- UNITED NATIONS
- EUROPEAN POLICY DEVELOPMENTS
- NATIONAL DEVELOPMENTS
- HEALTH CARE
- LABOUR AND FAIR WORKING CONDITIONS
- UNDOCUMENTED WOMEN
- UNDOCUMENTED CHILDREN AND THEIR FAMILIES
- DETENTION AND DEPORTATION
- PUBLICATIONS AND OTHER RESOURCES
- OTHER NEWS
- PICUM IN THE NEWS
BULGARIA / Work begins on Bulgarian-Turkish fence
Previously announced policies to deter irregular entry in Bulgaria (See PICUM Bulletin 2 December 2013) are beginning to be implemented. On 20 January, the construction of a fence at the Bulgarian-Turkish border was initiated. The fence is to be completed in spring 2014. The 30 kilometre fence will require 600 kilometres of razor wire and will cost almost five million euros.
Sources: Novenite, 16 January 2014; Novenite, 18 February 2014; Yahoo News 28 November 2013
SPAIN / 200 sub-Saharan migrants cross border fence in Melilla
200 sub-Saharan migrants scaled the border fence at the Spanish North African enclave of Melilla on 28 February 2014. This follows several other border crossings involving large numbers of migrants in 2014. An estimated 500 people have entered the Spanish enclave since the beginning of the year. During this crossing, Spanish Guardia Civil officials did not use rubber bullets after the recent incident in which 14 sub-Saharan migrants died in their attempt to swim from Morocco to Ceuta (See PICUM Bulletin 20 February 2014 http://picum.org/en/news/bulletins/43087/). After crossing the fence, the sub-Saharan migrants walked to the Centre for the Temporary Stay of Immigrants (CETI) where they received medical care, food and clothing. The CETI is already at more than twice its capacity, with 1,080 undocumented migrants. Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, urged the EU to provide Spain and other EU border countries with more support to reduce irregular entry.
Source: EFE, 28 February 2014; EFE, 28 February 2014
DATA / “The Migrant Files”
A new initiative entitled “The Migrant Files” aims to keep a record of deaths of migrants on their way to Europe since the year 2000. According to the database, more than 23,000 migrants have died since 2000. The collected data includes death through drowning at sea, death due to violence at the EU’s borders, death in detention as well as data of migrants who were killed after deportation to the country of origin. The initiative was founded by a pan-European consortium of journalists of various national and EU level media and draws on previously collected data of United for Intercultural Action between 1993 and 2012. “The Migrant Files” groups data according to name, age, gender and nationality. Every fatal incident is recorded in an interactive map. The project is partially funded by the European non-profit organisation Journalismfund.eu.
Source: The Migrant Files, March 2014
UN / Migrant Workers’ Committee Day of General Discussion on Workplace Exploitation and Workplace Protection
The United Nations Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (CMW) held a Day of General Discussion (DGD) on Workplace Exploitation and Workplace Protection in Geneva on 7 April 2014. The DGD took place in the frame of the Committee’s 20th session in Geneva from 31 March to 11 April 2014. Several of the speakers addressed the particular vulnerability of undocumented migrant workers. Flavia Pansieri, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, stated that, although the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families does not reach above general international human rights, it makes these standards meaningful in the particular context of migration. She also urged states to ratify and effectively implement the Convention. For speakers’ presentations and written submissions by civil society organisations, click here. For more information on the UN Committee on Migrant Workers, click here.
EUROPEAN POLICY DEVELOPMENTS
COUNCIL OF EUROPE / Report after country visit by Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights
Following his visit to Denmark from 19 to 21 November 2013, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks, published a report commenting on selected human rights issues including asylum and immigration practices in Denmark. Addressing irregular migration, Muižnieks states that detention should be an exceptional measure and that time in detention should be kept as short as possible. In Denmark, immigration detention was reported to be prolonged to for up to one year in some cases. When visiting the Ellebaek detention centre, the Commissioner was concerned to hear that in some cases particularly vulnerable persons such as children or victims of trafficking were detained. The report puts a particular focus on the rights of children in the context of asylum and immigration. The Commissioner highlighted that authorities frequently do not decide in the best interests of the child and deny family reunification or deport children and family members. Following increased deportations of children, Danish Minister of Justice, Karen Hækkerup, changed the procedure of assessing the right for undocumented children to stay in Denmark on 20 November 2013. The change entailed a reassessment by the Danish Immigration Service of cases considered as unsuccessful claims by the Department of Justice. Moreover, increased attention should be paid to the wellbeing of children and a thorough evaluation of their ties to Danish society should be carried out.
