Statewatch Observatory
Archive 2008: EU asylum and immigration policy


Spain: The Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos de Andalucía asks for the text of the preliminary draft immigration law reform to be withdrawn

Italy-Tunisia: Allowing someone to live or letting them die: Italy contravenes European Court of Human Rights instructions by deporting Tunisian by Gabriella Petti:

"Six days have passed since Mourad Trabelsi's expulsion, yet we know nothing about his fate once he arrived in Tunisia. His relatives have looked for him in prisons without any results, and his lawyer has not received any news. The Italian government has probably co-operated with the umpteenth disappearance of an individual involved in trials for international terrorism.* According to lawyers, many of those expelled, when they return to their countries of origin, have been arrested, subjected to torture and and have sometimes disappeared. In this case, we are dealing with someone who was sentenced to seven years' imprisonment that he has just served in an Italian prison, with a further twenty years to serve in a Tunisian jail, following a sentence issued in absentia in his country of origin."

EU: FRONTEX: Frontex General Report 2007 (63 pages, pdf)

Spain: CEAR expresses concern over asylum law reform (Statewatch)

EU: Justice and Home Affairs "Agenda": Statewatch analysis: The EU’s JHA agenda for 2009 (pdf) by Professor Steve Peers, University of Essex

ECJ: Huber v Germany: The processing and storage of those data relating to Union citizens for statistical purposes or with a view to fighting crime is contrary to Community law (Press release, pdf) and Judgment - full-text (Judgment, pdf)

"as regards the question of the use of the data contained in the register for the purposes of fighting crime, the Court holds, in particular, that that objective involves the prosecution of crimes and offences committed, irrespective of the nationality of their perpetrators. The register at issue does not contain personal data relating to nationals of the Member State concerned. Consequently, use for the purposes of fighting crime is contrary to the principle of non-discrimination and hence contrary to Community law." (emphasis in original)

EU-FRONTEX: Pro Asyl: Appeal to the European Parliament ”Stop the death trap at the European Borders!“ More than 1500 documented cases of deaths at the doors of Europe over the last 12 months illustrate a serious human rights record (Press release, pdf) and Petition to the European Parliament:
Year by year thousands die at Europe´s borders. Stop the deathtrap at the EU borders!
(Petition, pdf)

How a child dies in Venice: 11-year-old Afghan boy dies to avoid controls by the border police

"He was fifteen years old. No, he was twelve. Maybe, in reality, he was only eleven. As the day progressed, his age changed several times, turning increasingly younger. In any case, he was a boy. He was found dead in Via Orlanda in Mestre, Venice, run over by the lorry under which he had hidden to escape the checks by the border police. Why, one would wonder, does an Afghan minor, a figure that is well protected by international conventions, by the ECHR, and even by the Bossi-Fini law [on immigration], risk his life in such a way in order to avoid being intercepted by the border police?"

EU/Africa/Indian Ocean: Fortress Europe blog details 41 deaths in November 2008

EU: RETURNS DIRECTIVE: The Council of Ministers of the European Union must not adopt the outrageous directive! Joint press statement by Anafé, APDHA, Arci, ATMF, La Cimade, Gisti, IPAM, LDH-Belgique, Migreurop and Statewatch against the formal approval of the Returns Directive on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights:

In English
In French (original)
In Spanish
In Italian

EU: Commission proposals:

- Council Regulation listing the third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement (COM 716, pdf)

- Directive laying down minimum standards for the reception of asylum seekers (COM 815, pdf)

- Regulation concerning the establishment of 'Eurodac' for the comparison of fingerprints for the effective application of Regulation (EC) No […/…] [establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national or a stateless person] (825/3, pdf)

- Regulation establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national or a stateless person (COM 829, pdf)

GREECE: PROASYL REPORT: “The situation in Greece is out of control”: Research into the situation of asylum seekers in Greece (pdf)

EU/Libya: Petition against detention camps for migrants in Libya (Fortress Europe, link)

A petition "for an international investigation on the detention conditions of migrants and refugees arrested in Libya on their way to Europe" was launched by the directors of the documentary "Come un uomo sulla terra", which features stories told by African refugees about their journey through Libya. The petition, to be sent to Italian and EU authorities as well as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, highlights Italy's responsibilities as a result of bilateral agreements whereby Italy provides "financial and technical support to Libya" to control migration flows.

EU/Africa/Middle East: Fortress Europe blog details 108 deaths in October 2008

Joint UK-French charter to repatriate Afghans narrowly averted

THE ALTERNATIVE CONSULTATION ON EU JUSTICE AND HOME AFFAIRS POLICY

The European Commission has launched a public consultation on the future priorities in the field of Justice and Home Affairs policy. The European Civil Liberties Network has produced an alternative questionnaire to provoke a more wide ranging debate about EU policy and practice.

Please take a few moments to complete the survey and have your say on EU justice and home affairs policy:
Complete survey

For more information about the ECLN survey, see: the
ECLN survey

EU: PROPOSED ENTRY-EXIT SYSTEM: National responses to questionnaire: Presidency project for a system of electronic recording of entry and exit dates of third-country nationals in the Schengen area (68 pages, pdf), Belgium response (pdf) and Portugal response (pdf)

EU: "Friends of VIS" set-up: Draft Council Conclusions on a group of "Friends of the VIS" (pdf)

EU-AFRICA: European Commission: One year after Lisbon: The Africa-EU partnership at work (COM 617, pdf) and One year after Lisbon: The Africa-EU Partnership at work: Commission contributions to the implementation of the EU-Africa Action Plan (2008-2010) (SEC 2603, pdf)

EU: RETURNS DIRECTIVE: Migreurop statement on the first effects of the returns directive: Three months on from the return directive's approval by the European Parliament, Migreurop notes how its implementation of an approach involving the systematic detention of migrants is being followed by Member States approving measures that follow the same rationale, namely the detention and criminalisation of migrants. Highlighting developments in France and Italy, the European network reaffirms its commitment to struggle against human rights abuses in detention centres through its campaign to guarantee a right of access to detention sites:

