PICUM Bulletin — 27 January 2014

BORDERS

  • DENMARK / Limiting arrivals of undocumented migrants

    Since December 2013, Denmark has stationed a border control official at the Malpensa airport in Milan, Italy to check the travel documents of migrants who are on their way to Denmark. So far, 60 people have reportedly been denied boarding while 39 were detained in Italy for using false travel documents. The EU does not allow permanent deployment of foreign border control. However, after Danish minister of justice, Karen Hækkerup, considered the deployment of control a success, a debate started on how to stop undocumented migrants from reaching the Danish borders in various ways circumventing EU restrictions.
    Source: Jyllands-Posten, 13 January 2014.

  • GREECE / ProAsyl and ECRE call for an investigation after push-back operation leads to death of migrants

    Following a recent case of death at sea on 20 January 2014 in which nine children and three women died, ProAsyl and the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) called for an independent investigation into an alleged push-back. According to the survivors, the Greek coast guard vessel was towing the boat toward the Turkish coast at high speed when the boat capsized. Survivors said that they were crying out for help, given that a large number of children and babies were on board. Greek authorities, however, stated that during the operation a large number of those on board gathered on one side of the boat, which resulted in its overturning and sinking. In November 2013 Pro Asyl published a report on human rights violations occurring when boats are pushed back.
    Source: ProAsyl and ECRE, 22 January 2014.

UNITED NATIONS

  • UN / Children’s rights boosted as UN body now able to hear individual complaints

    Children whose rights have been violated will soon be able to complain to a key UN Committee after a new legal instrument on the rights of the child was ratified by the required 10 countries. Children or their representatives, in countries which have agreed to the procedure, will be able to submit complaints to the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which will then decide whether to review the case. The Committee may ask the State to take interim measures to protect the child or the group of children or prevent any reprisals. At the end of the review, if the State concerned is found to have violated the Convention, the Committee will issue specific recommendations which the State must implement. As of 14 January 2013, the following 10 countries have ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a Communications Procedure, meaning that it will take effect in three months: Albania, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Gabon, Germany, Montenegro, Portugal, Spain, Thailand, and Slovakia.
    Source: OHCHR Press Release, 14 January 2014.

EUROPEAN POLICY DEVELOPMENTS

  • EU / European Parliament Taking Action on Undocumented Women’s Rights

    The plenary session of the European Parliament will vote on a resolution on ‘Undocumented Women Migrants in the European Union’ on 5 February 2014. The motion for this resolution came from an own-initiative report of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM). Prepared by rapporteur Norica Nicolai (ALDE, Romania), this report explains the challenges undocumented women experiencing violence face, and underlines the need to delink migration control from access to support, services and justice. More information on this motion is available on the European Parliament website. For contacting MEPs in advance of this vote to confirm their support, details are available here.

  • EU / Priorities of the Greek Presidency of the European Union

    The Greek Council Presidency presented its priorities to the various committees of the European Parliament during the week from 16 to 23 January 2014. Main concerns of the Greek Presidency in the area of Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs include the implementation and functioning of the Smart Borders package; addressing the situation of migrants and asylum seekers in the European Union; and the rise of far right movements across Europe. Discussions within the LIBE Committee of the European Parliament also highlighted internal policy issues, such as the rise of extremist parties, police violence and poor detention conditions of migrants and asylum seekers in Greece. A two-day informal meeting of the Ministers for Justice and Home Affairs (JHA), as well as the Commissioner for Home Affairs, Justice, Citizenship and Fundamental Rights took place on 23 January 2014 to discuss issues concerning the future development and priorities of the JHA area in the European Union.  For more information on the Greek Presidency’s programmes and priorities, click here http://gr2014.eu/eu-presidency/the-greek-presidency.
    Sources: European Voice, 12 December 2013; European Parliament News, 23 January 2014.

  • EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT / STUDY / Access to shelters of undocumented migrant women fleeing domestic violence

    Bringing together data on undocumented women and the difficulties they face to access violence against women shelter and support, the study entitled “Access to shelters of undocumented migrant women fleeing domestic violence: the legal and practical situation in the Member States” outlines the situation in eight EU member states. The study is authored by the European Parliament, Directorate-General for Internal Policies of the Union. It provides key recommendations to national authorities and EU institutions and is available in English, French and German here.

