PICUM Bulletin — 15 November 2012


  • ITALY / DEATH AT BORDER / Migrants arrive safely as other boats are shipwrecked at Italy’s border

    Hundreds of undocumented migrants arrived on the coasts of Southern Italy during the night of 4 November 2012. Two boats were rescued by the Italian Coastguard off the coast of Lampedusa. Three other boats were less successful. On 4 November 2012, a boat of an estimated 115 migrants was found 35 miles off the coast of Libya and 140 miles off the coast of Lampedusa. 70 survivors were rescued whilst eleven were found dead at sea. In another incident on a boat coming from Turkey intercepted by the Italian Authorities on 5 November off the Italian coast of Reggio Calabria, eight smugglers were caught and 162 Afghan migrants were taken to the harbour of Reggio Calabria. Another boat carrying 106 Eritrean migrants arrived to Porto Palo di Capo Passero, in Sicily, on 7 November 2012.
    Source: La Repubblica, 6 November 2012;  La Repubblica, 4 November 2012; La Repubblica, 5 November 2012; La Repubblica, 4 November 2012; La Repubblica, 7 November 2012

  • GREECE / Attack against migrant trying to get to Italy from Greece

    In the early hours of 5 November, a 31 year-old irregular migrant of Iraqi origin was attacked with a knife by a 50 year-old Turkish truck driver at the new port of Igoumenitsa. The incident occurred when the driver realised that the irregular migrant was trying to hide in the truck in order to pass through the port of Igoumenitsa to Italy. The Iraqi migrant was transferred to the General Hospital of Filiaton, while the driver was arrested by Greek police and prosecuted for grievous physical harm and the use of a weapon.
    Sources: Proto Thema, 5 November 2012; News247, 6 October 2012


  • UN / Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants to UN GA

    The Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, François Crépeau, reported to the UN General Assembly on 25 October 2012. The report’s thematic section on climate change and migration examines technical aspects of climate change-induced migration, defining the concept, and identifying the most affected and vulnerable persons and places. The Special Rapporteur calls for political engagement at all governance levels to respond to climate migration, highlighting that migration can be both a challenge and a solution to climate-induced displacement, an important adaptation strategy. The Special Rapporteur also made a statement concerning the High Level Dialogue (HLD) on Migration and Development that will be held in 2013. He stressed once again that human rights must be the underlying framework which informs all discussions of migration and anticipated that his report for 2013 will focus on global governance processes on migration, in particular with a view to analysing whether human rights are effectively mainstreamed in these processes. Report available here.
    Source: December18, 5 November 2012


  • EUROPEAN COMMISSION / REPORT / European Migration Network reports

    The European Migration Network released two reports entitled ‘Visa policy as migration channel’ and ’Practical measures for reducing irregular migration’ in October 2012. The first study analysed the possible nexus between visa policy and migration management, examining the effects of visa policy on the management of migration, both in terms of facilitating regular migration and preventing irregular migration. It focused on Member State practices for issuing long-stay (“D”) visas. The second report’s objective is to provide an overview of existing approaches, mechanisms and measures to reduce irregular migration in the EU and Norway. In particular, its aim is to inform policymakers and practitioners about the practical measures that have proved effective and proportionate in addressing the issue of irregular migration and to contextualise national policies and practices within the overall EU policy framework. A further aim was to present the available statistics and the methods of data collection used by Member States to estimate the irregular migrant population. It is also intended to inform the implementation of the roadmap EU Action on Migratory Pressures – a Strategic Response.
    Source: European Migration Network, October 2012

  • PICUM / Letter to MEPs on the proposed appointment of Mr Tonio Borg as the new Health Commissioner