Detention of foreigners : the first effects of the "return" directive (English)
Détention d'étrangers : les premiers contrecoups de la directive retour (French, original)
Detenzione degli stranieri : i primi effetti della direttiva Rimpatri (Italian)
Detención de extranjeros : los primeros efectos de la Directiva " retorno" (Spanish)

Basque Parliament resolution strongly condemns the Returns Directive: In its plenary session on 10 October 2008, the Basque Parliament approved a resolution that strongly condemns the Returns Directive, described as "a serious violation of fundamental human rights", for "penalising and criminalising" people who merely seek to enter Europe to work and improve their living conditions. It encourages Basque institutions, political groups and society to devise ways of opposing and minimising the impact of its implementation to stop the "limiting of fundamental human rights", and the creation of a category of human beings "who are even more vulnerable, and who may be subjected to all manners of abuses due to their being considered irregular". It also calls on European Union member states to reconsider the Directive's contents, drawing a comparison with the time when "many of us, men and women... were forced to emigrate... as a consequence of the civil war and dictatorship, or for economic reasons".
Original (in Euskera - Basque - and Spanish) (pdf, pp. 5-8). Unofficial Statewatch translation Thanks to Mugak/SOS Arrazakeria for drawing our attention to this document.

EU: European Pact on Immigration and Asylum (full-text, EU doc no: 13440/08, pdf) The European Pact on Immigration and Asylum is still not officially online on the Council's public register of documents as we write, even after its adoption by the EU Summit (15-16 October 2008). No draft has ever been online, even after it was agreed by the last Justice and Home Affairs Council - five versions are listed but their text is not publicly accessible.

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

"After all the media speculation as to what is and is not in the Pact it is a disgrace that its text was not made publicly available at any stage. It was not officially available before the JHA Council agreed it, when parliaments and civil society might have wished to express a view. It was not available after it was agreed by the JHA Council, nor now when it has been adopted by European Summit. This is no way to instil trust in democracy at the EU level."

An unofficial version was made available by Statewatch in July:
Informal Justice and Home Affairs Ministers meeting in Cannes:
European Pact on immigration and asylum

EU: European Commission Communication: Strengthening the global approach to migration increasing coordination, coherence and synergies (pdf) and Report on: The application of Directive 2003/86/EC on the right of family reunification(pdf)

UN human rights chief spotlights plight of millions of detainees worldwide: Press conference by new Commissioner Navanethem Pillay (UN link). In another report Immigrants among millions unlawfully detained: rights chief (Reuters, link) the Commissioner singles out the EU for criticism of excessively long periods of detention of migrants::

"We have a number of concerns with increasingly restrictive and often punitive approaches to migration in many developed countries of which the EU's recent return directive is one example," she told a news conference.

"The great majority of immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers are not criminals and therefore should not be confined in detention centres like criminals," Pillay said.

Under the EU plan agreed last May, illegal immigrants to the 27-member bloc can be detained for up to 18 months before being sent home, and also face a five-year re-entry ban.

Referring to that maximum detention period, Pillay said: "This appears excessive, especially if obstacles to removal are beyond the immigrant's control, for example if their home country fails to provide the necessary documentation." "

EU/Africa: Fortress Europe blog details 191 deaths in September and 619 in the third quarter of 2008 The Fortress Europe blog which tracks the deaths of migrants during their migration journey, has published its figures for September 2008, noting that there were 191 deaths, with incidents entailing the most fatalities taking place in Egypt (83), in the Channel of Sicily (35), in Sudan (21), in Spain (15) and in Greek minefields in the Evros region near Turkey (4). The death count in August was the worst in the whole of 2008, with 270 deaths, a majority of which occurred between Libya and Italy (179), with deaths also occurring in Algeria (14), Spain (45), Greece (1), Egypt (1) and Iran (30). In July, there were at least 158 deaths, including 13 infants and two pregnant women, of which 48 occurred in the Channel of Sicily, the same number in Spain, and 38 disappeared on the route between Algeria and Sardinia.
For the break-downs, monthly reports and more, see:
Fortress Europe (link)

EU-AFRICA: Counter EU-Africa Summit - Citizens' Summit on Migration, Paris 17-18 October 2008: Call for a Citizen Summit on migration (English, link), Sommet Citoyen sur les Migrations (link) and Dossier for the Press (pdf). Over 250 NGOs are supporting the Citizens' Summit including Statewatch.

EU: LEGISLATIVE UPDATE - State of Play:

- The "Blue Card" proposal for so-called "legal migration": EU doc no: 13163/08 (pdf)
- The "Blue Card" proposal:
EU doc no: 13009/08 (pdf)
- Employer sanctions: Working Party on Migration and Expulsion:
EU doc no: 12634/08 (pdf)
- Employer sanctions: Working Party on Migration and Expulsion:
EU doc no: 11366/08 (pdf)

EU: MIGREUROP: No to the deportation agreements (link) Presentation at the World Social Forum on Migrations, Madrid, 11-14 Sept 2008 with the following participants :Migreurop network, AME (Mali), Group 484 (Serbia), Legal Clinic (Bulgaria), HCA/RLAP (Turkey), Halina Niec Human Rights Association (Poland), MRAP (France), AMDH (Morocco), SOMIM (Portugal), Statewatch (UK) plus: No to expulsion agreements: “Campaign Kit” (pdf)

Access to detention camps (link) Presentation at the World Social Forum on Migrations, Madrid, 11-14 Sept 2008 with the following participants: Migreurop Network, Kisa (Cyprus), Legal Clinic (Bulgaria), HCA/RLAP (Turkey), Andalusia Acoge (Spain), APDHA (Spain), Cimade (France), SOLIM (Portugal), Fasti (France), Halina Niec Human Rights Association (Poland) plus: Detention centres: Campaign for the right of access: Campaign Kit (pdf)

UK-COE: Commissioner Hammarberg releases human rights report on asylum-seekers and immigrants (pdf) Full-text of Memorandum (pdf) See: Asylum rules 'risk human rights' (BBC link) "Yarl's Wood detention centre was visited by the commissioner this year. Changes to Britain's asylum and immigration controls could breach human rights, a European watchdog has warned"

UK-Council of Europe: Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (pdf). Note: The UK has not ratified the Convention.