NATIONAL DEVELOPMENTS

  • ITALY / Italian Senate abolishes the crime of irregular entry and irregular stay

    The Italian Senate, on 21 January 2014, voted in favour of the abolishment of the crime of irregular entry and irregular stay, through the adoption of an amendment to the proposed law n. 925/2014 regulating procedural reforms of the current prison law. The Chamber of Deputies will have to finally approve the amendment for the reform to take effect. According to the new amendment, irregular entry and irregular stay will, from now on, be considered administrative infringements and punished with removal. Irregular entry will still be considered a crime in cases of re-entry and any other violation of migration administrative orders (i.e. duty to report, removal directions, re-entry ban etc.) will still be punished under criminal law. Source: Il Sole 24 Ore, 21 January; La Stampa, 21 January 2014.

  • DENMARK / Disappearances of asylum seekers will not be investigated

    After the disappearance of about 100 migrants after arrival in Denmark was revealed in November 2013 (see PICUM Bulletin 2 December 2013 ), the Copenhagen police found in a test that 18 out of 20 asylum seekers were not registered properly. It is assumed that most of the missing asylum seekers have travelled to Sweden where the asylum regulations are considered more lenient. However, the Copenhagen police said they neither intend to investigate the whereabouts of the missing asylum seekers due to a lack of resources, nor will they inform the Swedish authorities, as identification data had not been collected. In these cases, the Dublin regulation is not enforceable.
    Source: Berlingske, 16 December 2013.

  • MOROCCO / Regularisation campaign launched

    The regularisation campaign in Morocco was launched on 2 January 2014. It is the result of a decision by King Mohammed VI made in September 2013 (see PICUM bulletin 31 October 2013 ). Irregular migrants have until 31 December 2014 to become regularised. Organisations welcome this initiative but note that the criteria are strict. For instance, the migrants should have been residing in Morocco for at least five years, have been employed for the past two years or should be able prove at least two years of living with their spouse. Consequently, Hachim Rachidi, GADEM’s general secretary (Anti-racist group accompanying and defending migrants and foreigners in Morocco), states that a substantial amount of undocumented migrants will be unable to benefit from this campaign. Overall, the campaign should reach 25,000 to 30,000 undocumented migrants.
    Source: Radio France International (RFI), 3 January 2014; Yabiladi, 2 January 2014; Jeune Afrique, 12 November 2013.

  • UK / Officials rewarded for failed asylum demands

    According to new reports, Home Office officials are being rewarded with cash bonuses, shopping vouchers and extra holidays if if they propose that rejected asylum seekers lose their appeals to stay in the country.  Allegedly, the officials had to meet a target of winning 70% of tribunal cases in which asylum seekers appealed against government decisions that they should leave the UK. Although the Home Office stated that upholding asylum decisions was just one criteria among others to reward work performance, a parliamentary answer reveals that 11 high street shopping vouchers worth £25 have been given out solely to presenting officers in asylum cases since July 2012 as a “one-off recognition of individual performance at court”. Immigration lawyers announced that they would legally challenge the practice.
    Source: The Guardian, 14 January 2014.

  • UK / Joint Committee on Human Rights concerned about Immigration Bill

    Provisions in the Immigration Bill barring some people from renting or occupying property in the private rented sector on the basis of their immigration status could give rise to homelessness, discrimination, and human rights violations, according to the Joint Committee on Human Rights in a Report published on 17 December 2013. The Committee expressed particular concern about the risk that the measures lead to homelessness of migrant children or separation from family members.  Moreover, the Committee stated that the restriction on appeal rights might constitute a serious threat to the practical ability to access the legal system to challenge unlawful immigration and asylum decisions. The bill finished its committee stage on 19 November 2013 and the government has yet to give a date for its report stage.
    Source: Joint Committee on Human Rights, 17 December 2013 c.f. Migrant Children’s Project Newsletter December 2013.