    Further to the resignation of the previous Commissioner for the Health and Consumers portfolio, Mr Dalli, on 16 October 2012, the Maltese Government has presented a new Commissioner designate, Mr Tonio Borg. In response to Mr Borg’s worrying track record on migration issues, PICUM, the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA), Médecins du Monde, European Network Against Racism (ENAR), the Confederation of Family Organisations in the European Union (COFACE) and the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) have submitted a letter to the Members of the European Parliament Committee Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) as well as other MEPs. The letter highlights the concerns of these NGOs as to whether Mr Borg would uphold the rights of migrants and the EU core values of non-discrimination, justice, solidarity and equality within the context of the designated portfolio in view of the following: Mr Borg’s decision in September and October 2002 as Minister of Home Affairs of Malta to forcibly deport some 220 Eritreans back to Eritrea where they were detained and kept in incommunicado detention and tortured; his explicit rejection  in February 2004 of recommendations from former Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Álvaro Gil-Robles to change harsh migrant detention practices in Malta; and his unfailing support for Italy’s policy of pushing migrants at sea back to Libya which has been condoned by the European Court of Human Rights in the case Hirsi v Italy. Click here to view the letter.
    Source: PICUM News, 9 November 2012


  • GREECE / Establishment of a new police unit to deal with racial violence after the issue of Human Rights Watch report ‘Hate on the streets’

    Since Human Rights Watch released the report ‘Hate on the streets’ in July 2012, on xenophobia and racist violence in Greece, the Greek Minister of Justice has announced plans to institute a special police unit to deal with racial violence. The new police unit will hopefully help migrants who have been victims of racist attacks to trust the police to investigate their cases and to hold their attackers accountable.
    Source: Human Rights Watch, 1 November 2012

  • ITALY-UK / Asylum-seekers unwilling to return to Italy under Dublin II Regulations

    Four asylum-seekers in the UK have appealed to the Civil Division of the England and Wales Court of Appeal after their claims were rejected on the grounds of the European Regulation Dublin II, which states that asylum-seekers must remain in the Member State where s/he first entered. Nevertheless, the British Court has joined German, Norwegian and Swiss Courts in sharing its worries for the inhumane conditions that asylum-seekers face when in Italy. Over half of the asylum-seekers in Italy are provided with no housing or financial support, nor legal assistance. Legal procedures are very slow and encourage asylum-seekers to turn to underground employment.
    Source: La Repubblica, 2 November 2012

  • SPAIN / Open letter to the Minister of the Interior on Melilla’s border management

    Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos de Melilla (APDHA) has written an open letter to the Minister of the Interior to report on how Melilla’s border management, enacted by both the Moroccan and Spanish Government, is causing an undetermined number of migrant deaths and injuries. In the letter, released on 7 November 2012, the association claimed that these governments’ collaboration is risking the lives of the people crossing the border and acting against civilised states’ performance. In particular, the letter raised the issue of the barb-wire fences deterring migrants from crossing the border as increasing the dangerousness of the border, as well as wasting Melilla’s economic and social resources. In addition to this, the letter highlighted the case of the many bodies found at sea, including children’s bodies. APDHA criticised the Spanish Government for placing such emphasis on the smugglers’ performance at the border, calling this a ‘whitewash’ strategy to divert attention from the repressive migration system instituted by both the Moroccan and the Spanish Governments. The association called the Spanish Government to stop any collaboration with Morocco that might cause the suffering of migrants.
    Source: El Telegrama, 7 November 2012

  • UK / Border Agency launches national allegations database

    The UK Border Agency (UKBA) launched a national allegations database that allows informers to directly construct a list of undocumented migrants. The database came into effect on Sunday 30 September 2012 and was developed to increase the Border Agency’s rate on allegations leading to arrest. The origin of this database goes back to October 2011, when the Prime Minister urged UK citizens to report undocumented migrants to the UKBA. The database was criticised for being developed behind closed doors and therefore lacking transparency in its operation and regulation. Besides this, concerns have been raised since the UKBA has given little information on what kind of data the database stores, as well as the level of information available to the person whom the complaint concerns.
    Source: Open Democracy, 15 August 2012; The Telegraph, 1 October 2012

