PICUM Bulletin — 19 December 2014


  • GREECE / PROJECT / Assessing cost-effectiveness of irregular migration control practices in Greece

    The findings of the project ‘Assessing the cost-effectiveness of irregular migration control practices in Greece’ of MIDAS (Migration and Detention Assessment) were published in November 2014. The project which analysed Greece’s irregular migration control practices between 2008 and 2013, looked at these policies through the lens of cost-effectiveness. The report states, for example, that the Operation Xenios Zeus does not appear to be a cost-effective policy tool, as more than 90% of resources are spent on checks that did not lead to the detection of undocumented migrants. The project’s final report which is available in English and Greek concludes that forced return via charter flight is the most expensive type of return, both in terms of cost and in terms of human resources. The report provides a set of policy recommendations including on the allocation of funding and on bilateral agreements of seasonal work. A policy paper summarising the findings is available here.
    Source: Hellenic Foundation for European & Foreign Policy, November 2014

  • MULTIMEDIA / Interactive maps and reports highlight the impact of walls and borders

    Newly emerging multimedia reports have been drawing attention to the impact of borders, walls and fences on individuals’ lives, rights and freedoms. One example is the page ‘Connected Walls’, which, among others, documents the development of the high technology fence between Morocco and the Spanish enclave Ceuta, fortified in order to deter irregular migrants from entering Europe. Another example is the German page ‘der Zaun’ (the fence), supported by the daily newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, which focuses solely on the EU’s borders and what they mean for those migrants and refugees who are met by them. To view the page, click here.

  • UK / Britain will not take part in search and rescues in the Mediterranean

    On 27 October 2014 the new Foreign Office Minister Lady Joyce Anelay announced that Britain will not support future search and rescue operations carried out in the Mediterranean to prevent the death of migrants at Europe’s borders. This decision came when Italian authorities announced the end of their search and rescue operation, Mare Nostrum. A new operation called Triton, led by Frontex, the European Border Agency, started in November 2014. The British Foreign Office has argued that they will not participate in Triton because, they claim, search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean have become a ‘pull factor’ which encourages people to migrate to Europe. Human rights organisations such as the British Refugee Council, Statewatch and Amnesty International have denounced the British government’s decision as they consider that such operations are crucial in order to avoid further mass drowning of migrants. They state that by refusing to rescue people fleeing from war and persecution, Britain is not living up to its international commitments.
    Source: The Guardian, 27 October 2014

  • FRANCE / Additional police force deployed and solidarity protests with undocumented migrants in the city of Calais

    Following the debate about increasing number of irregularly staying migrants in the French city of Calais (see PICUM Bulletin 16 September 2014 ), more and more people have started to express their solidarity with the migrants through protests. Increasing numbers of protestors were expected around International Migrants’ Day on 18 December. The protests follow a call for additional police reinforcements in the city to control the situation. The prefect of the Nord-Pas de Calais region, Denis Robin, has declared that the 1,500 migrants estimated to be in Calais at the end of August 2014 had increased to around 2,200 at the end of October 2014. The influx of new migrants, the majority of whom originate from Eritrea and Ethiopia, has created tensions and fights have broken out between migrant communities. There is also rising hostility from the local population. Most of the migrants are determined to cross the Channel to Britain and do not wish to claim asylum or settle in France. Early in September 2014 the French Minister of Interior, Bernard Cazeneuve, had backtracked on previous  declarations and announced that he would support the creation of a new day centre for migrants built on the outskirts of the city. Some civil society organisations such as Emmaüs France have criticised this proposal and underlined the risk of creating a type of ghetto in which migrants would be isolated and kept away from the public eye.
    Sources: Le Figaro, 18 December 2014 ; France TV Info, 24 October 2014 ; Le Monde, 23 October 2014

United Nations

  • UN / Civil Society urges the EU and its member states to include migrants and migration-related targets in the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals agenda

    A group of civil society organisations has addressed a letter to the European Commission, the European Parliament and the EU member states to urge them to take migration and migrants into account in the negotiations on the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals agenda. The letter highlights the concern of civil society organisations that a protectionist agenda, driven by narrow economic and national interests would prevail over a more EU-oriented human-rights based approach to migration policy, which could indeed benefit countries of origin, transit and destination (i.e. in Europe), as well as migrants themselves. Civil society organisations urge the EU and its Member States to include, in the post-2015 global and national development agendas, the targets set out within the Civil Society Stockholm Agenda on migrants and migration. The agenda, signed by 270 civil society organisations, is a direct product of the recent Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) and parallel civil society processes in Stockholm.