German Institute for Human Rights: Human Rights at the EU’s common external maritime border: Recommendations to the EU legislature (pdf)

"A usual summer in the Mediterranean: thousands of deaths and cases of refoulement. Thousands of migrants – some only looking for a better life in Europe, some in need of international protection – leave the North and West African coasts."

EU: French Council Presidency: Latest draft: European Pact on Immigration and Asylum (3 September, 2008, pdf)

EU: Red Cross-EU Office: European Commission Policy Plan on Asylum: Opinion of the National Red Cross Societies of the Member States of the European Union and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (pdf)

Over 70 migrants feared killed on crossing to Europe (Guardian, link)

EU: Proposed new EU border control system (pdf) Report for the European Parliament LIBE Committee by Professor Steve Peers, University of Essex

EU: An analysis of the Commission Communications on future development of Frontex and the creation of a European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR) (pdf) Report for the European Parliament LIBE Committee.

"The [Commission] evaluation, however, falls short of critically assessing the consistence of Frontex activities with the fundamental values upheld by the EU. In this
regard, it seems important to recall that Frontex is a first-pillar, Community body, which should not only respect the EU fundamental values in its activities, but also work for their promotion, particularly in a field which touches upon critical questions related to migration and freedom of movement."

EU-ECJ: Grand Chamber judgment: Judgment overturning Akrich and making it absolutely clear that third country national family members can enter without any requirement of prior lawful residence in another MS: Full-text of judgment (pdf) See: Court gives backing to foreign spouses of EU citizens (euobserver, link)

Profit and power: the privatisation of asylum control (Corporatewatch, link)

EU-LATIN AMERICA: THE "OUTRAGEOUS" RETURNS DIRECTIVE: Letter to EU governments and parliamentarians (Six languages, pdf) Signed by people from: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Ecuador, USA, Haiti, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela:

"It seems that a convenient amnesia prevents Europe from remembering what Europe would be like without cheap labor from abroad, and without the services that the entire world has provided her with. Europe would not be Europe without the massacre of indigenous peoples in the Americas and without the enslavement of the sons and daughters of Africa, to mention only a few forgotten examples.

Europe should apologise to the world, or at the very least give thanks for what the world has given her, instead of legalising the hunting down and punishment of hard
working people who have come to Europe, fleeing the hunger and the wars that the masters of the world have sent them."

Italy to jail clandestine migrants (euobserver, link)

CROATIA: Every day the Croatian Government is removing tourists, mostly Asians and Africans, from the train between Budapest and Venice - people with visas for their destination - people who are not warned they will be passing through Croatia until it's too late - They are left on the border in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere - while travellers from Western countries are allowed to continue their journey unhindered.

EU: Council Presidencies JHA Programme: French, Czech and Swedish Presidencies: Draft Programme of the trio of Presidencies in JHA (pdf)

EU: Inventory of the agreements linked to readmission (link)

EU: Legislative Update: - EMPLOYER SANCTIONS: Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council providing for sanctions against employers of illegally staying third-country nationals and EU doc no: 11000/08 plus EU doc no: 11727/08

EU: EXIT-ENTRY SYSTEM: Briefing Paper for the European Parliament: Proposed new EU border control systems (pdf) by Professor Steve Peers, University of Essex

EP: Useful country reports from European Parliament delegations from the Committee on Civil Liberties (LIBE) looking at "reception of asylum seekers and irregular migrants": Cyprus (pdf), Denmark (pdf) and Poland (pdf)

LIBYA-EU: Libya urges EU to revise illegal immigration rules (Reuters, link)

"Libya called on the European Union to revise new rules against illegal immigration on Monday, saying it would urge African Union members to take action if the EU stuck by measures that treated African migrants as criminals.

EU ministers have backed French proposals for a European pact to stem illegal immigration and attract highly skilled job-seekers, weeks after the EU decided illegal immigrants could be detained for up to 18 months and face a 5-year re-entry ban.

"Africa will not accept any law based on repression and in dealing with African migrants, including children and disabled people, as criminals," Libya's Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by the official Libyan news agency Jana...... "

UK: Outsourcing abuse: The use and misuse of state-sanctioned force during the detention and removal of asylum seekers A report by Birnberg Peirce & Partners, Medical Justice and the National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns (pdf)

EU-VISAS-FINGERPRINTING CHILDREN: The European Parliament plenary session has backed a report by Sarah Ludford MEP (ALDE) calling for the fingerprinting of children to only be allowed for those 12 year old and over - the Council of the European Union (the governments) want it to be just six years old and over. The report was supported by 455 MEPs and opposed by 64, mainly from the conservative PPE group. There were 41 abstentions. Full-text of Resolution (pdf). The Green/EFA rapporteur said:

"Speaking on behalf of the Greens/EFA political group, Ms Tatjana ZDANOKA (Greens/EFA - LV):

• stated that her political group cannot accept any use of biometrics in the EU until its necessity is proven beyond reasonable doubt. The introduction of biometrics has crucial implications for data security and for fundamental rights. Therefore the Greens/EFA political group cannot vote in favour of the report at all."
and:

Speaking on behalf of the GUE/NGL political group, Ms Sylvia Yvonne KAUFMANN (GUE/NGL - DE):

• noted that the introduction of biometrics in visa is not acceptable, in particular regarding small children. She asked for an intensive study to verify the implication of such an approach."