  • USA / ID cards for undocumented migrants

    The Los Angeles City Council advanced plans on 7 November 2012 to create an identification card that would serve as both a library card and a debit card for undocumented migrants, in order to ease their financial lives. Speakers at the City Council meeting spoke of the impact that the City Cards will have on saving card-holders money by allowing them to avoid costly check-cashing shops. The initiative will not only help undocumented migrants but also “homeless people, and residents with damaged credit gain access to local banking services”.  Betty Hung, Policy Director at the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, highlighted the importance of this initiative as a way of developing a sense of civic pride amongst those groups of society and their ability to contribute to the local economy whilst Manuel Pastor, director of the Center for the Study of Immigrant Information at USC, noted the impact it would have on security and economic integration as well as the effect of promoting literacy by giving access to libaries. Other cities in California, including San Francisco and Oakland, have already enacted similar plans that allow residents of their cities to gain access to the library and debit cards.
    Source: Annenberg TV News, 7 November 2012


  • SPAIN / Regional Government of Catalonia resolution guarantees equal access to services

    The Parliament of Catalonia has determined the need to guarantee equal access to public services for all persons registered in the region of Catalonia, in particular to health care services, as laid down in the National Immigration Pact (Resolution 742/IX of the Parliament of Catalonia on the government’s general policy orientation). The full text of the resolution can be found here.
    Source: Bulletin of Legal and Institutional Policies, Chair of Immigration, Rights and Citizenship, University of Girona, 12 November

  • SWEDEN / Civil society and local councils push for health reforms to fufil right to health for all

    In a joint response to the government communication from 27 September 2012 detailing the proposed health care reforms to come into effect 1 June 2013, Health care to people who stay in Sweden without permission, 41 organisations have called  for the government to go further than the current plans to extend equal health coverage to undocumented children, to also provide health care to adult asylum seekers and undocumented migrants, on equal terms as nationals. The Right to Health Initiative urges the government to amend legislation to satisfy the requirements of medical ethics and basic human rights. The criticisms have been echoed in an article by Thomas Hammarberg, former Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights and Elisabeth Abiri, former Chairman of the Delegation for Human Rights in Sweden. Västmanland County Council is one of the few county councils that has announced its plans to extend health care coverage on equal terms for asylum-seeking and undocumented adults, as well as children.
    Source: Rosengrenska Weblog

  • UN / Health experts promote universal health coverage and evidence-based health policy

    Health experts and policy makers will urge a UN resolution on universal health coverage (UHC), making transformation of health systems a global political goal in the post-2015 development agenda, Judith Rodin, president of the Rockefeller Foundation, said at the Second Global Symposium on Health Systems Research on 1 November 2012, in Beijing, China. Experts are pushing for realignment of economic and social goals, which consider health as an opportunity for development. The World Health Organisation (WHO) also launched two reports calling for countries across to world to strengthen their health systems by embedding evidence-based research into every decision-making process. The report ‘Changing Mindsets’ describes the importance of research and how it has helped influence policy and ‘Options for Actions’ outlines a number of options for stakeholders to implement the use of research in any decisions made about health care systems.
    Source: Live Mint & The Wall Street Journal, 1 November 2012; PM Live, 1 November 2012; Kaiser Family Foundation, 2 November 2012


  • BELGIUM / EVENT / ‘A step forward in the protection of workers?’

