PICUM Bulletin — 25 March 2013


  • EU / Migration out of Africa

    The international news channel Euronews reported on 13 March on migration out of Africa as part of its program ‘On the Frontline.’ The report highlights how the Spanish border has become a gateway to Europe for thousands of irregular African migrants who suffer from human rights violations along the way, especially in Morocco. Spanish and Moroccan authorities have reinforced border security but the severity of the situation requires more cooperation and a clear division of responsibilities. In the report Abdelmalik El Barkani Abdelkader, the Spanish government’s top representative in Melilla, calls for better cooperation of the EU with the countries of origin of migrants. The European Commission’s Director General for Home Affairs, Stefano Manservisi, equally demanded better cooperation as well as regular migration and mobility partnerships, and eventually readmission agreements. He also admitted that the EU is aware of human rights abuses and has condemned them. Morocco’s Ambassador to the European Union, Menouar Alem added that Morocco and the EU have not yet agreed on a readmission policy, adding however that Morocco cannot take the responsibility alone for all those migrants who use Morocco as a transit country to Europe. To watch the full report, click here.

  • FRONTEX / Consultative Forum Work Plan for 2013

    Members of the FRONTEX Consultative Forum (CF), including PICUM as one of nine civil society organisations, have approved their work plan for the year 2013. The work plan was presented at the FRONTEX Management Committee meeting on 21 February 2013. The CF was inaugurated in autumn 2012 as a result of changes in the FRONTEX regulation and with the aim to provide advice to FRONTEX on matters concerning the human rights of migrants and to work in close co-operation with the newly appointed Fundamental Rights Officer, Ms Inmaculada Arnaez. The CF will focus on four areas of FRONTEX’s work: training of border guards, land, sea and air border operations, joint return operations and risk analysis. You can read the CF work plan and a critical assessment of the FRONTEX work plan is available here.

  • FRONTEX / Frontex Programme of Work 2013

    The European Union Agency for the Management of the External Borders of the European Union (Frontex) released its work programme for 2013. The document outlines Frontex’ main priorities and activities for the year focusing on further development and implementation of the EUROSUR system, border management in Greece and new measures to be implemented during the year 2013. The Frontex Work Programme is available here.
    Source: European Parliament, 7 March 2013

  • SPAIN / Number of migrants trying to cross border increased in 2012

    Despite the economic crisis in Europe, the number of migrants who attempted to reach Spain in 2012 increased by 6,000 people compared to the previous year. This is the result of the report ‘Derechos Humanos en la Frontera Sur‘ (Human Rights at the South Border) published by the Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos de Andalucía – APDHA (Pro Human Rights Association of Andadalucía). Out of the total of the 14,944 migrants who were caught when trying to cross the border in 2012, nearly half of them (6,992) succeeded and entered Spain but were later detained. Compared to figures of people who succeeded to cross the border in 2011 (6,855), the number remained stable. However, as APDHA states in its report, this data does not include migrants who managed to cross the border without being detected (an estimated 20-30% of the total registered), nor the number of people who died in the sea, nor those captured on their way in Morocco and Algeria. According to the newspaper ‘El Diario,’ the report also claims that in the last three years, the number of dead or disappeared people has been on the increase. It also identified changes in some migratory routes, probably created as a way to avoid mafia groups, as well as new routes through some Spanish islets and rocks that are beyond controlled areas. Rafael Lara, APDHA’s coordinator, stated that investment in border control does not substantially reduce migration, as figures remain similar to those between 2000 and 2005.
    Source: Eldiario.es, 12 March 2013

  • SPAIN / Video suggests responsibility of the Guardia Civil in accident with migrants’ boat

