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FRANCE / Calais camp cleared, hundreds of children go missing, new wall erected
Authorities removed inhabitants of the migrant camp in Calais, France during the end of October 2016. Thousands of people were taken from the makeshift camp which was estimated to accommodate between 6,000 and 8,000 people. A photo collection of the eviction procedure shows in pictures how people queued to be transported to other places. Following the removal of the residents, demolition crews bulldozed the shacks. Many migrants moved to other camps such as Grande-Synthe or other cities including Paris. Some media called Paris ‘the new Calais’ with about 100 migrants arriving per day. The Refugee Youth Service (RYS) monitored 386 children at the Calais camp between March and November 2016 of which 222 could not be located after the clearance. RYS also identified issues such as the lack of any contact with state services for many children and urged the French and UK governments to act to avoid more children going missing. Despite the clearance of the camp, a one kilometre-long and four-metre high border wall is currently being erected and expected to be finished by mid-December 2016.
Sources: Die Welt, 29 November 2016; The Huffington Post, 23 November 2016; The Guardian, 5 November 2016; New York Times, 3 November 2016
HUNGARY / Man who helped family members come to Europe sentenced to 10 years in prison on terrorism charges, following clashes with border guards
Ahmed H., living as a regular resident in Cyprus, was sentenced to 10 years in prison on terrorism charges in Hungary on 30 November 2016. The case relates to his involvement in clashes with Hungarian border guards in September 2015. That summer, Ahmed’s parents started the journey from Syria to Turkey with his brother, sister-in-law and his nieces and nephews. The family reunited in Istanbul and travelled together to Hungary. On 16 September, they were stranded among hundreds of migrants and refugees at the Röszke/Horgoš border crossing when clashes broke out with the Hungarian police. Ahmed’s elderly parents were arrested and charged with irregular entry. After their release, the family made their way to Budapest where Ahmed was violently arrested. Police found his parents’ passports in his bag and he was charged with an “act of terror” along with the same charges that had been levelled against his parents. Amnesty International stated that “This verdict is based on a blatant misuse of terrorism provisions and reflects a disturbing confluence of two dangerous trends: the misuse of terrorism-related offenses and the appalling treatment of refugees and migrants.”
Sources: Amnesty International, 30 November 2016; Amnesty International, 29 November 2016
MEDITERRANEAN / Nearly 350,000 migrants arrive and nearly 4,700 die at sea in 2016
According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), a total of 348,664 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2016 until the end of November, arriving mostly in Greece and Italy. The total number of migrants and refugees dying in the Mediterranean in 2016 until the end of November was 4,690. This is an increase compared to the previous year. In the same period in 2015, a total of 3,565 people were reported drowned.
Source: International Organization for Migration Press Release, 29 November 2016
UN / UN Women and the International Organization for Migration call for migration policies that work for women
in a joint statement, UN Women and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) called on world leaders to reassess their national migration policies in order to protect and safeguard the rights and needs of women. The statement was published ahead of the United Nations General Assembly high-level summit in September 2016 (see PICUM Bulletin 4 October 2016). Migrant women contribute to the economy, often working in low income and unregulated sectors which offer little protection of their rights. When labour regulations are enforced, it is often linked to migration control measures. Access to health care and social security is also lacking. Those who become pregnant may lose their right to stay in the country. Migrant girls and women face multiple discriminations as women, as migrants and as unprotected workers. As a result, they are particularly vulnerable to exploitation, sexual, physical and psychological abuse, violence, lack of access to sexual and reproductive health care services, human trafficking and contemporary forms of slavery. While there are international standards to protect them, many national policies unintentionally prevent those standards from being put into effect. A strengthened evidence base was needed to better address the specific vulnerabilities of women and girls, and protect their human and labour rights to ensure that migration was an empowering process. You can read the full statement here.
