PICUM Bulletin — 6 February 2013

EUROPEAN POLICY DEVELOPMENTS

  • COUNCIL OF EUROPE / Governments should act in the best interest of stateless children

    Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, Nils Muižnieks, stated on the 15 January 2013 that “Citizenship is the ‘right to have rights’”. Without citizenship, one lacks not only political rights, but often social and economic rights as well. In this most recent statement, Mr Muižnieks claimed that hundreds of thousands of people in Europe do not have citizenship of any state, and that governments should act more vigorously to break this cycle by targeting measures to end statelessness, especially among children. The Commissioner recalled that the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by every Council of Europe member state, stating “the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.”  The Commissioner re-asserted that it is clearly in the best interests of the child to have citizenship from birth.
    Source: European Convention of Human Rights, 15 January 2013

  • COUNCIL OF EUROPE / PACE Resolution calls for “firm and urgent measures to tackle the mounting pressure and tension over asylum and irregular migration into Greece, Turkey and other Mediterranean countries.”

    The Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) adopted a Resolution [1918] on 24 January 2013 calling for urgent and collective measures to ease the pressure on front-line countries in the Mediterranean, especially Greece. The Resolution noted that measures aimed to reduce the flow of arrivals at the Evros border only shifted the migratory routes to the islands, merely transferring the problem. The Resolution further analyses the current situation and makes recommendations to the EU, Greece, and Turkey, but also emphasizes that Europe must drastically rethink its approach to responsibility sharing in order to deal with this European problem.  The Resolution suggests doing so by providing bilateral assistance, exploring new settlement and intra-European relocation approaches of asylum seekers and refugees, and by maintaining the moratorium on returns to Greece under the Dublin II Regulation. According to the Resolution, the Council of Europe also needs to play a supporting role in the process by assisting Member States in adjusting their asylum systems and backing innovative projects to address growing social tensions and xenophobia towards migrants. The Resolution was supported by a report prepared by Tineke Strik, Rapporteur to PACE Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons.
    Source: Migrants at Sea, 29 January 2013

  • FRONTEX / EUROSUR preparation

    Frontex, the EU border agency, has confirmed to the News Agency Inter Press Service (IPS) that it has been funding select weapons and security equipment manufacturers, to present their equipment in various demonstrations. These manufacturers were identified by national border agencies as potential ‘customers.’ Reimbursements made to these companies by Frontex to cover the costs they incurred to present their technology varied from EUR 10,000 euros to 198,000.  The demonstrations are part of the preparation for the launch of EUROSUR, the European External Border Surveillance System. According to IPS, surveillance plans envisage the possibility of using drones to spot migrant boats trying to cross the Mediterranean; through 2014-2020 member states will be encouraged to buy equipment with support from the EU budget. The Commission estimates that the creation of EUROSUR could cost up to EUR 338 million. However, the study ‘Borderline’ published by the Heinrich Boll Foundation, claims the costs could “easily” amount to EUR 874 million. The Commission refutes the higher estimates. The Green euro-parliamentarian Ska Keller told IPS that “The European border security policy is going in the wrong direction. (…) Against the background of pervasive budget cuts and austerity measures, it is unbelievable that the EU is spending millions of euros for ‘smart gates’, UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), and other surveillance technologies”.
    Source: Inter Press Service, 9 January 2013

NATIONAL DEVELOPMENTS

  • BELGIUM / Policy plan on migration and asylum criticized

    In their assessment of the new Belgian government’s asylum and migration policy plan, the Flemish organisation Vluchtelingenwerk reached the conclusion that after three years of struggle, shelter will now be guaranteed for asylum applicants. The report also praised the Minister for the improvement in expediting asylum procedures, but the return of unsuccessful applicants to countries such as Afghanistan is still under criticism. Nonetheless, the report highlighted that despite the law entitling families of undocumented migrants with children to shelter, the reality is that most undocumented migrants are only accepted in shelters for the homeless, which are not adequate to meet their specific needs as undocumented families.  The situation in practice still remains far removed from the law.
    Source: Vluchtelingenwerk, 22 January 2013

