PICUM Bulletin — 10 October 2012


  • GREECE / Sinking of boat with migrants near Symi island

    A boat, carrying 38 irregular migrants from Turkey and a 23-year-old Afghan smuggler, sank near the island of Symi on 4 September 2012. The boat tried to approach the coast in order to disembark the passengers, but it was detected and pursued by the port authorities. The coastguard reported that the boat, after dangerous manoeuvres, struck with rocks and sank. All passengers were rescued and detained provisionally. The Mayor of the island of Symi underlined that the situation is getting out of control and around 20 irregular migrants are arriving on the island every day. The enhanced controls at the Evros border under operation “Xenios Zeus” has resulted in a renewed influx via the islands of the eastern Aegean Sea.
    Source: Kathimerini, 4 September 2012; TVXS, 4 September 2012; Inews, 4 September 2012; EPT News, 5 September 2012

  • GREECE / DEATH AT THE BORDER / Death of two irregular migrants in Evros Prefecture

    A 30-year-old irregular migrant from Eritrea died in a car accident on 16 September 2012, after a police pursuit in Egnatia Odos, near Alexandroupolis, Evros Prefecture. The car, in which the victim was travelling with six other irregular migrants, overturned after speeding away from police control. His body was transferred to the General University Hospital of Alexandroupolis, while the 43-year-old smuggler who was driving the car was arrested. Prior to this incident, the Greek policed had published statistics and an evaluation of the first on 5 September 2012 indicating that of enforcement of the ‘Xenios Zeus’ operation, the number of people entering irregularly into Greece via the Evros border has dropped by 84%. More precisely, 1,121 undocumented migrants were arrested in August 2012 compared to 6,991 in the same period in 2011. Since this operation started, which aims to detect and arrest irregular migrants mainly in Athens and in Evros, 16,836 people in total were detained in Athens, among whom 2,144 migrants were arrested because they did not have residence papers.
    Source: Star, 17 September 2012; Ethnos, 17 September 2012; ekathimerini, 5 September 2012; EPT News, 5 September 2012

  • ITALY / DEATH AT THE BORDER / Still not found the boat disappeared on 7 September off the coasts of Lampedusa

    The Italian Authorities are still investigating the disappearance of the boat which sunk off the coasts of Lampedusa on 7 September 2012. According to survivors, the boat sunk when trying to land on the coasts of Sicily. The Italian Coastguard have not yet been able to find the boat and only three bodies of the 79 migrants who were travelling on the boat have been found. The Italian Authorities have however arrested the three smugglers who are allegedly responsible for the tragedy and are currently investigating whether it could be possible that the migrants were actually abandoned at sea, which would explain why it has not until now been possible to locate the supposedly-sunken boat.
    Sources: La Repubblica, 14 September 2012; La Repubblica, 13 September 2012; La Repubblica, 9 September 2012; La Repubblica, 12 September 2012; Migrants at Sea, 9 September 2012


  • EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT / Protection for all victims

    The EU directive on victims’ rights was adopted on 4 October 2012 by the Council of Ministers after having first been adopted on 12 September 2012 by the European Parliament by a strong majority vote with 611 for, 9 against and 13 abstentions.  Known as the ‘victim’s package’, the new EU directive sets out minimum rights for victims, wherever they are in the EU (see IP/11/585). PICUM and La Strada International had issued a statement in March 2012 pushing forward recommendations for the need to acknowledge undocumented victims of crime who often do not report crimes for fear of being detained or deported (See PICUM report, ‘Strategies to End Double Violence Against Undocumented Women – Protecting Rights and Ensuring Justice’). Of particular importance is the inclusion of a non-discriminatory application of the directive with regards to the victim’s residence status (Paragraphs nine and ten of the minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of crime and Article 1 (1) of the Directive), as well as the recognition of vulnerability of migrant women depended on spouse visa (Paragraph 18), and the need for individual assessments to consider the residence status of the victim (Paragraph 56). Following publication in the official EU journal, EU Members States will have three years to implement the EU Directive in their national legislation. The UK and Ireland have decided to apply the directive but Denmark will not apply it, under its default opt-out for justice and home affairs. For further information on victim’s rights in Europe, please click here.
    Source: Europa, 4 October 2012; European Parliament, 12 September 2012


