PICUM Bulletin — 20 August 2012


  • GREECE / Quadrupling the number of guards at the border

    The Greek government has quadrupled the number of guards at the border with Turkey fearing an influx of Syrian refugees fleeing their country’s civil war. Turkey is already hosting thousands of Syrians, but there has been no sign yet of a notable increase in the number of Syrians attempting to cross the Greek border. “With the approval of the Prime Minister, 1,800 border guards are being transferred … so that at long last we can attempt to seal the Evros area. Our aim is to put an end to Greece’s porous frontier”, said the Greek Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias. He also announced that the 10-kilometre fence on the Greek-Turkish border will be completed in October 2012 (See PICUM Bulletin 29 February 2012).
    Source: Huffington Post, 30 July 2012

  • EUROPEAN COMMISSION / Public consultation on Frontex and fundamental rights

    The European Ombudsman, Nikiforos Diamandouros, has announced the opening of a public consultation inviting individuals, NGOs and other organisations actively working in the field of fundamental rights protection to submit their comments to his inquiry concerning the EU Border Agency, Frontex. All documents related to the inquiry, including Frontex’s opinion, are available here. Comments should be sent to the Ombudsman by 30 September 2012 by post: European Ombudsman, 1 avenue du Président Robert Schuman, CS 30403, F – 67001 Strasbourg Cedex, France; by fax: +33 (0)3 88 17 90 62; or by e-mail.
    Source: European Ombudsman, 19 July 2012

  • FRONTEX / PICUM is amongst 8 NGOs selected to serve on Frontex’s Consultative Forum on Fundamental Rights

    Frontex, the EU border management agency, had made a public call for participation to civil society organisations in order to establish a Consultative Forum on Fundamental Rights (CF) according to Article 26a(2) of the amended Frontex Regulation. The aim of the provision was to bring together a wide variety of stakeholders including members of civil society in order to establish a knowledge and expertise resource body to support and provide information to the Agency relevant to the aim of developing and promoting the full respect of fundamental rights in all the Agency’s activities. PICUM was selected along with seven other NGOs to participate in a collaborative forum to exchange views and hold discussions with the forum members, the Frontex Executive Director and Management Board representatives.  PICUM will attend the first preliminary meeting on 5 September 2012 at the Frontex Headquarters in Warsaw, Poland.
    Source: Frontex

  • LIBYA / 54 irregular migrants die escaping from Libya

    54 undocumented migrants died in an attempt to flee Libya and reach Italian territory. The only survivor, an Eritrean citizen, reported that all 55 departed at the end of June 2012 from Libya in a rubber dinghy which proved unsuitable and people slowly died of dehydration over the course of fifteen days. The Tunisian Coast Guard was able to rescue the man after he was spotted by some fishermen who called for help. He has been hospitalised for sun exposure and dehydration. Vice-UN High Commissioner for refugees T. Alexander Aleinikoff called on captains of vessels in Mediterranean waters to rescue all those in need of help at sea. So far, UNHCR estimates that about 1,300 people reached Italy from Libya in 2012, while about 170 people died in the attempt to reach Europe from Libya this year.

  • JOINT LETTER / NGOs send letter to LIBE Committee of the European Parliament on EUROSUR

    The Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM), the Jesuit Refugee Service – Europe (JRS), the European Network Against Racism (ENAR), the European Association for the Defence of Human Rights (AEDH) and the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) have sent a joint letter to the Civil Liberties committee of the European Parliament to express their concerns over a new legislative proposal for a European border surveillance system (EUROSUR). The group of NGOs believes that the proposal made by the European Commission that would lead to an integrated management system for external borders in cooperation with Frontex does not provide sufficient protections for migrants and asylum seekers. Therefore, they are calling on the European Parliament to establish a legal basis within the EUROSUR proposal to guarantee fundamental rights for all migrants and asylum seekers. The full letter is available here.


  • UN SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR / Crépeau due to visit Italy and Greece

    The UN Special Rapporteur on Migrants, François Crépeau, is set to visit Italy from 1 – 8 October 2012 and then Greece from 26 November to 3 December 2012 as part of a year-long study on the management of the external borders of the European Union in relation to the human rights of migrants. From 3 – 8 June 2012, Mr Crépeau visited Tunisia as part of the same study (See PICUM Bulletin 11 July 2012). The results of this study will be presented in the form of a thematic report to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2013.
    Source: Reliefweb, 31 May 2012; UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights


  • COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS / Opinion on the Global Approach to Migration and Mobility

    The Committee of the Regions of the European Union unanimously adopted on 19 July 2012 the opinion drafted by Nichi Vendola, Governor of the Puglia Region, Italy, on the Global Approach to Migration and Mobility. Among other points, (e.g. §3 on the right to leave the country of origin and §55 on the criticism of the Dublin convention), the Committee “stresses the need to respect human rights, particularly the principle of non-refoulement, at every stage in border control, and the related obligation for the EU institutions – in particular the European Parliament – to closely monitor Frontex’s activities”. It also “urges the institutions, together with the Member States, to make the sea search and rescue system more effective, in particular by improving coordination and setting common criteria for identifying the most appropriate safe location for rescued migrants to disembark”.