  • CEDAW / General recommendation on the gender-related dimensions of refugee status, asylum, nationality and statelessness of women

    The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) published on 6 November 2014 a set of guidelines on the gender-related dimensions of refugee status, asylum, nationality and statelessness of women. The Committee noted that it is crucial to identify and understand gender-related forms of persecution, such as gender-based violence. The Committee recognised that in practice forms of persecution are often assessed through the lens of male experiences, which can result in claims to refugee status or protection not being properly assessed, or indeed being rejected. The General Recommendation suggests practical measures to improve respect for women’s rights. For example, states should ensure that women are able to lodge independent asylum applications.  The Committee also urges states to recognise that victims of trafficking should not only know about their right to seek asylum, but have access to these procedures without discrimination. For more information on the General Recommendation No. 32, click here.

  • OHCHR / Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants visits Italy and Malta

    The UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, François Crépeau, visited Italy (2-5 December 2014) and Malta (6-10 December 2014) as a follow-up to his 2012 year-long study on the management of the external borders of the European Union. After his visit to Italy, Mr. Crépeau praised the country’s “extraordinary efforts” through its Mare Nostrum operation and urged the EU to support Italy in search and rescue operations, highlighting that the Frontex operation Triton, which will be limited to defending Italy’s maritime border, constitutes an insufficient response when lives are at stake. The Special Rapporteur also urged Italy to provide increased protection to vulnerable groups, and to facilitate access to justice by simplifying judicial procedures and providing legal representation to migrants. In the end-of-mission statement during his visit to Malta, the Special Rapporteur highlighted that as a consequence of the phasing out of the programme Mare Nostrum, Malta “is likely to see an increase in the number of arrivals in 2015”. The Special Rapporteur also stressed that the migration phenomenon must be considered as a normal reality and advised Malta, with the support of the EU and its member states, to develop programmes to welcome high numbers of migrants “with a long term vision to deal with providing immediate assistance, offering legal safeguards and integration programmes for migrants and asylum seekers that arrive irregularly”. The Special Rapporteur will present the country mission reports and a thematic report on EU border management to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2015.
    Source: UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, press release of 5 December 2014: ’Italy/Migrants: “A humanitarian crisis must have a global humanitarian response’ and UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, press release of 10 December 2014: ‘Malta needs to step up its preparation for the next wave of migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea’.

European Policy Developments

  • EU COUNCIL / Justice and Home Affairs Council discusses irregular migration

    As part of the EU Council meeting which took place on 4-5 December 2014, ministers debated the implementation of the priorities identified by the Task Force for the Mediterranean as well as the Council Conclusions of 10 October 2014 on ‘Taking action to better manage migratory flows’. The Council welcomed the launch on 1 November of the EU-funded operation Triton aimed at reinforcing border surveillance in the Mediterranean. The Council also held a debate on actions carried out in cooperation with third-countries and ministers welcomed the recent ministerial meetings hosted by the Italian Presidency as part of the Khartoum Process. A video summary of the Justice and Home Affairs Council held in Brussels on 4-5 December 2014 is available here.
    Source: Council of the European Union, Press Release (PRESSE 630 – PR CO 66), provisional version, 3354th Council meeting, Justice and Home Affairs, Brussels, 4-5 December 2014.

  • COURT OF JUSTICE OF THE EUROPEAN UNION / Court rules on migrants’ right to be heard in removal procedures

    In its ruling of 11 December 2014 (Case C‑249/13, Khaled Boudjlida v Préfet des Pyrénées-Atlantiques), the Court of Justice of the European Union clarified the extent of the right of an irregularly-staying third-country national to be heard, in line with the provisions of the Returns Directive (Directive 2008/115). The case concerned the complaint presented by Mr Khaled Boudjlida against his removal. Mr Boudjlida, an Algerian national who failed to apply for a renewal of his residence permit in France after his student visa expired in late 2012, thus became undocumented and, after submitting an application for registering as a self-employed entrepreneur, was issued with removal directions. In its judgment, the Court established that the purpose of the right to be heard before the adoption of a return decision is to enable the person concerned to express their point of view on the regularity of their stay and on whether any of the exceptions to the general rule are applicable. The Court found that the right to be heard poses an obligation on national authorities to enable the person concerned to express their point of view on the detailed arrangements for the return. It also clarified that the national authorities are not required to inform a third-country national that they are contemplating adopting a return decision with respect to their case, or to disclose the information on which they rely on to justify a return decision. Finally, the Court ruled that return decisions may always be challenged by legal action, in order to ensure protection and the right to defence of the person concerned against a decision which adversely affects them. The full case is available here.
    Source: Court of Justice of the European Union, Press Release No 174/14, Luxembourg, 11 December 2014