Sources: Council of Europe, 24 March 2014; Dagbladet Information, 24 March 2014
EUROPEAN COMMISSION / Adoption of Communication on EU Return Policy
The European Commission (EC) adopted, on 28 March 2014, a Communication on the EU’s Return Policy, highlighting the need for better practical implementation of the EU Return Directive and of return policies in general. The EC highlights that the full respect for fundamental rights has to be ensured within return procedures and states the intention of adopting, within one year, a “Return Handbook” containing common guidelines, best practices and recommendations to member states for carrying out returns in a manner consistent with relevant international standards, and in line with the safeguards established within the Return Directive. In the communication the EC argues that further progress should be made to ensure that all guarantees provided under the Return Directive are evenly implemented throughout the EU, including a more systematic use of alternatives to detention and the protection of children and other vulnerable groups in return procedures. The analysis also provides comparative country information on detention, including alternatives to detention, monitoring of forced return and suspensive effects of an appeal against removal directions.
Sources: COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE COUNCIL AND THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT on EU Return Policy; European Commission – MEMO/14/243, 28 March 2014
EU PARLIAMENT / Vote in favour of rules for Frontex surveillance of the external sea borders
The European Parliament Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) on 20 February 2014 voted in support of the compromise text on a Regulation for Frontex-coordinated surveillance of external sea borders. The rules require units participating in Frontex operations to ensure the safety and human dignity of intercepted or rescued persons including an obligation to identify vulnerable persons such as victims of trafficking and unaccompanied migrant children and provide them with adequate assistance. The compromise is expected to be put to a plenary vote in the European Parliament in April 2014. Meanwhile, Frontex reported that the number of irregular entries to the EU almost doubled in the third quarter of 2013 (42,618) compared to the same period in the previous year.
Sources: ECRE Weekly Bulletin, 21 February 2014; Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 19 February 2014
PUBLICATION / Criminalisation of irregular migrants and their supporters
The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) has published a paper on the criminalisation of irregular migrants on 27 March 2014. Irregular entry and irregular stay are unlawful in all EU member states. All but three member states (Portugal, Spain and Malta) punish irregular entry with fines or even imprisonment. Irregular stay is punishable in all EU member states except from France, Portugal and Malta. The report also discusses penalties of those who support undocumented migrants or just engage with them. The findings are discussed in the context of the Return Directive and the Facilitation Directive. Facilitating irregular entry is punished in all 28 EU member states. However, the law in Luxembourg, Germany, Portugal and Ireland states that it is only punishable if proven to be for profit or gain. The report provides recommendations including to ensure access to justice for undocumented migrants, residence permits for migrant victims of abuse and exploitation and to introduce fundamental right safeguards into the Facilitation Directive. To read the full report click here. For country specific information, read the annex.
BELGIUM / Thousands of irregular migrants leave of their own accord
Out of 10,500 unsuccessful asylum requests, more than 2,000 people left Belgium in 2013 out of their own accord without being deported or making use of voluntary return programmes supported by the government. The Belgian Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration, Maggie De Block, together with municipalities, local police and the immigration department, launched a campaign in May 2013 to collect data at airports on such spontaneous returns. However, the figure taken from the data collected at airports does not take into account people leaving through other means such as by car or bus and could thus be significantly higher. Maggie De Block plans on extending the campaign to enable the reporting of spontaneous returns in municipalities. Meanwhile, the number of regularisations decreased to about 1,900 in 2013 which is about half the number of regularisations in 2012. One reason is that controls for regularisation on grounds of urgent medical needs were intensified.