  • EUROPEAN COMMISSION / Euromed Migration III

    The EU-funded Euromed Migration III project (EUR 5 million budget) held its regional opening conference in Brussels on 30 May 2012.  The project seeks to foster cooperation on migration issues between Southern Mediterranean country partners and EU member states, as well as between Southern Mediterranean countries themselves, and to help partner countries find solutions to the various forms of migration. Another long term objective is to create a network of professionals for better cooperation and exchange of good practices and experience. The project will support the linkage between migration and development, and help partner countries fight people trafficking and strengthen border management capacities. A brief summary of the outcome of this conference is available here.
    Source: ICMPD

  • EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT / MEPS support basic rights for all victims of crime

    Some 75 million people are victims of crime every year in the EU, including undocumented migrants. On Tuesday 10 July 2012, the members of the Civil Liberties Committee of the European Parliament backed a proposal for a Directive that establishes that any person, irrespective of their residence status, made victim of a crime, will receive an individual assessment of their specific needs, regardless of the crime committed or the location in the EU. According to the text, be it mugging, robbery, assault, rape, harassment, hate crime, terrorist attack or human trafficking, every victim will be allowed the same rights through criminal proceedings. Furthermore, the mandate requires that all states then provide access to the services deemed necessary by the individual assessment of necessary care for the victims of crime (ranging from psychological support to legal advice) even throughout the criminal proceedings.  It is made clear that the victims are to be made explicitly aware of their rights in suitable language, and they are to be actively included in the proceedings. The agreed text will be voted in plenary on 12 September 2012. Once the Council has given its approval, EU member states will have three years to transpose the directive into their national laws. Click here to view text agreed.
    Source: European Parliament News, 10 July 2012

  • EU / Justice and Home Affairs Council releases follow up plans to the presidency action plan on migratory pressures

    On 29 June 2012, the Justice and Home Affairs Ministers of the EU agreed on follow-up measures to the EU Action Plan on Migratory Pressures – A Strategic Response, which was adopted on 26 April 2012 under the auspices of the Danish presidency. The updated follow-up plans foresee future EU presidencies carrying out a biannual implementation report and an update of the list of actions. In addition to priorities related to border control, the six “strategic response” priority areas for addressing migratory pressures in the EU also include measures on visa overstayers, unfounded asylum applications and returns.
    Source: Council of the European Union, 29 June 2012

  • PACE / State violence against migrants must be investigated

    On 6 July 2012, the Chairs of the Migration and Equality Committees of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Giacomo Santini (Italy, EPP/CD) and Tina Acketoft (Sweden, ALDE), respectively, expressed grave concern at an increasing number of incidents of state violence against migrants and refugees. In a joint statement, they said: “The recent alleged beating to death of an asylum seeker in Malta while being detained by two soldiers last Saturday (30 June 2012) is an extremely serious incident. Attacks against migrants and refugees are of increasing concern, including in Greece, where there is a worrying number of allegations of police brutality, and failures by them to investigate racist attacks on migrants and refugees.” The Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination will address the issue of institutional racism as part of the preparation of an upcoming report on “Tackling racism in law-enforcement institutions”.
    Source: Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, 6 July 2012

  • PETITION / PICUM signs on to ESF20% Campaign coordinated by EAPN

    Since May 2012, the European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN) has been coordinating (with the support of some of its members) a social NGO campaign entitled “EU Money for Poverty Reduction NOW!” which will run until November 2012. The objective of the campaign is to ensure that at the next round for allocation of Structural Funds, 25% of the Cohesion Policy budget will be allocated to the European Social Fund (ESF) and that 20% of that fund be allocated to support actions and initiatives to combat, address and tackle poverty and social exclusion. PICUM has signed on to this initiative and would to encourage its network to do likewise as the success of this campaign and a decision to increase the budget for the ESF could benefit organisations working in the field of social affairs in the future. Click here to sign the petition and to find out what else you can do visit the PICUM. For further information, visit the campaign’s web page.


  • GERMANY / The ‘Asylum Seekers Benefits Law’ ruled unconstitutional

    Asylum seekers and people who have no residence permit in Germany but who for one reason or another cannot at the moment be deported, receive social aid in accordance with the Asylum Seekers Benefits Law (Aslybewerberleistungsgesetz – AsylbLG). The legal provisions and the amount of money (if any) given under these regulations have not been adjusted to increased costs of living during the past nineteen years. In a ruling on 18 July 2012, the Federal Constitutional Court found that the AsylbLG is unconstitutional in its current form. It held that people entitled to benefits under AsylbLG have to be able to cover the same subsistence-level costs as German citizens, not 30% less as had been the practice until the ruling. Refugee rights organisations like Pro Asyl welcomed the decision but continue to call for the repeal of AsylbLG altogether and for the inclusion of asylum seekers and people with exceptional leave to remain in Germany into the general social welfare regulations.
    Source: tageszeitung, 18 July 2012

  • ITALY / A best practice for migrant integration at risk of collapse due to money shortage

    In two villages in the Southern region of Calabria, Riace and Acquaformosa, the budget for activities meant to support and help undocumented migrants and asylum seekers and often used as a precious resource for emergency activities – especially during the arrival of boats – has somehow disappeared or is no longer available. EUR 5 million was allocated by the government and sent to the regional administration of Calabria, in charge of their management on 11 June 2011. The mayors of the two villages reported that nothing was made available for them during this past year. Domenico Lucano, the mayor of Riace has started a hunger strike. His town was the subject of a Wim Wenders film in 2012, “Il Volo”, that looked at the miracle of integration of migrants in this poor area of Italy. Unfortunately, in two years the situation has changed for the worst.
    Sources: Corriere della Sera, 18 July 2012