  • GREECE / ‘Golden Dawn’ attack market migrant vendors

    Members of the Greek far right party ‘Golden Dawn’, together with supporters, appeared in a festival in the town of Rafina, near Athens, on 7 September 2012, asking to check migrant vendors’ residence papers. A group was also seen kicking over one of the stalls and smashing up merchandise. One of the party’s MPs, George Germenis, said that what they did was the right thing because they discovered that some migrants were selling their merchandise without having the appropriate licenses. In the meantime, two migrant vendors who were attacked have uploaded a video onto the website of the ’Deport Racism’ Organisation, in which they claimed to be legal, showed their papers to the camera, and declared that the attack was purely racist. Similar episodes took place the next day, on 8 September 2012 in the town of Mesolonghi. It is reported that Nikos Dendias, Minister of Public Order and Citizen Protection, has ordered the investigation of members of Golden Dawn for posing as police officers. The Ministry of Public Order also decided to no longer provide police guards to the Golden Dawn’s MPs, and an appeal for their parliamentary immunity to be lifted has already been made.
    Source: To Vima, 11 September 2012; News247, 9 September 2012; Deport Racism, 9 September 2012

  • UK / CAMPAIGN / Campaign launched to inform people of their rights if subject to a raid by the UKBA

    In the UK, a campaign has been launched to provide people with vital information if they are subject to or witness a raid by the UK Border Agency (UKBA). The campaign aims to inform people, encourage them not to be afraid, to seek advice and to understand the situation. The campaign was launched as a response to a raid suffered in February 2012 at a music event in South London by the Latin American community. The campaign brought together various groups, including: the Precarious Workers’ Brigade, Prisma, Stop Deportations, Southwark Action, the South London Solidarity Federation and the Latin American Workers’ Association (LAWAS). In addition to the campaign, the groups are now starting a trial for an anti-raids phone network, the All London Anti-Raid Mutual Aid (ALARMA).
    Source: Institute of Race Relations, 12 July 2012


  • SPAIN / ONLINE INITIATIVE / Initiative to document issues on irregular migrants accessing healthcare

    Following the entry into force of the Royal Decree Act 16/2012 amending the Foreigners Act, which denies access to essential and preventive healthcare services for undocumented migrants, the organisation Málaga Acoge launched an online initiative on 5 September 2012 to file a report on any issues regarding undocumented migrants’ accessing healthcare. The initiative is aimed at social organisations and it offers updated and quarterly information on the issue. The questionnaire can be accessed here or from Malaga Acoge website. Source: Málaga Acoge, 5 September 2012


  • NETHERLANDS / WORKSHOP / ‘Optimising the protection to Indonesian Migrant Workers in the Netherlands’: results of the workshop.

    On 8 September 2012 the Indonesian Embassy to the Netherlands held a workshop in The Hague entitled: ‘Optimising the protection to Indonesian Migrant Workers in the Netherlands.’ The main aim of the workshop was to respond to the needs of Indonesian workers living in the Netherlands. Some representatives of the Indonesian Government also participated in the workshop, including Mr Dino Nurwahyuddin, Directorate of the Protection of Indonesian Citizens and Enterprises (Ministry of Foreign Affairs); Mr Budi Satria Wibawa, Director of Travel Document, Visa and Immigration Facility (Ministry of Law & Human Rights); and Mr Jazilul  Fawaid, special staff of Ministry of Labour and Transmigration. The results of the workshop draw particular attention to the Indonesian Government’s lack of foresight when addressing the issue of the protection of Indonesian Migrants living abroad.

  • RUSSIA / Vladivostok Measurements taken to prevent accidents involving migrant workers

    The head of the Federal Ministry of Development of the Far East, and President’s official representative in the Far East Federal District, Victor Ishaev, has signed a decree which authorises the evaluation of the living conditions of migrant workers. The decree is initiated in response to the increasing number of accidents caused by the unfit living conditions of migrant workers. Furthermore, Ishaev ordered the Principal administration of the Interior Ministry in the Far East Federal district in collaboration with the agencies of the Federal Migration Service to identify the residence of foreign citizens and check them in the context of the current migration and labour legislation.
    Source: RIA Novosti, 18 September 2012

  • RUSSIA / Fatal accident claims the lives of fourteen undocumented migrants near Moscow