UK: Government threatens 11 countries that unless they change their policies on deportations or removals of their nationals and cooperate on crime and terrorism then their citizens visiting the UK will have to get visas: Home Office Press release: Results Of Britains First Global Visa Review (pdf) Statement by Home Secretary on Visa Waiver Test (pdf) These are: are: Bolivia; Botswana; Brazil; Lesotho; Malaysia; Mauritius; Namibia; South Africa; Swaziland; Trinidad and Tobago; and Venezuela. These countries have a combined population of over 300 million – nearly five per cent of the world’s population.

"The criteria for the test included looking at passport security and integrity; the degree of co-operation over deportation or removal of a country’s nationals from the UK; levels of illegal working in the UK and other immigration abuse; levels of crime and terrorism risk posed to the UK; and the extent to which a country’s authorities were addressing these threats."

The "criteria" are a mix of establishing who is wanting to visit and much broader cooperation on policies such as crime and terrorism. It should be noted that Brazil, Malaysia and Venezuela are the European Commission's "white list" of countries not requiring visas.

ITALY: Census of the Roma on the basis of ethnicity in Italy: European Parliament resolution of 10 July 2008 on the census of the Roma on the basis of ethnicity in Italy (pdf). This Resolution was passed by 336 votes to 220 with 77 abstentions. It was backed by MEPS from the PSE (Socialist group), ALDE (Liberal group), Greens, GUE (United Left) and opposed by the PPE (Conservative group) and UEN (rightwing Europe of Nations group).

- Letter from Jonathan Faull, Director General DG Justice, Freedon and Security, to Italian government Permanent Representative in Brussels: Letter full-text (pdf)
- ALDE Press release:
Roma in Italy: Extraordinary measures are unjustified. EPP deft to appeals from civil society (pdf)

EU: CONCORD Press release: European NGOs condemn putting aid at the service of immigration control (pdf):

"While European and G8 countries are failing to deliver on their international aid commitments, European Development NGOs are deeply concerned about linking immigration control and development cooperation."

EU: Fortress Europe blog details 185 deaths in June. The Fortress Europe blog which tracks the deaths of migrants, details 185 deaths in June alone, 173 of which have taken place in the Channel of Sicily, where arrivals have risen three-fold, with other deaths also reported in the Canary Islands, Venice harbour, Turkey, where a Somali man was shot during a demonstration in a detention centre, and Israel, where three refugees were shot by police along the border with Egypt, including a seven-year-old Sudanese girl. The bulk of the deaths refer to a shipwreck in the high sea off the Libyan coast at Zuwarah on 7 June 2008, in which one survivor was rescued, 40 dead bodies were recovered and at least 100 people disappeared.

For full details, see: http://fortresseurope.blogspot.com/2006/01/giugno-2008.html (original, in Italian)
http://fortresseurope.blogspot.com/2006/01/june-2008.html (English version)

EU: Informal Justice and Home Affairs Ministers meeting in Cannes: European Pact on immigration and asylum and Presidency Note: Asylum procedures

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

"EU Ministers are saying there is no "Fortress Europe", yet anyone with eyes to see knows that there is and that the final building blocks are being put into place.

The EU is denying sanctuary to people fleeing from poverty and persecution while at the same time actively recruiting skilled labour from the Third World in order to maintain its own standard of living - because it has an ageing population.- and thus perpetuate its exploitation of scarce global resources. It is a position devoid of any humanity or morality."

- EU won over to France's hard line on immigration and asylum (euobserver, link)
-
42 days? Try 18 months: This European targeting of illegal immigrants is hypocritical, draconian and undiplomatic by Evo Morales, President of the Republic of Bolivia (Guardian, link)
-
Mercosur anger at EU migrant laws (BBC News, link)
-
Latin American leaders condemn 'racist' EU law (euobserver, link)
- Central American states reject EU Returns Directive: see story below

EU/Africa/South America: Alliance against EU Returns Directive

On 12 June 2008 in Brasilia, a week before the European Parliament voted in favour of the returns directive, the 1st Meeting of High Level Officials of African and South American Countries, involving representatives from 44 countries, the Council of the African Union and UNASUR (Union of South American Nations), with a view to preparing the 2nd African-South American Presidential Summit to be held in Venezuela in November 2008, issued a press release condemning the directive. The representatives expressed "concern" over "legislations recently approved or proposed by some countries or regional organisations concerning migration, that contravene commitments adopted in the framework of human rights conventions and the rights of migrants set out in the UN's relevant legal instruments".

The countries represented were: Angola, Algeria, Argentina, Benin, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Cape Verde, Cameroon, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Congo, DR Congo, Egypt, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guyana, Ivory Coast, Libya, Kenya, Madagascar, Morocco, Mauritius, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Paraguay, Peru, Venezuela, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Suriname, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uruguay, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Full text of the press release (from the no-fortress Europe website, in Spanish)

EU/Central America: Central American states reject EU Returns Directive.
Full-text of statement (pdf)

In Guatemala City on 30 June 2008, PARLACEN (Central American parliament, the regional body representing the governments of central America and the Dominican Republic) issued a declaration to "forcefully reject" the "returns directive" recently approved by the European Parliament as a measure that "undermines migrants human and labour rights". While PARLACEN exhorts its member states to accept their role as countries of origin and to take action to guarantee their citizens' human right to both freedom of movement and to remain in their own countries, it notes that the returns directive "contains articles that criminalise and penalise the migrant population". The declaration describes the measure as "criminalising, discriminatory and xenophobic, which undermines human and labour rights, especially those of boys, girls, adolescents and the norms of civilised co-existence between peoples, and that violates the historical progress made by humanity".

It goes on to challenge the emphasis on security in these measures, the references to people as "illegals", the vision of humans in merely economic terms; reaffirms the right to free movement for humans, calls on regional associations from Latin America and the Caribbean to form a united front against the directive in negotiations with the EU and on the parliaments of EU countries not to adopt the directive.

