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EU asylum and immigration policy

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EU: FRONTEX: New rules on Frontex operations at sea (pdf) from Ska Keller (Green Group, pdf):

"The regulation on Frontex operations at sea sets new rules for intercepting and pushing back migrants at sea as well as for rescuing them. It replaces the current Council decision of 2010, which was struck down by the European Court of Justice because the European Parliament was unlawfully excluded from co-decision-making."

and see: Regulation on the maritime surveillance by Frontex: lives in danger at the external borders of Europe (Frontexexit, link)

UNHCR: Mediterranean crossings rise in first months of 2014 – many fleeing war and persecution (link):

"UNHCR estimates some 6,000 people have been rescued by the Italian Navy from over forty overcrowded boats in the Mediterranean off the shores of Sicily and Calabria in the past four days. They have disembarked in the ports of Augusta, Catania, Porto Empedocle, Messina and Pozzallo in Sicily and Roccella Jonica in Calabria.

Large numbers of women and children, including newborns and unaccompanied children, were amongst those rescued. They had set off from Zwara in Libya, and many were fleeing violence, conflict and persecution. Main countries of origin include Syria, Eritrea, Somalia, Nigeria, Gambia, Mali and Senegal."

AFRICA: Migreurop: 4th EU-Africa summit – EU-Africa Migration policies: the deadly obliviousness of heads of state (link) and in French (link)

"On both shores of the Mediterranean, a securitarian view of migrations is shared. The externalisation of border management, the strengthening of surveillance systems through Frontex and Eurosur, as well as the instrumental use of public development aid to try to keep populations in their home countries, remain the key means for its implementation."

Background, official press release: Fourth EU-Africa Summit, 2-3 April 2014, Brussels: EU-Africa Declaration on migration and mobility (pdf)

EU: Claiming asylum after interception is "abuse" of procedure, claims joint police operation report

A formal report produced by the Lithuanian Council Presidency argues that migrants who submit applications for international protection after they have been "intercepted" (apprehended) by national authorities are abusing the asylum procedure.

A large-scale joint police operation, codenamed PERKUNAS , was organised by the Lithuanian Presidency and carried out in September 2013. It aimed at "identifying the link between illegal EU external border crossings and secondary movements of irregular migrants within the EU and the Schengen Area," and the final report said that:

"Considering that the largest proportion (72.94%) of irregular migrants submitted applications for international protection after interception, this could be assessed as a definite quantitative indication of abuse of asylum procedure."

EU-AFRICA: Fourth EU-Africa Summit, 2-3 April 2014, Brussels: EU-Africa Declaration on migration and mobility (pdf) and see: EU-African migration action plan (New Europe, link)

EU: FRONTEX: Work Programme for 2014 (pdf)

EU: Frontex: Code of Conduct for joint return operations coordinated by Frontex (pdf) and see: Annual Information on the Commitments of the Member States to the European Border Guard Teams (EBGT) and the Technical Equipment Pool (pdf):

"The EBGT consists of border guards from the national border authorities of the Member States.....At the end of 2013, the overall number of border guards in the EBGT stood at almost 2,500 and is still growing as Member States make their contributions. With this number of border guards in the EBGT, Frontex is in the comfortable position of having more officers available for possible deployment on operational activities.

Equipment for border control: - mobile laboratories, i.e. vehicles equipped with communications systems, computers, printers or other equipment for document checks; -.heart-beat detectors -.carbon dioxide (CO2) detectors - Hand-held surveillance equipment: night vision goggles (NVG); -.hand-held thermal cameras.- Dogs (95)"

STATEWATCH: New issue of Journal: Borders, deaths and resistance and Link for free download

"So detached has the official rhetoric about migrants' rights and saving lives become from the realities of the detention centres, the razor wire, the intensive surveillance, the military patrols, the forced expulsions and the 20,000 documented deaths, that people bearing the brunt of the economic crisis and austerity measures may be forgiven for thinking that over-generous migration policies are indeed the source of all their woe - a message that is rammed home by opportunist politicians and xenophobic media at every opportunity.