  • USA / Arizona sheriff requested to explain himself before federal judge over racist profiling and arrests

    For the last five years in Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio has been implementing a ‘crime suppression’ programme by targeting the Latino community so as to arrest undocumented migrants. His approach was denounced by the US Justice Department as being discriminatory as it targeted all Latinos including U.S. citizens and regular migrants. On 20 July 2012, a civil rights trial against the Sheriff was initiated. The Melendres v. Arpaio trial relates to a class-action suit by plaintiffs representing Latinos, U.S. citizens and undocumented migrants who have been stopped by Mr. Arpaio’s deputies since 2007. The seven-day trial ended on 2 August 2012 but the judge will give a decision later in the month following receipt of the final argument of Arpaio’s lawyer on 16 August 2012. In June 2012, the Supreme Court upheld the provision of the Arizona immigration law which requires officers to inquire about the immigration status of the people they stop, but did overturn the decision that would allow them to detain migrants purely for having violated federal immigration law. Additionally, as CNN’s Charles Garcia pointed out “last month’s Supreme Court decision in the landmark Arizona immigration case was groundbreaking for what it omitted: the words “illegal immigrants” and “illegal aliens”. The decision did not use these terms and instead employed a more humanist terminology. The decision uses terms such as “undocumented immigrant,” “unauthorized immigrant,” “the person’s immigration status” or “a person that is lawfully documented.”
    Source: CNN, 6 July 2012; New York Times, 15 July 2012; New York Times, 19 July 2012;  New York Times, 25 June 2012; New York Times, 1 August 2012; Phoenix New Times, 3 August 2012

  • PICUM / SEMINAR-POLICY BRIEF / Irregular migrants in Morocco: between legal entitlements and justice

    PICUM in collaboration with the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) and the Council of the Moroccan Community Abroad (CCME) organised a seminar entitled “Irregular migrants in Morocco: between legal entitlements and justice” on 4 July 2012 in Rabat, Morocco. A broad range of relevant actors involved in the support and protection of undocumented migrants’ fundamental rights at local, national and international levels gathered for this one-day event that tried to describe the current state of play, while also laying the foundation for future action on this issue in Morocco. Participants included institutional actors, NGOs, trade unions, academics, journalists, migrants associations and migrants themselves. An innovative element for this seminar was key contributions made by undocumented migrants who talked about their personal life experiences, the obstacles they encounter in their daily work, episodes of violence and abuses suffered, but also ideas and propositions for improving their situation and enforcing their rights. Driss Elyazami, President of the CCME, welcomed the idea of a regularisation campaign that needs to be further developed and called for a more stable and comprehensive approach to migration in the country that he defined as part of a South-South phenomenon, that is only partially affected by tightened controls on European borders. In support of the seminar IPPR had published a policy briefing entitled “Responses to irregular migration in Morocco: promising changes, persisting challenges”. In particular, this briefing discusses how the changing pattern of Sub-Saharan migration in Morocco has led to a gradual shift in governmental and civil responses from dealing with irregular migration on a ‘transit’ basis to considering it on a semi-permanent or even permanent basis. PICUM’s contribution explains how most NGOs struggle to produce sustainable solutions to existing gaps in migrants’ rights protection as a direct consequence of the ambiguity and volatility that have characterised so far the official Moroccan response.
    Sources: Libération, 5 July 2012; L’Economiste, 5 July 2012; Al Bayane, 5 July 2012


  • BELGIUM / Few applicants for medical regularisation granted a residence permit

    In 2011 a total of 9,675 undocumented migrants in Belgium applied for a residence permit for medical reasons, as they claimed that treatment for their condition in their country of origin would not be possible. Of those applications, only 5% were granted a permit. Before February 2011 only the Public Centres for Social Welfare could decide on such cases, but since 16 February 2012 a doctor of the Immigration Service can instead decide whether such a case should be taken into consideration. The result of the new law is an increase in rejections. From 16 February to 31 May 2012, seven doctors of the Immigration Service dealt with 1,706 applications and 83% of them, or 1,423, were immediately rejected.
    Source: Het Belang van Limburg, 5 June 2012

  • FRANCE / Parliament votes to remove participation fee for State Medical Care

    The National Assembly has voted to remove the EUR 30 participation fee for undocumented migrants to access State Medical Care (l’Aide médicale d’État – AME), that was imposed in 2011. Gilles Carrez, a conservative MP, criticised the change in the law saying that France has the most generous system in Europe that this draws migrants to France. Bruno Le Roux, from the Socialist Party, replied by saying that the right is trying to mislead people into thinking that migrants come to France to abuse the health care system or to get a “thermal therapy”.
    Source: Le Figaro, 20 July 2012; Le Monde, 20 July 2012; L’Express, 16 July 2012

  • MOROCCO / Doctors without Borders service migrant victims of violence

    Doctors without Borders (MSF) teams have been delivering aid to a growing number of wounded immigrants crossing the European border from Morocco to Melilla (the bordering Spanish territory). The more favourable weather conditions of the summer months commonly bring stronger migration patterns and MSF has received a high volume of migrants in need of assistance after falling victim to violence. 22% of the migrants reported experiencing violence at the Spanish border and having been physically assaulted by Spanish border security. There were over 34 cases of hospitalisation in Nador (the nearby Moroccan city) and between 25 June and 16 July 2012, MSF attended to 165 migrant victims of violence, 81 of whom had been forcibly relocated to Nador after mass arrests by the Moroccan police on 11 July 2012.
    Source: Medicos Sin Fronteras, 26 July 2012