    OR.C.A, a PICUM member based in Brussels, will hold an event entitled «Un pas en avant dans la protection des travailleurs?» (‘A step forward in the protection of workers?’) on Tuesday, 11 December 2012. The event is aimed at social workers, lawyers, legal advisors and other who work indirectly or directly for the protection of workers. For more information, contact: info@orcasite.be

  • USA / Kansas fast food franchisee fined for hiring undocumented worker

    McCalla Corporation, a Kansas-based fast food company, has been fined for employing an undocumented worker. The company allegedly hired a worker who produced false documents in order to prove that he was eligible to work when first hired in May 2009. The company agreed to pay a $400,000 fine for employing the undocumented worker. President Obama’s Administration has up to now audited more than 7,000 companies suspected of hiring undocumented workers, imposing an overall fine of $100 million.
    Source: The Huffington Post, 1 November 2012

  • USA / Webinar on protecting workers from employers harassment and retaliation

    The National Employment Law Project launched a webinar entitled ‘Litigation strategies: protecting organising workers from employer harassment and retaliation,’ which will be held on 4 December 2012. The webinar’s objectives are to learn about different ways employers abuse the litigation process to chill workers’ rights, including engaging in intrusive discovery into worker-organising efforts and bringing frivolous lawsuits against workers and advocates who are supporting worker-organising. The second objective is to explore best strategies and practices to defend and protect workers and their advocates from employer harassment and retaliation. The webinar will also provide further information on recent successful cases involving guest workers in New Orleans and warehouse workers in Illinois. For further information please visit the webinar registration form.


  • BELGIUM / Human Rights Watch report on violence against undocumented women

    Human Rights Watch released a report on 8 November on the protection gaps facing migrant women in Belgium who hold a spouse-dependent visa, or irregular migration status. Undocumented women were found to be among the most vulnerable and least visible group of survivors. Unauthorised stay is considered a criminal offence in Belgium and police are required to report anyone they suspect is undocumented to immigration authorities. The inadequate police response and arrest of women seeking protection because of immigration infractions, was found to have undermined confidence in the police and deterred the reporting of violence. Undocumented women’s ineligibility for public funds means that they are systematically excluded from women’s shelters and forced to return to an abusive home or live on the streets. Women on spouse-dependent visas risk receiving an order of expulsion after leaving an abusive spouse. Due to their fear of jeopardising their immigration status, many women are forced to endure abuse until the end of the three-year probationary period, while those who do come forward face significant obstacles to obtain an independent legal status. Those recently arrived to Belgium were found to be particularly dependent on women’s shelters, and the lack of sufficient shelter places nationally often forces them to return to abusive homes. Human Rights Watch has underlined the clear obligations of the Belgian state under international human rights law to act with due diligence to protect women’s right to live free from violence, to non-discrimination and to effective judicial remedies, affirming that this duty extends to protection from violations by both State and non-state actors and regardless of the victim’s status. The report calls on the Belgian government to ensure it offers protection to all migrant women, regardless of circumstance or legal status. The report provides concrete recommendations to authorities on improving residence permits, encouraging migrant women to report violence to the police, and enabling equal access to services.
    Source: Human Rights Watch, 8 November 2012


  • NETHERLANDS / Undocumented children without any asylum history are also granted the right to reception

    In September 2012 the Dutch Supreme Court ruled that the right to reception (i.e. the right to receive accommodation for asylum seekers during application process) for undocumented children falls firstly and principally upon the parents, but if the parents are not able to facilitate this responsibility, then the State must provide relief. Dutch Minister Leers accepted that this right applies to all children, even those with no prior asylum history. Nevertheless, this is a subject that will be assessed on a case-by-case basis by the authorities.
    Source: Stichting Los Newsletter, 28 October 2012

  • UK / Strategic legal fund seeks to extend funding stream

    The Strategic Legal Fund (SLF) was set up in autumn 2011 to finance strategic litigation to promote the rights of children and young migrants in the UK. SLF funds legal practitioners for pre-litigation research, as well as litigation itself. The fund is seeking to enlarge its scope by funding pre-litigation partnerships of legal practitioners and civil society organisations. To achieve this aim, SLF has created an online questionnaire asking for civil society input into expanding the remit of the funding stream. For further information please visit the Strategic Legal Fund (SLF) website
    Source: Migrants Rights Network, 22 October 2012