This new edition of the Statewatch Journal examines the latest European policy and practice vis-a-vis border control, immigration and asylum."

NETHERLANDS: SCHENGEN Border Controls: The Netherlands: European Commission: DG Home: Temporary reintroduction of border controls: At the occasion of the Nuclear Security Summit, the Netherlands temporarily reintroduces border controls at its internal borders during the period from 14 to 28 March 2014.

Safety measures for Nuclear Security Summit: The Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) will take place in the World Forum in The Hague on 24 and 25 March. To ensure that this conference proceeds safely and smoothly, a number of measures are being taken. One of these measures is a temporary reintroduction of controls at the Netherlands’ borders with other Schengen countries under articles 23 (1) and 24 of the Schengen Borders Code (Regulation (EC) No. 562/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council). Nuclear Security Summit (link)

CoE: Parliamentary Assembly: Europe lags behind in its efforts to resettle refugees (link): "Europe is lagging behind in its efforts to resettle refugees – with only 20 Council of Europe member states resettling only 5,500 people in 2013 – and should do a great deal more, according to PACE’s Migration Committee." And see report: Resettlement of refugees, towards greater solidarity (pdf)

Spain admits use of rubber bullets on migrants was wrong (BBC News, link) and see: Sea Swallows the Stories of Africans Drowned at Ceuta (IPS, link): "“Who will speak for them now? Who will tell their stories to their families in Cameroon or Ivory Coast?” asked Edmund Okeke, a Nigerian, about the 16 migrants who died while trying to swim to the shore of the Spanish city of Ceuta from Morocco. The victims were driven back with rubber bullets fired by the Spanish Guardia Civil (militarised police) from the beach of this Spanish enclave in north Africa, on Feb. 6."

Italy Closes Its Eyes to Sealed Mouths (IPS, link): "“We walk inside an area that is 128 steps long and seven-and-a-half steps wide. This is the path they made for us: two metres of bars over our heads, and upon the bars, two metres of plexiglas. We are like canaries in a cage, like birds of different races all in one cage."

UNHCR: UKRAINE: International Protection Considerations related to developments in Ukraine (Press release, pdf): "In the current circumstances, UNHCR considers a designation of Ukraine as a "safe country of origin" not appropriate, and recommends States to remove Ukraine from "safe country of origin" lists."

NORWAY: Detention of Asylum Seekers (pdf): Analysis of Norway’s international obligations, domestic law and practice.(Norsk Organisasjon for Asylsøkere)

UK: Sun, sand...and indefinite detention (Open Democracy, link): "The UK’s second largest immigration detention centre is about to open in Weymouth. Jennifer Allsopp reports on local responses to the imminent presence of hundreds of foreigners, locked up off the coast of this small and friendly town."

EU and Tunisia sign Mobility Partnership - Italy among the 10 Partnership member States (AnsaMed, link) and: EU and Tunisia establish their Mobility Partnership (Commission press release, pdf)

See also: Extension of Mobility Partnerships with Euro-Mediterranean Partners (link) by Marie Martin

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 3-4 March 2014, Brussels: "B" Points Agenda (for discussion, pdf), "A" Points legislative (adopted without discussion, pdf) and "A" Points non-legislative (adopted without discussion). See: Background Note (pdf)

Documents: A highly inappropriate title: "An effective EU return policy": Presidency's food for thought paper for the lunch discussion (pdf) and Preparation for the accession of the UK to the SIS II (pdf) Detailed discussion of UK access in the light of its proposed JHA opt-out with Member States reactions.

EU: Council of the European Union: COSI, ITCs and Single Point of Contact (SPOC) for cross-border information exchange

- Future role of COSI (pdf) from the following delegations: AT, BG, CZ, ES, FI, FR, HU, HR (Croatia), IT, PL, RO, SE, SI, SK

- ITC: Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals in the framework of an intra-corporate transfer [First reading] - Analysis of the final draft compromise text with a view to agreement

- Working Group on Information Exchange and Data Protection (DAPIX): Draft SPOC Guidelines for cross-border law enforcement information exchange (pdf) Single Point of Contact (SPOC) for cross-border information exchange.

