PICUM Bulletin — 22 January 2013

BORDERS

  • GREECE / DEATH AT BORDER / Twenty migrants drown in Aegean Sea

    A boat carrying about 28 people from Turkey to Greece sank near the Greek island of Lesvos, in the Aegean Sea, on 14 December 2012. The Greek coast guard found twenty bodies in the sea and during the search for survivors only one person was rescued from the water. The nationalities of the migrants was not disclosed, but according to the survivors the migrants were from Iraq, and the boat’s owner from Turkey.
    Source: Al Jazeera, 15 December 2012; Reuters, 15 December 2012

  • BULGARIA / DEATH AT BORDER / Syrian migrant found dead at Bulgarian-Turkish border, another in hospital

    A man from Syria froze to death on the Bulgarian-Turkish border near the village of Kraynovo, in the southeast of Bulgaria. Another man was transferred to a hospital in Elhovo, also in the southeast of Bulgaria, in a critical condition. Both men were trying to cross the Bulgarian-Turkish border. It seems that bad weather conditions were the cause of the incident as the two men were unable to meet the person helping them cross the border.  It is estimated that over 1,700 irregular migrants crossed the Bulgarian-Turkish border in 2011.
    Source: Vreme, 21 December 2012

  • ITALY / DEATH AT BORDER / Undocumented migrant dead as result of traffickers’ violence

    Approximately 40 migrants from Tunisia embarked on a journey towards Sicily on 31 December 2012. According to the survivors’ deposition to the police, the traffickers on board pushed the migrants into the waters a few metres off the Sicilian coast despite the inability of some of the migrants to swim. As a result, one migrant drowned at sea and his body was found near Trapani. According to the survivors’ story, another migrant did not make it safely to the coast, but his body was not found. The traffickers, also Tunisian citizens, have been imprisoned.
    Source: La Repubblica 1 January 2013

  • ITALY / 40 undocumented migrants missing off Apulia’s coast

    About 70 undocumented migrants originating from Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan tried to reach the Apulian coast of Italy, on the night of 3 January 2013. Whilst 28 were rescued, the majority appeared to be missing, including eight children aged 11-13 years old. According to the witnesses’ depositions, the eight children might have escaped previously on board a spare boat and may be alive. Adult survivors were sent to reception centres across the region.
    Source: La Repubblica, 4 January 2012

  • SPAIN / Guardia Civil patrol boat clashes with a boat carrying 25 migrants

    A Guardia Civil patrol boat clashed with a boat carrying 25 migrants originating from Morocco on 14 December 2012, off the shores of Lanzarote. As a result of the clash, seven migrants were lost at sea and one was found dead. The Guardia Civil managed to rescue seventeen other migrants. According to Guardia Civil, a broken turbine on their patrol boat resulted in the boat crashing against the migrants’ boat. According to the survivors’ declaration in the local court of Arrecife (Lanzarote) the patrol boat approached them at high speed and without lights, so they could only hear its engine. This contradicts the Guardia Civil’s claim that they acted in compliance with protocol and that the patrol lights were on when approaching the migrants’ boat.
    Source: EL Pais, 17 December 2012 and EL Pais,18 December, 2012

  • GREECE-TURKEY / DEATH AT BORDER / Greek authorities welcome reduced irregular entries at land border

    The Greek authorities have reported that the number of irregular entries at its land border with Turkey has significantly decreased. Pashalis Syritoudis, director of police in the run-down Greek border village of Orestiadas, believes the decrease was the result of Operation Xenious Zeus launched in early August 2012 by the Greek authorities (See PICUM Bulletin 20 August 2012).
    Read more: EU Observer, 27 December 2012

UNITED NATIONS

  • UN DAY / International Migrants Day

    On the occasion of International Migrants Day, celebrated on 18 December, the anniversary of the signature of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, many UN institutions and NGOs voiced their concerns about the situation faced by migrants worldwide including increasing violence and violation of their rights. Recurring issues of concern were raised by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, the UN Special Rapporteur on migrants Mr. François Crépeau and the Chair of the UN Migrant Workers Committee Mr. Abdelhamid El Jamri amongst others and echoed by PICUM and other civil society organisations. The issues raised include the criminalisation of migrants and their advocates, the increased unlawful detention of migrants, especially of children as well as the lack of a firewall between immigration control policies and service providers. All called for a need to reiterate the protections set down by the Convention and other human rights legislation in order to address these worrying issues and to ensure the protection of “the rights of all migrants, wherever they are and whatever their status” as Ban Ki-Moon stated.
    Source: Global Migration Group; PICUM, 17 December 2012