  • USA / Obama’s win reassures and boosts fight for Dream Act

    During his campaign, Romney had declared that if elected, he would put an end to the deferred action programme which had been put in place by President Obama on 15 June 2012, enabling undocumented youth the opportunity to apply for a two year work permit (See PICUM Bulletin 11 July 2012), but he would remove it from those already granted it. Obama’s re-election came as relief to the 1.7 million people eligible to apply under the deferred action program.  The re-elected Government boosted the Dreamers’ (undocumented people that might be eligible for regular status under the Dream Act) spirit to push for immigration reform.  Nevertheless, the Dreamers also criticised Obama as he failed to push comprehensive immigration reform legislation he promised to pass during his first term. The Dreamers have urged Obama to do the same thing for undocumented immigrants that he did with deferred action, granting deportation waivers if they can prove strong ties and a clean criminal record. In addition to this, Obama’s administration’s immigration policies have been characterised by a higher number of deportations than under any other Administration before.
    Source: New York Times, 3 October 2012; Think Progress Justice, 2 November 2012; The Huffington Post, 7 November 2012; Voxxi, 8 November 2012.


  • GREECE / Revolt of migrants in Igoumenitsa detention centre

    Around 92 detainees rebelled in the detention centre in the city of Igoumenitsa on 23 October 2012, protesting against the conditions of their detention. The migrants began to shout, hit the bars and the walls and as a result eleven were injured and transferred to the medical centre of the city, where first aid was provided. Although the capacity of this detention centre is for 30 people, there are currently more than 90 migrants detained in this facility.
    Sources: Ekathimerini, 24 October 2012; Skai, 24 October; Infomobile, 24 October 2012

  • GREECE / Returns of irregular migrants

    1,531 irregular migrants of different nationalities were returned from Greece to their countries of origin in October 2012 under the operations of the Department of Deportations of the General Police Directorate of Attica for Foreigners, according to official data by Greek police. More specifically, 717 irregular migrants who were arrested for irregular entry into the country were either driven or returned by commercial flights from the Athens airport ‘Eleutherios Venizelos’. In addition, the Department of Deportations of the General Police Directorate of Attica for Foreigners, in cooperation with the International Organisation for Migration, organised the return of  814 irregular migrants to their countries of origin under a voluntary return programme. This programme was signed between IOM and the Greek government on 31 July 2012 and will run for 12 months. It is primarily funded by the European Returns Funds. Since August 2012, the official total number of irregular migrants who were returned from Greece to their countries of origin is 3,666 people.
    Source: Kathimerini, 6 November 2012; Express, 1 November 2012

  • UK / Death of a detainee at Harmondsworth immigration centre

    A detainee awaiting deportation at Harmondsworth immigration centre near Heathrow Airport in West London died in mysterious circumstances on 30 October 2012. The detention centre is privately run by the GEO Group UK Ltd and currently holds 615 detainees. Both the company and the Home Office have so far refused to provide information about the detainee’s death and his name and nationality have not yet been disclosed. An inquiry will be conducted by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman.
    Source: BBC, 31 October 2011; The Independent, 1 November 2012


  • UK / GUIDE / Housing and Migration Network destitution pack

    The Housing and Migration Network is a network encouraging creative and constructive responses to migration in the UK. The Network has launched a destitution pack which aims at providing support to associations and charities, helping them to start working together to provide short-term housing and the support needed to migrants and destitute asylum-seekers in the UK. Click here to access the destitution pack.
    Source: Migrants’ Rights Network, 5 November 2012


  • BELGIUM / Conference on health and domestic violence

    The Conference ‘Hitting the spot – safeguarding the mental health of victims of domestic violence’ will present the outcomes of the ‘Mental Health Europe Daphne project’ in Brussels, 23 November 2012. Mental Health Europe and its partners trained enforcement agents on the mental health aspects associated with this type of violence, as the agents are the first points of contact for women reporting their aggressors. The specific objectives of the project were to provide cross-cultural and gender-sensitive information on the mental health aspects of violence towards women and to promote both an adequate response and attitude from police officers when dealing with victims of violence. For further information on the project please click here and download the conference program here.
    Source: Mental Health Europe, 30 October 2012