  • GREECE / Campaign to free Petros Kapetanopoulos

    An online campaign has been launched to call the Greek government to drop charges against Petros Kapetanopoulos, a Greek citizen who confronted the police whilst he defended a migrant from police brutality. On the night of 21 July 2012, Kapetanopoulos heard shouting in his neighbourhood in Kolonos (Athens) and went out to check up on it and saw that a squad of five police officers had apprehended a migrant. Mr Kapetanopoulos claims to have seen one officer with his foot on the migrant’s stomach. Kapetanopoulos reprimanded the police by pointing that there was no need to use any force. One of the policemen replied by hitting the migrant, who was still on the ground. Kapetanopoulos was also arrested and charged with resisting arrest, false testimony and attempt of liberating a prisoner. Besides calling the Greek Government to drop charges against Kapetanopoulos, the campaign also calls upon the general public to sign the petition as an act against any kind of torture, molestation or humiliation and to support the human rights of migrants. To sign up the petition please click here.
    Source: Interocupy, 6 January 2013; Anarkismo, 12 January 2013

  • ITALY / Shrinking funds for the reception of undocumented migrants

    Between March and September 2011 approximately 60,000 irregular migrants reached the coast of Italy, of whom about 18,000 are still detained in various immigration reception centres across Italy, waiting for their applications for leave to remain or asylum to be determined. Just over EUR 1 billion was spent for their reception on Italian soil. In order to provide adequate funding for the reception of migrants reaching Italy from North Africa and especially from Libya, the Italian Home Office started in 2011 the project “Emergenza Nord Africa”. The project came to an end on 31 December 2012 and the government has not yet clarified if a new ad hoc funding plan will be implemented for the upcoming years.
    Source: L’Espresso, 15 October 2012

  • USA / Report reveals how providing driving license for undocumented migrants can secure safer roads

    In the context of the revived debate about whether undocumented immigrants should apply for driver’s licenses, the Californian Department of Motor Vehicles issued a report revealing that unlicensed drivers are three times more likely to cause fatal car crashes compared to those who possess a driving license and are regulated. In California rough estimates indicate that there are 2 million unlicensed drivers, of whom most are undocumented. Supporters of providing driving license for undocumented migrants argue that requiring migrants to pass the theoretical and practical test would play a major role in reducing general numbers of traffic accidents. Although previous legislative efforts failed, a Democratic member of the State Assembly has introduced a bill to allow anyone who can prove that their taxes are in order to apply for a driver’s license, regardless of their immigration status. The report argues that the current regulation contravenes public safety. Sixteen US states have already approved the initiative while six others  still oppose allowing undocumented migrants to obtain driving licenses.
    Source: Think Progress, 16 January 2013

  • USA / Immigration reform is a top priority

    The Obama administration is pushing a comprehensive immigration reform to Congress that would include a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented migrants if they meet certain criteria, and accept certain obligations, including paying back any taxes. Immigration reform has taken the spotlight after a record turnout of Latino voters, particularly in swing states such as Florida and Colorado. Election results made clear that it remains difficult to see a future for the Republican Party (GOP) without addressing the need to attract immigrant voters. Obama’s proposal would impose a duty upon employers to verify the immigration status of all newly hired workers; new long-term visas would be provided to highly qualified migrants; and also a guest worker programme is planned to protect low-wage immigrants. Little information has been revealed on the guest-worker program but the objective is to allow employers to hire low-skilled workers if these jobs are not filled by U.S. workers. On 2 January 2013, the US Government already eased the way for undocumented migrants who are immediate relatives of US citizens and are applying for permanent residency and are able to verify that spending long time apart from their family members would entail ‘extreme hardship’. The measure will enter into force on 4 March 2013 and will affect approximately 1 million immigrants (See PICUM Bulletin 22 January 2013).
    Sources: Colorlines, 16 January 2013; Latinos Post, 14 January 2013; Los Angeles Times 2 January 2013; The Huffington Post, 31 January 2013

HEALTH CARE

  • USA / Obamacare leads to the rise of underground cash-only ‘clinicas’ in Los Angeles