EUROPEAN POLICY DEVELOPMENTS

  • COURT OF JUSTICE OF THE EUROPEAN UNION / Judgment in Case C-430/11 Md Sagor

    The Court of Justice of the European Union issued, on 6 December 2012, its decision on Case C-430/11, concerning the removal of a national of Bangladesh, Md Sagor, who was summoned before the Italian Court for his irregular residence status.  According to the Court, national law must not undermine the application of the standards and procedures established by the Return Directive (Directive 2008/115/EC) and thus deprive it of its effectiveness. In this sense, the Court ruled that the Returns directive does not prevent Member States from penalising irregular stays by means of a fine. According to the judgement, the fine may be replaced by an expulsion order. However, in order not to delay removals and deprive the Return Directive of its effectiveness, the fine may not be replaced by a home detention order (a measure alternative to detention in a correctional facility by which a person is confined to a certain residence). The decision follows the Court’s reasoning in Case C-61/11 PPU El Dridi [2011] ECR I-0000, when the Court stated that the Return Directive would be undermined if Member States were to pursue criminal prosecution of a migrant for irregular stay, which could lead to imprisonment, rather than immediately starting removal procedures (See PICUM Bulletin, 9 May 2011).
    Source: InfoCuria, 6 December 2012; Diritto Penale Contemporaneo, 7 December 2012

  • COUNCIL OF EUROPE / Restrictions on defenders of migrants’ rights should stop

    Mr Nils Muižnieks, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, published a comment on 19 December 2012 on the current attacks and human rights violations against defenders of migrants’ rights, calling them “unacceptable”. The Commissioner stressed his concern for the situation in Greece which is particularly worrying in view of the increasing xenophobic acts against migrants but also human rights defenders. He also emphasised the need for human rights defenders to access detention centres, noting that many migrants are held on grounds that breach human rights standards. The Commissioner suggested the situation could be improved if Council of Europe member states re-read “the letter and spirit of the 1998 UN Declaration on human rights defenders” highlighting the importance of the work of national human rights structures such as Ombudspersons and the need for public and national authorities to be more aware of the vulnerability of migrants. He called for the French authorities to abolish the ‘délit de solidarité’. He concluded that as the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, the EU must address itself to the challenges faced by human rights defenders and migrant organisations.
    Source: Human Rights Comment, 19 December 2012

  • EU PRESIDENCY / Irish EU Presidency reveals its six-month programme

    In the presence of President Van Rompuy and the College of Commissioners led by President Barroso, the Irish EU Presidency launched on 9 January 2013 its Presidency Programme “For Stability, Growth and Jobs” now available at eu2013.ie. It consists of three main thematic priorities: securing stability, investing in sustainable jobs and growth in Europe and the world. The Irish Presidency has ensured that the situation regarding ‘irregular’ migration in Europe will be fully debated within the Council during its Presidency. Focus will be given to finalising agreement with the EP on the Common European Asylum System, securing agreement on the Seasonal Workers Directive and the IntraCorporate Transfers Directive. Additionally, in its work on reinforcing the single market, it refers to taking new steps in enforcing the rights of migrant workers amongst other issues. Click here to view the full programme.
    Source: Irish Presidency of the Council of the EU, 9 January 2012

  • EU / The European Commission has launched a General Call for Proposals focused on human trafficking

    The Prevention of and Fight against Crime Programme (ISEC) of the European Commission contributes to citizen’s security through projects that prevent and combat crime. The General Call for Proposals is intended to provide fund to projects aimed at combating human trafficking, terrorism, child abuse, cybercrime, illicit drug and arms trafficking, corruption and fraud. According to DG Home criminals operate across the borders and only consistent EU-level action can be an effective way to face these problems. Trafficking in human beings is in the core of the new call for proposals that includes a wide range of projects from prevention, protection, support and prosecution, to cooperation and networking-related projects. Proposals must be submitted by 6 March 2013 (14:00 CET) through the PRIAMOS online system following the publication of an ISEC Call for Proposals.
    Source: European Commission

NATIONAL DEVELOPMENTS

  • GREECE / Beyond vulnerability, undocumented migrants also face racist attacks

    Amnesty International issued a report entitled “Greece: The end of the road for Refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants” on the worrying situation of migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers in Greece. Tens of thousands of undocumented migrants have crossed the Greek border to seek a better life within the EU. However, Greece still lacks a comprehensive asylum and migration system, and migrants have thus found themselves in a vulnerable situation where due to the shortage of places in reception centres, they are forced to live in poor conditions. In addition, the Amnesty International report aims to draw attention to the human rights abuses migrants are exposed to in Greece, and especially to the dramatic increase in the number of racist attacks. These seem to be the newest threat faced by undocumented migrants as the police have stepped up efforts to detain those who are not in possession of valid documentation launching a new operation to check the papers of those who look foreign. Those unable to show valid papers are detained and held in inhuman conditions in detention centres, often for long periods of time. Borderlines Reports released an interview on the disputed criteria of detention with the Greek Minister of Public Order. Nikos Dendias openly denied that the police operations on the streets were racially biased, even though recent cases published in the media of tourists being detained and beaten show exactly the contrary. 
    Sources: Amnesty International, 20 December 2012; Borderline Reports, 13 December 2012; BBC UK, 10 January 2013

  • FRANCE / Parliament abolishes the “solidarity offence” but maintains custody for undocumented migrants