HEALTH CARE

  • CANADA / Changes to health care entitlements put women and babies at risk

    Since restrictions on healthcare coverage for undocumented migrants took effect in Canada in June 2012, pregnant undocumented women have faced significant barriers and financial costs to obtain pre-natal care and delivery. Under these changes, undocumented migrants are only eligible for health care of ‘urgent or essential nature’ meaning that – as in many European countries – prenatal care is discounted as it is ongoing and does not constitute an “acute” condition.  As a result of these changes, undocumented women giving birth in hospital are chargeable for hospital stay, obstetrician and anaesthesiologist fees. Montreal Birth Companions, a free doula service which accompanies migrant women during their birth, report that some leave hospital with bills of almost $10,000 and face an increased risk of deportation in the following months. Hospitals are unsure what to charge women without residence status (non-status women as well as those on student visas, work visas, or on the Live-in Caregiver Program). Across Canada, undocumented women are turned away from hospitals and clinics if they cannot afford care and many are avoiding contact with the healthcare system entirely. While some provinces are seeking to fill the gap by providing coverage for those who need it (Quebec), ensuring all women are eligible for midwifery care for free (Ontario), or provide coverage for those who have been affected by the cuts (Manitoba), migrant women are often unaware of these entitlements.
    Source: The Dominion. News from the grassroots,  January/February 2014.

  • GERMANY / Medical organisation demands health care for all

    The volunteer initiative Medibüro Berlin (Office for medical assistance for refugees and migrants in Berlin) released an appeal in December 2013 demanding the abolition of laws restricting access to health care and social services for asylum seekers and irregular migrants and demanding access to health care for everyone in Germany, regardless of residence status. This includes the request to end the requirement of reporting undocumented migrants to the authorities. In their appeal, the Medibüro details different social groups of migrants who do not yet have regular access to health care in Germany. The appeal can be viewed in German here.

  • US / Pregnant women targeted and detained by immigration authorities

    A total of 13 pregnant women were detained by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at one detention centre in El Paso, Texas from August to November 2013. Despite the agency’s guidelines stating pregnant women should not be detained unless they are a threat to public safety or meet the requirements of mandatory detention, the women were held after attempted border crossings —some were released the same day, while others were detained for several weeks. The cases were brought to public attention by the National Immigrant Youth Alliance. In response to the report, ICE confirmed that these women were an enforcement priority because they had either recently entered the country or had been issued final orders of removal. Advocates fear these figures are indicative of a broader trend across ICE facilities of detaining pregnant women. Concerns that ICE facilities are ill equipped to handle the medical and nutritional needs of pregnant women and the harmful effects of prolonged detention upon the mother and unborn child have been given significant weight by reports that one of the thirteen women miscarried while in detention.
    Sources: National Immigrant Youth Alliance, 7 January 2014; Fusion, 13 December 2013.

  • US / Californian legislator promotes access to health care for undocumented migrants

    Ricardo Lara, Californian Democratic Senator, spoke in favour of health care coverage for undocumented migrants in California. A state version of the Affordable Care Act, currently available only to U.S. citizens, should also apply to undocumented migrants. Lara argues that if federal law is to provide health care for the uninsured, immigration status should not be a barrier. Out of the estimated 2.6 million irregular migrants in California, one million are left uninsured. Lara is working with Health Access, an advocacy group, to create the health care bill. Executive Director of Health Access, Anthony Wright, stated that the bill would not be funded at a federal level and state level, but through a small fee on each sold policy. The use of Covered California to provide health care to undocumented migrants could cause legal problems, declared Timothy Jost, health law professor at Washington and Lee University’s School of Law. California could set up its own independent healthcare program for undocumented migrants but it would be difficult to apply Covered California, the exchange that is recognized under federal law as the Affordable Care Act exchange for California.
    Sources: Los Angeles Times, 10 January 2014;Press Telegram, 10 January 2014.

LABOUR AND FAIR WORKING CONDITIONS

  • HONG KONG / Exploitation of domestic workers

    Recent cases of severe physical abuse of migrant domestic workers have stirred protests in Hong Kong. Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, an Indonesian domestic worker, left Hong Kong on 10 January 2014 disfigured after having suffering severe physical abuse for nearly eight years as a domestic worker. On 15 January 2014, during a protest outside of Erwiana’s former employment agency, a second Indonesian domestic worker reported physical abuse from the same employer. Silent and invisible for decades, domestic workers are coming together shedding light to their abuse and demand better working conditions, higher wages and permanent residency. Since the 1970s, when the city’s economy highly developed, large numbers of domestic workers have arrived coming from the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand. In 2012, a Mission for Migrant survey reported that 18 percent of migrant domestic workers in the city had been physically abused.
    Sources: World Time, 15 January 2014; World Time, 16 January 2014.