Sources: De Standaard, 20 February 2014; LeVif, 10 March 2014
DENMARK / Possible revision of deportation cases for trafficked persons
The Supreme Court of Denmark ruled on 20 January 2014 that in cases of trafficking, victims should also be recognised as such even though they were initially trafficked to another country. The ruling was made in the case of a deportation a victim of trafficking from Nigeria who had initially been trafficked to Spain where she also holds a residence permit but was arrested in Denmark on the ground of working irregularly. However, she was sent to Denmark as a consequence of still being pressured by traffickers. The Danish Immigration Service failed to recognise the continued trafficking until the Danish Centre against Human Trafficking produced a report detailing the women’s situation. This made it possible for other trafficked persons to have their cases reassessed.
Sources: nyidanmark.dk, 19 February 2014; sameksistens.dk, 24 February 2014
FRANCE / New circular calls for more deportations
Shortly before the municipal elections, on 11 March 2014, the Minister of the Interior, Manuel Valls, discussed the issue of irregular migration in a circular that addressed the prefects of the Paris police, of the departments of the country and of the Bouche du Rhône Police. After expressing his satisfaction on the effective tools and services in 2013, the circular calls for a systematic deportation of undocumented migrants. The main targets are unsuccessful asylum seekers. Upon reception of a negative response, they will be given an obligation to leave the country (OQFT). This means that they will not be able to make an appeal. The circular specifies that the right to emergency shelters will no longer apply to unsuccessful asylum seekers.
Source: Passeur d’hospitalité, 16 March 2014
GERMANY / Fines for airlines which transport irregular migrants
German authorities increasingly focus on travel agencies, particularly airlines, in efforts to deter irregular migration. Airlines had to pay fines totalling 2,6 million euro for transporting irregular migrants last year. Each case involves fines between 1,000 and 5,000 euro. Countries of origin often do not verify the validity of travel documents. Meanwhile, the number of deportations increased. In 2013, 10,200 people were deported from Germany to their countries of origin compared to 7,600 deportations in the previous year.
Source: Süddeutsche Zeitung, 18 March 2014
GREECE / Addressing criminalisation and violence against migrants in Greece
A joint group of organisations, representing and working with migrants and asylum seekers in Greece and at EU level, published recommendations on 20 March 2014 towards European Union policymakers and other representatives of the EU institutions calling for urgent action to improve the situation of migrants in Greece. The recommendations address EU migration and asylum policy, justice policy, employment and social inclusion policy and stakeholder consultation. The publication was launched on the day of a debate at the European Parliament entitled “EU Migration Policy: A Push Back for Migrants’ Rights in Greece” which gathered EU policymakers and representatives of Greek and EU civil society organisations. To read the recommendations, click here.
NETHERLANDS / Amsterdam provides medical assistance and shelter to undocumented migrants
Advocacy efforts by the Dutch Green party (GroenLinks) led to approval by the city council of Amsterdam to provide assistance to undocumented migrants on 13 April 2014. The city council committed to providing shelter and medical care to irregular migrants. Furthermore, Amsterdam will work with the ROC, the regional education centre, in the future. GroenLinks party leader, Marieke van Doorninck, was pleased about the announcement and affirmed it as an example of the humanity of the city of Amsterdam. Earlier in the week, the city council approved a motion which states that children should keep receiving youth support even though they are undocumented.
Source: GroenLinks, 13 March 2014
SPAIN / Undocumented migrants are offered 40,000 euro for donating liver
The Spanish police arrested five people on 12 March 2014, including a mayor of a Lebanese town, who are accused of offering migrants 40,000 euros in exchange for their livers. The group was discovered following a report from an NGO working with migrant communities in Valencia. An Algerian woman told the NGO that she was among nine people, mostly undocumented migrants and one Spanish national, who took liver compatibility tests paid for by the Lebanese mayor who needed the organ. Some of them also received small sums of money for taking part. The Spanish police confirmed that the illegal transplant was not carried out.