EUROPEAN POLICY DEVELOPMENTS
EU / Agreement foresees deportation of thousands of people to Afghanistan
International donors and the Afghan government convened at the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan on 4-5 October 2016 pledging nearly 14 billion euros for the country in 2017-2020. In parallel, the Afghan government and the EU signed an agreement “Joint Way Forward on migration issues between Afghanistan and the EU”, which lays out the ground rules for the next two years in relation to the deportations of Afghan nationals to Afghanistan. According to the plan, Afghanistan will have to accept an unlimited number of deportees and Frontex will coordinate and organise the joint deportation flights. This agreement follows a leaked memo sent to all EU member state Ambassadors on 2 March 2016 where the EU explains the current situation in Afghanistan and clarifies its intentions to increase deportations. The memo states that the EU is “aware of the worsening security situation and threats to which people are exposed” and that Afghanistan is suffering “record levels of terrorist attacks and civilian casualties” but “despite this, more than 80,000 persons could potentially need to be returned in the near future.” A group of more than 25 organisations, mainly EU networks, released a statement in response to the agreement urging Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to ask concrete parliamentary questions to the European Commission and the European External Action Service on its implementation; to challenge the approach that migration control becomes a main objective in the EU’s relations with third countries and to analyze if such bilateral readmission agreements follow due process. Ahead of the Afghan donor conference and High Level Dialogue on Migration, Save the Children released a brief, entitled “Afghan Children cannot wait: The case for investing in their future now”, describing the situation children face in Afghanistan, reasons why some children decide to leave, the risks they face on their journey and the risks they could face if sent back to Afghanistan. Recalling that any decision concerning a child should only be taken after trained personnel have assessed what is in the child’s best interest, identifying any protection risks or harm they may face, UNICEF has developed child-specific country-of-origin information for five countries, including Afghanistan, with the support of the European Commission. The Child Notice on Afghanistan, other child-focused Country of Origin Information Reports, and Methodology Guidanceare available here. A debate organised by the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM) and hosted by Birgit Sippel, Coordinator of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) in the European Parliament on 6 December 2016 also addressed increased deportations as parts of agreements such as the EU-Afghanistan statement. The debate concluded, among others, that increased deportations do not reduce irregular migration in Europe. See the statement of the debate here.
Sources: NPR, 6 October 2016; Al Jazeera, 5 October 2016; The Guardian, 28 September 2016; The Guardian 3 October 2016
FINLAND / As thousands of asylum applications rejected, Helsinki city government agrees to open night shelters to all, regardless of residence status.
The city government of Helsinki agreed that night shelters should be accessible to all, regardless of residence status in Finland. While they were criticised for not providing enough shelter places for Roma in the winter of 2015, the Helsinki city authorities have emphasised that nobody would be left without help. A new night shelter with 30 beds has opened in Helsinki. A joint initative of the Helsinki Lutheran Congregation and the Helsinki Deaconess Institute, the shelter is especially for those who have no residence status in the municipality of Helsinki. They expect that the shelter will be used mainly by people whose asylum application has been rejected and Roma. People will be allowed to stay in the shelter for seven nights in a row. The Helsinki Congregation is hiring a worker for three years to work especially with undocumented migrants. There are also plans to ensure that at least one of the churches in Helsinki will be open all night during the coldest winter months so undocumented migrants can seek shelter. There are no exact numbers of how many people reside in Finland irregularly but there are currently 8,000 asylum seekers who have appealed in the Administrative Court after a first application for asylum was rejected. According to reports, over 6,000 people whose asylum applications were denied in Finland will be removed from reception centres and urged to leave the country. Many of the refused asylum seekers are from Iraq and cannot be deported because Finland and Iraq do not have a bilateral return agreement. They risk being left homeless and without support. The Interior Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Päivi Nerg, stated that these rejected asylum seekers will be urged to return to their country of origin. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and the national social insurance institution Kela are developing guidelines on how to handle the situation of those who cannot be deported. A draft is due to be finished by December and Kela will handle financial support requests instead of the Finnish municipalities. Finnish police also expressed concern about the increasing number of the undocumented migrants in the country. The chief of police in the northern city of Oulu demanded the state takes measures to ensure undocumented migrants stay part of society and can be registered in official registers including law amendments if necessary as he feared that undocumented migrants could otherwise end up getting involved in criminal activities.