  • SPAIN / Undocumented migrants excluded from the free health care system by decree will be allowed to access health care but at a cost, protests of NGOs and medical associations

    With the new health reform approved by Law-Decree 16/2012 (See PICUM Bulletin 29 May 2012, 11 July 2012), undocumented migrants , unless under 18, pregnant, or in case of emergency, will be refused access to health care from 1 September 2012. 850 doctors took the streets to protest against the new law denouncing it as being “unethical” and “inhumane” and contradictory to “the ethical principles of medicine and the code of professional ethics”. Ms Soledad Becerril, the new Spanish Ombudsman who took office in June 2012, has made this issue a priority for her new mandate and has appealed for the government not to apply the Decree to the most disadvantaged people. The Ministry of Health has now planned to re-insert them into the public health care system on condition that they adhere to a system of financial contribution similar to private insurance amounting to a monthly fee of EUR 59.20 for those under 65 years of age and up to EUR 155.40 for those over that age. Spanish NGOs, including PICUM members Pueblos Unidos and Red Acoge, have expressed concern over the recent developments as they know based on their experience working with irregular migrants that few of them will be able to pay such fees pushing them further to the margins of society and into precarious and inhumane living conditions. For Josep Basora, President of one of the two medical associations, the proposal has no political or ethical justification but is simply a way of stimulating the economy in a time of crisis.
    Source: El Pais, 30 July 2012; The Telegraph, 6 August 2012; El Pais, 6 August 2012; El Pais, 7 August 2012


  • IRELAND / EVENT / Migration, Domestic Workers and Human Rights

    The Centre for Criminal Justice and Human Rights and the Irish Human Rights Commission will be holding an international conference on 19 October 2012 on European Anti-Trafficking day. By discussing recent developments in the protection of migrant workers, the conference will examine the existing and on-going tensions between immigration laws and policies, limited access to employment rights protections and evolving human rights standards on the rights of migrant domestic workers. Siobhán O’Donoghue, Director of MRCI, a PICUM member will be speaking at the event.

  • ITALY / Transposition of the Employers’ Sanctions Directive and new regularisation

    On 6 July 2012, the Italian Council of Ministers passed a legislative decree that transposes the European Directive 2009/52/EC “providing for minimum standards on sanctions and measures against employers of illegally staying third-country nationals”. The Italian law already sanctions employers who irregularly employ workers without a regular residence permit, with fines from 5,000 Euro for each worker and detention from three to twelve months. The transposition of the Directive will increase the fines, especially if the undocumented workers are more than three in number, are younger than sixteen and work in dangerous conditions. The decree also foresees the possibility for those undocumented workers who have been victims of “serious exploitation” to apply for a renewable residence permit of six months. Another, less expected, provision of the decree is the possibility for employers to “repent” and regularise their employees between 15 September and 15 October 2012. Caritas estimates that such a law could regularise between 200,000 and 400,000 undocumented migrant workers.  The Italian Association for Juridical Studies on Immigration (ASGI) has expressed its concerns in a detailed analysis of the decree. Some of the most critical issues of the legislative text are 1) the fact that only employers and not employees can ask for a regularisation, a measure that is discriminatory and dangerous for the employee that is once again left in a position of subordination and blackmail, 2) the fact that the employee has to demonstrate through official documentation that s/he has been residing in Italy since 31 December 2011, a condition that might prevent many undocumented workers from applying, because being irregular, they lack official documents to prove their length of residence, and 3) the proposed regularisation does not cover temporary or part-time jobs (excluding domestic workers), which is also discriminatory. You can read the full analysis here.
    Source: La Repubblica, 7 July 2012 and 26 July 2012

  • MOROCCO / First Congress of undocumented migrant workers union in Morocco

    The first Congress launching a trade union for migrant workers in Morocco, called “Collectif Syndical des Travailleurs et Travailleuses Immigrés au Maroc  (CSTIM)”, was held on 1 July 2012, in Rabat, under the umbrella of the Organisation Démocratique du Travail (ODT). Migrant workers, most of whom were undocumented and originally from Sub-Saharan countries, had marched along the streets of the Moroccan capital during the 1 May celebration (See PICUM Bulletin, 29 May 2012), calling for decent and fair working conditions and asking for the regularisation of their status. The first task of the union will be to conduct a study in order to count migrants working in Morocco, regularly or not, describe their working and living conditions and also to gather information regarding their families (access to health care, education, housing).
    Source: l’Economiste, 3 July 2012; Organisation Démocratique du Travail, 5 August 2012


  • USA / Undocumented women experiencing domestic violence coerced by attorney

    An attorney working for a domestic violence advocacy organisation in Colorado was found guilty of theft and forgery for stealing thousands of dollars from undocumented women clients through threats and coercion. As an immigration advocate for a local non-profit, she exploited the women as part of a promise to help them get a U Visa which allows victims of crimes, like domestic violence, to remain in the country legally for up to three years in order to testify against those who victimised them. Several of the undocumented women, who had paid a total of $7,000 to the attorney for services which should have been provided free of charge, are giving testimonies to the court.
    Source: Longmont Times, 31 July 2012