Source: The Telegraph, 14 March 2014
FINLAND / Access to health care services for undocumented migrants in Finland
Keskimäki Ilmo, Nykänen Eeva and Kuusio Hannamaria published a book on access to health care services for irregular migrants in Finland. The book explores the need to provide health care services for undocumented migrants, their current use of health care services and the costs involved. Using both an individual and public health perspective, it further discusses the ethical and human rights issues related to the provision of health care services for undocumented migrants and compares approaches in different European countries. It also makes the case for improved access to health care services for undocumented migrants and proposes three alternative models, based on interpretations of international human rights conventions, the policies of the bodies overseeing the implementation of those conventions and various provisions in Finnish legislation. Click here, to read the book in Finnish.
WEBSITE / IOM launches resource on tuberculosis and migration
On the occasion of World Tuberculosis Day 2014, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) launched a website focused on tuberculosis (TB) and migration. Whether in the country of origin, in transit or in the destination country, migrants are particularly vulnerable to tuberculosis. Their lack of access to health care and marginalised status often results in the disease remaining undetected and untreated. The website provides evidence-based information and identifies four key building blocks: measurement and analysis of TB among migrants, migrant-sensitive health systems for an effective response, an intersectoral health-in-all-policies and legal frameworks approach, and networks and multi-country partnerships with common goals. For more information, access the website here.
Source: IOM, 21 March 2014
LABOUR AND FAIR WORKING CONDITIONS
DENMARK / Stricter control of irregular work
The immigration unit of the Danish National Police noted an increase in charges against undocumented migrant workers and their employers. Charges were made in 626 cases against undocumented migrant workers in 2013 compared to less than 300 cases in 2010 and against 388 employers of undocumented workers in 2013 compared to 223 in 2010. The numbers also show that undocumented workers are much more often penalised than their employers. The charges mainly concerned hiring of undocumented workers for work in restaurants and the domestic work sector. This follows a call by the Danish Minister of Justice, Karen Hækkerup, for more control and harsher penalties.
Source: Jyllands-Posten, 26 February 2014
FRANCE / Undocumented migrants working in beauty salon go on strike
Five undocumented migrants from China and two undocumented migrants from Ivory Coast who worked in a beauty salon in Paris stopped working for their employer on 3 February 2014 because they had not been paid their wages since early December 2013. A video report, however, shows that they continue receiving clients in a private capacity. The strikers are supported by the trade union Confédération générale du travail (CGT). Socialist mayor of Paris’ 10th district, Rémi Féraud, also supports the protest. Three of the undocumented Chinese workers received residence status and the CGT decided to continue the strike until all of the employees are regularised.
Sources: Libération, 26 February 2014; Le Monde, 8 April 2014
UK / Campaign to support former domestic worker of Immigration Minister
The Latin American Women’s Rights Service, as part of a broader coalition of Latin American NGOs in the UK (CLAUK), launched on 18 March 2014 a campaign to show solidarity and financial support to Isabella Acevedo, the UK Immigration Minister Mark Harper’s former domestic worker. In February 2014, it was revealed that the Immigration Minister employed the undocumented woman as his domestic worker (See PICUM Bulletin 20 February 2014). Ms Acevedo might face arrest and deportation as a result of her undocumented status. Furthermore, she has lost her income, has been criminalised and pursued by media. The campaign sets out to raise a minimum of £10,000 for Acevedo’s Legal Defence Fund. To find out more about the campaign, click here. It is also possible to support the campaign by signing a petition calling for Theresa May, UK Home Secretary, to regularise Isabella Acevedo’s status. To sign the petition, click here.
