- European Policy Developments
- National Developments
- Health Care
- Labour and Fair Working Conditions
- Undocumented Women
- Undocumented Children and Their Families
- Detention and Deportation
- Publications and other Resources
FOCUS PAPER / Fundamental rights guidance for member states on the obligation to provide fingerprints
The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) published a focus paper in October 2015 which looks at the measures authorities can use to include the data collection on newly arrived asylum seekers and migrants for border management purposes in the Eurodac database. Eurodac is a database of fingerprints the European Union set up to facilitate the application of the Dublin regulation by determining what member state is responsible for an asylum application. The paper aims to help EU member states and EU institutions and agencies to avoid fundamental rights violations when collecting fingerprints, by examining more closely the impact of refusing to give fingerprints on the principle of non-refoulement, the right to liberty and security, and the protection from disproportionate use of force. The main conclusions focus on the necessity of providing effective information to migrant communities and taking into account ‘gender and cultural considerations’. The paper also concludes that refusal to provide fingerprints does not affect member states’ duty to respect the principle of non-refoulement. The deprivation of liberty in order to collect fingerprints should be used in exceptional circumstances and use of physical and psychological force to gather such data is hardly ever justified. In addition, the FRA offers a checklist to assist authorities and officers to take fingerprints in accordance with fundamental rights. The focus paper is the first publication of FRA’s project on biometric data in large information technologies systems in the field of borders, immigration and asylum.
To read the paper, click here.
European Policy Developments
EU-AFRICA / Valetta summit on migration agrees on action plan
EU and African leaders held a summit from 11 to 12 November at the Mediterranean Conference Centre in Valetta, Malta. The summit brought together European and African heads of state and government in an effort to strengthen cooperation in the area of migration and address current challenges and opportunities. The African Heads of State and government agreed on a political declaration and Action Plan for cooperation in the area of migration, with sixteen priority initiatives to be launched before the end of 2016. Among others, the action plan highlights the special protection needs of migrant women and children and the need to give special attention to unaccompanied children taking into account the principle of the best interest of the child. However, African civil society also criticised the plan for being one sided and Eurocentric. Several European based organisations expressed concern about the increasing emphasis placed on deportation and readmission as part of development cooperation and criticised the plan for not sufficiently addressing regular migration channels. In the context of the plan’s aim to ‘fight irregular migration’, leaders agreed to tackle smuggling and trafficking in human beings and to carry out information campaigns in countries of origin, transit and destination about the potential dangers of smuggling. For more information on the Valetta summit including background documents, click here.
Sources: ECRE Weekly Bulletin, 13 November 2015; Migration and Development Civil Society Network (MADE) Press Statement, 12 November 2015
FRANCE / EUROPE / Migrants and refugees described as security risk following Paris terrorist attacks
Following the terrorist attacks in Paris, France during which 128 people were killed on 13 November 2015, some politicians and groups have associated refugees and migrants, particularly those who are Muslims, with potential terrorist threats. Marine Le Pen, President of the right wing French Front National, called for the deportation of undocumented migrants in her response to the attacks. The Finance Minister of Bavaria, Germany, Markus Söder (Christian-Social Union, CSU) was quoted by media saying that ‘uncontrolled migration’ cannot continue. Poland’s new government stated that the agreed refugee quotas would need to be reviewed after the attacks and that Poland is in this case not ready to accept the quota. Yet a clear statement of principle was given by EU Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, who warned on 15 November while attending the G20 summit in Antalya, Turkey, that refugees and migrants should not be mixed up with terrorists. He noted that the attacks would not change the bloc’s plan to relocate 160,000 refugees from Italy and Greece. Those among the suspected attackers whose identities were confirmed, have Belgian or French nationality. In the United States, a group of governors, mayors, and faith leaders expressed statements in support of Syrian refugees, following calls from numerous US governors to not accept Syrian refugees into their states. Two undocumented workers, Ahmed and Nordine T., lived in the same building in Saint-Denis, north of Paris where a raid took place with the aim to find the terrorists on the 18 November. Both suffered injuries from the shooting during the raid. After being treated in hospital, they were immediately detained and questioned. Nordine has since been transferred to the Vincennes detention centre and he will face a judge next week. Ahmed has been asked to leave the territory but his lawyer will ‘introduce an interim suspension against this measure’. They have been living in France for nine and 12 years respectively. Sources: The Guardian, 14 November 2015; EU Observer, 15 November 2015; Welcoming America, November 2015; TWC News, 16 November 2015; New Europe, 24 November 2015; L’Humanité, 24 November 2015; Le Figaro, 23 November 2015.