  • CAMPAIGN / ‘16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence ’

    The Sixteen Days of Activism Against Gender Violence is an international campaign originating from the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute in 1991. During the sixteen days from International Day Against Violence Against Women on 25 November to International Human Rights Day on 10 December, organisations and individuals from around the world carry out awareness raising activities at local, national, regional and international levels to emphasise that violence against women is a violation of human rights. More than 4,100 organisations in 172 countries have participated in the Sixteen Days Campaign since it began. In 2012, the campaign will focus on the intersections of gender-based violence and militarism, specifically; sexual and gender-based violence committed by state agents, particularly the police or military, proliferation of small arms and their role in domestic violence, and sexual violence during and after conflict.


  • EU / Consultation seeking civil society’s view of EU rules on entry and residence of non-EU students, researchers, volunteers and trainees

    In July 2012 the European Commission published a consultation paper seeking the view of civil society on the rules that the European Union should adopt for the entry and residence of non-EU students, pupils, trainees and volunteers. The commission wants to know if the current rules can be improved.
    Source: Migrants Rights Network, 9 July 2012

  • FRANCE / EVENT / International Conference on unprotected unaccompanied children in Europe

    The research centre MIGRINTER together with CNRS- University of Poitiers, and within the framework of the European PUCAFREU project (Promoting unprotected unaccompanied children’s access to their fundamental rights in the European Union) co-funded by the European Commission, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship programme, are organising a three-day international conference on unaccompanied children in Poitiers on 23-24 October 2012. Entitled “Unprotected unaccompanied children in Europe: Which reasons lead to their lack of protection?” it will propose an open platform of discussion between academics, institutional actors, practitioners and advocates coming from different countries on various aspects regarding unprotected unaccompanied children. This international and multidisciplinary analysis (legal, sociological, psychological, and comparative, etc.) aims at developing further knowledge on this insufficiently studied group and to open new perspectives of reflection and action to promote unprotected unaccompanied children’s access to their fundamental rights.

  • ITALY / Protection measures for unaccompanied children in transit

    The UNHCR presented on 24 July 2012 the results of “Protecting Children On The Move” a transnational project funded by the European Fund for Refugees and conducted by Greece, Italy and France as partner countries. PRAKSIS, Save the Children Italia and France Terre d’Asile were the partner organisations coordinated by UNHCR. The project gives advice on how to improve the protection of foreign unaccompanied children who transit through Patras, Rome and Calais while being directed to countries of Northern Europe. They often do not make use of the protection mechanisms foreseen by national laws and thus remain exposed to violence and abuse. Between August 2011 and July 2012 the partner organisations met 1,217 unaccompanied migrants, 456 transited through Patras, 572 through Rome and 189 through Calais. They were mainly of Afghan origin, between 15 and 18 years old.

  • UK / 120,000 undocumented children in the UK face destitution

    On 4 July the Children’s Society, an NGO, reported the plight of undocumented children to a select committee hearing at the House of Lords. Enver Solomon, policy director with the NGO said “child protection issues are not being prioritised over immigration control”, and staff working both with these undocumented children and with asylum seeking children, saw many situations where “immigration issues trump child protection issues”. As a result, the Children’s Society reports that there are high levels of destitution among this population. They have no recourse to public funds.  The meeting was triggered by the Children’s Society report (available online here) which was released in early 2012.
    Source: The Guardian, 5 July 2012

  • UK / Language Test for the new UK Family Migration Rules will discriminate against the poorest and most vulnerable migrants

    From October 2013 migrants applying for settlement to join family members will need to pass a citizenship test and provide evidence of passing an English language test to intermediate level. The level of English language and literacy has been raised, which will have profound implications for migrants who don’t speak English as their first language or for people with low literacy. Migrants Rights Network, Action for Esol and JCWI have joined together to campaign against these changes.
    Source: Migrants Rights Network, 9 July 2012

  • UK / MIPEX evidence shows that Family Reunification rules in the UK are among the toughest in the world

    A study carried out by MIPEX – Migration Integration Policy Index – an independent body of experts monitoring policy on the integration of migrants in 33 countries in Europe, North America, Australia and Japan – shows that the new income requirement for sponsors in the UK will put the UK towards the top of the list for operating control regimes hostile to family reunification. In adopting an earnings requirement of £18,600 to sponsor a spouse or partner, the UK has set an income threshold higher than in all other major Western countries.
    Source: Migrants Rights Network, 9 July 2012

  • UK / EVENT / Migrants, migrant supporters, journalists, designers and web developers together to help undocumented children

    On 13 and 14 July 2012, PICUM participated in the event “Undoc Camp” in London, UK. The event, sponsored by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and organised by On Road Media, brought together undocumented migrants, refugees, activists, journalists, lawyers, designers and web developers to develop concrete ideas using the web and technology to get information and advice to children and young people with irregular immigration status in the UK. A recent report found that there are an estimated 120,000 children living in the UK without legal immigration status. More than half of these children were born in the UK and another large proportion of them have lived in the UK most of their lives. Watch this video of the report’s author, Dr Nando Sigona, explaining some of the problems they face. Participants split into six groups of eight to address six main issues, from how to help young people orient themselves when they’re new to the UK to how to support them to prepare, emotionally and practically, to return to their country of origin. At the end of the workshop, each group pitched their idea to a panel of judges, who gave the first prize (5,000 pounds) to the group “Legal Advice”. The group, which dealt with access to legal advice and support, something crucial to the future of undocumented young migrants (read also IRR blog on this issue), will be able to use the money to develop its idea under the supervision of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. The group “Arrivals”, in which PICUM’s Communications Officer, Nicola Flamigni, participated, won the second prize.