Sources: Legal Defence Fund; CLAUK, March 2014
UK / PUBLICATION / Migrant domestic workers face severe mistreatment
Human Rights Watch (HRW) published a report entitled “Hidden Away: Abuses against Migrant Domestic Workers in the UK” on 31 March 2014. Focusing on migrant domestic workers arriving in the UK with their employer, the report addresses the severe abuse and challenges they face. Estimates show that every year around 15,000 migrant domestic workers travel to the UK with their employers. Largely due to the ‘tied visa’ introduced in 2012 which does not allow migrant domestic workers to change their employer, HRW argues that the current safeguards in place, despite the claims of the UK government, do not protect migrant domestic workers. Through the use of interviews, the report gathers data on a wide range of criminal and labour abuses. While acknowledging the right of the UK government to control its borders, HRW states that immigration controls cannot supersede the obligation to protect abused and exploited individuals. To fulfil this obligation, HRW makes specific recommendations to the UK government, the police and British embassies including a call to the UK government to ratify the ILO Domestic Worker Convention and implement it accordingly into national policies and practice.
Source: Human Rights Watch, 31 March 2014
US / Migrant women key for economic support of families
A study by the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington-based independent think tank, shows that migrant women in the U.S. send remittances more frequently to their countries of origin than migrant men. Surveying 2,000 migrants in five U.S. metropolitan areas, the study found that women sent increased amounts and sent money more often to their country of origin in 2013. However, there was no increase in remittances sent to Mexico in 2013. Reasons for that might be a record number of deportations and border violence, among others. Manuel Orozco, remittance scholar of the think tank stated that if irregular migrant workers got a residence status through immigration reform enabling them to earn higher wages, remittances could grow more.
Source: The Wall Street Journal, 6 April 2014
UNDOCUMENTED CHILDREN AND THEIR FAMILIES
EU / Eurochild and UNICEF launch publication urging the EU to move forward in realising children’s rights for all children
The publication “Realising the rights of every child – moving forward with the EU” published in February 2014 highlights the current and future role of the EU in realising children’s rights across internal and external policy and action. It features a selection of articles from stakeholders working inside EU institutions or representing organisations working for children. The publication takes stock of the current state-of-play and future scenarios for child rights in European policies and enquires into local and national actions for the most disadvantaged children. Eurochild published at the same time their ‘Discussion Paper’: “Mainstreaming Children’s Rights in EU Legislation, Policy and Budget – Lessons from Practice”. The study provides guidance on how effective child rights mainstreaming can be undertaken in the EU’s internal policies, budget and legislation. The inadequate attention to children’s rights in the EU’s immigration and asylum law and the need to strengthen children’s rights in Home Affairs are noted. It offers “seven steps for effective mainstreaming of children’s rights”, based on interviews with European Commission and European Council officials as well as contributions from national children’s NGOs and academics. The study is available here.
EU / NGOs ask President Barroso to advance migrant children’s rights in future EU policy
As the European Commission is finalising its Communication on the future of Justice and Home Affairs policies “post-Stockholm” (the Stockholm Programme is the current five-year policy programme ending in 2014), migrants’ and children’s rights organisations wrote a joint letter to the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, on 18 February 2014, urging a more coherent and rights-based policy approach towards migrant children. The organisations specifically ask Mr Barroso to ensure that the future EU Home Affairs policy addresses existing shortcomings in meeting the EU’s legal obligations towards migrant children, and that children’s rights become a strategic and actionable priority for EU Home Affairs policy in the coming years. The letter was signed by Defence for Children International – Belgium, Eurochild, European Public Health Alliance, FEANTSA, International Falcon Movement – Socialist Education International, PICUM (Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants), Save the Children, SOS Children’s Villages International, Terre des Hommes International Federation and World Vision.
GREECE / Greek Council of State rules against naturalisation of children born in Greece to foreign parents
The Greek Council of State ruled in its decision n. 460/2013 on 6 February 2014 to withdraw Law 3838/2010, which originally allowed the naturalisation of migrants who had been residing in Greece for more than six years while attending the Greek educational system or who were born in the country as second generation migrants. Law 3838/2010 also concerned third country nationals’ right to vote in local elections. According to the Court’s ruling, third country nationals will no longer be entitled to vote or to be elected in municipal elections and children born in Greece to foreign parents will no longer be able to acquire Greek nationality based on the length of their residence and education in Greece.