  • US / Walmart joins Fair Food Program

    Wal-Mart Stores Inc. joined the Fair Food Program of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers based in Florida. The largest retailer in the US thus commits to increase farmworker pay and protect workers from forced labor and sexual assault. After a ceremony was held at a watermelon packing shed in an Immokalee area tomato field, Florida tomato suppliers to Walmart should now have zero tolerance for forced labour and sexual assault and put in place a mechanism for resolving labour disputes between growers and farmworkers. The coalition began fighting for the rights of farmworkers in the 1990s, many of them Mexican, Guatemalan and Haitian migrants and continued to target large food chains in the US.
    Sources: Associated Press, 16 January 2014; Coalition of Immokalee Workers, 20 January 2014.

  • US / Undocumented migrant admitted to practice law

    The California Supreme Court ruled on 2 January 2014 that 36-year old Sergio Garcia, who entered the country irregularly and earned his way through law school doing manual work, will be admitted to the state bar and practice law. However, under federal law, no law firm, business or public agency is allowed to hire him. Mr Garcia announced that he plans to open his own law firm as there is no law in the country restricting entrepreneurs. While the US Congress remains stalled on overhauling the country’s immigration laws, states have progressively granted rights to undocumented migrants. While several states allowed undocumented migrants to receive in-state college tuition, others have passed laws allowing undocumented migrants to obtain a driver’s license. To read the full decision of the Supreme Court of California, click here.
    Sources: New York Times, 2 January 2013; The Wall Street Journal, 21 January 2013.

UNDOCUMENTED WOMEN

  • SPAIN / PUBLICATION / Undocumented women facing sexual violence in Spain

    The Aspacia Foundation (Fundacion para la Convivencia Aspacia) published a study entitled “Amidst fear and lack of protection. Undocumented migrant women facing sexual violence in Spain” (Entre el miedo y la desprotección. Mujeres migrantes en situación irregular frente a la violencia sexual en España) in November 2013. The report examines the obstacles undocumented women face in their access to protection and justice in Spain. In particular, cultural and structural discrimination; barriers to health care services (the Decreto Real 16/2012 denies access to regular health assistance for undocumented migrants and thus also prevents women from receiving adequate treatment and check-ups after experiencing sexual violence); and obstacles in reporting sexual violence because of fear of being deported. The aim of the publication is to shed light on the difficult reality which undocumented women victims of sexual violence experience in Spain as well as to contribute to the fight for effective protection of all victims from sexual violence, irrespective of their administrative status.  To see the full report (in Spanish), please click here .To view the EU Victim’s Directive, please click here.

UNDOCUMENTED CHILDREN AND THEIR FAMILIES

  • BELGIUM / Centre organises multilingual story-telling for children and families

    Recognising that not all children have equal access to books and to stimulate children and parents to read together, the Regional Integration Centre Foyer began organising multilingual story-telling with five Brussels libraries in 2013. In one library, located in the Molenbeek municipality, 29 children, including seven Afghan children with undocumented parents currently staying in the Beguinage Church in Brussels, listened to a children’s book in Dutch, English and Berber. The different languages proved to be no barrier to enjoying the story. Rather, hearing the story in various languages enriched the children’s experience, while also giving participants a sense of recognition of their mother tongue and identity. Afterwards the children took part in a cookery workshop based on the story and could explore the library collection.
    Source: Foyer International newsletter 26 December 2013.

  • NETHERLANDS / Amsterdam starts providing social benefits for single-parent families to undocumented parents of Dutch children

    Dutch children who are cared for by a single parent who has no right of residence are now entitled to social benefits for single-parent families in Amsterdam. Several other municipalities in the Netherlands already have this policy. Generally, all children, including undocumented children, have the right to protection, healthcare, education and other basic services in the Netherlands.
    Sources: Stichting LOS Newsletter, Volume 3 Number 24, 9 December 2013; Basisrechten, January 2014.

