PICUM Bulletin — 4 September 2012

BORDERS

  • GREECE / DEATH AT BORDER / Death of irregular migrant at Evros

    A nineteen  year old irregular migrant from Afghanistan was found dead on 13 August 2012 on the banks of the Evros River in the area of Marasia. His body was transferred to the General University Hospital of Alexandroupolis. According to police there was no evidence to believe that his death was caused intentionally.
    Source: Skai, 18 August 2012

  • MALTA / DEATH AT BORDER / Six irregular migrants die

    After a week-long rescue mission of two boats, the Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) successfully rescued 158 migrants, including 20 women, as part of a rescue mission off the coast of Malta. The migrants arrived dehydrated and exhausted. Six migrants died: two were already dead on board the ship when they were discovered, two went overboard during the rescue mission, and a further two migrants died following the rescue mission. Their nationalities are unknown but it is reported that they are from Somalia and Eritrea. A third boat was rescued on 20 August 2012 carrying 77 migrants.
    Source: Times of Malta, 16 August 2012; Times of Malta, 17 August 2012; Migrants at Sea, 21 August 2012

  • MOROCCO / Moroccan army drowned 30 sub-Saharan migrants trying to reach Spain

    The crew of a Moroccan marine ship caused the death of nearly 30 migrants of sub-Saharan origin, including four children, during an incident that occurred on 28 April 2012 near El Hoceima, in the North East of Morocco. The Spanish newspaper El Pais first brought the event to light, and the information has since been confirmed by a Moroccan NGO that collected evidence from a group of survivors. The survivors had witnessed an episode of extreme violence perpetuated by a group of Moroccan soldiers who had deliberately drowned the boat of 70 migrants headed for the Spanish coast. A second navy ship intervened subsequently to help the victims, but for most of them it was too late. Those who were rescued were taken to the Algerian border to be deported (a common practice of Moroccan authorities).
    Source: Afrik.com, 9 May 2012

EUROPEAN POLICY DEVELOPMENTS

  • EU / Report on child poverty and main messages adopted by European Commission

    The Social Protection Committee of the European Commission (EC) has adopted a report on “Tackling and preventing child poverty, promoting child well-being,” including a set of main messages. The EC will build upon the findings of the report when developing its upcoming Recommendation on child poverty, expected to be presented in early 2013. Among others, the report recognises the particular risk of poverty for migrant children. Download the report (EN). Caritas Europa has also released a set of reports and recommendations on child poverty, available to download from their website.

NATIONAL DEVELOPMENTS

  • FRANCE / Regularisation criteria

    The Minister of Interior Manual Valls has decided not to apply the new criteria of naturalisation (established by the previous government), including tests on French culture and history, as well as to put an end to the discretionary power of administration for regularisations. He denied any plan to re-establish border controls. He announced the creation of a three-year residence permit (instead of the current one year permit) and the development of a dialogue with organisations on the existing criteria. Furthermore, a draft law is to be introduced to put an end to the ‘solidarity offence’ which allows criminal proceedings against people helping undocumented migrants.
    Source: L’Expression, 28 July 2012

  • GREECE / Police crackdown condemned by human rights groups

    Following the mass arrest and detention of irregular migrants in early August 2012 (See PICUM Bulletin 20 August 2012), UNHCR and other human rights groups have condemned these activities and the impunity of on-going hate crimes targeting migrants. The Deputy Director of the Europe and Central Asia division of Human Rights Watch has said that even if Greece has a sovereign right to enforce its immigration laws and deport people without permits to stay in the country, “it doesn’t have the right to treat people like criminals, or to presume irregular immigration status just because of their race or ethnicity.”  The Médecins du Monde Director in Greece noted that the combination of the economic and social crisis, the lack of provision of services, and the current immigration policy, is making Greece “an unsafe environment for migrants.” They have called on the Greek authorities and the EU to address the problem and develop a more effective migration strategy. A 19 year old Iraqi refugee was stabbed in the centre of Athens on 12 August 2012 by five attackers on motorbikes. The victim was transferred to hospital but died later due to severe injuries. Another murder, of a 25 year old irregular migrant from Tunisia, took place in Thessaloniki on 14 August 2012. According to a number of organisations who work with migrants, in the last six months there have been approximately 500 cases of attacks against migrants leading to hospitalisation in Greece.
    Source: Ta Nea, 13 August 2012; To Vima, 19 August 2012; IRIN, 17 August 2012

  • IRELAND / Petition delivered with 4,000 signatures in support of regularisation