Sources: Helsingin Sanomat 7 November 2016; YLE 11 November 2016; Demokraatti 17 October 2016; YLE 4 November 2016; YLE 26 October 2016; YLE 13 October 2016
GERMANY / STUDY / Assessment of media coverage on New Year Eve incidents in Cologne
News about men, allegedly most of them from North-African countries, who sexually harassed women in Cologne on New Year’s Eve 2015/2016 made headlines internationally. Over 500 reports of sexual harassment, rape and theft were filed with the German police. However, proof of who the perpetrators were and facts were not sufficiently addressed in immediate coverage on the incident. A new study, commissioned by the Gunda-Werner-Institute for Feminism and Gender Democracy of the Heinrich-Böll-Foundation (Gunda-Werner-Instituts für Feminismus und Geschlechterdemokratie der Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung) and authored by Ricarda Drüeke, published in November 2016, assesses media coverage on the incident and the influence the coverage had on public perception and policymaking. The study focuses on reporting of the German public broadcasters ARD and ZDF and assessed nearly 100 reports. It shows that perpetrators are mostly referred to as ‘refugees’, ‘asylum seekers’, ‘foreigners’ or ‘migrants’ before perpetrators were identified. The study concludes that sexual harassment was not discussed as a structural problem by the media but rather as something linked to background and nationality. The perspective of the victims of the harassment is almost left out in media reporting. There is hardly any information about their nationality and background as well as if they received help or defended themselves. Moreover, the reporting impacted a political debate on more restrictive migration legislation, what countries should be considered ‘safe countries of origin’ to which people can be deported and possible deportations to North-African countries. The full study (in German) can be downloaded here. A summary in English is available here.
GERMANY / STORYTELLING / Online Advent calendar raises awareness of deportations to Afghanistan
An online Advent calendar, published by the German Ecumenical Committee on Church Asylum (Ökumenische BAG Asyl in der Kirche e.V.), allows people to click on a ‘door’ on the website each day until Christmas to read stories of people from Afghanistan. The aim of the online calendar is to show that Afghanistan is not a safe country to which people can be forcibly returned. This includes a petition against the deportation of Afghan people as well as background information on the current situation in Afghanistan and migration policies aiming to deport larger numbers of people to the country. The Advent calendar is available (in German) here.
USA / Following election of Donald Trump, mass mobilisations and protests, while growth of private detention business expected
Following the election of Donald Trump on 8 November 2016 to become the next President of the United States, city officials, students, migrant rights supporters and migrants themselves have mobilised to protect migrants’ rights and protest proposals to detain and deport large numbers of undocumented migrants. Los Angeles Police Chief, Charlie Beck, said his department would not assist the Trump administration with deportations. Chicago Mayor, Rahm Emanuel, said his city would remain a sanctuary city. He initiated a joint letter signed by mayors of 14 other U.S. cities asking President-elect Donald Trump to continue the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The policy was launched in 2012 by the Obama administration to protect young undocumented people who arrived before their 16th birthday from deportation. Donald Trump had stated his intent to dismantle DACA. Students at colleges across the U.S. protested, trying to convince their universities to protect undocumented students. Over 70 Presidents and other leaders of Catholic higher education published a joint letter on 30 November urging protection of students who meet the criteria of the DACA policy. Donald Trump affirmed in a live TV interview with 60 Minutes on 13 November 2016 that he would proceed with his plans to detain and deport undocumented immigrants who have a criminal record, estimating this to be up to three million people, after taking office in early 2017. The day after the elections, companies operating for-profit prisons and immigration detention centers experienced a significant increase on the stockmarket. The New York Times questions the numbers he could really deport in a graphic report . This report argues that the number of serious criminal offenders who are undocumented is smaller than previously stated and that Donald Trump would need local law enforcement’s involvement, which might be difficult in cases where cities and counties have limited their cooperation with federal authorities.
