Proposal to restrict access to child welfare and youth care services

    A new legislative proposal that would restrict access to child welfare and youth care services for undocumented children was presented to the lower house on 1 July 2013. The new youth law (Jeugdwet) will transfer the responsibility for youth care to local governments. As part of the law, access to child welfare and youth care will only be accessible for lawfully residing children, though even for them access can be restricted depending on the reason, expected length and place of their stay. Consequently undocumented children will not have access to youth care, though exceptions can be made. With this new legislation the government hopes to prevent youth care from facilitating an ‘appearance of legality’ or becoming a ground upon which continuation of undocumented children’s stay is sought. In the beginning of September there will be a debate in the lower house about the proposed legislation. If the law passes the lower and upper house, it will be implemented by 1 January 2015.
    Source: Stichting LOS, Newsletter, Year 3 No. 13, 7 July 2013.

  • HUNGARY / Unaccompanied children deported to Serbia

    A report entitled “Access to the Territory and Asylum Procedure in Hungary” has found a substantial increase in the number of unaccompanied children being detected crossing the border between Serbia and Hungary between 2011 and 2012. The majority did not file claims for asylum despite potential protection needs and the possibility to nevertheless grant unaccompanied children status on humanitarian grounds was usually ignored in favour of issuing an expulsion order. In cases where children informed authorities about family members living in other EU member states, the authorities failed to authenticate such family ties or pursue family reunification. The report, published by the Hungarian Helsinki Committee (HHC), UNHCR’s Regional Representation and the Hungarian National Police Headquarters, also found that data regarding children who disappeared from designated accommodation was lacking, along with support services to protect children who may have been or be at risk of trafficking or other forms of violence. The Hungarian Helsinki Committee and UNHCHR recommend that the authorities carry out individual and substantive examinations in each case, to determine the best interests of the child, family situation and protection needs in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Download the report here.
    Source: ECRE Weekly Bulletin, 21 June 2013

  • MALTA / Children’s Commissioner condemns push backs and children in detention

    The Commissioner for Children, Helen D’Amato, has condemned the policy and practice of ‘push backs’ – preventing the arrival of irregular migrants – as a violation of children’s rights and the principle of non-refoulement, and formally expressed her concern to the Home Affairs and National Security Minister. The Commissioner has also voiced concerns to the Minister of Health regarding unaccompanied children and families with children being detained in Malta, despite the policy of non-detention of children. In a press statement, D’Amato insisted that throughout the public debate, the problem of irregular migration should not be identified with the people who migrate irregularly, a mindset that fuels resentment against migrants, but with the phenomenon of irregular migration and its root causes. The Commissioner has also previously called for amendments to legislation to allow children born on unregistered sea vessels to be registered at their first port of call to avoid statelessness.
    Sources: Malta Independent, 13 July 2013; Malta Today, 13 July 2013

  • UK / Court reaffirms local authority duty to provide support to children in need with pending applications or appeals

    In a recent judgment, the Court of Appeals reaffirmed the duty established by prior case law (Birmingham City Council v Clue [2010] EWCA Civ 460), for local authorities, in order to avoid a breach of human rights, to provide accommodation support and assistance to families with children that have a pending application or appeal with the immigration authorities or other impediment to returning to their country of origin. The case involved a Nigerian couple who had been residing irregularly in the UK since 2002 and have three children, all born in the UK, aged between 2 and 8 years old. The County Council agreed to provide accommodation to the family during judicial review proceedings. The Court found that the local authority should not have withdrawn support from the family when they were refused leave to remain, before they had the opportunity to pursue their right to appeal the decision and protect their right to private and family life, given the arguable case and adequate evidence base. Read the full judgment here.
    Source: Migrant Children’s Project Newsletter, August 2013

  • USA / Increasing number of unaccompanied minors crossing the US-Mexican border

    The US Border Patrol apprehended some 25,000 unaccompanied minors in the US-Mexican border region in 2012, 204% more than in 2008. Almost 14,000 of those were sent back to Mexico. According to a report by the Vera Institute, approximately 40% of unaccompanied children who were detained in federal shelters were eligible for receiving legal immigration status. However, due to their lack of legal representation they are not aware of it. Children are not only coming from Mexico but other Latin American countries including Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, their average age being 14 years, with some cases even of 6-year old unaccompanied minors.
    Source: Minori stranieri non accompagnati. blogspot. be , 31 July 2013

DETENTION AND DEPORTATION

  • NETHERLANDS / Dutch MPs’ protest against treatment of unsuccessful asylum applicants

    Three MPs of the Dutch Parliament have protested against the treatment of unsuccessful asylum seekers by paying for a meal which was prepared by the asylum seekers in an Amsterdam church where they stay. The group Recht op Bestaan (Right to Exist), which facilitated the event, stated that the MPs’ solidarity action was to protest against the prohibition of refugees and unsuccessful asylum seekers from doing paid work.
    Source: Denhaagfm.nl, 16 June 2013

  • BELGIUM / Irregular Afghan migrants protest against deportation

    A group of irregular migrants from Afghanistan started a one-week protest at the Beguinage Church in Brussels on 15 July 2013 to prevent their deportation. Families, together with Belgian citizens, organised activities such as a rally in front of the Litigation Council of Foreigners and the detention centre 127bis.  It would be the third collective deportation that the Belgian government intended to conduct in the year 2013. The first two were to Guinea and the Democratic Republic of Congo. A number of civil society actors supported the protest such as the Beguinage Catholic community, the protestant church of Brussels, the Muslim Cultural and Solidarity Association as well as the League of Human Rights, the Movement against racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia (MRAX) and the group Coordination contre les Rafles, les Expulsions et pour la Régularisation, CRER (Coalition against raids, expulsions and for regularisation).
    Sources: RTBF.be, 15 July 2013; CRER, 16 July 2013