  • NETHERLANDS / Evaluation of Children’s Pardon

    In total approximately 3,270 applications have been submitted for regularisation in the Netherlands through the “Children’s pardon” (kinderpardon), a mechanism to regularise children who have lived in the Netherlands continuously for more than five years before turning 18, and who had previously claimed asylum unsuccessfully. In total 1,340 applications have been granted. This concerns approximately 640 principal applicants and 710 family members. Approximately 1,800 applications have been denied. The main grounds for rejection are: the migrant does not meet the minimum residence term (500 cases); an asylum request has never been submitted (400 cases); the Dutch authorities could not trace the migrant during a period longer than is allowed (300 cases); the migrant does not meet the stated age requirement (200 cases); the migrant holds a (non-convertible) residence permit (100 cases). Several recent court cases appealing negative decisions concerning the child’s pardon have been successful.
    Source: Stichting LOS Newsletter, Volume 3 Number 24, 9 December 2013.

  • SPAIN / Children born in Spain are not Spanish

    According to the Spanish National Institute of Statistics (Instituto Nacional de Estadística-INE), 430,584 children under fifteen who were born in Spain were not Spanish nationals on 1 January 2013. The Spanish law states that children born in Spain to two migrant parents are not automatically Spanish nationals at birth. Usually, these children acquire the nationality of their parents and therefore, need a residence permit in order to regularly stay in the country. In one case, a girl from Galdakao (Vizcaya) who was born in Spain to parents of Congolese origin residing in Spain for more than 10 years, was denied Spanish nationality due to a ‘lack of good civic conduct’. The Minister of Justice, in response to the complaint done by the parents of the girl, affirmed that the reason for the refusal was that the girl’s residence permit had expired on June 2012 and therefore, she was in an irregular migration situation.
    Source: El Diario, 9 January 2014.

  • UK / Report / The rights of undocumented migrant children in the UK

    Drawing on Coram Children’s Legal Centre’s work through its Migrant Children’s Project advice line, outreach services and legal casework, the report entitled “Growing Up In A Hostile Environment: The rights of undocumented migrant children in the UK” examines the ways in which irregular migration status is an obstacle to children and young people accessing their basic rights and the difficulties they face in obtaining essential legal advice and regularising their status. The circular problem, wherein ‘unreturnable’ children and young people are left in precarious situations for years on end but the current system does not sufficiently allow for individuals to resolve their immigration issues, is one that must be addressed with great urgency. Moreover, the report highlights that the Government must urgently reconsider the measures in the Immigration Bill and the proposals for legal aid and judicial review if the UK is to fulfil its legal obligations towards children. Read the full report and executive summary here.
    Source: Coram Children’s Legal Centre, November 2013.

  • INTERNATIONAL / Report / Championing Children’s Rights: A global study of independent human rights institutions for children

    The UNICEF Office of Research has released the first comprehensive global review of independent human rights institutions for children. The aim of the report is to help readers understand the purpose and potential of independent human rights institutions for children, what it is they do and how they operate. The report is organized into two major parts: a series of thematic chapters, drawing out lessons from practice on the distinctive principles and features underlying the function of child rights institutions; and an overview of their international development, looking at the work of institutions by region.  The report includes several cases where independent human rights institutions have intervened on violations of the rights of migrant children. Read the report here.
    Sources: UNICEF Office of Research, December 2013; Child Rights Information Network, CRINmail 1360, 15 January 2014.

  • US / Two resources from First Focus consider rights of migrant children in the USA

    First Focus has released a fact sheet highlighting the costs of delayed immigration reform in the United States. The Cost of Inaction: Why Children Can’t Wait for Immigration Reform urges immigration reform, pointing to the main failures of the current US immigration policy for children, namely, family separation due to detention deportation, young undocumented people growing up with uncertain futures, mixed status families at risk of poverty and poor health outcomes, and unaccompanied children facing immigration courts without legal representation and without protection. The report Access to Education: Challenges and Opportunities for Immigrant Studentsalso urges immigration reform, which addresses the specific challenges undocumented migrant children and young people face when accessing education.
    Sources: First Focus, 17 October 2013; First Focus, 11 December 2013.