    The French Parliament abolished a legal provision on 19 December 2012 that sanctions people who provide support to irregular migrants, through the adoption of a proposal on “holding migrants for the verification of the regularity of stay, and amending the offence for support to irregular stay by excluding humanitarian and non-profit based acts” (projet de loi relatif à la retenue pour vérification du droit au séjour et modifiant le délit d’aide au séjour irrégulier pour en exclure les actions humanitaires et désintéressées). Stéphane Maugendre, from GISTI, a French NGO, noted however that the term “désintéressées” or “sans contrepartie” is very broad and is a good step in the right direction but this does not mean the government has cancelled the “solidarity offence” completely.
    Source: Statewatch News, 31 December 2012; RFI, 2 January 2013

  • NETHERLANDS / Fines for undocumented migrants, while aiding undocumented migrants will not be criminalised

    The Dutch government has said that persons without documentation can receive a fine of up to EUR 3,900 if found in the Netherlands. The deputy minister for Security and Justice stipulated the police will not target undocumented migrants, but if apprehended the person will be eligible for a fine and will be placed in detention until the conclusion of the return procedure. If stopped for a second time he or she will be prohibited from travelling to the Netherlands (or any other EU country) and those who refuse to leave will be eligible for detention. However, the deputy minister has also said that unlike some other EU Member States, the Netherlands will not make it a crime to help undocumented migrants.
    Source: NRC, 14 December 2012

  • PHILIPPINES / International tribunal on abusing migrants’ rights found 37 governments guilty

    The first international tribunal on the theme of migration has found 37 States guilty of using migration to advance neoliberal globalisation policies and of violations of the economic, social, cultural and political rights of migrants. The trial was held at the University of the Philippines College of Law in November 2012. A panel of judges heard testimonies given by migration experts and foreign workers from several countries, whose rights had been violated. Most of the States declared guilty are traditionally migrant destination Western countries or States which have recently become transit and destination countries such as Turkey, Kenya, Thailand and South Africa. The main findings of the experts focused on how the main actors of the migration process nowadays aim at commodifying migrant workers, and instead of developing a human rights approach to migration, they emphasise the role of remittances as a tool for development. The findings also highlight the exploitation of millions of workers and the uneven distribution of wealth in the world. In order to strengthen the arguments made and to promote migrants’ rights, the verdict will be submitted to the UN High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development in New York in 2013.
    Source: Bulatlat, 4 December 2013

  • SPAIN / Draft bill of the Criminal Code criminalises humanitarian assistance to undocumented migrants

    The draft bill of the Criminal Code criminalising humanitarian assistance to undocumented migrants was approved on 11 October 2012. Article 318 bis establishes either a fine or a penalty of imprisonment from six months to two years for those who intentionally provide assistance for undocumented migrants. For those cases in which the assistance encompasses profit, the providers would get a penalty of imprisonment from six months to two years. Against this background, the platform “Salvemos la Hospitalidad” called on the Spanish Government to amend this draft and not to criminalise humanitarian assistance. You can sign the petition here.
    Source: Unión General de Trabajadores, 11 October 2012; Rebelión, 24 December  2012

  • SPAIN / Report documenting racist identity checks in Madrid

    The Brigadas Vecinales de Observación de Derechos Humanos (The Neighbourhood brigades monitoring human rights) launched their second report presenting data collected from 10 May 2011 to 10 November 2012. The report claims that discriminatory identity checks and riots took place on a systematic basis in Madrid during that period, regardless of the circular X/2012 issued by the General Directorate of Police on 21 May 2012, which prohibited identity checks and detention of foreigners based on ethnicity. The report highlights that out of 31 checks monitored by the Brigades, 177 people were checked on racial profile criteria, and that 27 were arrested and brought to police stations. The report can be accessed here.
    Source: Público, 11 December 2012; Brigadas Vecinales de Observación de los Derechos Humanos, 11 December 2012

  • USA / Undocumented migrants could get unemployment benefits in California

    As of 1 January 2013, undocumented migrants in California participating in Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program are entitled to obtain unemployment benefits, state ID cards, California driver’s licences and also access state-administered medical services, according to new legislation introduced on 11 December 2012. Assembly Bill 35 was proposed by Roger Hernández, a West Covina Democrat who was named chairman of the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee in December 2012. In a public statement, Mr Hernández welcomed the “collective skills and talents of young immigrants to aid our state in reaching our true potential”.
    Source: The Sacramento Bee, 8 January 2012

  • USA / Debating driving licences for undocumented workers in Vermont

    A study group in Vermont recommended that State lawmakers move ahead with issuing driving licences for the more than 1,000 undocumented migrant labourers who work mostly on dairy farms. The committee that voted in favour was made up of human rights advocates, law makers and state officials, and will shortly deliver a report to the Legislature with their recommendations. Although only committee chair Sen. Peg Flory objected to the proposal, opposing voices have been raised, claiming that lowering requirements for residents without lawful residence permits would lead fraudsters to obtain fake ID cards and commit crimes. On the other side, supporters of providing driver’s licences for the undocumented believe that crime is avoidable using fraud prevention measures already in practice in other States such as Washington and New Mexico. Also, they argue that giving alternative licences, for example with shorter expiration terms, or licences subject to higher standards of proof for in-state residency, would facilitate discrimination against undocumented migrant workers by signalling their status.
    Source: VTDigger, 13 December 2012