    A video revealed by the Spanish radio station Cadena SER on 11 March 2013 has challenged official explanations for the sinking of a dinghy with 25 Moroccan migrants off the shores of Lanzarote in December 2012 (PICUM Bulletin 22 January 2013). According to Spanish authorities, the incident was due to a risky manoeuver by the captain of the migrants’ boat, the only person charged until now. However the video shows how the Guardia Civil patrol boat crushed the migrants’ boat. Only one corpse has been recovered and six remain missing in the sea. According to the journalist Nicolás Castellano who has been following the case, fourteen out of the seventeen survivors have been repatriated to Morocco. Despite the video evidence, the judge who investigated the case considered that the captain of the small boat is the only person to be held responsible for the incident. The Spanish and international organisations Andalucía Acoge, Asociación Pro-Derechos Humanos de Andalucía (APDHA), Boats4People, Asociación Elin and the Federación estatal de SOS Racismo have issued the following press statement in which they noted that the video contradicts previous official versions of the incident and that the interior ministry is responsible for the death and disappearance of the missing people in the waters off the Canary Islands’ coast.
    Source: Eldiario.es,11 March 2013; Eldiario.es, 13 March 2013

  • UNITED STATES / POLICY BRIEF / Surge in border-crossing deaths related to lack of temporary work permits

    According to a policy brief of the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP), the number of deaths at the US border rose by 27 percent in 2012. The brief ‘How many more deaths? The moral case for a temporary worker program is based on US Border Patrol data which shows that 477 immigrants died at the border in 2012, the second highest recorded total since 1998. The rise in deaths comes at a time when actually fewer people are attempting to enter irregularly. The policy briefs author takes this surge in deaths to make the case for more legal paths to work in the United States. The policy brief argues that previous work programs showed that temporary work permits can actually reduce undocumented migration. According to surveys from 2007 and 2008, more than 70 percent of the Mexican respondents listed only economic reasons for immigrating irregularly and 66 percent stated that they would make a visa application if a visa were available.
    Source: USA Today, 18 March 2013


  • UN / OHCHR calls for contributions to the Anti-Discrimination Database

    The anti-discrimination section of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) invites non-governmental organizations to transmit examples of positive anti-discrimination practices, including educational and preventative programmes implemented at national and regional levels, studies and specialized documents. The contributions will be included into a database containing information on practical means to address racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action recommend that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, in cooperation with States, international, regional and non-governmental organizations and national human rights institutions, create such a database. Materials of the database will serve member states, NGOs, UN bodies and other stakeholders in their activities to combat all forms of racism. To facilitate the uploading and classification of information into the database categories, OHCHR kindly requests these documents to be sent in Word or PDF digital versions. If you are interested in contributing to the database, please send information in electronic format by March 29, 2013 to Ms. Mara Arizaga at marizaga(at)ohchr.org

  • UNAOC / Study on characteristics of migration coverage

    A comparative analysis of media coverage of migration issues by the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations and the European Journalism Centre showed that migration is frequently framed and presented in a way that may counteract the spirit of journalism ethics. The study, which was carried out in Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the United States, also showed that the reporting agenda is strongly influenced by a national focus and has deficits where the big picture of migration is concerned. Research teams at journalism schools and media research institutions in the five countries analyzed some 650 articles and categorized them by their framing of migration. This also included the focus on different migrant groups. Overall, irregular migrants made up the second most mentioned group after documented migrants. However, in Canada, coverage almost only surrounds documented migrants and in Germany, it is mostly about naturalized migrants. Irregular migration was discussed more by French and U.S. media. Across all countries, citizenship and law were major themes of reporting in relation to migration. The findings of the study were presented and discussed at the 5th Global Forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations in Vienna on 28 February 2013. A summary report of the study is available here.


  • COUNCIL OF EUROPE / Children’s rights organisation wins European Social Charter complaint against Belgium

    The European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) of the Council of Europe has concluded in a judgment issued on 23 October 2012 and published on 21 March 2013 that there are significant and persistent deficiencies in the care of foreign children in Belgium which violate their right to special protection against physical and moral dangers, their right to the protection of health and the right to social, legal and economic protection in accordance with the European Social Charter (ESC). The conclusion of the ECSR is the result of a complaint which was lodged by the organization Defence for Children International (DCI) on 21 June 2011. DCI  filed the complaint because foreign children living accompanied or not, either as irregular residents or asylum seekers in Belgium, have been excluded from social assistance in breach of Articles 7 (Special protection against physical and moral dangers), 11 (right to health), 13 (right to social and medical assistance), 16 (right to appropriate social, legal and economic protection for the family), 17 (right of children and young persons to appropriate social, legal and economic protection) and 30 (right to protection against poverty and social exclusion) alone or read in conjunction with Article E (non-discrimination) of the European Social Charter. Following the conclusion, the children’s rights organisations Defence for Children Belgium, Service droit des jeunes and Plate-forme Mineurs en exil now demand the state of Belgium to implement the decision of the European Committee of Social Rights by adopting a protocol with structural solutions to guarantee the rights of foreign children in the country.  The ECSR’s judgment is available here.