Spain/Colombia: Information exchange puts Colombian asylum seekers at risk

CEAR, the Spanish Commission for Assistance to Refugees, warns in its June 2008 legal bulletin that the cross-checking of information on Colombian asylum applicants' documents by the Asylum and Refuge Office with Colombian authorities during asylum proceedings contravenes data protection legislation and the nature of the asylum process, undermining the safety of asylum seekers from this country. Problems that are highlighted include the infiltration of Colombian institutions by members of paramilitary groups and the contravening of guarantees of confidentiality that applicants receive when they first apply for asylum.

EU-ITALY: Plight of the Roma: echoes of Mussolini: "The compulsory fingerprinting of Italy's Gypsy population is the latest example of the country's increasingly repressive attitude towards minorities – and an ominous reminder of the policies of the former Fascist dictator". Peter Popham reports (Independent, link)

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

"In a EU of "common values" we are all responsible for what happens in Italy"

FRENCH EU COUNCIL PRESIDENCY: European Pact on immigration and asylum (January 2008, pdf)

MALTA: Journalists Committee welcomes the decision to open migrants detention centres (pdf)

"The Journalists Committee welcomes the decision taken by the Justice and Home Affairs Minister Carmel Mifsud Bonnici to open migrants detention centres to journalists. Committee chairperson Karl Schembri said this was a positive development for journalists in Malta and recalled the role of the Journalists Committee in calling for open access to detention centres... Today, the new minister has finally taken on board our appeal and open up detention centres to journalists.The Journalists Committee has for years argued that detention centres and prisons were kept closed to journalists against all sense of transparency and accountability"

EU: RETURNS DIRECTIVE: Global outcry against EU immigration directive (euobserver, link)

Souhayr Belhassen, president of the International Federation for Human Rights, argued that the timing of the European Parliament's vote was particularly unfortunate as the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights will be celebrated later this year. "By adopting this text, the European legislator lets us understand that migrants are not human beings like any other, provided with rights and to whom states owe obligations," Belhassen added. "They are dehumanised." Parliament Votes Jail for Asylum-Seekers by David Cronin

Green group in the European Parliament:
Returns directive: Vote of shame mocks standards of civilisation (Press statement, link)
GUE (European United Left) group in the European Parliament:
Europe no longer the cradle of human rights (link to statement)

EU: RETURNS DIRECTIVE: The European Parliament has voted this morning (18 June) 367 in favour, 206 against and 109 abstentions on the amended text approving the "compromise" text with the Council.

EU: Commission is set to agree today two "packages", one on asylum, the other on immigration: (pdf's)

Asylum package:

- Communication: Policy plan on asylum: A integrated approach to protection across the EU
-
Commission Staff Working Document: Accompanying document to the Policy Plan on the Common European Asylum System Impact Assessment
-
Commission Staff Working Document: Annexes
-
Memorandum to the Commission
-
Green Paper (2.6 MB)
-
Citizens Summary

Immigration package:

- Communication: On common principles for the further development of the Common Immigration Policy: a platform for a new European approach
-
Commission Staff Working Document: Accompanying document on common principles for the further development of the Common Immigration Policy:
a platform for a new European approach: Impact Assessment
(SEC, 76 pages)
-
Commission Staff Working on common principles for the further development of the Common Immigration Policy: a platform for a new European approach: Impact Assessment (SEC, 60 pages)
-
Memorandum to the Commission
-
Citizen Summary

EU-EP: RETURNS DIRECTIVE: As the European Parliament votes on the Returns Directive there will be a silent demonstration outside the parliament in Strasbourg on 17 June 2008. Demonstrations against the Directive will be taking place in a number of other countries including: Rome (pdf) Lisbon (pdf) Summary of demonstrations (pdf) Bulletin from No to Fortress Europe (pdf)

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

"If passed this will be the 13th measure on visas, borders, immigration and asylum to be adopted by the European Parliament as a result of "first reading deals" negotiated in secret trilogue meetings with the Council.

Neither the final deal nor the penultimate draft are available to the public on the Council's register of documents. Nor was the letter from the Council to the European Parliament setting out the deal of 4 June made available to the public either. There was no time at all for national parliaments and civil society to read, debate and react as the deal was already set in stone. This is no way to run a democracy, especially when the issues at stake concern peoples' fundamental rights."

- the final and penultimate deals are addressed in Statewatch analysis: The Returns Directive: 9 June 2008 (pdf) by Professor Steve Peers, University of Essex

- see: Secret trilogues and the democratic deficit by Tony Bunyan

EU: RETURNS DIRECTIVE: Statewatch analysis: The Returns Directive: 9 June 2008 (pdf) by Professor Steve Peers, University of Essex.

"Despite some positive changes to the text which result from the EP’s involvement in the negotiations, the agreed text of the returns Directive is still fundamentally deficient from the point of view of human rights as well as the basic principles which should underpin EU immigration and asylum law."

EU: RETURNS DIRECTIVE: The full-text of the latest Council draft of the Returns Directive, EU doc no: 8812/08

EU: RETURNS DIRECTIVE: Mandatory expulsion and entry ban decisions in Returns Directive violate general principles of Community law (pdf)

Today, the Netherlands based Meijers Committee (Standing Commitee of Experts on international immigration, refugee and criminal law) published a comment on the draft Returns Directive. On 23 April 2008, a compromise was reached between the Council and the European Parliament on the text of the Returns Directive (2005-0167 (COD), COM(2005) 391). In the meantime some aspects of the text have been changed. Still, the text, in its present form, violates important principles of Community law. Such is in particular the case where the draft directive contains binding Community legislation compelling Member States to take mandatory expulsion measures or mandatory entry ban measures in certain categories of cases. The Standing Committee is of the opinion that the draft Directive must not be accepted by the European Parliament.