HEALTH CARE

  • EU / ARTICLE / Access to health care for undocumented migrants from a human rights perspective: A comparative study of Denmark, Sweden, and the Netherlands

    The scientific journal Health and Human Rights has published the article “Access to health care for undocumented migrants from a human rights perspective: A comparative study of Denmark, Sweden, and the Netherlands” by Dan Biswas, Brigit Toebes, Anders Hjern, Henry Ascher and Marie Nørredam. The authors find major discrepancies between national legal provisions on access to health care and international human rights law, particularly in Denmark and Sweden.
    Source: Rosengrenskas Weblog, 31 December 2012

  • ITALY / Agreement ensuring inclusive health care for undocumented migrants

    The Italian State-Regions Permanent Conference passed, on 20 December 2012, an Agreement for the implementation of good standards in access to health care for foreign nationals. The Agreement, entitled “Guidelines for the correct application of legislation on health care to the foreign population by the Italian Regions and Autonomous Provinces”, aims at ensuring that legislation on access to health care for migrants is applied equally throughout the country. The Agreement is an important step forward towards the creation of an inclusive health care system in Italy. According to the Agreement, undocumented children will have full access to health care and will be assigned a paediatrician. The Agreement also reiterates that access to health care for undocumented migrants “must not imply any duty to report” irregularities to public authorities.
    Source: SIMM, 27 December 2012

  • SPAIN / Constitutional Court endorses universal health care access and Ombudsman supports the judicial decision before the Senate

    As a result of an allegation submitted by the Basque Country that the restriction of health care access for undocumented migrants posed a health risk for them and the rest of the society, the Constitutional Court upheld universal health care access on 13 December 2012. It ruled that the constitutional right to access health care prevails over the financial benefit linked to savings made by excluding certain groups of people from accessing health care. Furthermore, it stated that the government cannot dismiss health protection as this is inextricably linked to the human rights to life and physical integrity. This protection is enshrined in the Spanish Constitution, article 43, and is also guaranteed by successive rulings of both the Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights. In practice, this rule means that the Constitutional Court allows the Basque Regional Government to issue the health care card for undocumented migrants, and thus they will be eligible to get full access. The ruling can be accessed here. Although the provision refers to the case of the Basque Country, other regions – Andalucía, Asturias and Catalonia – have kept issuing health care cards for undocumented migrants. The organisation Andalucía Acoge, a PICUM member, welcomed this decision as it represents an acknowledgment of an inclusive approach to fundamental rights supported by international bodies, such as the EU Fundamental Rights Agency, but also health professionals and other organisations. Andalucía Acoge also congratulates those regions that keep providing health care access to undocumented migrants and encourages others to follow their example. In addition, the Spanish Ombudsman, Soledad Becerril, has supported the Court’s decision and claimed before the Senate that health care access must be guaranteed to all persons, including undocumented migrants.
    Sources: El Pais, 17 December 2012 and El Pais 19 December 2012; Europa Press, 3 January 2012.

  • USA / Health care options could shrink for undocumented migrants

    President Obama’s landmark health care reform could roll back some services for the country’s estimated 11 million undocumented migrants if the 32 million uninsured Americans get access to health coverage by 2019. According to the Washington-based Urban Institute, by the time the reform has been fully implemented, undocumented migrants will make up the country’s second-largest population of uninsured, about 25%. The largest group will be people who qualify for insurance but fail to enrol. Furthermore, about two-thirds of undocumented migrants are concentrated in eight states; these States will have a disproportionate share of uninsured, and undocumented patients can be sent to emergency rooms where regardless of their ability to pay, hospitals are required to attend to them. The federal government offered to expand Medicaid, the joint state-federal health program for the poorest, but states must yet decide whether to accept the deal.
    Source: Medical Xpress, 14 December 2012; Fox News Latino, 14 December 2012

LABOUR AND FAIR WORKING CONDITIONS

  • GLOBAL / Dhaka Principles for Migration with Dignity

    Developed by the Institute for Human Rights and Business in consultation with a range of stakeholders from business, government, trade unions and civil society, the Dhaka Principles for Migration with Dignity were launched on International Migrants Day, 18 December 2012. The Dhaka Principles are a set of human rights based principles to enhance respect for the rights of migrant workers from the moment of recruitment, during overseas employment and through to further employment or safe return to home countries. They are intended for use by all industry sectors and in any country where workers migrate either inwards or outwards. They are based on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and international labour and human rights standards. The Dhaka Principles provide a roadmap that traces the worker from home to place of employment and back again and provides key principles that employers and migrant recruiters should respect at each stage in the process to ensure migration with dignity. To find out more click here.