    Although President Obama’s health reform aims to provide health coverage to millions of previously-uninsured Americans, it still excludes approximately 12 million undocumented migrants. According to Kaiser Health News report, this process led to the proliferation of “bodega clinicas” (clinics which provide cash-only treatment)  in Los Angeles. These community clinics seek to give Latino immigrants without health insurance much-needed basic primary care, but cannot fulfil the requirements for extensive services such as surgeries. Although the ‘clinicas’ are already well-established, an upcoming and comprehensive immigration reform could eventually extend health care benefits for undocumented migrants, causing a change in the current model. . This would require a change in the cash-only business model and greater scrutiny, but researchers consider the changes following the Affordable Health Care Act – reduced uninsured patients and more insured – could prompt some legitimate ‘clinicas’ to make the change. Meanwhile in Vermont, in the context of the implementation of the single-payer health care system whereby the government pays all costs rather than the private insurers, lawmakers asked the Green Mountain Care Board to examine the costs of coverage for undocumented migrants. A University of Vermont survey found that roughly 1,500-3,000 undocumented workers use health services sparingly. The main reasons are fear of immigration enforcement, language barriers and lack of transportation. The respondents are mainly young adults, which mean that their coverage cost would likely be low, but a decision upon whether to extend the insurance is yet to be decided.
    Source: Think Progress 14 January 2013.

LABOUR AND FAIR WORKING CONDITIONS

  • ILO / ILO videos showcase migrant domestic workers’ contribution to European societies

    On the occasion of International Migrants Day and with the financial support of the EU, the International Labour Organisation released two videos highlighting the importance of recognizing migrant domestic workers as equal employees and to protect their rights. The videos will use two short stories (Graciela and Coring) to showcase how thousands of migrants live and work in European societies and give essential services to families and societies, even though their contribution are often undervalued.
    Click here to watch Graciela’s story and here to watch Coring’s story.

  • ITALY / Migrants face underpayment and unhealthy living condition in the orchards of Calabria

    At the end of 2009, Africans working in Rosarno rebelled against their inhumane living and working conditions. Three years later, an investigation conducted by the Italian magazine “La Stampa” reveals that conditions in Rosarno still have not improved: migrant workers are still underpaid and their living conditions are still very poor, resulting in unhygienic and hazardous health conditions. The Gioia Tauro model camp opened in 2011 providing appropriate facilities and also medical assistance, but by June 2012 it was closed and abandoned when the financing for the region, Calabria, withdrew its financial support. When the mandarin-picking season started at the end of October 2013 the camp was taken over by migrants and quickly saturated. The whole area remains today, a shantytown.
    Soure: Rosarno, La Stampa 9 January 2013

UNDOCUMENTED WOMEN

  • CANADA / Transsexual and Transgender Women Denied Access to Shelters in Montréal

    Action Santé Travesti(e)s et Transsexuel(le)s du Québec [Health Action for Transvestites and Transsexuals of Québec – ASTT(e)Q] has raised concerns about the ongoing exclusion of transsexual and transgender women from homeless women’s shelters in Montréal as temperatures drop to extreme lows. ASTT(e)Q, a local trans health project of CACTUS Montréal, has witnessed several of its members being denied shelters on the grounds of being trans. While such refusals are frequently justified by administrative regulations, members of ASTT(e)Q believe that these exclusive practices are rooted in discriminatory attitudes towards trans people. While the majority of women’s shelters throughout Québec require trans people to have undergone sex reassignment surgery, and/or to have changed their legal sex, these requirements are unattainable for most homeless trans people due to extensive costs and administrative requirements. Calling this situation a clear case of discrimination disguised as administrative regulations, ASTT(e)Q highlight that trans women are left with no alternatives, as men’s shelters are clearly not an option; and find themselves on the streets in -30 degrees Celsius temperatures. In the context of such extreme temperatures, ASTT(e)Q urges all shelters to immediately remove barriers to admission for trans people based on the legal documentation in their possession and/or their surgical status. More broadly, the organisation demands shelters, as well as other gender specific services, be made available according to one’s social identity rather than according to their legal or surgical status and encourage organisations across Québec to work in collaboration with trans community groups to ensure that trans people are no longer denied access.
    Source: Le Journal de Montreal, 25 January 2013; Sketchy Thoughts, 25 January 2013

  • EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT / Women’s Committee highlight migrant women’s housing concerns

    A draft opinion by the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM), calls on the Committee of Employment and Social Affairs (EMPLOY) to incorporate several key gender considerations in its forthcoming motion for a resolution on social housing in the European Union. The FEMM Committee underlines concerns that victims of domestic violence are often more likely to stay in an abusive environment due to financial barriers to obtain suitable housing; and calls on the EU to promote policies and programmes that increase access to safe and affordable housing for domestic violence victims. Making explicit reference to ‘migrant women’ as a group particularly affected by the lack of social housing, the opinion urges EU member states to invest in social housing and to provide them with a ‘stable and secure environment’. Furthermore, the Committee calls on member States to carry out gender-based analysis as part of all housing policies and programmes; and ascertain exactly how housing policies can support women.
    Source: Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, Draft opinion for the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs on social housing in the European Union (2012/2293(INI))