Source: European University Issue, 18 February 2014; Greek Crisis Review ; Migrant Integration Policy Issue, 19 February 2014
IRELAND / REPORT / Child Rights Alliance grades government with F on actions for migrant children
The Children’s Rights Alliance published on 25 February its 2014 report card evaluating different areas of children’s rights. An independent panel of experts graded the government on their own stated commitments in the Program for Government 2011-2016 regarding issues and policies affecting children. Areas such as Children’s Constitutional Rights and Rights to Education were awarded an average grade. Overall the government was awarded a “C” reflecting a ‘satisfactory attempt to date’. However, on the Right to Equality and Non-discrimination the “E” grade reflects the government’s unacceptable measures undermining children. Even worse are the actions undermining migrant children’s wellbeing that have little or no positive impact, as indicated by the “F” grade. The report makes clear recommendations for future action in each section including to ensure that the Immigration, Residence and Protection (IRP) Bill is in line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Click here to access the report.
US / Scholarship fund created for undocumented students
Former owner of the Washington Post, Donald E. Graham, together with fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee, Henry R. Muñoz, and former Republican cabinet secretary, Carlos Gutierrez, have launched a $25 million fund to award scholarships to undocumented students. About 1,000 students will benefit from the fund in the next academic year. The fund has also received grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Inter-American Development Bank, and Patty Stonesifer and Michael Kinsley, among others. While 17 states in the US now allow undocumented students to receive in-state tuition rates, they are not eligible to receive federal financial aid. Each year, an estimated 65,000 undocumented students graduate from US high schools.
Source: Washington Post, 4 February 2014
DETENTION AND DEPORTATION
BELGIUM / Deportation causes protest among passengers on plane
An attempted deportation of an undocumented migrant woman on a plane to Kinshasa provoked a stir on a Brussels Airlines plane. The passenger, restrained in her seat by 12 officers, vehemently refused her forced return to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Five passengers intervened and were subsequently disembarked and arrested for causing a disturbance. Among them was Mandaila Gisele, member of the Parliament of the Brussels-Capital Region. She subsequently filed a complaint against a police official for punching her while being disembarked. She stated that the use of violence was unjustified. The Minister of Interior, Joëlle Milquet has demanded an investigation of the incident.
Source: RTBF, 15 February 2014; Getting the Voice Out, 14 February 2014
BELGIUM / Constitutional Court rules that it is legal to detain undocumented families in specific centres
The Constitutional Court has concluded that the legal provision that allows the detention of undocumented families with children in specific centres is legal, in its ruling n° 166/2013 from 19 December 2013. The Constitutional Court concludes that Article 74/9 of the Immigration Law (introduced by the Law of 16 November 2011) is compatible with international law and complies with the Constitution. Nevertheless, the Court reiterates that a child must not be detained in a place not specifically adapted for families and that he/she can be detained only for the shortest possible time. The ruling followed an appeal from five non-governmental organisations (UNICEF Belgium, Defence for Children International-Belgium, Jesuit Refugee Service Belgium, Ligue des Droits de l’Homme and the NGO Coordination for the Rights of Children, joined by the Liga voor Mensenrechten). The ruling of the Constitutional Court is contrary to the guidance of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child which states that the detention of a child because of their or their parent’s migration status constitutes a child rights violation and always contravenes the principle of the best interests of the child. In this light, the Committee urges states to expeditiously and completely cease the detention of children on the basis of their immigration status.
Source: European Migration Network Belgium, 19 December 2013
BELGIUM / Protest against immigration detention and detention conditions
The Brussels based advocacy group against migrant deportation and raids, CRER, together with the association Bruxelles Laïque, the International Civil Service and the associations against racism and xenophobia, MRAX, will organise a festival on 26 April 2014 to protest immigration detention conditions. It will be the fourth annual edition of the Steenrock public protest in front of the detention center 127bis in Steenokkerzeel near the airport of Zaventem. With the slogan ‘Make music but no to detention centers’, the event will gather undocumented migrant groups as well as their supporters and activists and offers a programme of music, interventions and information stalls. Anyone who wishes to join the protest, is invited to come to the detention center between 14:00 and 18:00 on 26 April 2014. For more information on the protest, click here.