DETENTION AND DEPORTATION

  • CYPRUS / Detentions at the Menoyia center

    Tatiana Chripkova, a Slovak National, started a hunger strike on 14 January 2014 demanding that her husband, Mahamoudou Congo, should be released from the Menoyia detention centre so they could move to the UK. The migrant support group KISA– Action for Equality, Support, Antiracism, reported that the couple had been regularly working in Cyprus for the past two years. Married in 2011, immigration declared their marriage one of convenience and Mr Congo was subsequently arrested and placed at the Menoyia centre. KISA declared that there was not enough evidence to declare the marriage as false. This is not an isolated case. Earlier in 2013, KISA called for the release of a Sri Lankan man detained at Menoyia who regularly worked in Cyprus since 1993 but whose request for naturalisation had been repeatedly rejected.
    Sources: Cyprus Mail, 15 January 2014; Cyprus Mail, 14 August 2013.

  • DENMARK / Deportation despite sexual rights violations

    Five homosexual men from Uganda face deportation from Denmark after their asylum claims on the grounds of sexual prosecution in Uganda were refused. This comes after the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) in Luxembourg ruled on 7 November 2013 that lesbian and gay people can seek asylum in the EU if they risk being jailed in their home countries (see PICUM Bulletin 2 December 2013). Uganda just passed an anti-homosexuality bill punishing homosexuality with life imprisonment. While the bill was being processed several asylum seekers’ claims were rejected. The NGO LBGT Asylum is concerned with the failure to assess the situation in Uganda, as homosexuality had been persecuted already long before the introduction of the bill.
    Source: Dagbladet Information, 27 December 2013.

  • EU / Launch of interactive website mapping detention in Europe

    The Migreurop network launched on 13 December 2013 an interactive and dynamic mapping of the detention of migrants in Europe and beyond. The new website aims to record the places, forms and conditions of migrant detention and their serious human consequences; enable access to information related to migrant detention sites and contact with detained migrants; and mobilise all those who oppose mechanisms that result in the detention and the removal of migrants, to defend their fundamental rights. According to Migreurop, there are 393 closed camps detaining migrants in EU member states, in accessing countries which have applied for membership to the EU, in those that qualify for the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and in some of those which participated in the European migration policies in the period from 2011 to 2013. For more information on Migreurop, click here.

  • EU / Workshop on alternatives to immigration detention

    The International Detention Coalition (IDC) will hold a regional workshop on alternatives to immigration detention in Brussels, Belgium on 27 and 28 March 2014. Key objectives are to build a common understanding of alternatives to immigration detention, their potential benefits and factors; to equip participants with knowledge on how to engage with governments on implementing effective alternatives to detention and key concepts on preventive monitoring of places of immigration detention as well as to facilitate networking and future collaboration among participants on limiting immigration detention, including by strengthening the EU regional immigration detention network.
    Source: International Detention Coalition, 10 January 2014.

  • PROJECT / The futile detention of unreturnable migrants

    The new project ‘A face to the story: the issue of unreturnable migrants in detention’ aims to raise awareness among civil society regarding unreturnable migrants and urges policymakers at national and EU level to put an end to their detention and find solutions for them. The project involves case studies of the experiences of 39 unreturnable migrants in EU countries as well as the launch of the report “Point of no return. The futile detention of unreturnable migrants”. A Face to the Story is the result of the cooperation between Flemish Refugee Action (Belgium), Detention Action (UK), France Terre d’Asile (France), Menedék – Hungarian Association for Migrants (Hungary) and The European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), with the support of EPIM, the European Programme on Integration and Migration. For more information, click here.

  • GREECE / Detention of Afghan children

    Following a visit to Greece and an inspection of the Moira reception center, the Ecologist Greens party documented the detention of nine Afghan children who remained in detention for more than 20 days. This is a direct violation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child but a continuous practice. Between 2009 and 2012, Greece was condemned by the European Court for Human Rights in 11 cases on the living conditions of refugees and detained migrants in the detention centers.
    Sources: Okeanews, 15 January 2014; UNHCR Greece Press Review: 14 – 17 January 2014.