    The Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI), a PICUM member based in Dublin, presented Mr Alan Shatter, Minister for Justice’s Special Advisor, with a petition signed by over 4,000 people in support of the regularisation of undocumented migrants in Ireland. Edel McGinley of MRCI noted that this is a real expression of public solidarity for the estimated 30,000 undocumented migrants in Ireland who have been in Ireland for years, hold Personal Public Service numbers which give access to social welfare benefits, public services and information and pay taxes. The signatories to the petition are calling for the introduction of an Earned Regularisation Scheme.
    Source: MRCI, 18 July 2012

  • PORTUGAL / New Foreigner’s Act published

    On 9 August 2012, the Portuguese government published the new Foreigners’ Act (Lei de Estrangeiros 29/2012), which modifies the legal regime regulating the entry, stay and removal of non-EU nationals from Portugal. Following the new act, foreign residents who have been sentenced to imprisonment for periods longer than one year will not have their permit renewed; residence permits will not be granted to immigrants who have been convicted in the last five years; and employers who hired irregular workers may be sentenced to one to four years imprisonment. Whilst President Cavaco Silva’s government claims that the changes were necessary to adapt the national legislation to the European normative framework, organisations such as SOS Racismo considers the law as an expression of the “commodification of migration policy”. Mr. Mamadou Ba, from SOS Racismo, condemns the “gentrification of migration” adopted by the Portuguese government, as well as the persecution of irregular migrants who pay taxes but do not have their basic rights recognised. The act will enter into force on 9 October 2012.
    Source: SOS Racismo, 9 August 2012

HEALTH CARE

  • SPAIN / Campaign against healthcare access restriction for undocumented migrants

    The organisation Medicos del Mundo launched a campaign, “Derecho a curar” on 22 August 2012 calling health professionals to invoke conscientious objection regarding the restriction of healthcare access to undocumented migrants according to the Law-Decree 16/2012 (See PICUM Bulletin 29 May 2012 and 11 July 2012). This campaign is part of the SEMFYC (Spanish Society of Family and Community Medicine) initiative started on 10 July 2012, which has brought together more than 1,300 people so far. The video of the campaign is available here. The video shows health professionals swearing that they will not provide healthcare or medication to undocumented migrants, nor provide any kind of medical assistance or support human rights in times of crisis. At the end of the clip, they reveal that they had their fingers crossed behind their backs, meaning that they would not actually do what they have just promised, but rather they will continue to do their jobs without discrimination. It ends by saying that healthcare is a universal right and as health professionals it is not only their obligation but their right to treat people that need care. Denouncing once again the Royal Decree, twelves NGOS including PICUM issued a press release ahead of the implementation date of the new law which will deny access to essential and preventive health care services for undocumented migrants
    Source: El País, 22 August 2012

  • UK / REPORT / Experts say the UK is not meeting the healthcare needs of migrant communities

    The educational charity Cumberland Lodge, has published a report on the proceedings of a conference it held in January 2012 on challenges and obligations concerning migrant health. The event brought together health professionals to consider how the UK’s provision of healthcare services to migrants measures against the benchmark of the 2008 World Health Assembly’s Resolution on the health of migrants. The experts at the conference concluded that the UK was not yet in compliance with the standards the international community was striving for in the provision of healthcare services to migrants. The report sets out criticisms of the present situation and lists 12 recommendations for action, which would guide policy-makers towards the goal of full compliance including a call for ‘equal access to health services for migrants regardless of their status’.
    Source: Migrants’ Rights Network, Newsletter 20 August 2012

  • USA / Universities provide free medical care to migrant field workers, but many remain without access

    In an effort to make medical care more available to farmworkers, the South Georgia Farmworkers Project and the Physician Assistant Program at Emory University are providing free healthcare and medication to migrants at two triage locations in Bainbridge and Valdosta. Approximately 100,000 workers are employed in Georgia’s farms during the 10-month growing season, many of whom are undocumented. The programme has been providing free care for the past 16 summers. A recent article in American Medical News discusses the issue citing a similar initiative, the University of Connecticut’s mobile Migrant Farm Worker Clinic, operating since 1997. The article finds that such programmes make an important difference, but only reach 13% of the intended migrant worker population, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. It highlights steps physicians can take to improve care for migrant workers, including serving patients at local migrant health clinics and helping patients identify health centres in the towns they may be travelling to in the future. Read the article here.
    Source: Fox News Latino, 9 August 2012

LABOUR AND FAIR WORKING CONDITIONS

  • SWITZERLAND / STUDY / Undocumented migrants working in Zurich households

    A study commissioned by SPAZ (Sans-Papiers Anlaufstelle Zürich) and Denknetz on undocumented household work has recently been published. Entitled “Wisch und weg! Sans-Papiers Hausarbeiterinnen  zwischen Prekarität und Selbstbestimmung”, the study deals specifically with undocumented migrant women in external household work in the canton of Zurich and has been conducted by Alex Knoll, Sarah Schilliger and Bea Schwager. The authors’ research finds that approximately 8,000 undocumented migrants work by the hour in private households in the canton of Zurich. They are marginalised, and live in constant fear of being deported. The study gives an insight into the women’s everyday lives and their working conditions, making their voices heard and recounting their strategies of self-organisation in order to manage their precarious situations.