GERMANY / Tens of thousands of cases of charges filed for irregular entry
In recent months, Germany made headlines as one of the EU member states welcoming most refugees and migrants. However, the Residence Act (Aufenthaltsgesetz, paragraph 59) criminalises irregular entry. For this reason, the German Federal Police has filed charges for irregular entry in 118,185 cases between January and August 2015. Over 99% of the cases are eventually shelved but the police is obliged to press charges first. The procedure is problematic from a human rights perspective as well as causing additional administrative delays. Once an asylum application is filed, the charges pressed by the police are usually not further considered and the procedure of assessing a case in accordance with asylum criteria is started.
Source: Die ZEIT, 27 October 2015
USA / Bill of rights for undocumented Americans
The undocumented migrants’ rights group United We Stay in the United States published a Bill of Rights for Undocumented Americans on 5 November 2015. In the absence of action by Congress on behalf of undocumented migrants’ rights, the bill aims to awaken courage and foster cooperation among US leaders, to increase public awareness and engage in dialogue. In reference to the Bill of Rights of the nation’s founders with the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights for Undocumented Americans also includes ten points demanding, among others, a path to citizenship, protection from detention and deportation when undocumented migrants report a crime, access to services such as medical care and access to education. To view the Bill of Rights for Undocumented Americans, click here.
Source: United We Stay, November 2015
USA / City of San Francisco votes to retain sanctuary city policies
At a meeting held on 20 October 2015, 11 supervisors making up the legislative body within the government of the City and County of San Francisco, California, voted unanimously in favour of a resolution affirming that San Francisco will remain a “City of Refuge,” a status it has held since 1989. The resolution also rejected cooperation with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)’s Priority Enforcement Program, which asks local authorities to notify ICE before an undocumented migrant is released from their custody. The resolution does recognise an exception for cases involving someone convicted of a violent felony in the previous seven years who is held on comparable charges. At a hearing held prior to the vote, undocumented victims of domestic violence testified regarding their suffering and fear of turning to the police for assistance because of the risk of deportation. 20 October 2015 also saw the rejection of a federal bill introduced by US senator David Vitter (Republican party, Louisiana) proposing funding cuts to municipalities that fail to fully cooperate with immigration authorities.
Source: Los Angeles Times, 25 October 2015
EUROPE / REPORT / Study concludes that restrictive integration policies may negatively affect migrants’ health
The SOPHIE project has released a report entitled “Social and Economic Policies Matter for Health Equity,” concluding that restrictive integration policies may have negative health consequences for migrants. SOPHIE, a collaborative research project coordinated by the Agéncia de Salut Pública de Barcelona (Public Health Agency of Barcelona), looked at the impact of various social and economic policies on health inequalities, including the effect of integration policies on migrants’ health. In its chapter on migrant health, the study compares the difference in health status between native-born and foreign-born residents of three European countries (the Netherlands, France and Denmark) with integration policies characterised, respectively, as “inclusive” (where nationality is easily acquired and there is generally tolerance of cultural differences), “assimilation” (relatively open, but restrictive in terms of access to residence status and labour markets) and “differential exclusion” or “guest worker” (where citizenship is difficult to acquire, there is generally low social and political tolerance). Specifically, the study focused on residents born in Turkey or Morocco who had lived for 10 years or more in their current country of residence. It found that inequalities in living conditions and self-rated health between these populations and native-born residents were highest in Denmark, a country with integration policies deemed “exclusionist”, and that they also had a higher mortality than in France and the Netherlands. To read the report, click here. To find out more about the project, click here.