National Developments

  • FINLAND / Project gains insight on situation of undocumented migrants in the country

    A 3-year project carried out by the Refugee Advice Centre in Finland has provided about 60 undocumented migrants with direct legal advice and information about their rights. Overall, the programme reached hundreds of people, including undocumented migrants, documented migrants, asylum seekers and refugees. Most of the undocumented migrants who approached the project were working-aged adults, although the target also included vulnerable groups such as families with children and pregnant women. The project showed that there is a huge need for consultation for undocumented migrants in Finland as they rarely have enough knowledge of their rights and they have limited possibilities to defend their rights, or access services. According to the project’s coordinator, Meri Korniloff, rights of undocumented migrants are still not sufficiently protected in Finland.
    Source: Paperittomat –hanke, 18 November 2014

Health Care

  • GERMANY / Undocumented migrants and asylum seekers remain second class patients

    Due to an increasing number of arriving migrants and asylum seekers (about 200,000 in Germany in 2014), the government has discussed additional support for federal states and cities to provide accommodation, education and health care. However, with the restrictive law, undocumented migrants are unlikely to benefit from this additional support. According to reports, undocumented migrants and asylum seekers in Germany continue to face very limited access to health care putting their health at risk. As per the German Asylum Seekers Assistance Law, undocumented migrants can only access health care in case of acute illness and pain. Voluntary initiatives such as the Medibüros (offices for medical assistance) or the Malteser Migranten Medizin (Migrant Medicine of the Hospitallers) provide health care and report that undocumented migrants often wait to go to a doctor until their situation is acute due to fear of being reported. A policy brief on access to health care for undocumented migrants in Europe and the key role of local and regional authorities, published by the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM) also addresses the situation in Germany and is available in English and German.
    Sources: Spiegel online, 27 November 2014 ; Spiegel online, 24 November 2014 ; Frankfurter Rundschau, 8 December 2014

  • UK / Efforts to tackle NHS fraud risk undermining values of NHS and public health

    A report entitled ‘“Ensuring fair use of the NHS efficiently and effectively…” Do no Harm’ examines the UK government’s regulations for charging for the National Health Service (NHS) and the proposed changes to improve services. The report highlights key challenges to achieving the government’s objectives, and puts forward a number of recommendations. Published by Demos and Doctors of the World in October 2014, the analysis raises questions around the workability and impacts of the proposals, including on the functioning and efficiency of the NHS, in terms of resource allocation as well as cost implications of restricting access to primary, preventative and curative care; on public health and public safety; and on people in vulnerable situations, including people with mental health needs, pregnant women and children. The report also raises questions regarding the funding and capacity to manage the new IT infrastructure which would be required for implementing the charging regime, as well as the negative impacts of potential or perceived data-sharing between the NHS and immigration authorities on migrants’ access to the care that they need and are entitled to. Built on extensive engagement with experts and practitioners in the worlds of health care, migrant support and human rights law, the report recommends that the UK government considers setting up triage clinics, imposes blanket exemptions of charges for children who need NHS care, establishes a principle of one-way information sharing, educates administrators, and imposes a rolling impact assessment. Read the report here.