  • COUNCIL OF EUROPE / Immigration – a source of wealth and duties for Europe

    The conference “Immigration: a source of wealth and duties for Europe” organised by the Council of Europe, the European Economic and Social Committee and the French Economic, Social and Environmental Council took place in Brussels on 15 March 2013. The conference discussed a more comprehensive and inclusive approach to migration policies at European level. Amongst the speakers, Nils Muižnieks, Commissioner for Human Rights, Luis Jimena Quesada, President of the European Committee of Social Rights and Staffan Nilsson, President of the European and Social Committee (EESC), discussed the importance of migrants’ contribution to European societies and economies. Strong calls were made for Europe to guarantee migrants’ fundamental rights, irrespective of their residence status, and the President of the EESC highlighted that “no human being is illegal”. The full programme of the conference is available here, and Luis Jimena Quesada’s speech is available in French here.

  • REPORT / The EU needs to invest in a Social Europe

    The European Commission together with the Cyprus Presidency of the European Union published the report of the second annual Convention of the European Platform Against Poverty and Social Exclusion, held from 5-7 December 2012 in Brussels. Migrants are mentioned among the groups who are disproportionately affected by poverty and social exclusion in the European Union. The Convention stated in this context that labour policies need to address a more diverse labour force and access to health services needs to be improved. The conclusion of the report is the urgent necessity for adequate, sustainable and effective social policies to address the growing risks of poverty and social exclusion.


  • FRANCE / New circular on irregular migration

    The French Interior Minister Manuel Valls released a circular on 12 March 2013 to set out new instructions for the management of irregular migration. The circular aims to put respect for the fundamental rights of migrants in accordance with France’s return policy. The circular also clarifies the new French Socialist government’s position on irregular migration and provides a framework to local authorities when they are dealing with irregular migrants. The text affirms the willingness of the French government to put an end to the ‘numbers policy’ implemented under Nicolas Sarkozy, former French President for which each French department was assigned to “deliver” a specific number of deportations of migrants. On the contrary, the circular specifies that deportation should be a last resort. In addition, it forbids any police arrest of undocumented migrants in police stations or in public administration, apart from exceptional situations (in the case of public disorder or if it is a person sought for prosecution). Nevertheless, the circular reaffirms the implementation of removals of persons whose application for asylum has been unsuccessful.
    Source: Libération, 13 March 2013

  • GREECE / EASO and the Greek government sign agreement to extend support for Greece

    The EASO – Greece Operating Plan Phase II was signed in Brussels on 7 March 2013. The Operating Plan Phase II builds on the progress made within the framework of Operating Plan Phase I, signed in April 2011 and extends EASO support for Greece until December 2014. This includes support with training of the staff of the new services, support to the backlog committees, support to improve reception procedures and the management of EU funds related to asylum and reception. The EASO Executive Director also decided upon the deployment of Asylum Support Teams (ASTs) and technical and operational assistance to Greece. EASO is managing ASTs on the ground in Greece and works closely together with the Greek government, FRONTEX, the European Commission’s Taskforce on Greece, UNHCR and other stakeholders.