Sources: Slate, 20 November 2016; Washington Post, 16 November 2016; Washington Post, 30 November 2016; Fusion, 11 November 2016; Bloomberg, 18 November 2016; NBC, 7 December 2016
EUROPE / World Health Organization’s Regional Committee for Europe calls for reduction in health inequalities, launched online platform on health and migration
The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Regional Committee for Europe held its 66th session from 12 – 15 September 2016 in Copenhagen, Denmark, where it adopted a “Strategy and Action Plan for refugee and migrant health in the WHO European Region.” The Strategy and Action Plan is the follow up to a high-level meeting on refugee and migrant health held in November 2015, which gathered Ministers of health, representatives of the health sector and international organisations. The Strategy and Action Plan distinguishes between the need to address large movements of people and the unexpected pressure they can put on health systems, while at the same time addressing the longer-term question of ensuring appropriate and quality care for refugees and migrants. The document’s scope encompasses disease prevention, health and social services, basic services such as water and sanitation, susceptibility to poverty and social exclusion, abuse and violence, stigmatization and discrimination. It sets forth guiding principles, which recall that member states in the European Region acknowledged the right to health and committed themselves to universality, solidarity and equal access as the guiding values for organising and financing their health systems, and for the highest standard attainable, without discrimination. The strategy adopts an explicitly human rights-based approach, and clarifies that the implication is a duty to respect, protect and fulfil the right to health of all people within a country’s jurisdiction. It expressly notes that, in some countries, ensuring responsive, people-centred health systems “may require modifying certain regulations that determine the access to services in order to move towards universal health coverage.” The strategy and action plans sets out nine strategy areas, many of which have elements of relevance to undocumented migrants, including a specific point urging member states to “uphold their responsibility to ensure confidentiality and adherence to ethics, and to prevent data from being used to limit access to essential services.” The WHO regional office is tasked with regularly monitoring the implementation of the strategy and action plan, and to report progress every two years at its annual meeting, until 2022. On 15 November 2016, the WHO/EURO Knowledge Hub on Health and Migration was launched, as a tool to contribute to the implementation of the Strategy and Action Plan. The Knowledge Hub is meant to provide a scientific and capacity-building forum to develop and improve public policies and intervention to address the health of migrants and the public health implications of migration in the WHO European Regions. Its objectives spring from the European policy framework Health 2020 and the Sustainable Development Goals, and include contributing to countries’ improved readiness and capacity, promoting people-centred health systems, and reducing health inequalities within the migrant population. For more information on the 66th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe, click here.
EUROPE / Recommendations on access to health services for undocumented migrants
In September, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) published a set of recommendations, and accompanying consensus document, on undocumented migrants’ access to health services. The document was produced within the framework of the IOM’s EQUI-HEALTH project, funded by the European Commission, in collaboration with COST Action IS1103 ADAPT (Adapting European health systems to diversity). The recommendations reflect input gathered in the course of a series of joint international meetings in 2012-2016 attended by experts on migration, health policy, human rights law, health economics and epidemiology, as well as by representatives of intergovernmental and civil society organisations concerned with migrant health. The consensus document considers existing political and practical obstacles, and presents arguments for improving irregular migrants’ access to health care services. It opens with 12 recommendations for action, beginning with a call to achieve truly universal health coverage for all, irrespective of migration status, and for governments to honour their obligations under human rights law. The consensus document provides a more involved review and summary of the relevant research studies, reports, international treaties, policy initiatives and debates, and describes evidence supporting financial and public health arguments for creating more inclusive health systems, as well as for ensuring data protection and confidentiality so that migrants can access services without fear of denunciation to immigration authorities. To read the recommendations, click here.