EU: European Commission: Smart Borders, GAMM & Free movement

- Smart Borders: The scope of the study on the Smart Borders Package (pdf)

- GAMM: Report on the implementation of the Global Approach to Migration and Mobility 2012-2013 (pdf)

- Free movement: Addressing the consequences of disenfranchisement of Union citizens exercising their rights to free movement (pdf)

Belgium temporarily suspends Dublin transfers to Bulgaria (Asylum Information Database, link). See: UNHCR: Bulgaria As a Country of Asylum (pdf)

TURKEY: European Parliament: do not vote in favour of a EU/Turkey readmission agreement! (Migreurop, link): "On 26 February, the European Parliament will vote on the “EU-Turkey agreement on the readmission of persons residing without authorisation”. The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) and Migreurop call upon the European Parliament to vote against this agreement until the full respect of rights of migrants and refugees can be guaranteed at all stages of the readmission procedure." and French (link)

GREECE: Refugees describe dire conditions in migrant detention centres (EnetEnglish, link): "Granted political asylum in December, Farhad, detained for 14 months at the detention centre in Corinth, said detainees were packed scores to a room and often beaten by police. In protest at the appalling conditions, he and others sowed their mouths together and went on hunger strike

See also: GlobalPost documentary shows footage recorded inside Corinth camp

EU: ECRE (European Council on Refugees and Exiles), CEAR and Accem: Death and Summary Returns at Europe’s Doorstep: European Commission Must Investigate Border Practices in Ceuta and Melilla (pdf): "The EU cannot turn a blind eye to these allegations of serious human rights violations and has to do everything in its power to ensure the respect of fundamental rights at its external borders" See also: Death of at least 12 people (link)

EU: Migreurop: A Critical Chronology of European Migration Policies (link) and Chronology pdf (link)

"This chronology seeks to make it easier to understand European migration and asylum policies through a time-framed comparison of the evolution of the legal framework (columns A1 to A3), the public discourse (B1) and the facts (B2). The table is updated twice a year.

The aim is to picture the way in which the EU policy of closing the borders, apart from the sequence of tragedies that it causes, leads to human rights violations and to absurd situations that are sometimes impossible to manage by the very people who implement them, in an escalation whose effects sometimes appear to escape the grasp of its protagonists, and bargaining among states in which migrants, refugees and displaced people represent a form of exchange currency."

EU-SWITZERLAND: Switzerland gets first penalty for immigration vote (euractiv, link): "The European Union said yesterday (16 February) it had postponed negotiations with Switzerland on its participation in multibillion-dollar research and educational schemes, after Berne said it could not sign in its present form an agreement to extend the free movement of people to Croatia, the newest EU member." And see: EU suspends research talks with Switzerland (European Voice, link)

EU: SEASONAL WORKERS: Council of the European Union: Council adopts directive on third-country seasonal workers (Press release, pdf) and see: Full-text (pdf)

EU: SEARCH & RESCUE AT SEA: Council of the European Union: Final "compromise" proposal agreed between the Council and the European Parliament: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing rules for the surveillance of the external sea borders in the context of operational cooperation coordinated by the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union - Approval of the final compromise text with a view to an agreement at first reading (pdf) See: Safety at sea p12, Interception p16 and Search and Rescue p21.

UPDATED: EU: FRONTEX REJECTS OMBUDSMAN RECOMMENDATION: European Ombudsman: Full Summary on Frontex Inquiry (pdf)

Short Summary of the Special Report of the European Ombudsman in own-initiative inquiry OI/5/2012/BEH-MHZ concerning Frontex (pdf):

"Frontex has rejected a recommendation made by the European Ombudsman following an investigation of its compliance with human rights standards and, in particular, with the requirements of the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights. The Ombudsman, Emily O'Reilly, is sending this special report to the European Parliament seeking its support on the matter....