  • REPORT / MSF report on the situation of irregular sub-Saharan migrants in Morocco

    On 13 March 2013 in Rabat, Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) launched its report on ‘Violence, Vulnerability and Migration: Trapped at the Gates of Europe’ focused on the situation of irregular sub-Saharan migrants in Morocco. Evidence collected through MSF’s operations in the field since its establishment in Morocco in 1997, demonstrates that the longer sub-Saharan migrants stay in Morocco, the more vulnerable they become. The report argues that the preexisting vulnerability, related to factors such as age and gender, as well as traumas experienced during the migration process, accumulates as they are trapped in Morocco and subjected to policies and practices that neglect, exclude and discriminate against them. Beyond its daily work assisting this population with basic health care needs, MSF has repeatedly denounced the situation of human rights violations perpetuated by Moroccan and Spanish security forces as well as criminal gangs. MSF calls on the Moroccan authorities to respect their international and national commitments to human rights, and ensure that sub-Saharan migrants are treated in a humane and dignified manner, regardless of their migration status. You can visit the website in English, French and Spanish.


  • GERMANY / Diaconia opens doctor’s office for undocumented migrants

    Diaconia, the social welfare organisation of the Protestant Church, has opened a new doctor’s office in the city of Hamburg in Germany to ensure access to health care for undocumented migrants. Before, the Diaconia doctor’s consultation was integrated into a homeless shelter. Two physicians and a gynaecologist treat undocumented migrants twice a week in the new office. According to the physicians, about two thirds of patients are women and many treatments concern pregnancy and giving birth. According to estimations, there are between 6,000 and 22,000 undocumented migrants living in Hamburg. The social security office of Hamburg also offers consultations to undocumented migrants in a refugee centre but funds are limited and many undocumented migrants fear that their names and personal information will be passed on to other state authorities.
    Source: Die Welt, 14 March 2013

  • GERMANY / Campaign for equal access to medical treatment and social rights

    The Office for Medical Aid for Refugees (Büro für Medizinische Flüchtlingshilfe) in Berlin, Germany, has started a campaign for equal social rights and medical treatment for everyone. The campaign was launched with a flash mob on 8 March on the occasion of International Women’s Day. The flash mob with the slogan “I give birth to my child where I want” called for the right to full reproductive autonomy which is often denied to migrant women who sometimes have to give birth under very unsafe conditions and without professional assistance. The campaign will continue with similar activities and actions addressing access to medical treatment and social rights of migrants.

  • REPORT / Inequalities and multiple discrimination in access to and quality of healthcare

    The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights has published a report which shows that people in the European Union are denied equal health treatment on the basis of certain characteristics that expose them to possible discrimination, including sex, ethnicity, age, disability, sexual orientation and any combination of these grounds. The report particularly looks at multiple discrimination and states that ethnicity or migration status is the most commonly mentioned reason for discrimination among women and older people. Although the report focuses on regular migrants, it notes that “migrant status is another crucial factor as some member states offer different entitle­ments to cost-free healthcare depending on status.” The full report can be viewed here.

  • USA / Immigration Policy-to-Health Framework presented by immigration policy information provider

    The Curious Ostrich, an online provider of news and analysis on immigration policy for health professionals and migration activists, has developed a framework to illustrate the web of factors that impact on the health of migrants, to encourage professionals and activists to consider the full context of health determinants. The framework highlights how laws and policies are rooted in historical, political and cultural contexts, and that these laws and policies influence the circumstances of migrant’s lives, specifically their rights, resources, and safety. The framework emphasises that these three factors are also inseparable, because the positive presence of all three are needed to promote positive physical, mental and community health outcomes. The framework diagram and further information are available here.
    Source: The Curious Ostrich, Weekly Digest, 25 February 2012


  • CAMPAIGN / SOLIDAR and CGIL launch campaign for EU member states to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and their families

    Taking advantage of the fact that 2013 is the European Year of Citizens, SOLIDAR and CGIL (Confederazione Generale Italiana del Lavoro) will launch a campaign on 20 March 2013 for a European Citizenship Initiative asking for the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and their families by the EU. The convention has not been ratified by any of the EU Member States, yet it is an essential tool to grant the basic human rights of migrants, both documented and undocumented. SOLIDAR urges for the implementation of a rights-based approach to migration as well as to address the push factors affecting it, especially labour and poverty-related ones. It criticises the EU border security focus, its inability to deal with the arrival of migrants during the ‘Arab Spring’ from a coherent rights-based approach, and the draft EUROSUR regulation that should become operational on 1 October 2013. Concerning the latter, a group of social rights NGOs including SOLIDAR and PICUM wrote a joint letter in September 2012 expressing their concern about increasing criminalisation of migrants and questioning the effectiveness of such costly tools used to control irregular migration.
    Source: SOLIDAR, 15 March 2013