  • ITALY / New Amnesty International Report on migrant workers in Italy’s agricultural sector

    A recently published Amnesty International report focuses on foreign national migrant workers from sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa and Asia, employed in low-skilled, often seasonal or temporary jobs, mostly in the agricultural sector in Italy. The research was conducted in the areas of Latina and Caserta and findings demonstrate a pattern of severe and/or labour exploitation of migrant workers, and also unveil the violation of Italy’s obligations under international conventions on labour rights. Nonetheless the agricultural sector in Italy is heavily reliant on the foreign workforce. The research findings disclose a causal link between labour exploitation of migrant workers and the security-based approach adopted by the Italian Government to control migration flows. The research furthermore found evidence of how the country’s legislative framework and its implementation create obstacles to accessing justice and protection for migrants facing labour exploitation.

  • IRELAND / Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence announces an amendment to the law that will criminalise forced labour

    The Irish government announced on 7 January 2012 that it will criminalise forced labour, or modern day slavery. This decision will mean that Ireland’s commitments under the International Labour Organisation Convention No. 29 of 1930 on Forced or Compulsory Labour will be adopted within its national legislation. After two years of campaigning by Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) in collaboration with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and civil society organisations, MRCI is delighted to welcome this decision. Gráinne O’Toole of MRCI, a PICUM member, stated that this legislative change will send “a strong message to employers that inhuman treatment of workers without respect for their human rights will not be tolerated by the Irish State.”
    Source: The Journal, 7 January 2012; MRCI, 7 January 2013

UNDOCUMENTED WOMEN

  • UK / Border Agency refuse to stop using force against pregnant women and children as one detainee claims she was ‘dragged like a dog’

    The UK Border Agency has rejected a call by prison inspectors to stop using force on pregnant women and children it is trying to remove from the UK, according to an internal government document seen by the Guardian newspaper. The official document contains UKBA’s response to recommendations for improvement at the government’s new child detention facility, Cedars, near Gatwick airport, by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP). Prison inspectors said force should never be used to effect the removal of pregnant women or children, a call the UKBA has rejected, saying that without it removals could be delayed, leading families to strengthen their ties with the UK. Inspectors expressed particular concerns about the treatment of a pregnant woman who had her wheelchair tipped up and her feet held by an agent of the private security firm G4S when she resisted the ‘substantial force’ they applied to her. In a 17-page, handwritten complaint sent to the Guardian newspaper, this pregnant woman explained “The … woman from G4S pressed my belly. I cried from pain. I said: ‘you hurt my belly, you hurt my baby’ she refused to stop. They began to drag me from wheelchair to floor, from floor to wheelchair. I was resisting. They were like animals. I was dragged through corridors, I was dragged like a dog.”
    Source: The Guardian, 11 January 2013

  • SPAIN / Social support and attention for immigrant women in Madrid

    The Fundación Iberoamérica Europa has released a guide entitled “Guía Informativa y de Recursos para la Mujer Inmigrante” (Information and resources package for migrant women). This guide is aimed at supporting migrant women living in Madrid to handle their documentation and provide them with the necessary information to promote their social integration, especially for those who find themselves in marginalised or vulnerable situations. The guide is part of the project entitled “Proyecto de Apoyo y Atención Social Integral a la Mujer Inmigrante” also conducted by the Fundación Iberoamérica Europa. The guide can be accessed here.
    Source: Fundación Iberoamérica Europa, 28 September 2012

  • PUBLICATION / ‘Looking for Esperanza: The Story of a Mother, a Child Lost, and Why They Matter to Us’

    Inspired by a story about an immigrant mother who walked across the desert from Mexico to the USA with the dead body of her baby strapped to her back, Adriana Paramo undertook 18 months fieldwork to discover more about the lives and histories of undocumented women labouring in the Florida fields. The Colombian-born author researched the anonymous voices of the women she encountered while looking for the mother in the story. ‘Looking for Esperanza’, winner of the 2011 Social Justice and Equality Award in creative nonfiction. More information and an interview with the author Adriana Paramo is available at: www.hispanicmpr.com. The book is available for purchase from Amazon.

UNDOCUMENTED CHILDREN AND THEIR FAMILIES

  • BELGIUM / COFACE report on transnational families

    The Confederation of Family Organisations in the European Union (COFACE) published a report entitled “Trans-national families and the impact of economic migration on families” to highlight the family dimension of migration which is often overlooked by policy makers. The paper is intended to be a first step for further analysis, research and policy developments. In this context, COFACE welcomed any contributions, ideas and proposals that may come from research institutes, universities, NGOs and local authorities on this topic or on an aspect of it. The paper highlights irregularity as a factor that influences choices and ways in which transnational families (families characterized by the dispersion of their members but that keep tight relationships across borders) live their family life, as irregularity determines the right to return to visit family members in the country of origin and / or applying for family reunification.
    Source: COFACE, 3 January 2012

  • CYPRUS / Commissioner for Children’s Rights on undocumented children

    The 2011 report conducted by the Commissioner for Children’s Rights Leda Koursoumba recalled the challenges that migrant children face in the country. The Commissioner highlighted the situation of children whose parents are deported. Ms. Koursoumba claimed that when deporting the main breadwinner and breaking up the family, children are left behind on the island with no financial resources, unable to live with dignity. The Commissioner also stated that these practices do not respect the best interests of the child. The full report can be accessed here (only in Greek).
    Source: Cyprus Mail, 19 December 2012