The Ombudsman recommended to Frontex that it should set up a mechanism whereby it could deal directly with complaints from people claiming to have had their fundamental rights breached by Frontex. Regrettably, Frontex decided not to accept this recommendation....

The Ombudsman does not accept that Frontex does not carry responsibility for the actions of staff operating under the Frontex banner. That responsibility may sometimes be shared with the individual Member State, but it is not tenable that Frontex has no responsibility and that, thus, it should not deal with complaints arising from actions in which it is involved."

UK: Statement by Peace in Kurdistan Campaign, Roj Women, MAF-DAD & Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC): Outrage as Kurds held up for hours at Dover crossing (pdf): Kurdish families bound for Paris protest on anniversary of killings were stopped and searched under Schedule 7 of Terrorism Act 2000.

EU: Statewatch Analysis: Amending the EU’s visa list legislation - February 2014 version (pdf) by Steve Peers, Professor of Law, University of Essex:

The EU’s legislation defining the countries and territories whose nationals are (and are not) subject to a visa requirement to enter the EU is a crucial part of the EU’s immigration policy, and has a further significant impact on the EU’s external relations.

A new amendment to the visa list rules was adopted in December 2013, and the European Parliament and the Council have also agreed on two further amendments to the rules, which will be officially adopted early in 2014. This analysis examines all of these recent changes, and presents an informally codified version of the text of what the Regulation will look like after they all take effect.

EU: Council of the European Union: ITC, Search & Rescue & Researchers

- Intra-corporate transferees: Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals in the framework of an intra-corporate transfer [First reading] (pdf) Nearly agreed "compromise" between the Council and the European Parliament. This contains Council's response to the sixth trilogue. Multi-column document.

- Sea surveillance: Search & Rescue: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing rules for the surveillance of the external sea borders in the context of operational cooperation coordinated by the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union (74 pages, (pdf) Multi-column document showing proposal by Commission, the Council and European Parliament positions and draft "compromises"

- Researchers: Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of research, studies, pupil exchange, remunerated and unremunerated training, voluntary service and au pairing [Recast] (172 pages, pdf) Council discussion on its position with over 300 Member State positions.

Spain: Case into Martine Samba's detention centre death to be reopened

On 14 January 2014, the Madrid provincial court ruled in favour of the appeals submitted by Ferrocarril Clandestino and her mother Clementine Samba [assisted by SOS Racismo Madrid], and the Asociación de Letrados por un Turno de Oficio Digno [ALTODO] to overturn the decision to shelve investigations into the death of Martine Samba. The Congolese woman was detained in Madrid's detention centre foreigners in the Aluche neighbourhood for 38 days, until she died in the 12 de Octubre hospital on 19 December 2011. The key focus of the case is whether inadequate medical care provided to Martine Samba in the detention centre [CIE, centro de internamiento para extranjeros] had a role in her death and may result in charges of manslaughter being brought against the centre's medical staff.

EU: Council of the European Union: Coreper confirms agreement on list of non-EU countries whose nationals are exempt from the visa requirement (Press release, pdf) and Regulation (EU) No 1289/2013 of 11 December 2013 amending Council Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 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 (pdf)

EU/Italy: A breath of fresh air, the "Lampedusa Charter"

On the weekend from 31 January to 2 February 2014, a process that began with the shipwrecks that cost 600 people their lives in early October 2013 was completed in an assembly to discuss the final details of a document produced from below, by civil society, migrant support associations and interested individuals from around Europe and beyond, including migrants themselves and citizens of Lampedusa, that calls for a radical overhaul of the EU's migration policies.

POLAND: The Invisible: Stateless persons in Poland, summary (link):

""Anna Strama and Anna Pilaszek authored this piece. This report concludes an 11-month long research project by the Halina Niec Legal Aid Center carried out within the framework of ‘The Invisible – Stateless Persons in Poland’ project funded by the Stefan Batory Foundation. The full report is available in Polish."