PROJECT / Realising alternatives to detention in Europe
The project MADE REAL aims to realise alternatives to immigration detention in Europe. The project includes research, a synthesis report of the research and the development of a European training module. A final conference in February 2015 will conclude the project. Objectives are to address the knowledge and implementation gap concerning alternatives to detention for asylum seekers in the EU, paying particular attention to vulnerable asylum seekers, to assist member states in the transposition of the recast Reception Conditions Directive and to enhance the use of alternatives to detention complying with EU and international legal standards. The initiative is led by the Odysseus Network and carried out in cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) as well as partner NGOs in various EU countries. For more information, click here.
ITALY / Medici per i Diritti Umani release data on immigration detention in Italy
Medici per i Diritti Umani (MEDU) released data on 25 February 2014 on the use of administrative detention of undocumented migrants in Italy during the year 2013. The data collected and compiled by MEDU shows that, in the course of 2013, a total of 6,016 migrants (5,431 men and 585 women) have been detained in Italian immigration detention centres (CIE). The study highlights that only 0.9% of the estimated total of 294,000 undocumented migrants residing in Italy have effectively been repatriated and concludes that administrative detention of undocumented migrants is neither a deterrent to irregular migration nor an effective tool for ensuring return. The study is the result of MEDU’s 18 visits to all the CIEs on the Italian territory during the period 2011-2013. A synthesis report of the visits is available here.
Source: Medici per i Diritti Umani, 25 February 2014
NORWAY / Record number of deportations in 2013
Norway deported a record number of undocumented migrants with 5,198 deportations in 2013. Reasons for deportation, among others, were violations of the country’s immigration act. Nigerians and Afghans were the two largest groups of deported migrants. Frode Forfang, head of the Directorate of Immigration (UDI), stated that the increase in deportation reflects efforts to fight crime in Norway.
Source: The Local, 27 January 2014
UK / Undocumented migrants stay in detention for extended periods due to administrative delays
According to a report of John Vine, the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration in the UK, undocumented migrants stay in detention for extended periods of up to several years, due to administrative delays with issuing travel documents and return procedures. The report “An Inspection of the Emergency Travel Document Process” reviews the period of May to September 2013 and looks at 27 cases with the longest being detained for more than three and a half years. A lack of travel documents was the primary reason for delaying deportation to the country of origin. The Inspector urges the Home Office to review all cases of long term detention due to the absence of an emergency travel document (ETD). The Independent Chief Inspector John Vine also released another report revealing that immigration enforcement officers have abused their power to carry out raids on restaurants and other business premises and make arrests without a warrant. The report “An inspection of the use of the power to enter business premises without a search warrant” finds that there is widespread non-compliance with the UK Home Office’s own guidance and in several of the examined cases, raids were carried out unlawfully.
Source: The Guardian, 27 March 2014
UK / Shadow minister urges reconsideration of Enfield student deportation
David Hansen, Labour party member of the UK Parliament, urges the Home Office to reconsider the deportation of 19 year-old student Yashika Bageerathi. She arrived in 2012 seeking shelter from threats of violence against a family member in her country of origin, Mauritius. Her case has been reconsidered separately from her mother and siblings because she is considered an adult by law. Hansen argues that deportation is in conflict with her right to family life. Yashika Bageerathi is currently held at Yarl’s Wood detention centre. An online petition aiming to persuade the Home Office to let her complete her education at her school in the UK, reached 13,000 signatures. Supporters have been using social media to spread the word.
Source: The Guardian, 23 March 2014
UK / Torture awaits Congolese asylum seekers
The British Government has started to arrest Congolese asylum seekers and prepare for their deportation after two years of exercising caution in doing so due to concerns for torture upon return. Simultaneously, a document from the Congolese Minister of Interior to the Congolese national intelligence agency and the police and immigration services has been leaked to media. The document instructs the targeting of opponents of the government and especially unsuccessful asylum seekers who are deported to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Migrants being forced to return are referred to as “combatants” or “traitors”. As a means of cracking down on these migrants, the document specifies the need to use torture. Meanwhile, the number of deportations of Congolese migrants was found to be rising. A Home Office spokesperson commented that the courts have ruled the migrants’ asylum claims unsuccessful because they see no risk of human rights violations upon return.