UNDOCUMENTED WOMEN

  • USA / Delays in reauthorizing VAWA puts undocumented victims of violence at risk

    The reauthorisation of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is facing an on-going delay as legislators struggle to agree on content (see PICUM Bulletin 29 May 2012). First signed in 1994 with bipartisan support, the VAWA was reauthorized in 2000 and 2005 thanks to bipartisan endeavours until it expired last year. In 2012, Republicans proposed significant changes to the Act that will very likely weaken protection for the victims. In April, the Senate passed a new version of the act which increases the number of ‘U visas’ to undocumented victims of domestic abuse and provides expanded protection to LGBT and Native American communities. However, the House of Representatives, which currently has a Republican majority, argued that undocumented migrants were abusing the legal protections and passed another version of the VAWA which allows immigration officials to interview the accused abuser and limits the number of temporary visas for women who agree to testify. Many programs and services provided or funded by VAWA are at risk if the law is not reauthorized. Among them, community violence prevention programs; protection for victims who have been evicted from their homes due to domestic violence incidents; funding for rape crisis centres and hotlines; programs supporting immigrant women, women with disabilities and women from other ethnicities and legal aid for survivors.
    Source: VOXXI, 15 August 2012

UNDOCUMENTED CHILDREN AND THEIR FAMILIES

  • ISRAEL / Court rules against segregated schooling in Eilat

    In a decision on 5 August 2012, the Beersheba District Court condemned the policy of segregated schooling in the Municipality of Eilat and reaffirmed that the Compulsory Education Law applies to every child in Israel, regardless of their migration status. The Municipality of Eilat has been operating a policy denying asylum-seeking and undocumented children access to mainstream schools in the city, instead requiring them to attend a separate school with lower standards. The petition was filed by the Hotline for Migrant Workers, the TAU Refugee Rights Clinic and the ACLB Migrants Rights Clinic claiming discriminatory segregation of children based on their race, ethnicity and legal status.
    Source: Assenna, 7 August 2012

  • NETHERLANDS / Undocumented children undertaking work placements without residence permits will no longer be fined

    Dutch Minister, Mr Kamp, has stopped the issuance of fines to pupils who undertake work placements without having a valid residence permit. Nevertheless, Mr Kamp will be appealing a previous judgement of the Dutch High Court that held that work placements are part of ‘education’. In this case, the Court had judged that since doing an internship is a compulsory requirement for obtaining a diploma, the Dutch law (Aliens Employment Act) preventing undocumented students from carrying out an internship was against the right to education as upheld by Article 2 of the 1st Protocol of the European Convention on Human Rights (See PICUM Bulletin, 29 May 2012).
    Source: Stichting Los Newsletter, 10 July 2012

  • UK / Directory of services for young refugees and migrants

    The Migrant Children’s Project (MCP) has compiled a directory of services available to young refugees and migrants. The directory is to assist practitioners and carers in identifying local and national organisations and projects that can offer support, advice and other assistance to refugee, asylum-seeking and migrant children and young people in England and Wales. The directory does not include law firms or law centres. For information on how to find a solicitor or legal representative, please see Coram Children’s Legal Centre’s legal advice and representation resources. The directory will be updated regularly. If you know of an organisation or project that should be added please let the MCP know by emailing mcp@essex.ac.uk.
    Source: Migrant Children’s Project Newsletter, August 2012

  • UK / Campaign against changes to family migration rules continues

    Migrants Rights Network (MRN) is encouraging people who are directly affected by the changes to the family migration rules that came into effect on 9 July 2012 (see PICUM Bulletins 18 June 2012 and 11 July 2012) to join the campaign opposing the changes. As well as awareness-raising activities such as contacting local MPs or local newspaper or TV stations, people can contribute to MRN’s evidence about the effects of the changes by informing them of your situation.
    Source: Migrants Rights Network, Newsletter 13 August 2012