    According to the news digest compiled by the office of the Commissioner on the Human Rights in Russia, fourteen undocumented labour migrants died due to a fire accident in Egorevske, near Moscow. The fire took place in a factory which produces clothes. Only one person survived and was hospitalised with severe body burns. All the victims, seven Vietnamese men and seven Vietnamese women, had been locked up in the underground shop to avoid the inspection control. The door was locked from the outside, and the door was additionally propped with a hammer on the day of the accident. The owners of the shop have yet to be identified. The accident is reviewed under the article of the Criminal Code, which refers to violations of the fire safety regulations. According to the source, there have been numerous cases of the Federal Migration Service finding undocumented seamstress migrants from Vietnam in this area.
    Source: Official website of the Commissioner on the Human Rights in Russia, 18 September 2012


  • ASIA / ’I Am A Migrant’ tells realities of Bangladeshi women in the Gulf states

    GAATW (Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women) in collaboration with Bomsa present ‘I Am a Migrant’, a video of women’s migration stories from Bangladesh to Middle Eastern countries enabling them to share their experiences, challenges, and realities. Nine million people have left their homes in South Asia for work in the Gulf countries and women from South Asia make up a large percentage of the 1.7 million female migrant domestic workers in the Gulf. Recognising that these women choose to leave home for a variety of reasons, GAATW held discussions with returnee female migrant domestic workers in India, Bangladesh and Nepal in order to better understand the processes and outcomes of migration for women. The stories show that migration is a complex decision, ripe with exciting opportunities but also with much potential exploitation; there are no simple success and failure stories, but patterns did emerge, and glaring gaps in policies and practices were revealed. GAATW hope that these videos give a sense of the women’s realities, and of how much work is yet to be done.
    Source: ‘I am a Migrant’ by GAATW-IS and Bomsa, available online.

  • USA / Undocumented women seeking abortions must pass ‘border’ checks

    Undocumented women living in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley who are seeking an abortion after sixteen weeks of pregnancy must travel north where they risk internal border checkpoints. Since 2003, Texas has required women seeking abortions in their second trimester to go to ambulatory surgical centres, and none exist in the Valley. Local health providers say that many undocumented women find out that they are pregnant too late, discover fetal anomalies, or are too poor to obtain an abortion in the first sixteen weeks. Women travelling from Rio Grande to obtain a second trimester abortion in San Antonio, about 200 miles away, have to pass an internal US Border Patrol checkpoint in Falfurrias, Texas, where authorities have detained 12,000 undocumented immigrants in the last year. The only other option for some is to cross into Mexico to obtain an illegal abortion or to acquire abortion-inducing drugs from unregulated pharmacies. While it is unclear how many undocumented women in Texas are seeking second-trimester abortions, state officials report that noncitizens accounted for 27 percent of the 220,899 Medicaid-financed births in Texas in 2010. The Valley abortion providers said that when time, resources and geography were not on the patients’ side, they could advise them only to seek prenatal care and consider adoption.
    Source: New America Media, 25 August 2012

  • SWITZERLAND / Migrant sex workers in Geneva get together for better conditions

    Geneva is reporting an increase in migrant sex workers from neighbouring countries. Having moved to Switzerland in the hope of better conditions, following the downturn in the Eurozone economies, many migrants find themselves trying to survive in the streets, competing for fewer clients among a growing population of undocumented migrant sex workers. Afraid to reveal their status when they need healthcare, these undocumented women face health risks which they often keep hidden until they reach crisis point. Since healthcare in Switzerland is part of a ‘pay as you go’ insurance-based system, many undocumented sex workers face difficulty in paying for their healthcare. They fear being sanctioned if their migration status is revealed during a medical visit, or when billed afterwards for services. Undocumented migrant women are often confined to lower levels of prostitution, working on the streets. To combat deteriorating conditions, the sex workers of Paquis have recently formed the first sex workers union in Switzerland. Between 100-150 sex workers organised a rally at the Temple of Paquis to protest Geneva’s current laws on prostitution. They demanded an end of the current practice which allows landlords to charge sex workers any price they wish for rent, without allowing sex workers to make any legal recourse against the landlords. The union is also asking for greater human rights in protection, and also for the Police Vice Unit of Paquis in Geneva to tighten control on all incidents of violence against women, especially violence against sex workers in the area.
    Source: Swiss Info, ‘Geneva’s Prostitutes band Together’, 14 September 2012,


  • EUROPEAN COMMISSION / REPORT / ‘Mind the Gap – education inequality across EU regions’

    The latest report by the European Commission, entitled ‘Mind the Gap – education inequality across EU regions’, highlights substantial geographic disparities in both education opportunities and results across and within Member States. The report is the first of this kind ever presented by the European Commission and it calls on Member States to make efforts to reduce these inequalities. Amongst other themes, the report addresses the causes and possible remedies for the educational disadvantages experienced by migrant students in EU schools. The report underlines migration as a key factor in policy priorities and evaluation, and it is aimed to support policy-makers in their efforts to design effective measures to redress these disparities. To read the full report, click here; to read the Press Release, click here.