Italy: A.S.G.I. Associazione per gli studi giuridici sull’immigrazione: Press Release: From Centres for temporary stay and assistance to Centres for identification and expulsion: the story of a separate health service (pdf)

"Precisely as the new executive passes the “Security package”, someone dies of insecurity. It happened in Turin in the brand new CPT that cost as much as 11,160,184 Euros (source, “La Stampa” 26/5/08 page 56) and which, from now on, will be called an Identification and expulsion centre, as envisaged in the law decree that is due to be issued soon."

Morocco/EU: Moroccan navy accused of sinking dinghy, causing 29 to die: On the night of 28 April 2008, a chase in the high sea off the coast of Al Hoceima ended when a Moroccan navy officer slashed a dinghy's pneumatic body, resulting in 29 would-be sub-Saharan migrants (including four women and four children) drowning, according to survivors.

Italy's crackdown on Roma criticised across Europe (euobserver, link)

Netherlands: Human Rights Watch report:
The Netherlands: Discrimination in the Name of Integration: Migrants’ Rights under the Integration Abroad Act (pdf)

EU RETURNS DIRECTIVE: AI & ECRE: Press release (pdf) See also: FIDH:Proposal for a “returns” Directive: The FIDH calls for the suspension of the text’s adoption until it conforms to Member States international human rights obligations (pdf) and GUE group in the European Parliament: Press release (link, pdf) Statewatch Supplementary Analysis: The EU's Returns Directive by Professor Steve Peers, University of Essex who concludes: "The EP and the Council have to decide whether their endlessly-repeated support for the principles of fairness, human rights and human dignity is a genuine commitment, or simply empty rhetoric." "Against the outrageous Directive!", full-text of speech given by Yasha Maccanico (Statewatch) at the hearing with NGOs organised by the GUE group, European Parliament, Strasbourg on 12 December 2007 (pdf) and Fortress Europe (link) and Migreurop (link)

EU-ECJ: The Court's judgment today annuls the "safe third country" and "safe country of origin" provisions of the procedures directive - and also states that the co-decision procedure now fully applies to asylum law. The case was brought by the European Parliament: Case C-133/06 - full-text of judgment (pdf).

See for background: Statewatch's analysis and coverage:
EU divided over list of “safe countries of origin” – Statewatch calls for the list to be scrapped (pdf) and EU divided over list of "safe countries of origin" - the list should be scrapped - secret documents reveal a shallow process without any sense of morality or humanity

EU: BIOMETRIC VISAS & FINGERPRINTING CHILDREN: Latest version of: Draft Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending the Common Consular Instructions on visas for diplomatic and consular posts in relation to the introduction of biometrics including provisions on the organisation of the reception and processing of visa applications (dated 22 April 2008, pdf). There are still substantive differences between the Council's position and that of the European Parliament - especially on the age for finger-printing children: Council, 6 years old and above, EP, 12 years old and above.

EU-JHA-ECRE: Memorandum to the JHA Council: Ending the asylum lottery – Guaranteeing refugee protection in Europe (pdf)

GREECE: Report by Norwegian Organization for Asylum Seekers (NOAS), the Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC) and Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM): Report on the violation of asylum seekers’ Human Rights by Greece (Report, pdf) and Press release (pdf)

"The situation for asylum seekers in Greece is alarming. Thousands of asylum seekers live under unworthy conditions, and without any forms of legal protection. The chance of receiving protection in Greece is close to zero. Transferring asylum seekers to the country is therefore irresponsible."

EU: Standing Committee of experts on international immigration, refugees and criminal law: Views on the Commission report on the evaluation and future development of the FRONTEX agency (pdf)

UK: Positive Action For Refugees & Asylum Seekers: Dawn raids PAFRAS Briefing Paper No 4 (pdf) and Mental health, destitution and asylum PAFRAS Briefing Paper No 5 (pdf)

EU-DUBLIN AGREEMENT: European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) Letter to EU Presidency (pdf) The letter says that "the unacceptable conditions for asylum claimants in Greece, the obstacles to accessing a fair determination procedure and the risk of other serious human rights violations" as its reasons. "Greece is not a safe place for those in need of protection," Bjarte Vandvik, the head of the ECRE, said.

EU: European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE): Sharing Responsibility for Refugee Protection in Europe: Dublin Reconsidered (pdf) Press release (pdf)

EU-RETURNS DIRECTIVE: Statewatch Supplementary Analysis: The EU's Returns Directive by Professor Steve Peers, University of Essex who concludes:

"The EP and the Council have to decide whether their endlessly-repeated support for the principles of fairness, human rights and human dignity is a genuine commitment, or simply empty rhetoric."

Netherlands: Two deaths in immigration detention in 2 months

“States should not impose penalties on arriving asylum-seekers” by Thomas Hammarberg (CoE, full-text, link):

"A minimum of solidarity with those oppressed is to receive them when they are forced to flee. The “right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution” is indeed a key provision in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Sadly, this right is not fully observed in parts of Europe today. Instead, refugees are met with suspicion and too often even placed in detention."

EU: FINGER-PRINTING CHILDREN: The high-level SCIFA/Mixed Committee, meeting on 12 February 2008 discussed the age at which children should be fingerprinted for visas, residence permits and EU passports and travel documents in: EU doc no: 6138/08 At a subsequent meeting of the Visa Working Party, on 18-19 February 2008 (EU doc no: 6952/08) it was reported in SCIFA that for the:

- age limit: the vast majority of delegations agreed on the age of six and even a lower age where the national legislation allows for it. Two delegations maintained the limit of twelve years."

The two governments referred to - Germany and Austria - support the 12 years old and above proposal from the European Parliament.

The "majority" support finger-printing children six years old and over while allowing any government to have a lower age "where national legislation allows for it".

UK: Border & Immigration Agency: Introducing compulsory identity cards for foreign nationals (pdf)

GREECE: Pro Asyl report: "The truth may be bitter, but it must be told" (pdf) The Situation of Refugees in the Aegean and the Practices of the Greek Coast Guard.