  • ISRAEL / African migrants in Israel protest increasingly arduous immigration policies

    Undocumented migrants of African origin filled the streets during a three-day strike from 5 to 7 January 2014 surrounding Israel’s parliament to voice their frustrations on the hardened immigration policies and to seek recognition as refugees. On 15 January 2014, millions of migrant women protested in the streets of Tel-Aviv against the refusal of the authorities to grant refugee status to them. Over the years, Israel has undertaken multiple and repeated attempts to restrict access to the territory. For the past two years, a 240 km long, five metre high fence topped with high tech surveillance equipment has been constructed to seal the Israeli border with Egypt. Furthermore, following last November’s bill amendment (see PICUM bulletin 2 December 2013), a new law enables migrants who are already in Israel to be sent to a detention facility in the Negev desert for up to one year without trial. The government described the detention center in the Negev desert as an open prison operating as half-way house. The UN Commissioner for Refugees stated that Israel’s policy disregards the 1951 world treaty on the treatment of refugees and generates anguish and hardship.
    Sources: Aljazeera, 10 January 2014; Agence France Presse, 15 January 2014.

  • ITALY / Detained migrants sew their mouths to protest against detention conditions

    Nine migrants from Tunisia and Morocco, detained at the Ponte Galeria detention centre in Rome, sewed their mouths on 21 December 2013 in a symbolic protest against the poor living conditions in the detention centre and long-term detention. The protesters sewed their mouths using a needle made from a cigarette lighter and threads from bed sheets. The detention centre’s medical staff took care of the detainees and none were hospitalised. The protest follows the dissemination by Rai 2, a state-run TV channel, of a video footage of naked asylum seekers being hosed down with disinfectant at the detention centre of Lampedusa, Italy. The European Union condemned the degrading treatment of migrants at the detention centre and started investigations on detention conditions in Italy.
    Sources: Corriere della Sera, 22 December 2013; CNN, 19 December 2013.

PUBLICATIONS AND OTHER RESOURCES

  • GLOBAL / Human rights report 2014

    Human Rights Watch (HRW) has released its World Report 2014, the organization’s 24th annual review of human rights practices around the globe which summarises key human rights issues divided by geographical region in more than 90 countries worldwide, drawing on events from the end of 2012 through November 2013. The situation of undocumented migrants is addressed in some of the respective country chapters such as the proposed bill to criminalise irregular migration in the Netherlands. To view and download the report, click here.

  • PHOTOJOURNALISM / Book on detained and deported migrants

    A group of Finnish journalists announced their initiative to create a photojournalism book about detained and deported migrants. The aim of the documentary book is to research what happens to a person or a family who have been deported from Europe. Seeking to increase awareness among Europeans, the journalists will travel around the world to meet those who have been detained and tell their stories through photos and written summaries. The journalists have already been to Iraq, Kosovo and Turkey and are currently looking for contacts in Africa, Asia and Latin America but generally welcome any contacts. Moreover, the journalists acknowledge the sensitivity of the subject and offer to conceal the identities of interviewed persons. The aim is to publish the book in early 2015. The journalists´ previous photo book (accessible here) about undocumented migrants in Europe won several awards. To get in touch with the journalists, please contact Anne Ignatius at: anne.ignatius@gmail.com; Johanna Kippo at: johanna_kippo@yahoo.com or Laura Oja at: lauraoja@gmail.com.

EVENTS

  • CONFERENCE / Baltic Sea Network will hold conference on migration

    The Baltic Sea Network will hold a conference on migration in Kiel, Germany from 6 to 9 March 2014. The event aims to facilitate exchange on refugee and migration related issues in the Baltic Sea region. Plenary sessions and a range of workshops will address issues ranging from work related migration to undocumented migrants and their rights, human trafficking, unaccompanied minors, churches’ solidarity programmes and the Dublin III regulation. Registration is open until 21 February 2014. For more information on the event, click here.

PICUM IN THE NEWS

  • EU / Undocumented migrants: time to change the European discourse

    The platform Open Democracy published an opinion by PICUM Programmes Director, Eve Geddie looking at shortcomings of EU migration policy in the aftermath of deaths at sea in 2013 and providing an outlook to the EU’s justice-and-home-affairs upcoming migration policy frameworks.
    Source: Open Democracy, 16 January 2014.

  • FRANCE / A students’ fight for dignity of migrants

    The French newspaper Le Journal International interviewed students of the Master Programme “Human Rights and Democratisation” in Venice, Italy about their new campaign ‚Migrants Matter‘, mentioning PICUM as supporter of the campaign.
    Source: Le Journal International, 27 December 2013.

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