  • UN / EVENT / Day of General Discussion on the Rights of all Children in the context of International Migration

    The Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, will hold a Day of General Discussion (DGD) on the Rights of all Children in the context of International Migration, on 28 September 2012, in Geneva, Switzerland. Civil society working on this theme are encouraged to register and submit a statement to call attention to any particular issue or topic related to migrant children that needs to be addressed and heard by the CRC during the DGD and highlighted in the outcomes of the day. The deadline for registration and submission of statements is 10 December 2010. Please see additional information and guidelines for civil society participants by clicking here. The official programme (to be published) and registration information is available here. PICUM is hoping to organise a civil society side event in connection to the DGD. The agenda for this will be publicised separately at a later date.

  • USA / Executive action by Obama administration to allow undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children to work without fear of deportation

    On 15 June 2012, President Obama announced (See PICUM Bulletin 11 July 2012) an executive orderthat would allow those undocumented migrants who came to the USA as children (“the dreamers”, as they are called in the frame of the Dream Act Campaign), to remain in the USA and to work, without fear of deportation. The policy does not confer any permanent legal status, but allows undocumented migrants to work legally and to obtain a driver’s licence. The Migration Policy Institute has estimated that 1.76 million undocumented migrants under the age of 31 who came to the United States as children could benefit from this executive order.The measure is temporary as the President did not consult with Congress knowing that the Republicans were opposed. “They are Americans in their heart, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper,” President Obama said in announcing the policy change. Anticipating the Republican response, he also added “Now let’s be clear: this is not an amnesty. This is not a path to citizenship. It is not a permanent fix.” The Dream Act stalled in the US Senate in December 2012.
    Source: New York Times, 16 June 2012; Migration Policy Institute, 7 August 2012

  • USA / National Dream University for undocumented students to start in 2013

    In 2011, a group of college professors in Georgia State reacted to Georgia lawmakers wanting to bar undocumented immigrants from attending college, by banding together to offer those students an education. Now, a similar effort in California is going national. The National Dream University is a collaboration between the University of California, Los Angeles Center for Labor Research and Education and the National Labor College and aims to offer online courses for college credit to young immigrant and labor rights activists who want to attend college. The project was also inspired by President Obama’s decision to grant temporary work permits to many young undocumented immigrants.
    Source: FOX News Latino, 31 July 2012

  • USA / YouTube channel “Dreamersadrift” collects videos made by undocumented youth

    Some young undocumented migrants, who have been active in the campaigns and actions around the Dream Act have created a YouTube channel called  “Dreamersadrift” where other “dreamers” can upload their videos related to the cause. Involved in ‘Undocumented Youth Leading Change’ in NYC, Angy posted a video on dating while undocumented. “Undocumented and Awkward” is a series of short videos showcasing the day-to-day problems that undocumented youth experience. More on dreamersadrift here.


  • EU-IRAQ / Iraq refuses deported migrants

    EU-IRAQ /The Iraqi parliament has voted to refuse to welcome back forced deportees coming from Europe. The vote also included other measures including: reviewing a memorandum of understanding between Sweden and Iraq regarding the repatriation of Iraqi refugees, fining companies that return forcibly deported refugees, and holding a conference on the issue of Iraqi refugees abroad. The ban was strongly encouraged by the International Federation of Iraqi Refugees (IFIR), based in London, which believes it is too dangerous to send Iraqi refugees back where they can face mistreatment and become once again victims of war and oppression. A UK Foreign Office spokesman said that UK courts still permitted the UK to return people to Iraq. James Read, the advocacy co-ordinator of Detention Action, welcomed the ban arguing that the UK will no longer be able to justify the detention of Iraqis if they cannot be deported.
    Source: The Guardian, 2 July 2012 and 2 July 2012

  • GREECE / Greek NGO denounces detention conditions in Athens airport

    Greek NGO “Medical Intervention” sent a letter of complaint on 4 July 2012 to the administration of the police department of Eleftherios Venizelos Airport of Athens. In this letter, the doctors of the NGO, who are present daily at the detention centre of the airport, highlighted the severe problems that detainees encounter. These included: late registration of asylum applications, little or no information and medical aid given, no transfer of detainees to hospital for further laboratory and radiological examinations, access to the toilet only three times per day, being forced to eat their food with their hands. The NGO also condemned the existence of only two toilets and two showers (which are not cleaned adequately) for an average of at least 60 people. Also, the non-renewal of mattresses and bed sheets resulted in the transmission of skin and other diseases which pose risks to public health.
    Source: Infomobile, 4 July 2012

  • GREECE / Creation of 25 detention camps in Greece

    During a press conference in Brussels on 11 July 2012 after his meetings with Greek Members of the European Parliament and the EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Cecilia Malmström, Greek Minister of Public Order, Nikos Dendias, announced the creation of 25 reception centres for undocumented migrants in the next twelve months, in order to address the problem of irregular migration in Greece. According to the Greek Minister, the completion of the detention centre in Amygdaleza area by the beginning of autumn is a priority for the Greek Government and it will have the capacity to host more than 1,000 irregular migrants.
    Source: Rizospastis, 11 July 2012; Avgi, 12 July 2012