  • CAMPAIGN / Challenging limited access to health care

    The Spanish organisation Red Acoge launched a new campaign entitled ‘Yo elijo ser humano’ (‘I choose to be human’) on 3 December 2014. The campaign demands the new Spanish Health Minister, Mr Alfonso Alonso, to reverse the Royal Decree Act 16/2012. Since the entry into force of the Royal Decree Act more than 800,000 migrants have been excluded from accessing health care (See PICUM Bulletin, 29 May 2012; 16 September 2014). In order to convey the feeling of marginalisation and vulnerability felt by migrants who are being deprived of their right to health care, Red Acoge placed hidden cameras in a pharmacy to capture the reaction of clients when they are told by the pharmacist that their health cards have been destroyed. To know more about the campaign and sign the petition, please click here.
    Source: Para Inmigrantes.info, 3 December 2014 ; La Opinión, 3 December 2014

  • REPORT / Access to social and health care services for migrants in Europe

    Eurodiaconia launched its 2014 Migration report entitled “Access to social and health services for migrants in Europe: overcoming the barriers” on 13 November 2014. The report is based on research conducted among Eurodiaconia’s members as diaconal and church-related service providers of social and health services. The report summarises the key challenges these organisations and migrants face daily in accessing social and health services. Main challenges are growing racism and xenophobia towards migrants resulting in lack of political will to change policies; complicated administrative and legal hurdles and EU rights and freedoms from international treaties and EU directives not being implemented by member states. To read the full report, click here.

Labour and Fair Working Conditions

  • FILM / New documentary addresses exploitation of domestic workers

    The German documentary ‘Dringend gesucht – Annerkennung nicht vorgesehen’ (Urgently wanted – no recognition provided) premiered with a screening on 25 November 2014 in Hamburg. The documentary shares the personal stories and the struggle for the rights of several migrant domestic workers in Germany and the Netherlands who experienced exploitation by their employers. The documentary aims to shed light on the lack of labour rights of domestic workers and looks at the first initiatives to organise themselves and join labour unions. The documentary, made by Mónica Orjeda and Anne Frisius, is in German. The next public screening is scheduled for 28 January 2015 in Berlin. For more information on the film or to order a DVD, click here.

  • UK / The Modern Slavery Bill: debate about protection for overseas domestic workers

    The upper house of the UK Parliament, the House of Lords, is currently debating the Modern Slavery Bill. Several migrants’ rights organisations and legal associations are supporting Amendment 94 ‘Protection from slavery for overseas domestic workers’ which proposes a reinstatement of the right to change employer, extend their leave by allowing them to renew their visas, and providing a three month temporary visa to facilitate change of employer in cases of exploitation. Amendment 94 reintroduces many of the protections against exploitation for migrant domestic workers that were removed by the UK Government on 6 April 2012. Kalayaan, a leading migrant domestic workers organisation, believes this amendment would go a long way towards protecting migrant domestic workers in the UK from modern slavery . Despite recommendations made by the Joint Parliament Committee on the Draft Modern Slavery bill to reverse the April 2012 changes, the current version of the Modern Slavery Bill 2014 contains no provisions dealing with migrant domestic workers. The Committee had expressed its serious concerns that the impact of the tied visa and stated in their report that the tying of domestic workers to their employer had: ‘unintentionally strengthened the hand of the slave masters against the victim of slavery’.
    Sources: Unite, 10 December 2014 ; Immigration Law Practitioners Association (ILPA), Briefing for amendment 94, 7 December 2014

  • REPORT / OECD launches International Migration Outlook 2014

    The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) launched its International Migration Outlook 2014 on 1 December 2014 on the occasion of the OECD High Level Policy Forum on Migration. Secretary-General Angel Gurria said that a comprehensive reform of immigration in the United States should address regular migration channels linked to the economic needs of the US economy and should provide a fair solution for undocumented migrants who are integrated in US society. The International Migration Outlook analyses recent developments in migration movements and policies in OECD countries and selected non-OECD countries. This edition also contains a chapter on managing labour migration. To view the International Migration Outlook 2014, click here.
    Source: OECD, Press release, 1 December 2014

Undocumented Women

  • WEBSERIES / Criticism for glorifying rape and coercion of undocumented women

    The sexual assault of undocumented Mexican and Central American women by US border guards is now the topic of a fictionalised porn web-series produced by MindGeek, a major European company that owns several major porn sites. In the fictionalised videos, armed border guards chase down groups of undocumented migrants in the desert, separate young undocumented women from the group, and then handcuff and rape them as a punishment before continuing deportation procedures. The series has been widely criticised for exploiting and glorifying imagery associated with the vicious and systemic sexual assault of migrants. It is estimated that between 60-80% of women and girls crossing into the U.S. from Mexico are raped during their journey. Many women and girls take contraception before embarking on the journey to prevent pregnancy from rape. An online petition targeting the company is available here.
    Source: The Daily Dot, 4 December 2014