  • UN / Call for submissions regarding children’s right to health

    The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is preparing a report on the right of the child to enjoy the highest attainable standard of health, and is inviting contributions from civil society. Information is particularly welcomed on: (a) the main health challenges related to children; (b) the main barriers in implementing children’s right to health; (c) examples of good practices undertaken to protect and promote children’s right to health, particularly in relation to children in especially difficult circumstances. Please send your contribution (five pages max) by 1 October 2012 to: registry@ohchr.org. The report will be presented to the Human Rights Council at its 22nd session (March 2013), to inform the annual day of discussion on children’s rights, focusing in 2013 on the right of the child to the highest attainable standard of health.
    Source: United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

  • USA / Irish irregular migrants to benefit from deferred action programme

    The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced on 15 August 2012 that they will begin to accept requests for consideration of “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (See PICUM Bulletin 11 July 2012 and 20 August 2012). This scheme allows more than 1.76 million irregular migrants including Irish migrants brought to the U.S. as children by their undocumented parents to apply for work permits. In addition to the grant of a work permit, the scheme will stop the applicant-migrant’s deportation for a two-year period, subject to renewal. It is thought that thousands of undocumented Irish migrants living in the U.S. will avail of this scheme.  Nevertheless, the deferred action has received criticism by Sinn Fein councillor Pat McGinn, as it involves a vast amount of red tape and is both costly and time-consuming. The requirements to apply for the deferred action, as well as guidelines to submit the application are available here.
    Source: Newry Times, 20 August 2012

  • USA / DREAMers allowed to work but not drive

    A new policy under the Obama administration has halted deportation of undocumented migrant youths and grants them permission to work (See PICUM Bulletin 11 July 2012). Nevertheless, some states including Arizona and Nebraska have said they will not grant driving licenses to these youths nor other welfare benefits or other public assistance except the prenatal care bill which was adopted in April 2012. Max Graves, executive director of the Center for Legal Immigration Assistance in Lincoln has said that this would hinder chances of getting legitimate jobs and force youths to drive without a license. He insisted that if these young individuals were accepted into the deferred action programme they would be legally documented and therefore would have the legal authorisation by the federal government to get a driving license.
    Source: Latino Fox News, 20 August 2012; Colorlines, 22 August 2012

  • USA / Federal Appeals Court rules that it is unconstitutional for schools to check the immigration status of new students

    On 20 August 2012, the Alabama Federal Appeals Court ruled that the Alabama Immigration Law requiring state school administrators to check the immigration status of its new students was unconstitutional. Judges stated that fear of the Immigration Law “significantly deters undocumented children from enrolling in and attending school.”  Before this ruling, several private groups and the Obama administration had filed complaints seeking to block what was perceived as a draconian law. Parts of the pre-existing immigration law remain upheld including that police and law enforcement officials for example, are still allowed to ask people they stop for their documents.
    Source: KTTC Media, 21 August 2012

DETENTION AND DEPORTATION

  • FRANCE / Detention of undocumented children in Mayotte

    A group of French NGOs (ADDE, Comede, Fasti, Gisti, LDH, MRAP and SAF) have asked the government to suspend the “6th July 2012 circular” which despite limiting the detention of children endorses house arrest of migrant families with children on the crux of deportation and excludes its applicability to Mayotte. In early July 2012, La Cimade had warned of not excluding Mayotte from policies of ending and/or limiting the detention of undocumented children where in 2011 more than 4,500 undocumented children were detained. Nevertheless and despite the death of a two month old baby in administrative detention in Mayotte, the French government has reaffirmed its policy of administrative detention of migrant children. The Ombudsman for children has said he will look into the case of the baby’s death. Despite the European Court of Human Rights’ ban on the detention of child migrants (Popov v. France) and France’s new President, Mr Hollande’s promise not to detain migrant children anymore, detention and house arrest are still used.  In Mayotte, more than 5,000 undocumented children are removed every year to the neighbouring island of Anjouan, and their detention is allowed on the ground that “it does rarely exceed 24 or 48 hours”.
    Source: La Cimade, 12 July 2012; GISTI, 20 August 2012; La Liberation, August 17 2012

  • GREECE / Deportations of irregular migrants

    819 irregular migrants of different nationalities were deported to their countries of origin in July 2012 by commercial and national charter flights from Athens airport, under the operations of the Department of Deportations of the General Police Directorate of Attica for Foreigners. Their return, which was issued based on their irregular entry into Greece, is a response to irregular migration in the country and the costs of transport were covered by the European Return Fund. In the same context, 84 irregular migrants were also deported from Greece between 13 and 17 August 2012.
    Source: News Bomb, 1 August 2012; ERT, 16 August 2012; Naftemporiki, 17 August 2012