UK / Pregnant women could be required to show their passports at hospital before giving birth
St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust which serves a population of 1.3 million across southwest London, proposed that pregnant women should show an ID to prove that they are entitled to National Health Service (NHS) treatment. The checks aim to address alleged ‘health tourism’, according to St George’s. According to the trust’s board papers from October, the costs for treatment of non-eligible patients could be £4m-£5m (€4,7 – 5,8 m) per annum if no action is taken. Cathy Warwick of the Royal College of Midwives stated that according to the law, care has to be offered to women in labour, irrespective of their migration status. The leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, stated that the proposed crack down on alleged ‘health tourism’ distracts from the health service’s actual funding crisis. He stated that instead of looking for scapegoats, the government should ensure that health and social care is properly secure and properly funded.
Sources: The Guardian, 23 November 2016; BBC, 11 October 2016
LABOUR AND FAIR WORKING CONDITIONS
EU / Recommendations to improve the identification and support of victims of trafficking for labour exploitation
A policy brief has been released as an outcome of the 2-year project PRO-ACT ‘Proactive identification and support of victims of trafficking for labour exploitation in the European Union’. The brief’s key recommendations are: access to safe accommodation and support should be protected in national legislation and practice, and should be unconditional of cooperation with law enforcement. Proactive labour inspection should be a key component of strategies for the prevention and identification of trafficking for labour exploitation. Labour law enforcement should be victim-centred and a ‘firewall’, a strict separation, should be maintained between labour inspection and immigration control. The uptake of access to legal remedies for victims of trafficking for labour exploitation, including access to compensation, should be monitored and reviewed to ensure easy and prompt access to remedy for all victims. Project partners are Fair Work (the Netherlands), Latin-American Women’s Rights Service (LAWRS, UK), Focus on Labour Exploitation (FLEX, UK), Migrant Help (UK), Adpare (Romania)and eLiberare (Romania). The policy brief is available here.
GLOBAL / ILO Forced Labour Protocol comes into force
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) Protocol on Forced Labour came into force on 9 November 2016. The International Labour Conference voted overwhelmingly in favour of adopting the new Protocol to the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29), as well as a Recommendation (No. 203) that supplements both the Protocol and Convention No. 29, in 2014 following a 2-year consultative process. The Protocol and Recommendation bring ILO standards against forced labour into the modern era, addressing its contemporary scale and forms, including the reality that almost half of all victims have migrated internally or across borders. The new Protocol establishes the obligations to prevent forced labour, protect victims and provide them with access to remedies, and emphasizes the link between forced labour and trafficking in persons. In line with Convention No. 29, the Protocol also reaffirms the importance of prosecuting the perpetrators of forced labour and ending their impunity. The Recommendation provides orientations and guidelines to implement these obligations. Particular commitments to address the situation of irregular migrant workers include ensuring that labour laws apply to all workers in all sectors; addressing factors that cause or heighten risk of compulsory labour including impunity and inappropriate labour migration policies; not prosecuting or imposing penalties on victims for unlawful activities they have been compelled to do, including immigration-related offences; and ensuring that all victims of forced labour, irrespective of their presence or residence status, have access to appropriate and effective remedies, such as compensation in the country where the forced or compulsory labour occurred. The Protocol has so far been ratified by Argentina, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Norway, Panama and the United Kingdom (not yet in force in all countries). The ILO, together with the International Trade Union Confederation and the International Organization of Employers are running a campaign ‘50 for Freedom’ with the goal persuading at least 50 countries to ratify the Protocol on Forced Labour by 2018. For more information, see an ILO Brief on the Protocol and Recommendation here and here.