  • USA / New version of ‘Violence Against Women Act’ reduces protections of undocumented

    The Violence Against Women Reauthorisation Act was reintroduced by U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on 22 January 2013, the first day that bills can be introduced in the Senate in the new 113th Congress. Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy stated this ‘life-saving legislation’ should be a top priority of the new Congress, underlying his hopes hope that the Senate will act quickly to pass this strong, bipartisan bill to help all victims of domestic and sexual violence. Throughout 2012, House Republicans blocked the third reauthorisation of the 1994 legislation due to the increased number of visas for undocumented victims of domestic violence, its extension of tribal authority over nontribe members who abuse their American Indian partners, and its establishment of protections for gay and lesbian victims of domestic violence. However, their main objection was procedural; namely, that the bill should have originated in the House, not the Senate. The new 2013 version of the bill seeks to resolve the Republicans’ objections by removing the increase of special visas for undocumented immigrant victims of domestic violence, visas which enable victims to prosecute their attackers without fear that their lack of legal status can be used to deport them. There is a cap of 10,000 of these “U visas” a year, and the government consistently hits the cap.
    Source: Mother Jones, 23 January 2013

  • FILM / “Au Pair” Filipino women working as au pairs in Denmark

    A new film entitled “Au Pair” follows three young Filipino women, Roselie, Mate and Theresa, who work as au pairs in Denmark in order to earn money for their families. It provides a vital insight into the daily struggle they face due to insecure employment contracts, visas that are about to expire, family separation and prejudice towards foreigners. In the midst of relationships which are frequently based on abuse, however, the women have no choice but to work as much as possible and hope that everything goes well. In a context of growing reliance upon migrant women to fulfil urgent labour needs within the EU, this film reveals urgent problems regarding their nominal salaries and exclusion from fundamental protections such as legislation governing working hours. The film has provoked much debate within Nordic countries regarding the increasing exploitation of migrant women within the homes of the welfare state.
    More information here.

  • FILM / Women’s Experience of Irregular Migration from El Salvador to the USA

    The film ‘Maria in Nobody’s Land’ covers the journey of three Salvadoran women to the United States, through Mexican territory. Doña Inés, a 60 year old woman, has been looking for her daughter for five years and is following the same route her daughter took while crossing Mexico en route to America. Marta and Sandra, tired of the violence from their husbands and wanting to overcome poverty, decide to leave their families behind to travel to America – with only thirty dollars in their pockets. During their harrowing journey, the three women encounter prostitution, slave trade, rape, kidnapping and even death, in an unwavering quest for a better life. More information here.

  • WEBINAR / Immigration and Gender: An Analysis of Public Opinion and Media Coverage

    Accessible online and free of charge, this telebriefing will enable several key speakers to present research and recommendations regarding public opinion and media coverage of immigrant women. This session will highlight the often overlooked challenges facing migrant women in public discourse regarding immigration concerns. As women, they often find themselves at the intersection of matters related to work, immigration status, family, and gender, affected by each of these in ways that are often ignored in the policy arena. To ensure that these concerns are included in conversations regarding immigration, it is important to know how current discourse and public opinion treat immigrant women, and how we can leverage existing opportunities, improve coverage, and shape discussions. This session will offer solutions to address these concerns. Bringing together a panel of leading experts, the webinar will also allow for questions from the audience. Scheduled for 13 February 2013, 19:00 – 20:00 (GMT) More information available here.

UNDOCUMENTED CHILDREN AND THEIR FAMILIES

  • GLOBAL / Documentary calling the US government to enact the DREAM Act

    The organisation Emerson Collective has launched the “Dream is Now”, an interactive documentary calling the US government to enact the DREAM Act, which would give undocumented young people raised in the US the chance to obtain citizenship. Current law provides no path for these undocumented youth to remain in the country regularly. There are an estimated one to two million undocumented young people living in the US who were brought there as children. The documentary is available here.