EU gives US six months to come clean on visa policy (euractiv, link):

"EXCLUSIVE / The European Commission has told the United States to lift visa requirements on Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Cyprus and Croatia, whose citizens still need an entry permit to travel to the country.

A regulation which entered into force on 20 December requires EU countries to "react in common" on visa matters, especially in cases where foreign countries "subjects [EU] citizens to differing treatment”."

See: Regulation of 11 December 2013 amending Council Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 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 (pdf)

EU: RETURNS DIRECTIVE: AT THE LIMEN: The implementation of the return directive in Italy, Cyprus and Spain (pdf)

"Over the last few years, the use of two different forms of immigration control has increased: there are more centres (detention centres, or “reception” centres) and there has been a proliferation of different forms of temporary legal status. In both cases, these new immigration management and control measures are both characterised by their seemingly temporary nature and by the fact that both present immigration as an entirely temporary phenomenon."

UK: Amendment to Immigration Bill allows Home Secretary to make people stateless (Free Movement, link) see: Bill's progress (link). And see: ILPA briefing to Government New Clause 18 Deprivation of citizenship: conduct seriously prejudicial to vital interests of the UK (link)

ITALY: ASGI clarifies the issues involved in repealing the criminal offence of illegal entry and residence

A recent development in Italy has been the response to the tragic shipwreck in Lampedusa in October 2013 that cost over 360 people their lives and other scandals concerning the treatment of migrants, which have resulted in parliamentary scrutiny of a proposal to abrogate [repeal] the criminal offence of illegal entry and residence, turning it into an administrative offence, approved by the Senate in its first reading vote on 21 January 2014.

GREECE: Migrants saved in Greek boat accident mourn relatives – and dispute claims - Survivors say coastguards refused to help them as vessel sank and stamped on hands of those clinging to Greek boat (Guardian, link)

GREECE: 16 SURVIVORS FROM 28 PASSENGERS: Inquiry calls after migrants die under tow in Greece (BBC News, link) and see: UNHCR - Statement on boat incident off Greece coast (link):

"UNHCR is dismayed to have learned of a boat cap-sizing off the coast of Greece in the early hours of this morning, which has left a woman and a child dead and 10 other people missing, among them infants and children.

According to accounts from some of the 16 survivors and Greek Coast Guard, the vessel was carrying 26 Afghans and two Syrians. It was intercepted in the southern Aegean Sea shortly after midnight following a mechanical breakdown and while apparently en route from Turkey to Greece. The boat, with all 28 passengers still aboard, was being towed by a Coast Guard vessel when it capsized. The survivors, now on the island of Leros, told UNHCR they were being towed in the direction of Turkey at the time of the accident."

EU: Council of the European Union: Multi-column documents: Search & rescue and TCN visas

- Sea Surveillance: search and rescue: Proposal for a Regulation establishing rules for the surveillance of the external sea borders in the context of operational cooperation coordinated by the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union (17 January 2014, pdf) Multi-column document, part of the 1st reading trilogue process, with the Commission proposal, European Parliament position, Council position, "Compromise" text

 - TCN visas: Draft Regulation amending Council Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 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 (amendment to Annexes) (17 January 2014, pdf) Multi-column document, part of the 1st reading trilogue process, with the Commission proposal, European Parliament position, Council position, "Compromise" text

Spain/France: NGOs demand inquiries into immigration deaths in Barcelona and Marseilles

Two statements, one by the Catalan section of SOS Racismo and the other one jointly issued by French association Anafé alongside the international networks Migreurop and Boats 4 People, demanded official inquiries into the deaths of an Armenian man in the Catalan detention centre (Centro de Internamiento de Extranjeros, CIE) in Zona Franca on 3 December 2013 and of a young Guinean man who drowned on 10 January 2014 near to the port of Marseilles. The French authorities attempted to return him to his point of departure by putting him back on board of the ship that carried him and a fellow Guinean man to Marseilles from Dakar, after their request to lodge an asylum application was refused.