  • CYPRUS / Rights of migrants and equality

    PICUM, in collaboration with its Cypriot member organisation KISA – Action for Equality, Support and Anti-Racism and several partners including the Office of the Commissioner of Administration (Ombudsman) of the Republic of Cyprus, as well as the European Commission Representation and Office of the European Parliament in Cyprus, will hold an international workshop entitled ‘Migrants and the rights to equal treatment in Cyprus’ in Nicosia, Cyprus on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 at the Conference Hall of the Ministry of Finance (VIEW MAP) . Recognising that equality remains one of the most important components of successful integration policies, this event will bring together a broad range of civil society, independent institutions and state actors in a collaborative and cohesive debate on the presence and rights of migrants in Cyprus. Open to the public and free of charge, this one day event will consist of morning plenary sessions (in English and Greek) followed by simultaneous afternoon workshop sessions (in English). For further information, please refer to the agenda and the concept note currently only available in English. Greek version to follow shortly on the PICUM website. Registration is to be done online. The deadline for registration is Friday 16 November 2012. For further details in English, please contact: Eve Geddie, Programme Officer, PICUM eve.geddie@picum.org +32 2 210 17 80 and in Greek Doros Polykarpou, Executive Director, KISA, kisa_dorosp@cytanet.com.cy, +357 22 878181

  • SPAIN / ‘Days of training, reflection and action towards migrant detention centres’

    The group Research and Action Working Group on Borders and Control (Grup de Recerca i Acció sobre Fronteres i Controls) will hold ‘Days of training, reflection and action towards migrant detention centers’ (Jornadas de formación, reflexión y acción en torno a los centros de internamiento de extranjeros) in Barcelona, from 14-16 December 2012, as part of the second state-level meeting ‘¡CIES No!’ (No migrant detention centres!). The days will be aimed at bringing together organisations, associations and other stakeholders interested in deepening their legal and social understanding of migrant detention centres. Likewise, the days will be an opportunity for different advocacy groups working for migrants’ human rights to exchange working experiences in the field. For further information with regards to registration, programme and technical details please visit the event website.
    Source: Tanquem els CIEs, 2 November 2012


  • GLOBAL / Videos from the Global Forum on Migration and Development

    The sixth Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) will take place in Mauritius on 21-22 November 2012. As background information to the GFMD, the following videos document the 2011 GFMD, which was held in Switzerland. The first video gives an overview of the GFMD; the second video focuses on Diasporas and the nexus between migrations and development; the third and the fourth videos explore the concepts of labour matching and circular migration. The fifth and sixth videos provide the conclusions of the last year GFMD as well as the People’s Global Action on Migration, Development and Human Rights.
    Source: WordPress.com, 31 October 2012

  • USA / Film on the lives of undocumented children

    The film ’Papers’ followed the lives of five undocumented children who were brought to the US by their parents, and who faced a number of barriers due to their undocumented status. Some of the issues presented in the film included limitations to access employment and college as well as to obtain driving licenses. As part of the follow-up effort, a book called ’Papers’ was also released, compiling 30 of the many stories that were sent to the filmmakers when developing the script. For further information please visit the film website.
    Source: The Transcript, 2 November 2012

  • PICUM / Job announcement: Communications Officer, Brussels.

    PICUM is looking for an outstanding Communications Officer to develop and lead a communications strategy driven by PICUM’s organisational aims, needs and objectives. To apply please fill out and send back the PICUM application form in English by Sunday 18 November 2012, addressed to Ms. Michele LeVoy, Director, to the following email address: recruitment@picum.org.

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