UK / SURVEY / How primary care provides services for new migrant populations
The University and Clinical Commissioning Group in Sheffield is researching how primary care health professionals and community organisations provide services for new migrant populations in the UK. The survey aims to identify common practices, constraints and what practitioners’ needs are. The project runs until March 2016. Anyone who has provided primary care to migrants new to the UK in the past five years or who works to improve access to health services is asked to complete a five-minute online survey. To access the survey, click here.
Source: The Migrants’ Rights Network, 12 November 2015
USA / Health workers report undocumented woman to authorities during gynaecological appointment in Texas
Ms Blanca Borrego, an undocumented woman, was at the Northeast Women’s Healthcare clinic in Atascocita, Texas for her annual gynaecological exam, when she was detained by county deputies. Staff at the clinic called the authorities and stalled Ms Borrego for several hours before she was shown to an examination room where she was arrested and removed from the clinic in handcuffs. When asked for identification by clinic staff, Ms Borrego had given them a false driver’s licence. A spokesperson for Memorial Hermann Medical Group, the clinic’s parent company, refused to comment on whether it was the clinic’s policy to contact authorities if staff believed a patient was undocumented. Ms Borrego’s two daughters witnessed the arrest. Her lawyer stated that clinic staff may have violated medical privacy laws. Ms Borrego was charged with one felony count of tampering with a government record because authorities claim she also had a fake Social Security card in her possession, and was held in Harris County jail on a 35,000 USD bond for several days until her family raised the money to secure her release. Ms Borrego is eligible for permanent residence status through her daughter, who was born in the US and is a citizen, but if convicted of a felony, would be disqualified from obtaining this status and likely be deported to Mexico.
Source: Raw Story, 13 September 2015, Houston Press, 11 September 2015, Texas Observer, 16 September 2015
USA / Hillary Clinton in favour of health care for undocumented migrants and of accurate terminology
The US presidential front-runner for the Democratic Party, Hillary Rodham Clinton, spoke in favour of ensuring health care to undocumented migrants during a televised debate on 13 October 2015. She noted that she is in favour of efforts by states such as California to expand health care coverage to undocumented migrants. Moreover, she highlighted the need to ensure health care for all children. On 24 November 2015, Hillary Clinton also committed to stop referring to ‘illegal immigrants’ and to use the term ‘undocumented’ migrants instead. She made the commitment following pressure from migrants’ rights groups, and the journalist José Antonio Vargas who is undocumented himself and runs a campaign on accurate terminology in reference to undocumented migrants in the US.
Sources: Los Angeles Times, 14 October 2014; Huffington Post, 24 November 2015
VIDEOS / Videos on the importance of access to vaccination for all children and antenatal care for all pregnant women
Médecins du Monde (Doctors of the World, MdM) published two videos on 29 October 2015, on the need to ensure that all children can access vaccinations, and all pregnant women can access antenatal care. MdM provides health care services to people who have limited or no access to the regular health care system in clinics across Europe, including undocumented migrants. Data collected in 2014 from 23,040 patients who visited MdM clinics indicates that that only one third of the children seen had been vaccinated against mumps, measles and rubella (MMR), and only slightly more (42.5%) had been vaccinated against tetanus. More than half (54.2%) of the pregnant women surveyed in MdM clinics had no access to antenatal care, and the vast majority were without health coverage (81%). The video on antenatal care throughout Europe is available here. The video on access to vaccination throughout Europe can be viewed here.
Labour and Fair Working Conditions
IRELAND / Investigation exposes trafficked and abused undocumented migrant workers in fishing industry
A year-long investigation conducted by The Guardian into the Irish prawn and whitefish fishing industry uncovered the exploitation of undocumented Ghanaian, Filipino, Egyptian and Indian fishermen working on boats in Irish ports. They reported a large number of abuses such as being confined to vessels, lesser pay than the Irish minimum wage, extreme sleep deprivation, working for days or nights with only a few hours’ sleep and no proper rest days. The Guardian stated that some migrant workers claim to have been deceived and appear to have been trafficked on to trawlers for labour exploitation, an abuse that would be a form of modern slavery.