  • HUNGARY / Protection of EU migrant children discussed in Budapest

    The organisation Terre des Homes and its partners organised a European conference to discuss how European migrant children could be better protected, on 12-13 December 2012. The conference, entitled “Towards a unified child protection response to trafficking and exploitation of children in Europe?”, co-funded by the European Union, was organised as the final event of the project “REVENI” which looked at the practice of European Union Member States (EU MS) in the return of children from one EU Member State to another. After an eighteen-month monitoring of the return practices of EU MS and an analysis of the applicable domestic laws and regulations, partners have uncovered an important child protection gap. These results were discussed at the conference, in order to find solutions adapted to the migration reality children are facing within the EU. The conference was opened by the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Trafficking, Ms. Joy Ezeilo, and was attended by representatives of the judiciary, responsible in countries of destination for taking decisions on the return of EU minors, and child protection professionals responsible for the care of these minors.
    Source: Terre des Hommes, 11 December 2012

  • NETHERLANDS / New government will allow internships for young undocumented students

    The new Minister for Social Affairs, Lodewijk Asscher, has said that he will make it possible for undocumented students to do internships. The government has now agreed that internships are to be considered as educational activities and not employment. The new regulation will enter into force on 1 July 2013 and in the meantime the labour inspectorate will continue its practice of not acting on the current law and not handing out any fines.
    Source: AD, 8 December 2012

  • NETHERLANDS / Amnesty for around 800 asylum seeking children and their families

    The Dutch government decided on 21 December 2012 through the adoption of a proposal by Fred Teeven, Dutch Secretary of Justice, to give amnesty and right to stay to asylum-seeking children and their families who have been in the Netherlands for more than five years and were under 21 on 29 October 2012. It is estimated that around 800 children will fall under this new scheme. Additionally, the provision will allow children who have a temporary residence status on medical or educational grounds to regularise their status.
    Source: Reformatorisch Dagblad, 21 December 2012

  • SPAIN / Two undocumented children under Melilla’s Council guardianship unlawfully deported

    Mohamed Camara, a 17 year-old child from Guinea and Ibrahim Sare, a 14 year-old child from Burkina Faso, were unlawfully deported from Melilla to Morocco on 14 November 2012, according to newspaper El País. Both children were under the guardianship of Melilla’s Social Welfare at the time of the deportation, which was conducted after the children approached the Melilla Centre for Temporary Stay of Immigrants (CETI, formerly named Migrant Detention Centre). After being warned by a security guard from the CETI and asked to wait for the police, the children were taken by car by two men wearing civilian clothing and one of them speaking in Arabic, and brought to the border and obliged to cross to Morocco. Once in Moroccan territory, both of them sought shelter in Gurugú Mountains, where other Sub-Saharans hide in their attempt to cross the border. In Morocco, the children managed to contact the organisation Caminando Fronteras, which reported on their situation. After a few attempts to locate the children and bring them back to Spain (including asking the children to take a taxi to the border and then to run in an attempt to cross it avoiding getting caught by the Moroccan police) Melilla’s Chief Commissioner began humanitarian actions to facilitate their return. An investigation was opened by the Public Prosecutor at the request of the Ombudsman. Both the police and the Guardia Civil denied the story of Ibrahim and Mohamed, but according to El País, Mohamed himself, who spoke from Morocco with them, confirmed the news.  On 10 December 2012, Ibrahim arrived at the Melilla coast on a boat with thirteen other people of Sub-Saharan origin, after living twenty six days in Morocco, mainly in Gurugú Mountains. The Melilla based organisation Prodein asked the prosecutor to protect the child, as he fears reprisals from the unidentified persons that took him and Mohamed to the border.
    Source: El Faro Digital, 11 December 2012; El Pais, 20 November 2012 and El Pais 17 December 2012

  • UK / TEDx talk on undocumented migrant children in the UK

    A TEDx talk on undocumented migrant children in the UK was published online on 6 December 2012. The talk is by Nando Sigona, a senior researcher at the Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford, and is based on the recently completed study “No way out, no way in: Irregular migrant children and families in the UK” (See PICUM Bulletin 29 May 2012). The video can be accessed here.
    Source: Migrants Rights Network, 24 December 2012

  • USA / Updated rule to prevent separation of migrant families

    The Obama administration has announced updated rules that are expected to significantly cut down on the long-term separation of migrant families. Starting on 4 March 2013, undocumented migrants applying for visas who can prove that separation from their U.S.-based family would cause “extreme hardship” can apply for a waiver to a three and ten-year re-entry ban and start their application process without leaving the country. Prior to the announcement, undocumented migrants applying for legal status who had entered the country without inspection had to leave the U.S. in order to take care of their visa application, and such trips would trigger a three and ten-year re-entry ban. Only after they had left the U.S. and were back in their country of origin could applicants apply for a waiver to those re-entry bans, but they would have to wait, outside the U.S. and away from their families, for that waiver to be approved. The procedure could last over a year, according to the American Immigration Lawyers Association. With the new changes they can begin their visa application process from within the U.S. The new rule could affect almost one million undocumented migrants currently in the U.S.
    Source: Colorlines, 3 January 2012