UK: 11 MILLION - CHILDRENS' COMMISSIONER REPORT: Claiming asylum at a Screening Unit as an unaccompanied child (pdf):

"The oppressive nature of large parts of the asylum screening process makes it difficult for children to give a full and accurate account of themselves. This may have implications for the decision made on their asylum claim."

EU-BORDERS: EUROPEAN DATA PROTECTION SUPERVISOR: Border Management (press release, pdf) EDPS issues first comments on EU border management package (7 pages, pdf) Peter Hustinx, EDPS, says:

"It is crucial that the impact on the privacy rights of individuals crossing the EU borders is adequately taken into account. A lack of data protection safeguards would not only mean that the individuals concerned might suffer unduly from the proposed measures, but also that the measures will be less effective, or even counter productive, by diminishing public trust in government action."

The EDPS comments cover:

- piling up of legislative proposals in the area...making it difficult for stakeholders to have a comprehensive overview;
- heavy reliance on biometric data;
- lack of evidence supporting the need for new data systems;
- lack of evaluation of existing systems.

Italy: Milan city council found guilty of discriminating migrant children

EU: European Commission borders package:

- Preparing the next steps in border management in the European Union (COM 69 2008, pdf)
-
Preparing the next steps in border management in the European Union - Impact Assessment (SEC 153 on COM 69 2008, pdf)
-
Examining the creation of a European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR) (COM 68 2008, pdf)
-
Examining the creation of a European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR) - Impact Assessment- (SEC 151 on COM 68 2008, pdf)
-
Report on the evaluation and future development of the FRONTEX Agency (COM 67 2008, pdf)
-
Report on the evaluation and future development of the FRONTEX Agency - Impact Assessment (SEC 148 on COM 67 2008, pdf)
-
Report on the evaluation and future development of the FRONTEX Agency (SEC 150 on COM 67 2008, pdf)

EU: FRONTEX: Conclusions from the Expert Meeting on the Follow-up of the Joint Frontex Europol Report on the High Risk Routes of Illegal Migration in the Western Balkan Countries within the Frontex Risk Analysis Network (EU doc no: 5685/08, pdf)

EU: RETURNS DIRECTIVE: Statewatch Analysis: The Proposed EU Returns Directive by Professor Steve Peers, University of Essex (pdf)

"The Council’s version of the Directive sets standards so low that it would be difficult for Member States go any lower – most obviously with the indefinite period of detention (along with the weak rules on judicial control of detention), but also as regards exclusions from the scope of the Directive, the deletion of the general human rights safeguard, the limited grounds for mandatory postponement of removals, the mandatory re-entry ban following a return decision, the lower standards for remedies, the accelerated procedures without a right to any remedy at all in the Directive, and the nearly non-existent safeguards pending removal."

Germany: Amendment Act marks continued hostility towards foreigners and second generation immigrants (Feature, pdf)

"Decades of restrictive handling of asylum and migration rules have, in Germany as in the rest of the EU, led to a large number of asylum seekers and migrants living permanently without a secure legal status. Forced into illegality, undocumented migrants are economically marginalised and often excluded from basic social services that help to meet a decent standard of living with regard to housing, food, clothing, health care, legal advice, education and training. As a result of this structural violation of migrants' basic rights in Europe, the sans papiers, asylum and migrant rights groups in Germany and other EU countries are demanding the regularisation of undocumented migrants and rejected asylum seekers living in the EU without a secure residency status."

EU: FINGER-PRINTING CHILDREN FOR VISAS, EU PASSPORTS AND TRAVEL DOCUMENTS: The Council of the European Union (the 27 governments) and the European Parliament are currently in co-decision negotiations over the content on which includes the issue at what age should children be finger-printed for the issuing of visas. The Council is proposing children of 6 years of age and above while the European Parliament wants it to be 12 years of age and above: EU doc no: 6067/1/08 REV 1 (the document contains a useful chart comparing the positions of the Council, Commission and European Parliament, pdf).

In a different, but complementary Council fora, the SCIFA/Mixed Committee is discussing the same issue not just for visas but also for all EU passports and travel documents (ie: resident third country nationals, Schengen ID cards): EU doc no: 6138/08 In this high-level Working Party the Council Presidency notes that while there is a "majority" of governments in favour of 6 years and above three governments - Czech Republic, France and Portugal - think it would be "possible" to take:

"fingerprints even for children below the age of 6 years"

While two governments - Germany and Austria - support the 12 years old and above proposal from the parliament.

The Council Presidency is proposing that it should be decided whether each government should be able to decide its own limits - some would be 12 years, some 6 years and some at birth?

"It needs also to be decided if member States should be allowed to collect fingerprints of children under the age of 6 on the basis of the national
legislation."

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

"It is to be hoped that the European Parliament will not budge on this issue. EU governments have been discussing this issue as a technological one, at what age is it possible to take reliable fingerprints from children, when it is a moral and political question.

This comes in parallel with the Commission's idea that peoples' visas, passports and travel documents, including those of children, will be processed in an enclosed box by machines. What kind of Europe are we heading for?"

EU: Integrated European Border Management Strategy: "None of the policy options contribute markedly to reducing terrorism or serious crime" Perhaps the most revealing document in the EU's Justice and Home Affairs package on exit-entry and border management is: Commission Staff Working Document: Accompanying document to the Communication New tools for an integrated European Border Management Strategy: Impact Assessment, Draft v (17/1/2008) (pdf)

- On the role of EU databases like the Schengen Information System (SIS) and terrorism: As the "perpetrators" have mainly been EU citizens or living in the EU with official permits:

"None of the policy options contribute markedly to reducing terrorism or serious crime...In view of the latest terrorist acts in the area of the EU, it can be noted that the perpetrators have mainly been EU citizens or foreigners residing and living in the Member States with official permits.