Source: The Guardian, 2 November 2015
NETHERLANDS / Government raises awareness on domestic work regulation
The Dutch government has decided to launch a public campaign in order to raise awareness of the rules governing domestic work. According to the Dutch government’s estimates, almost one million (13%) Dutch households use external help at home. Specific rules regulate service provision in the private home but according to a 2014 report, this regulation is not generally known and therefore a lot of infractions take place. The campaign’s aim is to advise individuals who employ a domestic workers on how to make a contract describing the mutual obligations and rights. A sample contract should be used in cases where the employment is part-time (maximum during three days a week) and sets out basic rights such as the obligation to pay minimum wages, holiday entitlements and sick leave payments. Information on the campaign and the model contract can be found here (in Dutch).
Source: Stichting Los Newsletter, Volume 5 No. 21, 26 October 2015
REPORT / NGOs publish training tool for law enforcement on human trafficking
The International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) has published a report, “Human Trafficking – How to Investigate It: Training Manual for Law Enforcement Officers,” in cooperation with EF (Expertise France) and FIIAPP (Fundación Internacional y para Iberoamérica de Administración y Políticas Publicas), as part of a project to enhance national, regional and trans-national law enforcement cooperation on trafficking. The project focused on four countries — Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova and Turkey. It involved three components: data and intelligence gathering and analysis to improve the knowledge-base on trafficking in human beings; systematic information sharing within and among four countries; and building the capacity of frontline agencies, law enforcement, prosecutors and others to identify situations of trafficking in human beings and offenders. The training manual was prepared by independent law enforcement experts as part of the project’s third component, building on lessons learned from first two components, and was tested and further adapted through a series of training sessions conducted in the four countries in July and August 2014. To access the report, click here.
REPORT / World Bank’s Global Monitoring Report links migration to labour policy
The Global Monitoring Report 2014-2015 of the World Bank which was published during the World Bank’s annual meeting with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), notes the need for more promoting regular migration flows to counteract the decline in working-age populations in aging countries. The report recommends to formulate clear migration policies; enforce minimum wage laws; provide adequate information to migrants about their rights and obligations; and to sanction potential abuses by firms.
The recommendations, however, also include to encourage return migration. Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank group, said that if countries with ageing populations can create a path for refugees and migrants to participate in the economy, everyone would benefits. To download the report, click here.
RESOURCE GUIDE / Engaging the private sector to end human trafficking
La Strada International and SOMO published the resource guide “Engaging the Private Sector to End Human Trafficking for NGOs” on 16 October 2015 on the occasion of the annual European day against trafficking in human beings, observed on 18 October. The guide elaborates ways in which forced labour and human trafficking can be tackled when cooperating with the private sector. Businesses are identified as playing a key role the matter since the private sector can be responsible for the exploitation of workers and coercive recruitment practices, but can also play a crucial role in helping to prevent the same. Consequently, the guide explores ways and techniques for NGOs to engage the private sector in their advocacy and gives examples of how such cooperation works in practice. It further informs NGOs how they can hold businesses in the private sector accountable. More information can be accessed here.
Source: La Strada International, October 2015
UK / POLICY BLUEPRINT / Labour inspection key for combatting labour exploitation
A policy blueprint, entitled “Combatting Labour Exploitation through Labour Inspection”, released by Focus on Labour Exploitation (FLEX) in October 2015 highlights the importance of labour inspection as a means of preventing labour abuses from developing into severe labour exploitations. Although the UK Modern Slavery Act imposing penalties on perpetrators of modern slavery offences came into force in 2015, the report proposes that efforts made at tackling labour exploitation could only succeed with a focus on victim-centred labour inspection. France as well as Belgium and other EU countries employ more than 10 inspectors per 100,000 workers, while the UK’s number is as low as 0.9 inspectors per 100,000 workers. The government estimates that in the UK, 13,000 people could be victims of modern slavery. FLEX welcomes that the new ‘Director of Labour Market Enforcement’ proposed in the Government’s Immigration Bill includes overseeing labour market abuses as a means of preventing exploitation, but warns that global standards of labour inspection have to be met, and that tools against labour exploitation should not be used as tools for immigration enforcement. The report can be accessed here.