Undocumented Children and Their Families

  • EUROPE / Children from migrant households disproportionately in poverty as a result of recession

    The UNICEF Innocent Report Card 12, entitled ‘Children of the Recession: The impact of the economic crisis on child well-being in rich countries’ has found that policy responses following the economic crisis have led to an increase in inequality in and among EU member states, where children in vulnerable situations have been disproportionately affected. The impact of the recession on children in migrant households in Europe was often greater than it was on children from non-migrant households. In many European countries, child poverty increased faster (or fell more slowly) for children in migrant households than for other children. While undocumented children are for the most part not captured by these figures, the findings that living in a migrant household (defined as those with at least one adult born outside the European Union) increases risks of child poverty indicate that undocumented children are likely to be particularly vulnerable to poverty as they face additional barriers presented by having an irregular residence status (or have one parent with an irregular residence status).
    Read the report here.

  • LATIN AMERICA / Third CELAC meeting agrees to improve migrant rights

    The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) has agreed to work for better conditions for migrants in the region, especially young migrants. The agreement was signed at the close of the third CELAC meeting on migration, held in Azogues, Ecuador on 22-23 October 2014, to discuss the issues of risky migration of unaccompanied children and the right to family reunification of migrant communities, as well as regional protection mechanisms and responses. It includes a protocol for helping child migrants that are in danger in the region. CELAC comprises 33 Latin American and Caribbean countries. The Latin American and Caribbean nations also prepared an agenda to discuss with European Union representatives in a meeting in Belgium in November 2014. The members agreed to demand better conditions and more rights for migrants in European countries.
    Source: Telesur, 24 October 2014 ; Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Movilidad Humana de Ecuador, News 22 October 2014

  • UK / Young people demand access to justice

    The Make Our Rights Reality manifesto and campaign has been developed by hundreds of children and young people across England, including young clients of the Migrant and Refugee Children’s Legal Unit, based at Islington Law Centre. Young people contributed to the manifesto by sharing information about the problems they face and the barriers they experience in accessing advice and support across all areas of law, including migration. The campaign challenges the government’s policies which deny children and young people access to the advice and representation essential for them to access justice and enforce their rights. The manifesto calls on the government to ensure all young people have easy access to correct information, access to independent advice services in their local area, free access to solicitors who specialise in working with young people, more young person-friendly Citizens’ Advice Bureaus, services tailored to meet their individual needs, and their interests put above those of the system. Read the Manifesto summary and full version. You can also sign a petition calling on the government to review young people’s access to information, advice and legal support.
    Source: Free Movement, 10 December 2014

  • USA / Discrimination against undocumented and recently-arrived unaccompanied children spurs school registration review in New York State

    On 23 October 2014, New York State announced a state-wide review of school enrolment procedures and compliance with policies on access for unaccompanied children and undocumented children. The review is intended to determine whether districts have violated federal law in imposing enrolment requirements that bar children on the basis of their migration or residence status. The review was announced following reports that some migrant children on Long Island have been excluded from classes because their families cannot gather documents that schools require to prove that they are residents of the district or have guardianship — obstacles that contravene legal guidance on enrolment procedures the State Education Department issued in September 2014, as well as the children’s constitutional right to access education, regardless of migration or residence status.
    Source: Fox News Latino, 24 October 2014 ; New York Times, 22 October 2014 ; New York Times, 21 October 2014

  • USA / Expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme

    The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a programme that deferred undocumented immigrant youths from deportation in order to focus on education or employment opportunities, will be expanded, as announced by President Barack Obama on 20 November 2014.  The DACA programme is an executive order that currently suspends deportation and enables application for a work permit for some young people who came to the USA as children (see PICUM Bulletin 18 September 2012). Instead of the renewable two-year period, DACA recipients will have a renewable three-year period. Moreover, undocumented migrant parents may be deferred from deportation if their child is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. Previously, a group of undocumented mothers calling themselves ‘Dreamers’ Moms USA’ fasted in front of the White House in November 2014. They urged President Obama to extend Deferred Action to those 11 million undocumented migrants estimated to be residing in the USA. ‘Dreamers’ Moms USA’ is a group of women, mothers, daughters, and wives who have come together to fight for their families and advocate for just, humane, and inclusive immigration policy reform in the United States. More information available here.
    Source: Latin Post, 26 November 2014