  • USA / BOOK / Undocumented youth stories

    A new book entitled “Papers: Stories by Undocumented Youth” was written by and about undocumented youth, and rounds up 30 personal stories from persons around the United States between the age of 10 – 32. A notable feature of the book is that young people of very diverse origin, coming from Nigeria, Korea, Mexico, Indonesia and England tell their stories in their own words. The book is also illustrated with colour drawings made by undocumented artist Julio Salgado, who highlighted how this book can change people’s perceptions about being undocumented. Previously, a documentary film carrying the same name was also made of the stories sent to Graham Street Production. On the occasion of the book launch, film director Anne Galisky expressed her hope that a book written by undocumented youth themselves can bring closer the human story behind the discussion about the complexities of immigration and being undocumented in a polarised society.
    Source: Colorlines, 11 December 2012

  • PICUM / EVENT / International conference on undocumented children with their families

    PICUM will hold an international conference on Tuesday 26 February 2013, in Brussels, entitled “Children First and Foremost: Realising the rights of children and families in an irregular migration situation”. This international conference seeks to consolidate both PICUM’s work on undocumented children and PICUM’s two-year capacity-building project entitled “Building Strategies to Protect Children in an Irregular Migration Situation in Europe.” The conference will highlight the difficulties undocumented children face in accessing rights such as education, health care and housing, and the good practice strategies that have been developed to surmount the practical and administrative barriers to accessing rights. This will also be an opportunity for PICUM to present the project’s final publication, a guide on protecting the rights of undocumented children in Europe. Intended for civil society advocates, front-line organisations, public officials, policy makers, professionals and social service providers, this event will guarantee a rich participation of experts and professionals working with undocumented children. More detailed information about the conference will be available on the PICUM website shortly.

DETENTION AND DEPORTATION

  • BULGARIA / Border Police figures on detention of migrants in Bulgaria, including children

    According to the Bulgarian Border Police, 1,743 migrants who irregularly entered Bulgaria from Turkey were detained in 2011. Most of them were Syrian citizens (561), Palestinians (276), Iraqi (235), Turkish (94) and Algerians (86). In addition, it is estimated that 99% of the irregular migrant children who were detained also entered through the Bulgaria – Turkey border. The Bulgarian government is planning to open a temporary detention centre in the city of Harmanli, with a capacity for approximately 1,000 migrants.
    Source: Mediapool, 21 December 2012

  • EU / Migreurop mapping of detention centres updated

    The fifth edition of Migreurop’s “Encampment Map” has been updated and is now available online in: English, French, SpanishItalian

  • GREECE / New EEA funding to support reception centres for vulnerable migrants in Greece

    Member countries of the European Economic Area provided a grant of EUR 4 million to support NGOs in Greece that run reception centres for vulnerable migrants and asylum seekers with a special focus on unaccompanied children. The grant is part of a EUR 20.9 million allocation from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway aiming to improve the asylum and migration system in Greece. The country is struggling to cope with the crisis, faces severe austerity measures and 25% unemployment and at the same time has received around 810,000 undocumented migrants and 44,000 asylum seekers. The new three year program which will be managed by the International Organisation for Migration’s (IOM) Office in Athens which will launch a call for proposals allowing NGOs to apply for funding. Existing reception centres are mostly run by local NGOs, but their funding is dependent on sporadic, short-term donations so with the much needed support they will be encouraged to improve the quality and array of services they offer to vulnerable migrants, such as shelter, food and health care and also to work closely together with local authorities.
    Source: IOM, 7 December 2012; ECRE Weekly Bulletin, 14 December 2012

  • THAILAND / Around 1 million undocumented migrant workers might face deportation

    In December 2012, Thailand threatened to deport more than a million migrant workers, mostly from neighbouring countries – especially Myanmar – if they failed to become documented by 14 December 2012. Although the deadline passed and no mass deportation actions were recorded, the pressure from NGOs and international organisations such as ILO to push back the deadline underlined flaws in the nationality verification program which sought to better protect migrants and to get foreign workers documented by issuing temporary passports so they can apply for work permits. Migrant workers are a backbone of Thailand’s factories and plantations but out of the 2.5 million migrants most of them are undocumented and their status leaves them vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. Through the documentation program migrant workers get better access to education, health care and better working conditions. NGOs estimate that so far, about 900,000 have benefited from the program and even though the program is well-intended, it is slow, carries excessive charges and requires support from employers resulting often in misuse of power.
    Source: Voice of America, 13 December 2012; Press TV, 15 December 2012; Voice of America, 24 December 2012

  • UK / The Detention Forum publishes strategy document on challenging immigration detention

    The Detention Forum, a network of twenty nine organisations working on the issue of immigration detention, published its strategy document outlining an overall direction of travel for the next few years. It aims to turn the Detention Forum into a movement that effectively challenges immigration detention while working towards specific, tangible advocacy goals. The document also explains how the Working Groups process started, an overview of the strategy, summary of each Working Group’s advocacy objective and work plans, and next steps. More information on the Detention Forum and the strategy can be found here.
    Source: Migrants Rights Network, 20 December 2012