Usually there has been no information about these people or about their terrorist connections in the registers, for example in the SIS or national databases. The entry/exit system does not register entries or exits of the EU citizens or their relatives. Therefore, the entry/exit system will not be able to have an impact on this specific target group."

- USA entry-exit procedures: "A total of 1,500 people were rejected at the border (but it is not clear how many of them could be classified as serious criminals or terrorist).Information on how many terrorists were rejected at the border is not available."

- a number of Case Studies are cited but these include those using irises as the biometric identifier - which are not going to be used in any EU-wide system and none of the examples involved large-scale numbers of passengers being handled.

Finally, the proposed "Automated Border Control" processing is described in detail - which is labour-saving as no people are involved:

"Automated Border Control processes normally consist of the following: Fingerprint matching would be used in conjunction with an automated gate and kiosk.
The traveller enters the automated gate area, possibly by presenting their passport in order to open a door that closes behind them once they have entered (
to ensure only one passenger uses the gate at a time).

The kiosk prompts the traveller to present the e-passport for scanning (visual and electronic) and is prompted to present one or two fingerprints for scanning. The fingerprint image is captured and the system converts both the captured image and the image stored on the e-passport into templates and attempts to match them, according to predetermined thresholds. If a good match is achieved, a second gate opens and the traveller is allowed to cross the border. If there is not a good enough match, or any other problem occurs, the gate does not open and the traveller is directed for processing by a border guard." (p65)

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

"The idea that visitors and possibly EU citizens - including children aged six and above - should enter an enclosed box and be told what to do by machines and for computers to decide whether to let us out or not is a quite appalling proposal.

We are told it will save money because no officials need to be involved and that the EU should embrace all the benefits of modern technological developments. If this is the price of "progress" it is a bridge too far"

EU: JHA PACKAGE: Press Releases: 13 February 2008:

-
A comprehensive vision for an integrated European border management system for the 21st Century
-
Examining the creation of a European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR)
-
The FRONTEX Agency: evaluation and future development

EU: JHA PACKAGE announced on 13 February 2008: Early drafts and Inter service consultations:

- Commission Inter-service Consolation document on the future of FRONTEX, 11 December 2007 (pdf)
-
Commission exit-entry system draft and Inter-Service Consultation document, 12 December 2007 (pdf)
-
Commission Inter-Service Consultation on European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR), 11 December 2007 (pdf)

See below.

EU: European Commission proposes "entry-exit" system (Communication, pdf) The Commission is proposing that the entry and exit of all visa-holders will be recorded automatically - these visa-holders have to give their finger-prints and be vetted before getting a visa in their country of origin. However, non-visa entrants (eg: from the EU's "white list" countries like the USA) will also have to be fingerprinted and cleared - EU's "white" and "black" visa lists (pdf).

Hidden inside the Communication is a reference to "Automated Border Control systems" which will apply to EU citizens as well as visitors:

"The introduction of Automated Border Control systems can enable the automated verification of travellers’ identity without the intervention of border guards. A machine reads the biometric data contained in the travel documents or stored in a system or database and compares them against the biometrics of the traveller, accelerating border checks by creating automated separate lanes replacing the traditional control booths."

Experiments are taking place along the above lines where a person enters a closed box, is automatically checked and cleared or not cleared - if a person is not cleared a side door opens and they are taken away for questioning.

The Communication proposes the issuing of "tokens" to EU citizens who do not have biometric passports (ie: those who have not had their fingerprints taken) subject to vetting as the full "roll-out" of EU biometric passports will not be complete until 2016.

Also proposed is the adopted of "common vetting criteria" across the EU.

These developments need to be seen alongside the introduction of biometric passports and travel documents across the EU requiring the taking of everyone fingerprints, see: EU governments blackmail European Parliament into quick adoption of its report on biometric passports and EU: "biometric passports" We will not just have to be finger-printed once but over and over again and the Commission's proposed introduction of an EU-PNR (Passenger Name Record) covering everyone (citizens and visitors) leaving and entering the EU: See Statewatch's Observatory on EU-PNR

EU: FRONTEX: Report on the evaluation and future development of the FRONTEX Agency (pdf) Commission Staff Working Document: Accompanying document: Report on the evaluation and future development of the FRONTEX Agency: Impact Assessment (pdf) Commission Staff Working Paper: Annex to the Report from the Commission on the evaluation and future development of the Frontex Agency: Statistical data (pdf)

EU: German Institute for Human Rights:
Border Management and Human Rights A study of EU Law and the Law of the Sea by Ruth Weinzierl and Urszula Lisson (Final Study: 95 pages, pdf)

Spain: Annual statistics on the fight against illegal immigration published

EU: Note of the Standing Committee of experts on international immigration, refugees and criminal law on the proposal for a Council Directive amending Directive 2003/109/EC to extend the scope to beneficiaries of international protection (pdf)

UK Borders Act 2007 (the 2007 Act) come into force on 31 January 2008 - Home Office Circular (pdf)

France: MEP denied access to migrant detention centre

Greece: Emergency Call for Action for the rights of people without papers in Patras, Greece (pdf)

BULGARIA: Immigration Detention in International Law and Practice (In search of solutions to the challenges faced in Bulgaria) Valeria Ilareva by Valeria IIareva (pdf)

UNHCR Statement: Subsidiary protection under the EC Qualification Directive for people threatened by indiscriminate violence (pdf)

CANADA: Court decides that the USA is not a "safe third country: In a 124-page decision Mr. Justice Michael Phelan ruled that the Safe Third Country Agreement, which came into effect on Dec. 29, 2004 and regulated refugee movement between Canada and the U.S., violates refugee rights and that the United States did not meet the conditions required to be considered a "Safe Country" under the terms of the Agreement. Full text of judgment (pdf)

EU: RETURNS DIRECTIVE: "Against the outrageous Directive!", full-text of speech given by Yasha Maccanico (Statewatch) at the hearing with NGOs organised by the GUE group, European Parliament, Strasbourg on 12 December 2007 (pdf)

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