Source: Focus on Labour Exploitation Press Release, October 2015
COUNCIL OF EUROPE / Expert group monitoring compliance with Istanbul Convention establishes rules of procedure
The Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO) — the body set up to monitor state parties’ compliance with the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (‘Istanbul Convention’) — held its first meeting on 21-23 September 2015. The group adopted the rules according to which it will operate. The list of decisions taken at that meeting, as well as GREVIO’s rules of procedure, were published on 29 October 2015. Under the rules adopted, GREVIO will evaluate compliance of parties with the Istanbul Convention primarily using a questionnaire, which it must finalise and make public within six months of its first meeting. On the basis of this questionnaire, each party submits a report on legislative and other measures giving effect to the provisions of the Convention in its national context. The rules also permit GREVIO to ask non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other members of civil society to provide information in relation to the questionnaire, or in connection with any other relevant matter. Information provided by civil society organisations can be treated as confidential. GREVIO members may also meet with members of civil society when they carry out country visits. GREVIO’s Rules of Procedure are available here. The list of decisions taken at the first GREVIO meeting is available here.
IRELAND / Ireland signs the Istanbul Convention
Ireland became the 26th state to sign the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (‘Istanbul Convention’) on 5 November 2015. Following a report by the UN Committee overseeing compliance with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), which highlighted a number of legislative gaps in investigating and sanctioning perpetrators as well as in providing adequate protection and assistance to survivors, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald called for preparation of a package of reforms to allow Ireland to ratify the Convention. The Department of Justice indicated that legislation on domestic violence should be published in 2016. According to Women’s Aid, a non-governmental organisation working to end domestic violence, Ireland has only one third of the family spaces in shelters that would be required under the Convention. Additionally, one in five women reports having experienced sexual or physical violence since age 15, and 38,000 calls are made to helplines by women each year in Ireland.
Sources: Belfast Telegraph, 4 November 2015, The Irish Times, 6 November 2015
GERMANY / Campaign raises awareness of situation of undocumented women
The German association In Via, which advocates for the rights of youth and women, has launched a campaign raising awareness of the situation of undocumented women. The campaign, entitled “Mittendrin. Ohne Rechte” (Among Us. Without Rights), demands protection of the fundamental human rights of women and explains why they become irregular, how they often work under exploitative conditions as domestic workers and care providers or are victims of trafficking and forced labour. The campaign offers press material, videos and information brochures (in German). To find out more, click here.
Undocumented Children and Their Families
GERMANY / Study finds that many schools would not enroll undocumented children
Although German schools are no longer subject to reporting requirements of children without residence status (Residence Act § 87), the right to education has not yet been implemented by a high number of primary schools at the local level. This is the finding of a study entitled “It must not depend on papers” („Es darf nicht an Papieren scheitern“), released in October 2015, that was commissioned by the Max Traeger Foundation (Max-Traeger-Stiftung), and authored by Prof. Dr. phil. Yasemin Karakaşoğlu, Dr. phil. Dita Vogel and Barbara J. Funck. The study is based on a telephone survey whereby staff at 100 primary schools in all federal states of Germany were asked to provide information regarding the possibility of enrolment for children without residence papers. In 62% of the primary schools investigated, enrolment was found to be impossible. Recommendations include that data protection needs to be clarified. This means that if there is no obligation to denounce, data should also not be shared. The study also recommends that all federal states should regularly inform education authorities about legal provisions; the right to education should be implemented and there should be more information sharing about this right. Proposals for action include an amendment in all federal states’ education laws (Landesschulgesetz) on the right of undocumented children to attend school, as well as further regulation which prohibits schools from reporting data instead of leaving it to up to schools whether or not they report an undocumented person. The study can be accessed in German here.