  • ITALY / Irregular children unable to register to school online

    A new online registration procedure has been put in place for school registration for 2013-2014 thus excluding undocumented children as they do not have the Italian fiscal code number, which is required when registering online. The Ministry of Education later clarified that undocumented children could still register by using the old paper system. Italian immigration laws recognize the right to education for all children, including those who are undocumented.
    Source: L’Unità, 23 January 2013

  • NETHERLANDS / Report on reception of unaccompanied children

    The Dutch Inspectorate for Youth Care has published a report on the reception of unaccompanied children. The report states that reception is adequate as it provides good supervision and there is access to and availability of assistance. The report proposes some improvements including better access to an independent complaint boards and improved qualitative and quantitative indicators for measuring services in order to better evaluate the situation and the service provision.
    Source: Nederlands Jeugdinstituut, 22 January 2013

  • GLOBAL / MERCOSUR report findings on child rights approach in immigration laws

    The Instituto de Políticas Públicas en Derechos Humanos del MERCOSUR (MERCOSUR Insitute for Public Policy on Human Rights) released a report entitled “La implementación de los Acuerdos del MERCOSUR relativos a la protección de los derechos de niños, niñas y adolescentes migrantes. Diagnóstico y lineamientos para la acción” (the Implementation of Mercosur agreements for the protection of migrant Children and adolescents. Analysis and guidelines to taking action)” The report aims at conducting a preliminary analysis of the main MERCOSUR agreements regarding migration that affect children and adolescents. The report finds that despite the existence of regional policy framework that protects the rights of migrants, there is a remarkable absence of mechanisms for evaluating its enforcement. Therefore, one of the main objectives of this report is to provide a general assessment of the status of implementation of major agreements in the field, in order to have an approximation on the progress and obstacles of these instruments. With regards to undocumented children, the report identified the general absence of a child rights approach in the immigration laws of the region and so the absence of adequate procedures to identify situations of violations of human rights of this extremely vulnerable group. The report is available here.

  • SWEDEN / Swedish Red Cross urges that attention must be paid to the poverty levels of the most vulnerable children

    Writing in Svenska Dagbladet the main Swedish daily newspaper, Oscar Fredriksson, Director of the Swedish Red Cross, draws attention to the invisibility of asylum-seeking and undocumented children in statistics on child poverty and urges that more attention be paid to these vulnerable groups of children. Undocumented children have only recently been granted the right to education and health care in Sweden, as a result of prolonged and concerted advocacy efforts (see PICUM Bulletins 11 July 2012 and 7 November 2012). Furthermore, Mr. Fredriksson commented on their continued vulnerability on several levels, particularly those who have experienced war, torture or other trauma. His remarks came during a debate over child poverty in Sweden, in which he called for inequalities in Sweden to be addressed immediately.
    Source: Svenska Dagbladet, 17 January 2013; Rosengrenska Web blog, 17 January 2013

  • UK / New Blog written by Undocumented Migrant Families and Young People

    A new blog, entitled “Life Without Papers”, has been launched to tell the real stories of undocumented migrant families and young people in the UK, and to give visibility to these unheard stories. Commissioned by Unbound Philanthropy and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, the blog is designed to tell the stories of undocumented migrant families and young people in their own words, highlighting their daily struggles and vulnerabilities, and in doing so, revealing their remarkable strength and resilience. The blog highlights that half of the 120,000 estimated undocumented children in the UK were born in the UK to undocumented parents.  It continues to note that these children are disadvantaged from birth, solely due to their migration status. The blog is written by photographer and writer, Len Grant, who has been introduced to the protagonists of these stories through organisations and charities that work with undocumented migrants.

  • UN / Youth Migration and Development Initiative

    The United Nations is hosting an online platform for young people affected by migration to voice their experiences. The stories and experiences shared will help shape the 2013 World Youth Report (WYR) on Youth Migration and Development. The initiative has also launched a four-week online, interactive discussion platform aimed at bringing together young migrants and other young people affected by migration to share their stories and experiences with the UN, and each other. For further information please visit the United Nations World Youth Report 2013 website.

  • USA / Documentary on Undocumented teenager nominated for Oscar Award

    The 40 minutes long film “Inocente” has been nominated for an Oscar in the Short Documentary Category. The documentary shows the fifteen-year-old Inocente Izucar’s life in San Diego as an undocumented migrant facing issues such as homelessness, deportation, domestic violence and suicide. The movie was made by Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine.  They hope it would serve as an educational material for museums, libraries and workshops.
    Source: Colorlines, 14 January 2013

  • 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 Improve the Protection of Undocumented Children 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 realising 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.  The event is open to the public. The deadline for registration is 18 February 2013. Visit the PICUM website for further information.