  • UK / REPORT / Immigration detention in the UK

    The UK Border Agency published a report on immigration detention in the United Kingdom. The paper revealed that in the first quarter of 2012, on any given day around 3,500 people were being held and expecting to be sent back to their country of origin. Although immigration officials have broad competences to detain people without the required authorisation to stay in the UK, two watchdogs said they must improve how they deal with people in detention, and assure they are not held longer than necessary. Commonly, delays in deportation are due to problems with case files and persuading countries of origin to provide passports. Furthermore, inspectors identified 40 cases where people had been held for more than two years before being deported and watchdogs found cases where even victims of human trafficking had been detained.
    Source: BBC UK, 12 December 2012

  • UNITED STATES / NGOs worry about massive parental deportation and call for a bill to protect deported parents and undocumented family members

    Over the last two years, the US federal government deported more than 200,000 parents whose children are US citizens according to new data obtained by Colorlines.com. These numbers are estimates because some people have been sent back more than once, but also because parents fear telling authorities that they have children. Also, parents whose children are not US citizens are not included in the data. Therefore, experts estimate that the total number of deportations is even higher. NGOs expressed their serious concern over what happens to the children of deportees and they have called for immediate action to prevent family separations. Recent advocacy and congressional promises about an immigration reform bill likely to be introduced in 2013 have also focused special attention on the complex issue of deportation of parents and its impact on their US citizen children.
    Source: Colorlines, 17 December 2012

PUBLICATIONS AND OTHER RESOURCES

  • EU / EPC published its policy brief on “Human rights violations in the field of migration: a collective responsibility”

    The Brussels-based European Affairs think-tank, the European Policy Center (EPC) released a policy brief on human rights violations in the field of migration within the EU and its collective responsibility. In light of the EU receiving the Nobel Peace Prize for its outstanding contribution to democracy and human rights in Europe, the violation of migrants’ human rights in some Member States cannot be further overlooked. In the field of migration policy, migrants’ human rights such as the right to family reunification, to asylum or prohibition of torture, are continually being violated within the EU without appropriate measures taken by the European Commission to protect migrants’ human rights and launch infringement proceedings against a Member State. As a consequence, many migrants are largely being deprived of their rights in Europe. In the Policy Brief, Senior Policy Analyst, Yves Pascouau outlines the current problems and proposes solutions to remedy the situation. Click here to view the Policy brief.

  • MAGAZINE / Fortress Europe

    The latest print issue of Red Pepper, a bi-monthly magazine and website of left politics and culture, entitled “Fortress Europe: The fight for migrant rights” presents through various articles and interviews the situation faced by migrants. Issues raised include: the journey of migrants to Europe, the politics of solidarity, the myths behind the migration political discourse, the social solidarity movement and the rise of Golden Dawn’s neo-Nazi politics in Greece. Click here for further details.

  • BOOK / Undocumented Lives

    Photographer Katja Tähjä and journalist Kaisa Viitanen travelled around Europe meeting with undocumented migrants who are invisible as their existence is not recorded anywhere. The documentary book entitled “Undocumented Lives” tells the story of 21 people and families living in Spain, Greece, Belgium, the Netherlands, the UK and Sweden. To find out more click here and follow the project on Facebook.

OTHER NEWS

  • NETHERLANDS / Website to give advice to undocumented migrants in Amsterdam

    The municipality of Amsterdam launched a website that gives advice to undocumented migrants and informs them of their rights. The initiative (Paspoort van Amsterdam) was started in 2011 and the deputy minister for security and justice said in response to a question from a member of parliament that he cannot act on it.
    Source: AD, 11 December 2012

  • GLOBAL / Web documentary project on EU migration policies

    “De l’autre côté” (On the other side) is a web documentary project by the NGO Osons Savoir which aims at documenting the public on migration policies in Europe through four thematic chapters: the situation in Lampedusa, the externalisation of migration policies, the impact of states on migration and a reflection on a world without borders upheld under Article 13 of the Universal Human Rights Declaration.  The web documentary provides additional resources including links to other related video productions on the issue and educational tools. This project was supported by the French League of Human Rights, Cimade, Fasti, Ritimo, Les amoureux au ban public, Attac, Terra and Migreurop.
    Source: Osons Savoir, 6 December 2012

  • IRELAND / Migrants Rights Center Ireland nominated for the Solidar Silver Rose Award 2013

    Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME), jointly with PICUM CCME have nominated the Migrants Rights Center Ireland  (MRCI) and Mr Mohammed Younis (MRCI Action group leader) for the Solidar Silver Rose Award 2013 in the Euorpean category “Social Justice in Europe”. The nomination is founded on their work to promote the rights of undocumented migrant workers in Ireland. CCME and PICUM hope that this nomination would highlight and support the important work for more justice and equality of all workers in Ireland and the EU at large, regardless of their nationality, race or residence status.

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