Sources: Press Release University of Bremen, October 2015; Bildungsklick, October 2015
GLOBAL / Organisations highlight rights of all children on International Day of the Child
Various groups highlighted the need to consider the rights of all children, regardless of residence status, on the occasion of the International Day of the Child and the 26th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), on 20 November 2015. The International Detention Coalition (IDC) highlighted their efforts to end the detention of children globally providing facts and figures for various world regions. For more information, click here. The European Parliament’s Intergroup on Child Rights published a video including several Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) speaking about what the UNCRC means to them and its impact on the lives of all children. The video is available here. Caritas Europa emphasised the need to address child and family poverty and recommended the full implementation of tools, including child allowances to every child residing on their territory, regardless of the status of their parents, and the European Commission’s Recommendation on Investing in Children of 2013, which also calls for special attention to undocumented children’s health needs. The statement is available here.
PORTUGAL / National campaign to regularise children of Cape Verdean origin
The Portuguese High Commissioner for Migration, Pedro Calado, launched a campaign in cooperation with the Cape Verdean embassy to regularise the status of children of Cape Verdean origin. This would affect hundreds of children, many of them born in Portugal. According to the High Commissioner, the initiative was decided at a Portuguese- Cape Verdean summit in 2014. It is carried out with support of the Foreigners and Border Service (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras, SEF) and the Directorate-General for Education (Direcção-Geral da Educação). Pedro Calado stated that the initiative might be extended to other communities in the future. In Portugal, undocumented children have the right to access health care and education. Pedro Calado highlighted that the situation often becomes more difficult as of the age 18 when they are considered adults and find their rights to higher education and other services denied. The Cape Verdean community is the second largest migrant community after the Brazilian community in Portugal.
Source: Publico, 9 November 2015
GERMANY / USA / Online colleges offer higher education to undocumented migrants
Kiron University was founded in Germany, in 2015, to provide courses and internationally recognised degrees particularly for refugees and migrants. The crowdfunded project is based in Berlin and offers five Bachelors programmes. The courses are in English and last three years: two years online, and one year at a partner university. While the project explicitly welcomes undocumented migrants for the online course, documents must be provided to enrol at the partner university for the third year to complete the course. To find out more about Kiron University, click here. The University of the People, a US-based, online university, also allows undocumented migrants to enrol for courses. One of the goals of the university, which was founded in 2009, was to serve students living in difficult circumstances. According to its founder Shai Reshef, students from 170 countries enrol for courses, including refugees and migrants.
Source: NPR, 26 October 2015
USA / Resource centres established in California universities for undocumented students
The California State University, San Bernardino, launched a “DREAMers Resource Center” on 5 November 2015, catering to undocumented students. The resource center provides various services, including personal, academic and professional advice, financial aid advice and information about graduate school. The school, which has an estimated 500 undocumented students, becomes the fifth California State University (alongside those in Fullerton, Long Beach, Los Angeles and Northridge) to provide such a centre. At the launch, the University’s president stated that all students deserve respect and tools to graduate and be successful in life, regardless of their migration status.
Sources: Press Enterprise, 9 November 2015; Fontana Herald News, 27 November 2015
Detention and Deportation
MEXICO / Increase in number of migrant deportations
The Mexican government has deported at least 107,814 Central American migrants in the last year (2,000 per week) according to the Migration Policy Institute (MPI). Thousands of Salvadorans, Hondurans and Guatemalans have been deported from Mexico after the Mexican authorities launched the Southern Border Plan (Plan Frontera Sur). The plan was launched in August 2014 after Barack Obama declared the unprecedented numbers of unaccompanied children and families seeking refuge at the US border an “urgent humanitarian situation”. Since then, arrests have increased by 25%, and immigration detection has increased by 200%. To read the full report, please click here.
Source: El País, 13 October 2015
UN / CZECH REPUBLIC / High Commissioner for Human Rights criticises detention of migrants in Czech Republic
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, strongly criticised the detention of migrants and refugees in the Czech Republic in a statement on 22 October 2015. The country’s own Minister of Justice, Robert Pelikán, described the facility Bìlá-Jezová, as being “worse than in a prison.” Migrants are detained in conditions which have been described as degrading and according to reports, are routinely strip-searched by authorities who charge them a daily 10$ fee for their detention. The High Commissioner emphasised the fact that charging for their detention is ‘particularly reprehensible’ and noted the alarming increase of xenophobic public discourses including the Islamophobic statements by President Miloš Zeman. The High Commissioner emphasised the systematic violations of migrants’ and refugees’ human rights by the Czech government and accused it of committing such grave violations aiming to deter migrants from entering the country or staying there.