EU: New "concept" drafted for EU border missions abroad

The European Union's guidelines for "border management" missions abroad are being updated "in view of the increasing demand for CSDP [Common Security and Defence Policy] to tackle border management tasks" and in order to "integrate the know-how acquired since 2006, and to translate the principles of Integrated Border Management (IBM) into the strategic and operational processes for the planning and conduct of CSDP missions."

An evaluation report published in April 2013 that examined the EU's "support to Integrated Border Management and the fight against Organised Crime" across the globe found it: "[H]ighly influential in the comprehension and implementation of IBM principles in partner countries, although the levels of ‘take up’ became less noticeable the further geographically from the EU the intervention was."

EU-LIBYA: Libya is boycotting an EU project relating to asylum, while the development of the police and the military continues apace (Andrej Hunko, link):

"The European Union’s activities relating to the restructuring of the Libyan security apparatus must be halted without delay. This applies to training projects for the military and for the police,” said Andrej Hunko, Member of the German Bundestag, in response to the Federal Government’s answer to a Minor Interpellation about the EUROSUR border surveillance system."

Andrej Hunko went on: “Italy is establishing facilities to monitor Libya’s sea and land borders. These facilities are connected to Italian command and control centres. The aim is to prevent refugees from making the crossing to Europe. If they are detected while still in Libyan waters, the EU Member States can avoid having to deal with asylum applications. However, the protection of refugees is not guaranteed in Libya. There are reports of serious abuses by the police and militias."

and Answer to the Minor Interpellation entitled “The launch of the EUROSUR border surveillance network” (pdf)

See also: 340 Libyan military personnel coming to be trained in italy, and the press release also talks of training that is being carried out by italians in Libya, "to support the transition": Libia, 340 militari in Italia per addestramento (link)

CoE-GREECE: Investigation into alleged Greek coastguard abuse of migrants - Probe follows letter from Europe's top human rights watchdog (EnetEnglish, link): "Ministers tell Nils Muižnieks, the Council of Europe's human rights commissioner, that investigations have been launched into claims that Greek coastguard officials ill-treated migrants last year " See also: Letter from Nils Muižnieks, Commissioner for Human Rights to Greek Ministers (pdf):

UK: Detention centre castigated over death of elderly man - Terminally ill Canadian man, 84, was kept in handcuffs by staff at Harmondsworth removal centre until after his heart stopped (Guardian, link)

EU: Statewatch Analysis: 11 years of Eurodac (pdf) by Chris Jones:

"On 15 January 2003 Eurodac, the EU-wide database of asylum-seekers’ and irregular migrants’ fingerprints, came into use. Eleven years on, it holds the personal data of nearly 2.3 million individuals and has been transformed into a policing as well as migration database."

CoE: GREECE: COLLECTIVE EXPULSIONS: Letter from Nils Muižnieks, Commissioner for Human Rights to Greek Ministers (pdf):

""I am worried by a number of reports that I have received from expert refugee organisations that provide consistent and substantiated information about a large number of collective expulsions from Greece to Turkey of irregular migrants, including a large number of Syrians who are fleeing the armed conflict in their country and are, at least prima facie, in need of international protection...

Collective expulsions of migrants are not only incompatible with international human rights and refugee law but also ineffective, since many of these migrants, including asylum seekers, face such a desperate situation in their country of origin that they usually re-enter after their first expulsion."

EU: EPIM report: Point of no return - The futile detention of unreturnable migrants (pdf)

""Unreturnable migrants cannot go back to their country of origin for reasons beyond their control. At the same time, they cannot obtain a residence permit in the country where they live. Without documents or status, they can be detained for a forced return that never becomes possible."

"With this report and the related campaign, we hope to increase momentum amongst policy-makers at national and EU levels to reduce detention and find solutions for unreturnable migrants. Besides informing decision-makers, this report is also intended to stimulate civil societies to give special attention to this group of migrants, who are often living under the radar."

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