  • UK / Joint Committee on Human Rights in UK launches inquiry into human rights of migrant children

    The UK Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights has launched an inquiry looking into the human rights of migrant children and young people in the UK.  The joint committee, chaired by Dr Hywel Francis MP, is seeking written evidence on any aspect of the human rights of migrant children in the UK, but with specific focus on unaccompanied and separated children. The Committee has provided broad guiding questions that it seeks to be answered. These cover the UK’s national legislation for migrant children, as well as the situation in practice. Examples are whether the UK’s treatment of unaccompanied migrant children complies with its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and what assessment has been made of forthcoming funding cuts on the care provision for unaccompanied migrant children. Written evidence is to be submitted no later than Friday 26 October 2012. Public hearings will be held in November and December 2012. The Committee will report to the two houses of Parliament, with its recommendations, by Easter 2013. Further information on submissions can be found on the UK Parliament website.
    Source: UK Parliament, 11 September 2012

  • USA / Child farmworkers unlikely to qualify for deportation deferral

    The US Government launched on 15 August 2012 the ‘Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programme’, a provision which in principle allows certain young migrants who initially entered the United States together with their parents, and whose immigration status is still irregular, to work in the USA.  However, Human Rights Watch (HRW) highlights that many child farmworkers aged between eleven and twelve-years-old are unlikely to qualify for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programme, as they are unlikely to meet the education and other requirements set out in the deportation deferral. To be eligible, applicants must be enrolled in school or have graduated from high school or have a GED, however, many child farmworkers drop out of school in order to work. Also, applicants must be able to prove that they have been in the country since 15 June 2007, through utility bills and leases, which is difficult for children who live in migrant housing. HRW claims that the fact that deferred action will probably exclude many farmworker children highlights how much immigration law is out-of-sync with the reality of an economy that depends on irregular migrants.
    Source: Human Rights Watch, 29 August 2012


  • GREECE / Migrant detention centres to be set up in Greek islands

    In a meeting between the Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, Defense Minister Panos Panayiotopoulos, Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias and Merchant Marine Minister Costas Mousouroulis held on 17 September 2012, Greek Authorities have decided to set up four new reception centres for migrants on various Aegean islands. The new centres will be set up on Chios, Lesvos, Samos and Rhodes in order to face the allegedly rising influx of migrants to Greece by sea. The aim of the new centres will be to prevent the incoming migrants from reaching the mainland until they are identified. Nikos Dendias also presented a migration plan code-named ‘Ioni’, which aims at dealing with a flux of refugees from Syria. According to the Ioni plan, Greek authorities would temporarily detain on the island of Crete migrants who reach Greece.
    Source: Ekathimerini, 17 September 2012

  • SPAIN-MOROCCO / Spanish Ombudsman launched an inquiry over the expulsion of 73 Sub-Saharan migrants

    After the formal request filed by a group of Spanish NGOs to the attention of the Spanish Ombudsman Soledad Becerril, an investigation has been launched to disclose the facts that resulted in the expulsion of 73 Sub-Saharan migrants from Spain to Morocco, which took place on 4 September 2012. This proceeding should determine whether the Spanish government committed ‘irregularities’ in this operation, conducted in collaboration with Moroccan police forces. According to civil society representatives from both countries, removals were done on a collective basis, which is forbidden by law, and without legal assistance and interpretation service, which should be granted. In the meantime, in Morocco, a joint press release by CMSM and GADEM, denounced with accurate findings the repeated violations of the human rights of migrants, which no longer spares pregnant women and children, nor injured and ill persons. In addition, the Moroccan NGOs stated that the media are also conducting a defamatory campaign which labels undocumented migrants as terrorists and Sub-Saharan women as prostitutes carrying HIV. Morocco is acting not only in contradiction to the UN Convention on Migrant Workers it ratified, but also disrespectful of the national Immigration Law 02-03 and its own new Constitution which recognises the principle of non-discrimination and equal treatment for all.
    Source: El País, 6 September 2012

  • SOUTH AFRICA / South African Home Affairs Department accused of unlawful detentions

    Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) criticised 2012 the South African Home Affairs Department on 19 September for unlawfully detaining refugees and migrants. LHR refugee and migrant rights programme head Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh explained that, according to the Refugees Act, asylum seekers should be allowed to move freely while their applications are being considered and they should be allowed to remain in the country until the entire application process, including appeals, is exhausted. According to LHR, these conditions are not currently being respected by the Home Affairs Department and migrants are being detained unlawfully. LHR also claims that there is a continued lack of independent monitoring in immigration detention facilities in South Africa.
    Source: IOL News, 21 September 2012


  • GLOBAL / EVENT / First edition of ODYSSEIA, a new audio magazine by Radio 1812

    Radio 1812 has released ODYSSEIA, a new audio magazine which aims to address various topics regarding international migration, such as the campaign for domestic workers’ rights and reports from the World Social Forum on Migration in the Philippines and the Global Forum on Migration and Development in Mauritius. The first edition of ODYSSEIA mainly focuses on the difficulties faced by migrants when moving from a country to another and contains special reports on Morocco and Mexico, and an interview with MEP Ska Keller. For more information and to listen to or upload programmes on migration-related topics visit www.radio1812.net.

  • ATLAS / ‘An Atlas of Migrants in Europe: A Critical Geography of Migratory Politics’

    The 2012 edition of the Atlas of Migrants in Europe has been published by the Editorial Armand Colin. The new edition takes into account the increasing importance of the issue of migration within the European Union and the challenges it imposes on European Borders Management. The new publication is the result of the work of the Réseau Migreurop and is edited by Professor Olivier Clochard. The publication also contains an article by Carlos Arce and Peio Airbe on the situation of migrant detention centres in Spain.


  • BRUSSELS / LAUNCH / ‘Undocumentary’

    “Undocumentary”, a new digital tool to give voice to undocumented migrants and their advocates, and to fight against myths and stereotypes around irregular migration was launched on 8 October 2012 by PICUM. “Undocumentary” is a web documentary divided in five thematic chapters (Criminalisation, Work, Women, Children and Health Care) and collects interviews from undocumented migrants, advocates and experts from seven European countries (Belgium, Cyprus, France, Italy, Netherlands, Spain and Sweden). The website is predominantly made of video content, and was designed to facilitate users’ access and an exchange of information. Text, pictures and an appealing web design support the videos that are intended to be shared through different social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter. Already available in English at www.undocumentary.org. The French and Spanish version will follow soon. Download the User Manual in English, French, Spanish.


  • GHANA / First African Civil Society Forum on Migration, Development and Human Rights

    The Pan African Network in Defense of Migrants’ Rights (PANiDMR), in alliance with the Africa Diaspora Policy Centre and its partners (DFD, FORIM, CEFOREC, and FARAFINA), and with the support of MRI, hosted the African Civil Society Forum on Migration, Development and Human Rights. The event took place in Accra between 12 and 13 September 2012 and was preceded by two days of closed consultation among PANiDMR members, to strengthen its structure and build alliances among wider groups of migrants’ organisations in Africa and the diaspora. The Global Coalition on Migration (GCM), also met in Accra during the same time period. The GCM represents regional and international networks of migrant associations, migrants’ rights organisations and advocates, trade unions, faith groups and academia, covering every region around the world and seeking to promote a strong presence, collective voice and unified vision of civil society to advocate for the best possible global governance and policy-making around international migration. PICUM is one of the members of the GCM. To read the Final Declaration produced during the Forum please visit the PANiDMIR website. To find more about the GCM click here.

  • USA / ‘In the shadows’: a documentary on undocumented workers’ everyday life.

    Two young film makers, Max Miller and Drew Heskett, have filmed the documentary ‘In the shadows’, with the aim of providing a glimpse into the everyday lives of undocumented workers in the United States. The documentary tells the story of a migrant who considers the US as his home and who lives in a small rural American town and aims to give voice to those who live and work in the shadows. Click here to watch the preview version of the documentary.

  • WEBSITE / Stichting LOS

    Stichting LOS, a Dutch PICUM member, has launched its new website. The new interactive website provides direct and clearer information on the situation of undocumented migrants in the Netherlands. The new layout provides easy access to information on emergency services for those in need of urgent assistance. Since 2003, Stichting LOS has been providing information to organisations, institutions and individuals on the rights of undocumented migrants. Click here to visit the new website.

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