To read the statement, click here.
Source: New York Times, 22 October 2015
UK / Report finds death of 84-year-old awaiting deportation “wholly unacceptable”
A report by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) for England and Wales, Nigel Newcomen, investigates the circumstances of the death in detention of an 84-year-old man suffering from a serious health condition. Alois Dvorzac, a naturalised Canadian citizen who was suffering from dementia, arrived in Britain on 23 January 2013 on the way to his native Slovenia to visit his daughter when he was stopped by UK Border Agency staff and detained at Harmondsworth immigration removal centre. He died as a result of coronary heart disease on 10 February 2013 after being shackled for five hours. Although the man’s health deteriorated in detention, the Home Office proceeded with its plans to continue his deportation to Canada, the independent Investigation by the Prisons and Probations Ombudsman revealed. The PPO added that restraints on elderly detainees might amount to a breach of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Immigration Minister, James Brokenshire, stated that it was not acceptable that Mr Dvorzac was handcuffed and that the approach to the use of handcuffs during immigration detention has changed.
Sources: The Guardian, October 2015; Independent, October 2015; Independent, February 2014
USA / Migrants protest detention conditions with hunger strike
Migrants in detention facilities across the United States are engaging in hunger strikes to protest the conditions of their detention. In early November, about 500 women at the T. Don Hutton Detention Centre in Liberty, Texas began a hunger strike to protest against conditions ranging from extended detention (up to a year and a half in some cases), arbitrary and excessive bonds and the use of offensive and degrading language by staff. At least one woman in the facility had been held in solitary confinement. By mid-month, 40 to 50 detainees refused food at a time, in a “rolling” hunger strike. NGOs have reported that at least six detainees have been removed from T. Don Hutton Detention Centre since the strike began, and that the women detainees reported the move to other detention centres to be punitive, occurring in the middle of the night and without warning. In October 2015, migrants at detention centres in El Paso, Texas and LaSalle, Louisiana, also went on a hunger strike. At the Adelanto detention centre in California, 90 detainees who are seeking asylum began a hunger strike on 4 November 2015, a number that fell to 26 by 11 November 2015, when they released a list describing their complaints and demands https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2511141-adelanto-hunger-strike-demands-letter.html. At the same facility, an additional 300 detainees refused food for more than a week to protest the conditions of their detention, which included limited access to healthcare, poor food and harassment by guards.
Source: The Take Away, 2 November 2015; Al Jazeera, 12 November 2015
Publications and other Resources
VICTIMS’ RIGHTS / New guide and petition
On the occasion of the deadline for EU member states to transpose the EU Victims’ Directive on 16 November 2015, the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM) published a guide on how organisations can use the Directive as a tool to ensure the rights of undocumented victims of crime. The guide, which is available in English, French and Spanish, also informs policymakers, law enforcement and other official actors of how the Victims’ Directive relates to undocumented migrants as a specific category of victims. The guide highlights particular challenges confronted by undocumented migrants based on their status and circumstances in getting the protection and support to which they have a right. The EU Victims’ Directive (2012/29/EU) is a legally binding instrument, adopted in 2012, granting equal rights and protection to all victims of crime. Article I of the Directive stipulates that the Directive applies to all victims of crime, regardless of their residence status. The guide is available in English, French and Spanish.
UK / CROWDFUNDING / Campaign to produce toolkit to help migrants and refugees
The organisation Right to Remain has started a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for the production of a toolkit to help migrants and refugees to access justice in the UK. The toolkit will aim to help migrants and refugees understand and navigate the complexity of the legal system, find support and solidarity, overcome barriers to justice, fight for their rights and secure the right to remain. For more information and to donate, click here.