EUROPE / International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women: new initiatives focusing on all women
On the occasion of International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25 November 2016, several entities have launched initiatives emphasising the need to protect all women from violence and ensure access to help and services for survivors of violence. A Council of Europe (CoE) initiative lists facts on violence against women across Europe and raises awareness of the ‘Istanbul Convention’ (Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence). Those active in the field of promoting and defending women’s rights, can become partners of the initiative. To view the page, click here. More than 25 European civil society networks joined a call for the EU to accede to the Istanbul Convention in 2017, and disseminated a fact sheet on violence against women in Europe and the reasons for ratification. Both the letter and factsheet are available here. At national level, a group of over 40 Spanish organisations launched the ‘Pact for Equality and the end of Violence against Women’ which raises awareness of femicide and aims to address violent language and the idea of possessing another person as well as destruct cultural constructions which impact aggression and violence against women. To find out more about the initiative in English, click here. For more information in Spanish, click here.
UNDOCUMENTED CHILDREN AND THEIR FAMILIES
BOOKLET / Undocumented children and young people share their stories
Ahead of Universal Children’s Day in November 2016, The Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM) published a booklet with a collection of testimonies, entitled ‘Hear our voices. Undocumented Children and young people share their stories’. Bringing together a range of individual stories and testimonies in different formats, from around Europe, the booklet presents personal perspectives on some of the pervasive impacts that immigration control measures can have on the well-being and development of children and young people. It also gives a platform to their voices and resilience. The creativity and participation of undocumented children and young people should be recognised and supported through urgent reforms in policy and practice. The booklet is available in English and will also be published in French and Spanish.
COURT OF JUSTICE OF THE EUROPEAN UNION / It is against EU law to deport non-EU citizens on the sole ground of having a criminal record if they have children under their care who are EU citizens
The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled on 13 September 2016 that it is against EU law to automatically deny a residence permit or to give an order of deportation to a non-EU national who is the sole caregiver of an EU child citizen on the sole ground of having committed a criminal offence. The judgment came after the Supreme Court of Spain and the UK’s Upper Tribunal asked the Court of Justice about two cases in Spain and the UK respectively in which two non-EU nationals were refused a residence permit and given a deportation order on the sole ground of the existence of a criminal record. They both have children under their sole care who are EU citizens. The Court ruled that EU law prohibits deportation on the sole ground of having committed a criminal offence when that obliges the child who is an EU citizen to leave the territory of the European Union. This is so on the basis of the EU treaties which preclude any national measure that potentially deprives EU citizens of the enjoyment of the rights conferred by their EU citizenship, which would happen if the deportation of the parent would oblige the child to leave EU territory. However, the Court accepted that there can be an exception to this rule on grounds of public policy and public security (concepts which have to be interpreted strictly) as long as it observes the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the principle of proportionality. To read the CJEU Press release click here.
EU / Child Forum focuses on migration
The 10th European Forum on the Rights of the Child, held from 29 to 30 November 2016 in Brussels, focused on children in migration. The Forum brought together 310 experts from the 28 member states of the EU, Norway and Iceland. Participants included national authorities, civil society, international organisations, ombudspersons for children, academics and practitioners, EU institutions and agencies, Participants discussed challenges, opportunities and promising practices in the protection of all third country national children arriving and in the EU. The discussions were informed by a general background paper and topic-specific papers for the four more in-depth parallel sessions, as well as the 10 principles for integrated child protection systems, around four broad themes: identification and protection, reception, access to asylum procedures and procedural safeguards and durable solutions. A group of 78 organisations active in the field of children’s rights, released a joint statement ahead of the Forum on 29 November 2016 expressing their concern that failure to prioritise the protection of children is putting more children at risk. The organisations list seven priority actions to protect all migrant and refugee children. These include adoption of an EU Action Plan on all refugee and migrant children; reforming the asylum legislation; prioritising children in all migration and asylum policies; funding for strengthening child protection systems; addressing refugee and migrant children in all areas; protecting children across borders and ensuring and using quality data and evidence. To read the joint statement and the seven priority actions, click here. Videos of all the Forum proceedings and documents are available here.
Source: EU Observer, 30 November 2016
FRANCE / France to pay €5,500 for failing to process asylum request in a timely manner
The administrative court of Lille has ordered the French state to pay €5,500 for having taken too much time to process an asylum application. The asylum application filed by an unaccompanied child was a mandatory step in order to be eligible for family reunification. The state took more than a month to process the request, preventing the unaccompanied child from reaching his uncle living in the UK.