  • SWITZERLAND / Compensation for inadequate detention conditions

    A court in Geneva recently awarded compensation to a migrant who had been detained under conditions that failed to satisfy minimum European standards. The complainant, along with five other people, spent 24 nights in a detention cell of 23m² which falls below the minimum living space measurement of 4m² per person, as required by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture. The conditions also infringe Article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) under which the ECtHR has held that depending on surrounding circumstances, living space between 3m² and 4m² could amount to inhuman and/or degrading treatment. The Geneva court emphasised that lack of resources could not justify improper detention conditions, and drew attention to fact that over 80 detainees had to sleep on the floor in the detention centre.
    Source: Migration Policy Group ‘Migration News Sheet’, July 2013 issue

  • UK / Children continue to be detained

    According to figures from the UK Home Office, under-18s continue to be detained in various adult immigration detention centres two years after the coalition government announced such detention would stop. In total, 33 children have been held in adult detention centres since the government’s pledge in December 2010. In addition, 356 children have been held in “child-friendly” detention since the pledge to end child detention.
    Source: Children & Young People Now, 30 July 2013

  • ANIMATION / Global campaign to end child detention launches documentary

    The campaign END Immigration of Children launched the interactive documentary ‘The Invisible Picture Show’ which features the voices of children in immigration detention, coupled with animations, produced by Faction Films. The Global Campaign to End Child Immigration Detention launched the documentary during World Refugee Week in June 2013, with events all over the world. During the documentary viewers have to choose their own experience, and at the end the site links to the petition to end child immigration detention.

  • UK / Inquest jury finds that Jimmy Mubenga was “unlawfully” killed

    An inquest jury in the UK found on 9 July 2013 that Jimmy Mubenga, an Angolan who died during his deportation from London to Angola, was unlawfully killed. Mr Mubenga died on 12 October 2010, 40 minutes after boarding a British Airways (BA) flight while being restrained by three G4S guards in his aeroplane seat, belted and with his hands handcuffed behind his back. According to the passengers, Mr Mubenga was shouting that he could not breathe, that he was being killed and asked for help. None of the passengers or the BA crew came to his assistance. The three guards from G4S, a private security company which had been contracted by the UK Border Agency to escort deportees, were not found guilty. The judgment shows a cruel and inhuman for-profit deportation system as well as the unwillingness of the UK Government to prosecute those responsible.
    Source: The Guardian, 9 July 2013

  • UK / European Anti Torture Committee Report on Removals

    The United Kingdom’s procedure for deportation of foreign nationals by air is ‘carefully planned and organised’ at every stage and makes every effort for removals to be carried out in a humane way, according to the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT). The CPT’s recently released report is based on an ad hoc inspection of a charter flight between London and Sri Lanka in October 2012. However, despite its positive conclusions, the report provides recommendations including the requirement of a medical doctor on removal flights, measures to ensure that the use of control and restraint techniques by escorts during transfer is justified in each individual case by a risk assessment, and the incorporation of a revised training package for overseas escorts to be accredited. Moreover, the CPT made some comments on shortcomings observed during the process of removal. The full report , the UK’s response and an overview of the Council’s reports are all available to view online.
    Source: Council of Europe,  1 August 2013

  • US / New Orleans Refusal to Implement Detention Requests

    The Orleans Parish, in New Orleans, recently implemented a policy which allows the Sheriff’s office to refuse requests from federal immigration authorities to detain suspected undocumented migrants, except when a person is held on specific felony charges. The new approach also requires that federal authorities notify a detainee’s lawyer before any interview concerning an immigration investigation and furthermore, it bars authorities from entering certain parts of the jail without a warrant or court order. Among other reasons, the policy was influenced by a lawsuit taken by two men who spent months in Orleans Parish Prison on expired detention requests which led to an investigation into several constitutional violations. The new approach follows a growing number of jurisdictions adopting similar policies including Chicago, New York and Washington.
    Source: The New York Times,  14 August 2013

OTHER NEWS

  • STUDY / Portrayals of migrants and asylum seekers mostly negative in British media

    To examine the discourse on migration and the media’s influence, the Migration Observatory of the University of Oxford conducted a study looking at all 20 of Britain’s main national daily and Sunday newspapers between 2010 and 2012. Through computer technique and coders, the study identified the terminology of about 58,000 written pieces. ‘Illegal’ was the most common modifier of ‘immigrant’ while ‘failed’ was the most common reference for ‘asylum seeker’. Another finding was that the EU and Eastern Europe feature as primary regions for discussions in the media about migrants.
    Source: The Migration Observatory, August 2013

  • WEBSITE / Launch of European Reintegration Support Organisations’ project website

    The European Reintegration Support Organisations (ERSO) have launched a new project website to give more visibility to its ongoing projects, European network members and countries of return. ERSO aims to exchange and collect expertise, best practice and information concerning voluntary return and reintegration. The ERSO network also develops and implements EU co-financed, joint projects to improve the sustainability of returns, as well as to build up capacities of local organisations working in the field of reintegration.

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