  • PHOTO CONTEST / Migrant domestic workers in the EU

    The International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) International Migration Programme is organising a photo contest to showcase the important and positive contributions that migrant domestic workers in Europe make to the societies they live in. The contest is part of the ILO project ‘Promoting Integration for Migrant Domestic Workers in Europe’, with the financial support of the European Integration Fund. The contest is looking for photographs that include migrant domestic workers in the work environment, in society, or in their own homes. The photographs should bring about a positive image of domestic work and migration and demonstrate the character and resilience of these workers. The jury will select up to 20 photos to be displayed on the ILO website and winners will be awarded prizes between 400 and 1000 euro and will be invited to present their winning photo at a public exhibition in Brussels. Participants can submit up to three photographs until 30 April 2013 and send them via email to MDWcontest(at)ilo.org. For more detailed information on submissions and contest rules, click here.

  • UK / Migrants domestic workers at greater risk of labour exploitation

    In April 2012, the British Government adopted new visa rules for domestic migrant workers which have exposed them to more abuse, according to charities. Previously, domestic workers had the possibility to leave their employer and work for another one without losing their right of stay as long as they remained employed. Under the new rules, which were part of a wider immigration package proposed by the Home Secretary, Theresa May, domestic workers are entitled to work in the UK for a maximum period of six months and are not allowed to change employers. These rules were introduced to prevent foreign workers such as cooks, nannies and other staff who work in private households to switch employer and to overstay their visa. The aim of these new rules is also to ensure that overseas visitors and diplomats could be accompanied by their domestic staff and to prevent permanent access to Britain for unskilled workers. But these changes have caused the indignation of organisations supporting domestic workers, who fear that there will be an increase of labour exploitation because of the removal of the right to change employer. To view the visa rules, click here.
    Source: Migrants News Sheet, Migration Policy Group, March 2013


  • UN / Adoption of code to combat violence against women

    The United Nations has adopted a plan to combat violence against women and girls worldwide. The UN blueprint was eventually approved by Muslim countries as well as Western nations. Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood continued to object to the plan, arguing that it advocates sexual freedoms for women and the right to abortion which are against Islamic teachings. Michelle Bachelet, head of the UN women’s agency, stated that the code is historic because it sets global standards for action to prevent and end “one of the gravest violations of human rights in the world, the violence against women and girls.” The code was launched as part of the annual meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women whose fifty-seventh session took place in New York from 4 to 15 March 2013. The event was attended by some 6,000 non-government groups advocating for women’s rights, including the rights of undocumented migrant women. The Commission on the Status of Women suggested such a plan a decade ago but governments have been until now unable to reach agreement on a final document.
    Source: Agence France Presse, 16 March 2013

  • UN / PICUM at the UN Commission on the Status of Women

    PICUM participated in the 57th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) that took place in the UN Headquarters in New York from 4 to 15 March with a view to integrate the concerns of undocumented women into the debates focusing on this year’s theme “Elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls”. Among other activities PICUM spoke at the Women Against Violence in Europe (WAVE) side-event about the role of women’s organisations and the shelter movement to protect undocumented women survivors of violence and to advocate for their access to justice. After weeks of intense negotiations the CSW approved the text of agreed conclusions, which highlight the need to ensure full protection and respect for the human rights of migrant women. More information is here.


  • UN / UN Committee on the Rights of Child issues General Comment on the right of child to highest attainable standard of health

    The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child issued a General Comment on the right of child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health (Article 24 Convention of the Rights of Child) on 14 March 2013. General Comments constitute an authoritative interpretation of what is expected of States parties to the Convention as they implement their obligations under the treaty. The General Comment (No. 15) clarifies the Committee’s interpretation of the child’s right to health as an inclusive right extending not only to timely and appropriate prevention, health promotion, and curative, rehabilitative and palliative services, but also a right to grow and develop to their full potential, and live in conditions that enable them to attain the highest standard of health. It also reiterates the principle of non-discrimination throughout, recalling the obligations of States to adopt all appropriate legislative, administrative and other measures for the implementation of children’s right to health without discrimination. Read the GC here. The Human Rights Council (HRC) also recently dedicated its 2013 annual day on the rights of the child to the theme of children’s right to health (See PICUM Bulletin 11 March 2013 ).