DETENTION AND DEPORTATION

  • FRANCE / Children in detention in France

    Two new cases of children being detained have been denounced by associations at the beginning of January 2013. An Armenian family (grandparents, mother and two children aged 6 months and 2 years) was arrested and detained in the Metz detention centre, in the absence of the father. Another family was also detained in the Metz detention centre, despite their agreement to voluntary repatriation. According to the associations’ report, in 2010, 351 children were detained with their parents in metropolitan France. For the last six months, following the government’s 6th of July 2012 Circular requiring the house arrest rather than the detention of undocumented families with children, associations have reported only three official cases of detention and 60 official cases of house arrests of families. The circular does not apply to Mayotte however.
    Source: La Liberation, 11 January 2013

  • GREECE / Detainees’ right prevails absconding charges

    On 11 January 2013, the Criminal Court of First Instance of Igoumenitsa, Greece, made public (by making available online) the judgment that declared that several detainees who had escaped from Thesprotia Police headquarters, were innocent of the charges  brought against them for irregular entry on Greek territory and/or use of fraudulent identity documents  after having escaped from Police Headquarters where they had been detained for a period ranging from nine to 45 days. They were later arrested and charged with escaping under the Greek Criminal Code but the judge ruled that their actions constituted a legitimate defence given the “deplorable” conditions of their detention. The court found that the Igoumenista authorities had breached Article 3 (prohibition of torture, inhumane and degrading treatment or punishment), Article 8 (right to private and family life) and Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) of the European Convention of Human Rights in view of both the detention conditions, and their unlawful pre-charge detention in a police station.  The decision (only in Greek) is available here.
    Source: La Revue des Droits de l’Homme, 15 January 2013; Infomobile, 26 January 2013

  • ITALY – GREECE / Human Rights Watch published a report on summary returns of unaccompanied children and adult asylum seekers from Italy to Greece

    The report, “Turned Away: Summary Returns of Unaccompanied Migrant Children and Adult Asylum Seekers from Italy to Greece,” documents how Italy is summarily returning migrants to Greece, failing to fulfil Italy’s legal obligations to adequately screen whether people are in need of protection and determine their best interest. Human Rights Watch has found that contrary to Italian and international law, the Italian border police at the Adriatic ports of Ancona, Bari, Brindisi and Venice hinder adults from lodging asylum claims, and deny providing access to social services for unaccompanied children by sending them back to Greece where they are vulnerable to abusive detention conditions, hostile xenophobic violence and a dysfunctional asylum system. Additionally, Italy continues its returns to Greece despite the European court ruling that barred returns to the country of entry under the Dublin II Regulation. Please find the full publication here.

  • ITALY / Rioting: an act of legitimate defence

    A judgment of the Court of Crotone, found detainees innocent of the charges that were brought against them by the local authorities following rioting in a detention centre in the Island of Capo Rizzuto. The Court ruled, on 12 December 2012, that the actions of detained migrants in opposing their detention conditions were legitimate, in that they were responding to acts of legitimate defence and protest against their unlawfully-prolonged detention. The Court’s reasoning was based on articles 15 and 16 of the EU Returns Directive which provides that detention of migrants is allowed only where certain specific conditions are met and only for a short period and as long as removal arrangements are in progress. The Court also referred to the degrading conditions in the detention facility as “injurious to human dignity” and therefore in violation of Article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights.
    Source: Diritto Penale Contemporaneo, 7 January 2013; ASGI, 3 December 2012

  • SLOVAKIA / Open letter to the Minister on administrative detention of foreigners

    The Human Rights League from Slovakia sent a letter to the Minister of Interior regarding the Government’s decision to exclude the provision of legal aid to foreigners in administrative detention from the activities financed by the European Return Fund. There is no other public funding at national level to provide legal aid to people held in detention in Slovakia. The letter states that, as of 1 January 2012, the Slovak Republic is in breach of its international obligations resulting from the Articles 5 and 13 of the Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, as well as binding European legislation, mainly the Directive 2008/155/EC, the so-called ‘Returns Directive.’
    Source: Human Rights League, 16 January 2013