Source: Radio Française Internationale, 29 September 2016
UK / Campaign against new migration data collection in schools
The campaign Against Borders for Children (ABC) in the United Kingdom urges parents not to disclose data on their child’s nationality and country of birth over concerns that the data gathered could be used against children and their families for migration enforcement purposes. Disclosing this information to the school is optional and does not affect the school’s funding. The campaign also urges schools and teachers not to prioritise this data collection, and to inform parents that it is not legally required and they have a right to not comply, among other things. The Department for Education has stated that it will not share information with the Home Office. However, the data will be stored in the National Pupil Database, which has been accessed by the Home Office 18 times between April 2012 and July 2016. Rights groups are calling for a boycott in order to protect undocumented children from any potential migration enforcement action. For more information about the ABC campaign click here.
Source: The Guardian, 26 September 2016
UK / Court of Appeal determines when it can be considered reasonable to deport a child that has resided in the UK for at least seven years
The UK Court of Appeal (civil division) issued a judgment in six different cases concerning the legal provision (Section 117B (6) of the Immigration Act) that allows a foreign child to remain in the UK if he or she has lived in the UK for at least seven years and it is not reasonable to expect the child to relocate. Issued on 4 and 5 of May 2016, this provision implies that the parents would also be permitted to remain in the UK to look after the child. The same applies when the child is a British citizen and the parents are not. The question brought before the Court relates to how the test of reasonableness should be applied when determining whether or not it is reasonable to remove a child from the UK once he or she has been resident in the country for seven years. The Court ruled that in assessing reasonableness, significant weight must be given to the fact that the child has been residing in the UK for seven years and that there would need to be strong reasons for leave to remain not to be granted. However, the ruling states that the concept of reasonableness is broader than that of the best interests of the child. For that reason, there may be cases where although it is in the child’s best interests to stay, it may still not be unreasonable to require the child to leave. That will depend upon a thorough analysis of the nature and extent of the child’s links in the UK and in the country to which the child is proposed to return. What cannot play a role in this consideration is the conduct and immigration history of the parents. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has previously made clear in its recommendations that general immigration control interests cannot outweigh the best interests of the child.
Source: Freemovement, 7 July.
DETENTION AND DEPORTATION
CZECH REPUBLIC / REPORT / Migrants pay for detention and children are detained
The Global Detention Project has issued a report on migration detention practices and legislation in the Czech Republic. The Czech Republic has been strongly opposed to the refugee quotas proposed by the European Commission. Following the rise in the numbers of refugees and migrants passing through the country, authorities tried to deter them by increasing the numbers held in migration detention. The country has been under fire for making migrants pay for their detention and for detaining children as young as 15 together with adults. The Foreign Nationals Act and the Asylum Act of 1999 allow immigration detention. In 2013, the UN Human Rights Committee expressed concern over migration detention practices in the country and urged the country to “ensure that detention is always reasonable, necessary and proportionate with respect to a person’s individual circumstances and that detention be applied for the shortest period necessary and only if existing non-custodial measures have been duly considered”. Access to health care, interpretation and legal aid is guaranteed by law but was found to be limited. To read the report click here.
Source: UN News Center 22 October 2015
GREECE / REPORT / Systematic, prolonged detention including detention of children
A report by the Greek organisation Aitima, entitled ‘Forgotten. Administratively detained irregular migrantsand asylum seekers’, released on 10 October 2016, finds that migrants, including children, are systematically detained for prolonged periods. The report also states that facilities are not adequately maintained, there is a lack of access to health care and free legal aid and the detention system is not in line with international standards. The report also provides recommendations to Greek authorities, to the Greek Ministry for the Interior, and to the European Commission. Recommendations include, among others, to strengthen the monitoring role of the European Commission concerning enforcement of the legislation in the field of administrative detention; to end the detention of children, to provide detained migrants with information concerning their status and situation, and to individually assess all cases of detained migrants and identify vulnerabilities. To download the report, click here.