  • ISRAEL / Migrant children to be detained in prison system

    The Israeli prison service has announced that it will detain African children who enter irregularly in Givon Prison, instead of the special youth migration detention facility which is already in place. The decision comes after six migrant boys escaped from the youth migration detention facility in early August 2012. This move contravenes an Israeli High court decision of 2011 ruling against children being held in prisons. Prison authorities have justified the decision saying that the move is temporary.
    Source: Harretz Newspaper, 10 August 2012

  • SWITZERLAND / EVENT / Global campaign to end immigration detention of children- child participation side event at the CRC Day of General Discussion

    The Global Campaign to End Immigration Detention of Children has organised a lunchtime side-event at this year’s Committee on the Rights of the Child Day of General Discussion, 28 September, 2012 in Geneva. This event has been accepted by the Committee to become part of the official programme for the day. The event “Hear our stories” will give the floor to three young people who have experienced immigration detention themselves. Their presentation will depict the impact of detention during and after and will be followed by an interactive dialogue. A child expert from South Africa and a social theatre director from India will guide the group of young people (aged between 16 and 20) to share their stories and design the presentation in the way they see fit. This will happen during a one week workshop in the week of 24 September 2012 in a location just outside Geneva. The focus of the participatory process with the three young people will be their own stories as this will allow decision makers to come face to face with the consequences of detention on individual children and young people. This DGD is a unique opportunity to table the issue of immigration detention of children. Please contact Jeroen Van Hove (jeroen@endchilddetention.org), Lead Campaign Coordinator, for further information about the DGD event or the campaign more broadly.

  • RUSSIA / New centre in Novosibirsk

    In the city of Novosibirsk, in Russia, a new centre for foreign nationals and undocumented migrants was opened on 7 July 2012. The centre’s main function is to temporarily provide accommodation to people who are subject to deportation and administrative expulsion. It belongs to the Ministry of Social Development of the Government of Novosibirsk oblast. On 10 August 2012, a representative of the Migration Mission under the Tajik Government in the Russian Federation visited the centre, where at that moment five citizens of Tajikistan were held. Together with several representatives from the Russian Federal Agency of the Judicial Bailiffs for the Novosibirsk oblast, the Tajik delegation talked to the residents of the centre, who gave positive feedback on their maintenance conditions and attitudes of the centre’s employees.
    Source: Mission of the Migration Agency under the Tajik Government in the Russian Federation, 14 August 2012

  • USA / Better detention conditions for migrants

    The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has adopted a new policy which significantly reduces the number of transfers of detained irregular migrants from centres in their state of residence to other facilities in other states. These transfers were justified by the authorities due to a lack of space in detention facilities but with significant consequences of distancing detainees from their families, communities and lawyers (See PICUM Bulletin 4 July 2011). Following a request by Human Rights Watch (HRW), it was revealed that between 1998 and 2010, the USA carried out a total of 2 million transfers involving 1 million irregular migrants. After three years of work by HRW since its first publication on the issue (Locked Up Far Away, December 2009), a new policy will be implemented to minimize the transfer of detainees who have family members in the area where they are detained, local attorneys, or pending immigration proceedings. HRW will continue to monitor the situation.
    Source: Human Rights Watch, 9 August 2012

PUBLICATIONS AND OTHER RESOURCES

  • SWITZERLAND / Magazine for European March of Sans-Papiers and Migrants published

    On the occasion of the European March of Sans-Papiers and Migrants that took place from 2 June to 2 July 2012 a magazine has been issued called “31 Tage“ (31 Days). The magazine includes newspaper articles on racism, international division of labour, migration, human rights, the right to asylum, regularisation and self-organisation of undocumented migrants.

EVENTS

  • GHANA / First African Civil Society Forum on Migration, Development & Human Rights

    The African Civil Society Forum on Migration, Development and Human Rights will convene for the first time in Accra, Ghana, on 12 and 13 September 2012. Key Africa-led civil society organisations from and within the continent, Europe and North America will gather to exchange information, engage in policy advocacy, and build strategies on current challenges related to global migration. This event is the result of the Pan African Network in Defence of Migrants’ Rights (PANiDMR)’ efforts to bring together voices of Africans to promote the well-being and interests of migrants, refugees and stateless persons from Africa, and in recognition of the first Global Forum on Migration & Development (GFMD) to be hosted in the continent by Mauritius in November 2012. Ahead of this Forum, Migrants Rights International (MRI) has mobilised the Global Coalition on Migration that will meet in preparation of the Civil Society Days of the Global Forum. PICUM is among the participants for both events.

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