  • UK / Recurring disturbances in Morton Hall detention centre

    Detainees, NGOs and detention officers expressed their concern over the immigration detention centre in Lincolnshire following the two major disturbances over the Christmas period that resulted in several injuries. The problem seems to be on-going in the geographically-isolated male detention centre as eighteen men from Afghanistan protested against plans to deport them to their countries of origin by beginning a hunger strike in September 2012.  Additionally, two rooftop protests have taken place at the detention centre in July 2012. The conflict was triggered this time by the sustained lack of warm food and water for several days and also the retention of money sent to detainees from friends or relatives. Kate Blagojevic from the Detention Action campaign group explained that tensions have been high at Morton Hall because detainees are held there for months, or even years before deportation and their mental and physical health deteriorates rapidly by not knowing how long they will be locked up for. Furthermore, the centre’s location, poses an additional difficulty to access legal representation or the supporting NGO network, or to even receive visitors.
    Source: The Guardian, 6 January 2013

PUBLICATIONS AND OTHER RESOURCES

  • FRANCE / Little Guide to Understanding European Migratory Policies

    The French organisation La Cimade has released a guide entitled “Petit guide pour comprendre les politiques migratoires européennes” (Little guide to understanding European migration policy). The guide offers information on various issues related to migration such as Schengen area, Frontex, The Dublin Treaty, etc… The report (in French) can be accessed here.

  • ITALY / BOOK / Rights denied to migrants

    “Senza distinzioni” (Without Discriminations) is a new book by Alberto Guariso, President of the Association Avvocati per niente (Lawyers for Nothing), which analyses 50 rulings from the past four years that have supported  ending discrimination against migrants. The cases come largely from the North of Italy.  Of these, some cases focused on the rights of undocumented migrants, such as the case of 2008 which concerned the enrolment of children of undocumented migrants into Italian schools. The book is sponsored by CGIL and UNAR. According to the research, in 99% of the cases, those who report discrimination to the justice system obtained a ruling in their favour, but often such rulings were not implemented.
    Source: La Repubblica, 9 January 2013

  • SPAIN / Report on migration flows from APDHA

    The organisation Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos de Andalucía (APDHA), a PICUM member, has released its annual report “Balance de los flujos migratorios 2012” (Assessment of migration flows in 2012). In the press release presenting the assessment, members of APDHA highlighted that an increasing number of migrants were entering through Melilla, partially due to Melilla´s proximity to the Algerian border. Moroccan organisations say that this port is frequently favoured by migrants, and say that as a result, more than 2,000 people are left behind in the desert. The press release also drew attention to the EU concerns about increasing border control, externalising migration flow management and placing detention at the very core of migration management.  Besides this, APDHA criticized the EUR 50 million that the EU has allocated to external surveillance, the maintenance of migrant detention centres and to forced returns, as well as claiming that the number of migrants that died when attempting to reach the Spanish territory had increased from 138 in 2010, then 198 in 2011 and 225 in 2012. Click here to view the Annual Report.
    Source: Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos de Andalucía, 23 January 2012

OTHER NEWS

  • GLOBAL / Puzzled by Policy: a new tool to visualize views on migration

    In the framework of the project funded by the European Commission under the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) – ICT Policy Support Programme (ICT PSP), led by the Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI) at NUI Galway, have initiated a new platform that allows users to graphically compare their views on immigration with national and EU immigration policies, as well as with the opinions of relevant stakeholders. To find out more on this project click here.

  • EVENT / Initiative against fascism and violence against migrants

    The group l’Initiative de Solidarité avec la Grèce (Initiative for Solidarity towards Greece) conducted an action in front of the Commission’s headquarters, in Brussels, in support of the pan-European Day Against Fascism, held on 19 January 2013. The action sought to draw attention to the rise of racism and xenophobia in Greece.  As part of the action, key workers at the Commission were asked their opinions about the existing link between austerity and fascism.  The action also drew attention to the rising hostility and violence against migrants in the country and to the fact that the Government uses migrants as scapegoats for the economic crisis. Participants in the action remembered the murder of a 26 year old undocumented migrant from Pakistan, who was stabbed in Athens on 17 January 2013. The video of the initiative is available here.
    Source: L’Initiative de Solidarité avec la Grèce website; L’initiative des étudiants et travailleurs grecs à Paris, 18 January 2013

  • ONLINE COURSE / Migration and Asylum

    As part of Human Rights Education Association’s certificate program on Migration & Asylum, two courses are upcoming: Migration and Asylum (Foundation Course) and EU Migration and Asylum Law and Policies from 13 February-26 March 2013. Visit the HREA website to find out more.

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