  • GREECE / Mass arrests, 7,000 identifications and 2,000 arrests

    In a massive operation started on 4 August 2012 which lasted days, the Greek police rounded up thousands of undocumented migrants in the centre of Athens and detained some 7,000 of them. Most of them were released but 2,000 were arrested for being undocumented with the purpose of deporting them to their countries of origin. The operation was named after Xenios Zeus, the king of the ancient Greek gods in his role as protector of guests and mobilised 4,500 members of the police force. The Minister of Public Order, Nikos Dendias said “We will not allow our towns, or our country, to be occupied and become a migrant ghetto”. Greek authorities are also discussing plans to build eight detention centres capable of holding up to 10,000 immigrants in Athens.
    Source: The Guardian, 7 August 2012

  • ITALY / Medici per i diritti umani publishes new report “Behind higher fences”

    On 18 June 2012, Medici per i diritti umani (Doctors for human rights) issued a new report on the identification and deportation centre of Ponte Galeria in Rome, the largest Italian centre for administrative detention. The conclusions of this research on Ponte Galeria CIE confirm what the organisation pointed out in previous reports: the facility is ‘genetically’ unable to safeguard the dignity and fundamental rights of the person, besides being costly and ineffective for its stated purposes. In particular, detainees’ right to health appears to be more poorly protected than in the past because of the fact that the managing body of the CIE in Rome is able to provide primary health care only. Furthermore, the medical personnel of ASL (Local Health Authority) have no access to the centre and the maximum detention length was extended to 18 months in August 2011. The organisation also stresses that most of the criticisms of the structure are applicable to the entire national system of detention centres for migrants. Read the full report here.

  • ITALY / Court ruling against expulsion of migrants who commit offence

    On 6 July 2012, the Italian Constitutional Court declared illegitimate a provision of the immigration law according to which the regularisation process of an immigrant should be stopped if he or she commits an offence for which optional arrest is foreseen and implying also that he or she should receive an expulsion order. Appeals were made against the provision, which was then found to be in conflict with article 3 on equal rights in the Italian Constitution, because it does not foresee the intervention of the public administration to check if the migrant represents a danger to public order or national security.
    Source: La Repubblica, 6 July 2012

  • ITALY / 70 undocumented Tunisian migrants escape Reception Centre

    Following escapes from Identification and Expulsion Centres (CIE) located in Sicily in May and June 2012, 70 Tunisian irregular migrants escaped from the CIE in Trapani-Milo on the night of 8 July 2012. Clashes between migrants and police officers did not prevent the escape. Currently about 146 undocumented migrants are kept at the Trapani-Milo CIE waiting to start or complete the process to obtain asylum. Long waiting times and poor detention conditions at the CIEs are among the main reasons behind the escapes.
    Source: La Repubblica, 9 July 2012

  • MALTA / Human Rights Watch releases a report on adult and child detention in Malta

    Human Rights Watch has released a report entitled “Boat Ride to Detention: Adult and Child Migrants in Malta”. The report details treatment of migrants who arrive in Malta after treacherous journeys across the Mediterranean. Specific focus is placed on the automatic, indiscriminate and blanket detention of unaccompanied migrant children. The report shows that children spend months on end in detention in Malta. Human Rights Watch insists that children should be treated as children first.
    Source: Human Rights Watch, 18 July 2012

  • MOROCCO / Rise in unlawful mass arrests and expulsions of undocumented migrants

    After the accidental death of a Moroccan soldier on 10 July 2012 near the Spanish border of Melilla, in Farkhan, Morocco, during a joint Spanish-Moroccan operation to stop the attempt of a group of undocumented migrants to cross the border, police raids, deportations and refoulement have become more frequent especially in the Northern cities of Nador and Oujda. The press reported that among people in police custody there are also pregnant women and children, and often police commit abuses simply to frighten the immigrant population, like threatening Moroccans who help irregular migrants with sanctions and other kind of repercussions. In three weeks, nearly 600 undocumented migrants were brought by police to the frontier near Oujda. Mass arrests and refoulement are forbidden by law, stated Hicham Rachidi, Secretary General of the GADEM (Groupe antiraciste d’accompagnement et de défense des étrangers et des migrants), as cases should be considered individually and deportation should be done towards the migrant’s country of origin, ideally by plane and not by driving them to the border.
    Source: Afrik.com, 7 August 2012; El Faro Digital, 11 July 2012; Blog Yene Fabien Didier, 12 July 2012; Medicos Sin Fronteras, 26 July 2012

  • SPAIN / Detention centre closes in Spain

    The closure of the Centro de Internamiento de Extranjeros (CIE – immigrant detention centre) of Málaga was announced on 20 June 2012. The Ministry of Interior decided to close the detention centre because of the poor conditions of the site whose prison-like features had already been denounced by activists. In its 20 years of activity (since 1990) the centre became known “as the most inhumane of the country’s immigrant detention centres”. Mamen Castellano, president of the NGO Andalucía Acoge, a PICUM member, welcomed the news whilst others like José Cosín, a Málaga lawyer, noted that the closure was not a step forward as detainees had be redistributed to other centres. The Spanish Commission for Refugee Aid (CEAR) regrets that CIEs will still be used by the Spanish government. The CEAR is involved with other human rights organisations in a campaign to close down the CIEs – “CIE’s No” calling for the permanent closure of all CIEs in Spain.
    Source: IPS, 20 June 2012