  • USA / Academic articles examine unequal social inclusion of undocumented youth

    Two new articles examine unequal social inclusion of undocumented young people in the United States. ‘Dreaming beyond the fields: Undocumented youth, rural realities and a constellation of disadvantage’ by Roberto G. Gonzales and Ariel G. Ruiz draws on life history interviews with undocumented Mexican high school and university students  (Latino Studies Vol.12, 2, Summer 2014, pp. 194-217, full article). The other, ‘Becoming DACAmented: Assessing the Short-term Benefits of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals’ by Roberto G. Gonzales, Veronica Terriquez and Stephan P. Ruszczyck examines the impacts of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme for recipients’ social and economic inclusion. Looking at factors such as whether they have obtained a new job, increased earnings, obtained an internship, opened a first bank account, obtained a first credit card, obtained a drivers’ licence and obtained health care, the analysis finds that the first 16 months of DACA have increased the inclusion of recipients. Those with more resources, e.g. higher levels of education and greater family and community resources, have been able to benefit the most from this programme in the short term (American Behavioral Scientist, first published 1 October 2014, doi:10.1177/0002764214550288, abstract (full article for subscribers/ on payment)

  • USA / Increase in arrivals of irregular migrants and unaccompanied children remains well below numbers from a decade ago

    A new paper from Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy examines migration data from the last decade to analyse whether the increase in apprehensions of irregular migrants and unaccompanied children in 2013 and 2014 represent the ‘crisis’ it has been portrayed as. On the contrary, while the total apprehension figures for irregular migrants on the U.S.-Mexico border have risen between 2011 and 2013 by 26.5%, the 2013 figures are still 64% lower than in the year 2004. Apprehensions declined consistently between 2005 and 2011. The figures on apprehensions of children under 17 show a similar pattern. The authors also look at factors that influence irregular migration to the US as well as the number of apprehensions at the border. Read the article here.
    Source: Latin Times, 31 October 2014

Detention and Deportation

  • BELGIUM / Alternative to detention programme for families expanded to private homes while family units introduced in detention centre

    Some undocumented families now have the possibility to reside in their own homes in Belgium during the accompaniment procedure in preparation of their voluntary return. The conditions and sanctions involved have been laid down in a Royal Decree of 17 September 2014. The conditions include that they are a home owner or have an official rental contract or an agreement with the owner, and that the family meets regularly and cooperates with their case officer. Until this law, families in return procedures had to move from their homes to ‘open family return houses’, at times with negative impacts on children’s education and well-being. The Royal Decree is available in French and in Dutch. Families that are considered not to be cooperating risk being detained in open family return houses, closed family units in detention centres or even separated, with one adult family member detained in a closed detention centre. The agreement of the new federal government published on 10 October 2014 reiterates plans to establish closed family units within the detention centre 127bis. Read the agreement in French and Dutch here: federaal regeerakkoord/accord du gouvernement fédéral
    Source: Plate-forme Mineurs en exil – Platform Kinderen op de vlucht, Newsletter – Nieuwsbrief, Augustus/août – november/novembre 2014

  • BELGIUM / Prohibition of arrest of undocumented children on their way to school

    In Lier, a town in the Belgian province of Antwerp, an Armenian man and his two children were arrested in order to be deported as they sat on the bus on their way to the children’s school. The State Secretary for Asylum and Migration, Theo Francken, who is affiliated to the nationalist New Flemish Alliance, refused to respond directly to the event but announced on 3 December 2014 his intention to draw up a circular in order to prohibit the arrest of children who are on their way to school. A circular dating back to 2003 and prohibiting apprehension of undocumented children and families outside of school hours already exists. In this case, while the arrest did take place before the start of the school day, Theo Francken recognised that, as the family was on its way to school, this could qualify as entering in the scope of regular school hours and thus constitute a violation of the 2003 circular. He stated that children should not be intercepted on their way to school and that this new circular would make that policy clear.
    Sources: La Libre, 3 December 2014 ; RTBF, 3 December 2014

  • FRANCE / Students mobilised in defence of undocumented classmates at risk of being deported