Source: The Guardian, 15 February 2014
US / President Obama faces pressure after record number of deportations
Following pressure from migrant advocacy groups, US President Barack Obama, announced on 13 March 2014 that deportations of irregular migrants should be more humane and ordered a review of his administration’s enforcement efforts. In a protest against family separation and deportation, dozens of migrants tried to cross into the United States without documents to ask to stay in the country and presented themselves to border officials on 10 March 2014. Meanwhile, in Tacoma, Washington state, a hunger strike at the Northwest Detention Centre started with as many as 750 people on 7 March 2014. Nearly two million people have been deported during Obama’s six years in office, more than under any other US president. Several Latino migrant advocacy groups called President Obama the “deporter-in-chief” but also recognised the key role the mainly Republican House of Representatives plays in halting immigration reform. According to Angela Kelley, Vice President for immigration policy at the Centre for American Progress, about 5,000 American children are in foster homes because one or both parents have been deported.
Sources: International New York Times, 13 March 2014; Associated Press, 11 March 2014; The Guardian, 12 March 2014
PUBLICATIONS AND OTHER RESOURCES
SHADOW REPORT / Racism and discrimination in employment in Europe
The European Network Against Racism (ENAR) published its 2012-2013 European Shadow Report on racism and discrimination in employment in Europe on 24 March 2014. The report assesses the ways in which ethnic and religious minorities and migrants are affected by discrimination when accessing the labour market and in the workplace. Despite the existing legal frameworks, there is a widespread presence of discrimination in the workplace. In order to address this issue, the report provides recommendations to specific groups of actors: the European Union institutions, national governments, equality bodies, civil society organisations, employers, trade unions and local governments. EU-targeted recommendations include: adoption of a common framework for the collection and analysis of data, development of guidelines for employers to accommodate religious and cultural diversity in the workplace, ensuring that labour market regulations respect the “equal status and equal pay for equal work” principle and that all workers enjoy equal treatment as well as the establishment of common EU standards on labour inspection geared towards detecting discrimination on the ground of ethnic origin and religion. To download the report and access a summary factsheet click here.
RESEARCH / Launch of Latin American and Caribbean network on migration
A Latin American and Caribbean migration research network (MIGRALAC) was launched in March 2014 bringing together researchers working on a broad range of issues relating to Latin American and Caribbean migration and diaspora. The network aims to bring together researchers from different disciplines in order to identify research gaps and encourage more comparative and interdisciplinary approaches to migration in the region. A special seminar launch will be held on Monday 16 June 2014. Members of the network will meet regularly in Oxford. For more information, click here.
VIDEO CONTEST / PLURAL+ 2014 call for submissions
PLURAL+ is a youth video festival. A joint initiative of the United Nations Alliance of Civilisations (UNAOC), the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and over 50 partner organisations, the festival aims to encourage young people to express themselves on topical issues of migration, diversity and social inclusion. To enter a video, participants must be between 9 and 25 years old. Videos should not be longer than five minutes and with English subtitles if the spoken language is not English. Three winning videos will receive $1000 each and the young producers will be invited to New York to attend the award ceremony. The 2014 call for entries will close on 27 June 2014. For more information click here.
PICUM IN THE NEWS
SPAIN / The impact of EU policy on migrants’ rights
The Basque daily newspaper, El Berria published an interview with PICUM Programme Assistant, Maria Giovanna Manieri, on 14 March 2014 on EU efforts to deter irregular entry of migrants and recent incidents of border crossings in Ceuta and Melilla which led to the death of several migrants. The interview highlights the need for considering fundamental human rights in migration policy.
Source: El Berria, 14 March 2014
This newsletter was compiled by PICUM as well as volunteer contributors. PICUM is grateful to Charlotte Gazany Thomsen for contributions to this edition.