  • SWEDEN / Video report on the right to education

    The Swedish Educational Broadcasting Company (Sveriges Utbildningsradio) has broadcast a video on undocumented migrants’ and asylum seekers’ access to schools. Until the fall of 2012, Sweden had no legislation on guaranteeing asylum seeking and undocumented children the right to education, even though it is a fundamental right. But with the government’s new budget, there is hope that these children will be able to attend school as of mid-2013. The video also features prominent voices in the debate, such as Tobias Billström, Minister for Migration and Asylum Policy and Director of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights, Morten Kjaerum.
    To view the video report (in Swedish only), click here.
    Source: European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), Newsletter February 2013


  • CAMPAIGN / New initiative to improve transparency on immigration detention

    Immigration detention has become an important feature of the migration policy in many countries aiming to control migration. However, it lacks clear rules in many national legal systems, leading to confusion about detainees’ rights, such as the impossibility of leaving the detention centre and limited access to justice to challenge detention. For this reason, Access Info Europe and the Global Detention Project launched an initiative on 14 March 2013 to obtain accurate information from 33 countries about immigration detention with the objective of providing evidence for detainees and advocates, contributing to a public debate and policy and comparing different detention practices. Two information requests have been sent to each government of the 33 countries (the 27 European Union member states and Canada, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Switzerland and the United States) inquiring the name, type and location of the centre, the number of migrants detained and the number of both accompanied and unaccompanied minors. The initiative is grounded in the right to information to improve transparency, part of the Access Info’s ‘Access for Rights’ project, since all of the countries targeted (except Cyprus, Luxemburg and Spain) have access to information laws.
    Source: Access Info Europe, 14 March 2013

  • ITALY / Migrants’ detention centre closed after protests against inhuman conditions

    The migrant detention centre (CIE) of Bologna, Italy has been closed for one month to permit restoration works after protests of detainees against the living conditions in the centre. The remaining 27 women and 30 men detained in the centre were transferred to other detention centres. The protests caused criticism of the entire detention system in Italy and the demand to reassess its legal framework. In an interview on 22 February the new director of the detention centre, Alberto Meneghini, admitted the difficulties in providing a minimum standard including heating, hot-water, blankets and clothing. The CGIL (Confederazione Generale Italiana del Lavoro), the major Italian trade union, presented an official complaint to the Public Prosecutor’s Office condemning the “dramatic situation” in the centre. The police trade union of Modena, near Bologna, denounced “the unsustainable task of the police to maintain order in the centres.” One reason for the low standards in the centres is that the state assigns the management of detention centres to cooperatives and consortia for a minimum amount. The consortium Consorzio Oasi which managed the centre had been under investigation for mismanagement of public funds since 2012.
    Sources: La Repubblica 5 March 2013;  La Repubblica 8 March 2013

  • UK / Protests following death of lesbian Ugandan asylum seeker, Jackie Nayonjo

    Jackie Nayonjo, a Ugandan asylum seeker whose asylum application was unsuccessful, died a few days after her deportation by the UK Border Agency to Uganda on 12 March 2013. The Movement for Justice by Any Means Necessary (MFJ) organised a protest which took place outside the Home Office in Westminster, central London on 14 March. NGOs and campaigners are blaming the UK Border Agency for deporting Jackie Nayonjo, who lodged an asylum application on the grounds of homophobic persecution in Uganda. According to the MFJ, a human rights organisation, Jackie became ill during the deportation process and died because she did not receive medical aid from Ugandan authorities. She had feared becoming a victim of torture or ill treatment when accessing services because of her sexual orientation. Gay and lesbian people continue to face physical attacks and social rejection in Uganda. The case of Jackie Nayonjo isn’t the first one; in 2011, activist David Kato was beaten to death but police denied the case to be related to his sexuality. The Ugandan Parliament is currently considering legislation aimed at increasing penalties for homosexual acts.
    Source: Pink News UK, 13 March 2013