UK / PROJECT / Unlocking detention – a virtual tour of UK detention centres
The Detention Forum in the United Kingdom is running a social media project ‘Unlocking Detention’ until International Migrants’ Day on 18 December with the aim to provide more insight into the UK’s immigration detention estate. The ‘virtual tour’ includes regular blogs, a weekly live Q&A session with someone who is in detention and material shared on social media such as Facebook , Instagram and Twitter (see @DetentionForum). The project ‘Unlocking Detention’ was developed in 2014 and has since then been run each year between October and December. To follow this year’s tour and to find more information, click here.
PUBLICATIONS AND OTHER RESOURCES
REPORT / Hate crime and hate speech pervasive and grave across the EU
The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) published in November 2016 a report on the current migration situation in Europe focusing on hate crime. The report finds that violent acts targeting migrants and people of other ethnic minority backgrounds occur in several member states. However, there are low levels of reporting of hate crime and a lack of data. Where data is available, it shows that hate crime is pervasive and grave. While underreporting is widespread, migrants and asylum seekers face a number of additional barriers to report hate crimes. In addition to fearing arrest and deportation, negative effects on their asylum applications, or discrimination or stigmatisation in criminal proceedings, the climate of xenophobia was also seen as a key factor, with low reporting rendering their experiences invisible. There is also evidence of growing hate speech targeting migrants on the internet, with investigation remaining difficult. Few victim support services are tailored to migrants needs, and there is a perception among practitioners that migrants and asylum seekers have limited access to these services. The report also includes promising practice examples of various EU member states to address hate crime and hate speech such as informing about victims’ rights to access services and justice as well as on how they can report safely. To read the report, click here.
EVENT / Application open to participate in the EU Migration Forum in March 2017
The European Commission and the European Economic and Social Committee are launching the call for expressions of interest to participate to the 3rd meeting of the European Migration Forum, which will take place on 2-3 March 2017. The European Migration Forum is a platform for dialogue between civil society and the European institutions on issues relating to migration, asylum and the integration of third-country nationals. The topic of the Forum will be ‘Access: Migrants’ access to the EU, to rights and to services’. The event will include workshops, discussion islands and other opportunities to participate in the debate. Selected participants will have their travel and accommodation covered by the European Commission. To apply, click here. For more information on the European Migration Forum, click here.
USA / MEDIA / Multimedia platform explores race, migration and American identity
Jose Antonio Vargas, an undocumented journalist living in the United States launched the multimedia platform ‘Emerging Us’ in September 2016 which aims to explore race, migration and American identity through articles, videos, interviews and partnerships with other news organisations. The platform also links migration to race, gender, class and LGBTQ issues. Among others, Emerging Us cooperated with the Los Angeles Magazine and produced a video entitled ‘What would LA be like without immigrants?’. Jose Antonio Vargas was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the shootings at Virginia Tech University in the US. In 2011 he made his irregular status public. To find out more about Emerging Us, click here.
WEBINAR / Expert debate on ending child detention
To commemorate International Migrants Rights Day, the Global Campaign to End Child Immigration Detention will hold a webinar on 16 December at 3 p.m. (CET) on challenges and opportunities around ending child detention. Speakers include François Crépeau, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants; Roland Adjovi, Chair, United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; Pablo Ceriani, Vice-Chair, United Nations Committee on Migrant Workers, and Michele Levoy, Director, Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM). The panel will be followed by a half-hour open discussion of participants. The online discussion is free of charge and open to the public. Online participants may send questions in via the chat function in the webinar, or via Twitter, using the hashtag #MigrantRights.To register and for more information, click here.
With contributions from Marta Llonch (PICUM Trainee), Sofia Al Bidir (PICUM Intern) and Heidi Nihtilä (PICUM volunteer)