    On 9 December 2014, the students of two high-schools in the Essone department in France, in the periphery of Paris, assembled in front of the Prefecture building in order to protest against the deportation of two of their undocumented classmates. Between 200 and 300 students were present for this gathering, organised by RESF (“Réseau Education Sans Frontières”), a network of teachers, parents of students and volunteers defending the rights of undocumented students and their families. A circular of French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, dating back to 2012, states that any child who arrived in France before the age of 16, who has attended school for two years before turning 18, and is living with one of their parents, can obtain a residence permit. The two students who are at risk of being deported both meet these criteria but have nonetheless been denied a permit. After the mobilisation, the two undocumented students obtained a meeting with the Prefect to re-evaluate their situation. RESF, who celebrated their 10th anniversary in November 2014, assured that they would keep monitoring the situation and denounced the current government’s policies with regards to the deportation of children and young adults who arrived in France as children. They regularly organise similar gatherings, and in October 2013 had mobilised public opinion around the case of a Roma girl who was apprehended during a school trip and deported to Kosovo with her family which made headlines and caused protests (see PICUM Bulletin 31 October 2013).
    Sources: Essonne Info, 10 December 2014 ; Paris Normandie, 9 November 2014

  • FRANCE / Undocumented migrant to be awarded a medal or be deported

    In September 2014, Rachid J. saved the life of a man who jumped from the Pont-Neuf, a well-known bridge of the city of Toulouse in the South of France. Recognising his bravery, the prefecture of the Haute-Garonne region had announced that he would receive a medal for his actions during a small ceremony held in Toulouse. However, during a police check at the squat where he stayed with a friend in November, Rachid J. was arrested by the police, who subsequently discovered he was undocumented and transferred him to a nearby detention centre, in order to deport him back to Algeria, his country of origin. A member from La Cimade, a French NGO present in some detention centres around France and providing legal advice to migrants, discovered his particular situation and the organisation is now advocating for him to obtain a residence permit on the basis of his heroic action. As of 25 November 2014, Rachid J. was still in detention, not knowing whether he would be deported or be allowed to remain in France and receive the “médale de bravoure” (medal of bravery) that he had been promised.
    Source: La Dépêche, 25 November 2014

  • FRANCE / Migrants’ rights associations denounce detention conditions of migrants in the country

    On 18 November 2014, the five migrants’ rights associations which provide assistance to migrants in France’s detention centres presented the conclusions of their annual joint report. The five NGOs – Assfam, Forum-Réfugiés-Cosi, France Terre d’Asile, Cimade and Ordre de Malte – criticised the current government for a lack of reform of detention policies. The report states that during the year 2013, more than 45,000 migrants were placed in detention and among them, more than 3,600 children, showing a net increase in the number of detained children (2,700 were detained in 2012) despite French president François Hollande’s promises to put an end to this practice. The NGOs also underlined numerous violations of the rights of the detained migrants. According to the report, 54% of them get deported without judicial control of the respect of their fundamental rights. Moreover, alternatives to detentions are only used in 2.9% of the cases and carry additional constraints. The five associations called for a complete revision of the draft law on immigration that was presented to the Council of Ministers in July 2014 and that is to be examined by the Parliament. The draft did not include any disposition on detention of children. The report on detention conditions is available here.
    Source: La Croix, 18 November 2014

  • ITALY / Observatory on justice of the peace’s jurisprudence finds insufficient protection afforded to migrants

    The Observatory on justice of the peace’s jurisprudence on migration issues (Osservatorio sulla Giurisprudenza del Giudice di pace in Materia di Immigrazione) has collected and systematically analysed the decisions adopted from 2013 and the first trimester of 2014 by justices of the peace in Rome, Bologna, Bari, Florence and Naples in relation to the validation or extension of detention of undocumented migrants for the purpose of identification and forced removal. The Observatory, through an in-depth analysis of 639 cases, showed that the judicial system currently in place does not guarantee adequate protection of the fundamental rights of undocumented migrants, especially in relation to their rights to access to a due process and fair trial. The research highlights that the decisions are generally lacking sufficient motivations justifying detention. For example, researchers found that, in the case of the justice of the peace in Rome, of a total of 67 decisions analysed, 35 were motivated only through standard formulas (i.e. “Detention is approved” (in Italian: “Nulla osta al trattenimento”) and that 10 decisions were completely lacking a motivation. The research also highlights that alternatives to detention are generally not provided, with the exception of the justice of the peace in Florence and in Bologna, where alternatives to detention were applied in four cases between January and March 2014.
    Source: Osservatorio sulla Giurisprudenza del Giudice di pace in Materia di Immigrazione.

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