  • UK / UK Home Office release official figures of children entering detention

    The UK Home Office has released figures of the number of children entering detention who are held solely under Immigration Act powers, that is, they are held purely in immigration detention. In May 2012 there were twenty four children in total held in the UK under Immigration Act powers. In June 2012 there were twenty five children in total held in the UK under Immigration Act powers alone.  Six of these children were held in short-term detention and eighteen in pre-departure accommodation. These official statistics are published nearly two years after Nick Clegg, UK Deputy Prime Minister, promised to end detention for all children. In December 2010 Clegg promised to announce a timetable for ending child detentions.  The detention of children held purely under Immigration Act powers continues in the UK.
    Source: The Guardian, 1 December 2010

  • USA / Launch of research project on the detention of pregnant migrant women

    Seeking basic rights for detainees, Medical Justice has launched a research project aimed at assessing the extent to which the UK Border Agency is meeting its duties to pregnant women in detention. The organisation aims to provide an evidence-based platform to launch and support future campaigns on this issue. On 17 July 2012, Medical Justice held a public meeting entitled “Pregnant Women being detained in violation of UKBA policy – Who is responsible and what can be done?” to launch this research initiative. They have issued a call for all interested organisations to get involved by contacting: Natasha Tsangarides at n.tsangarides@medicaljustice.org.uk.

  • USA / REPORT / Unnecessary restrictions placed on immigrants as alternatives to detention

    “Freed but not Free: A Report Examining the Current Use of Alternatives to Immigration Detention” is a report by the Rutgers School of Law–Newark Immigrant Rights Clinic and the American Friends Service Committee Immigrant Rights Program focused on shedding light on the flaws, inconsistencies, and human impact of current Alternative to Detention (ATD) programs in New Jersey and nationally. The report examines the various mechanisms employed by Immigration & Customs Enforcement to supervise immigrants who are not in detention. For the thousands of participants in ATD programs—many of whom have been deemed neither a flight risk nor a danger to the community—the programs “can be both liberating and debilitating,” the report finds.


  • GREECE / Report of Human Rights Watch on xenophobic violence in Greece

    Human Rights Watch (HRW) published on 10 July 2012 a report entitled “Hate on the streets-Xenophobic violence in Greece”. This report is based on interviews that HRW conducted with 59 people who experienced or escaped a xenophobic incident, including 51 serious attacks between August 2009 and May 2012. According to the report, migrants and asylum seekers in Athens are often faced with a hostile environment, where they may be subject to detention in inhumane and degrading conditions. Even though violence against migrants began before this incident, the report focuses on the upsurge of violence following the murder of a Greek man, Manolis Kantaris on 10 May 2011 by a migrant in central Athens. The report mentioned that undocumented migration and crime in Athens had been high on the agenda in the lead-up to the May and June 2012 national elections and highlighted the entry of nationalist and far-wing party, Golden Dawn, into the Greek Parliament. It was also stressed that the real extent of xenophobic violence in Greece is unknown due to unreliable statistics provided by the Government and the failures of the criminal justice system. HRW underlined that Greece has clear obligations under international human rights law to take effective measures to prevent racist and xenophobic violence.
    Source: Human Rights Watch, 10 July 2012; TVXS, 10 July 2012

  • REPORT / “Violence against migrants, migrant workers and their families”

    PROGRESS Lawyers Network published a report on the 21st session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice which took place 23-27 April 2012 in Vienna and focused on violence against migrants, migrants workers and their families.
    Source: PROGRESS Lawyers Network, 2012 – edition 20; PROGRESS Lawyers Network , 15 June 2012


  • GREECE / VIDEO / ECRE’s video “How much further?” now available on line

    The documentary How Much Further, produced by the European Council for Refugees and Exiles is now available online. The movie gives voice to asylum seekers and refugees in Greece, a country whose population is facing the full brunt of the economic crisis and where the asylum and reception systems are completely dysfunctional, but also illustrates the impact EU policies can have on asylum seekers and migrants on the ground.
    Source: ECRE

  • LAUNCH / Migration and Policy Centre

    The Migration Policy Centre (MPC) was officially launched on 25 and 26 June 2012, in the presence of EU Commissioner of Home Affairs, Cecilia Malmström. The MPC of the European University Institute in Florence will conduct research projects on global migration to support, develop and monitor migration policies in Europe. One key project of the MPC is to build regional migration observatories to collect data and conduct research on migration. Five observatories have been established: CARIM-South, CARIM-East, CARIM- India, Know Reset and ACP Observatory on Migration. Click here to find out more about the MPC and here to download the brochure.
    Source: Migration Policy Centre, August 2012

  • CALL / PICUM Volunteers

    In order to maintain the production of its bi-monthly news bulletin, our Quarterly newsletter and the PICUM website in seven languages ((EN, FR, NL, DE, ES, IT, PT), PICUM is looking for volunteer translators and proof-readers. At the moment, we are particularly looking for Dutch translators. We welcome you to sign up to become a volunteer on www.picum.org or to email at info@picum.org

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