  • POSITION PAPER / Red Cross recommendations on legal avenues to access international protection in the EU

    The Red Cross has published a position paper entitled ‘Legal Avenues to Access International Protection in the EU’ which gives nine recommendations which also address irregular migration. The paper argues that irregular entry for the purpose of seeking international protection must not be penalised in accordance with Article 31 of the 1951 Convention relating to the status of refugees. The term ‘illegal migrant’ should be avoided, since it further stigmatises and criminalises those who are often vulnerable persons. Moreover, people seeking protection should not be detained. The other recommendations demand independent border monitoring mechanisms and the respect of all human rights of refugees.
    For more information, visit the Red Cross website.


  • BELGIUM / Solidarity march with undocumented migrants

    A solidarity march for and with undocumented migrants (‘Marche de solidarité avec ET sans papiers’) will take place all across Belgium from 6 to 21 April 2013. The march aims to bring both documented and undocumented people together to build a national movement to challenge migration policies that draw on exclusion, criminalisation and stigmatisation of undocumented migrants. The march by foot and train will, among others, cross cities such as Brussels, Gent, Bruges, Sint Niklaas, Antwerp, Leuven, Liège and Charleroi. The program includes assemblies, concerts and debates. A benefit concert in Brussels on 16 March 2013 raised funds for the event. The solidarity march is open to the public. For more information on the programme and for donations, please visit the event website. For questions about the event and its organisation please contact marchebelgique(at)riseup.net

  • EVENT / Launch of the ‘Frontexit’ campaign in Brussels

    As part of the initiative of the Migreurop Network and of organisations from both sides of the Mediterranean Sea, a conference was held in Brussels on 20 March 2013 to launch the inter-associative campaign Frontexit. The Conference highlighted the main features of the Frontexit campaign which denounces the lack of transparency and accountability of FRONTEX (European Agency for the management of operational cooperation at the external borders of the Member States of the EU). For more information on the campaign, click here.

  • FILM FESTIVAL / Human Rights Watch film festivals in Europe and the United States

    Human Rights Watch is carrying out a series of film festivals in various cities in the United States and Europe. The films screened at the festivals tackle all aspects of human rights violations, oppression and discrimination, including undocumented migration and refugees. Festivals have taken place in cities such as Chicago, Washington D.C. and London and will continue in cities such as Zurich, Philadelphia and New York in the coming months. Films addressing irregular migration include the Norwegian film ‘Nowhere Home’ (De andre) by Margreth Olin and ‘Sons of the Clouds – the last colony about refugees in Western Sahara’.

  • FILM / Migration is theme of 39th international film festival in Würzburg, Germany

    The annual international film festival in the city of Würzburg, Germany focused on migration, asylum and refugees this year. The 39th edition of the festival which took place from 14 to 17 March had several documentaries addressing the issue of irregular migration in Europe such as the Norwegian film ‘Nowhere Home’ (De andre) by Margreth Olin, ‘Vol Spécial’ by Fernand Melgar and PICUM’s ‘Undocumentary.’ ‘Nowhere Home’ was one of the three documentaries which won an audience award. The city of Würzburg was one of the places where protests of refugees and migrants against deportation procedures and for the abolition of the residential obligation law erupted in Germany in 2012. For this reason, the organisers decided to make asylum and migration a focus area of the traditional event.

  • GERMANY / CONFERENCE / 9th Annual Conference on ‘Illegality’

    The 9th Annual Conference on ‘Illegality’ took place from 20 to 22 March in Berlin, co-organised by the Council for Migration (RfM), the Catholic Forum for Living in Illegality and the Catholic Academy of Berlin.With the title ‘Irregular status and the European migration regime – Between defensive measures and support’ („Irregularität und europäisches Migrationsregime: Zwischen Abwehrmaßnahmen und Unterstützungsangeboten“), the event discussed issues such as smart borders and EUROSUR, legal protection for irregular migrants and protection of and support for undocumented pregnant women and mothers. For more information, click here.

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