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Council of Europe's anti-torture committee criticises inadequate safeguards for foreign nationals returned by air from Italy and Spain (link):

"In two reports published today on Italy and Spain, the Council of Europe’s anti-torture committee (CPT) criticises the lack of adequate safeguards for foreign national returned by air from these countries, in particular concerning the way the individuals concerned are informed of their imminent removal and that appropriate medical examinations are not carried out before the flights.

The reports contains the CPT´s findings in respect of two return flights that it monitored: one from Rome to Lagos (Nigeria) on 17 December 2015 and the other from Madrid to Bogotá (Colombia) and Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic) on 18 February 2016. The two joint removal operations of foreign nationals by air were co-ordinated by Frontex (now European Border and Coast Guard) and organized by Italy and Spain, with the participation of other countries. The responses of the Italian and Spanish authorities were also published....

Both reports also address specific recommendations to Frontex, in particular in relation to the need for developing more precise common rules on the use of means of restraint as different approaches by the respective national escort staff remained visible to the CPT’s delegations during the monitoring of the joint removal operations. Further, the CPT advocates for the creation of an effective complaints mechanism for the conduct of Frontex escort staff and remains unconvinced that the EU regulation on the European Border and Coast Guard provides for a rigorous complaints mechanism in terms of guarantees that the complaints will be dealt with in an effective, expeditious and thorough manner. " [emphasis added]

See CPT reports: Italy (pdf) plus Government response (pdf) and Spain (pdf) and Government response (pdf)

Joint NGO statement ahead of the European Council of 15 December 2016: EU leaders can save lives in winter if they change migration policies (ECRE, link):

"EU leaders can save lives this winter if they change migration policies

This week, European leaders meet in Brussels to discuss, amongst other things, progress on the EU-Turkey deal, the reform of the European asylum system, solidarity and responsibility sharing, and cooperation with countries of origin and transit. As humanitarian and human rights organisations working in Europe, we are gravely concerned that European policies are trying more and more to push people out of Europe, making it even harder to seek asylum, and leaving it to Member States of first entry, like Greece, to shoulder all the responsibility. Disregarding the realities on the ground and the human rights violations that the EU-Turkey Statement has led to, the European Commission proposes measures that will further exacerbate the situation."

European Commission press release: EUTF for Africa and IOM initiative for Protection and Reintegration of returnees along the Central Mediterranean migration routes (pdf)

"The European Union, through the Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF), and with contributions from Germany (EUR 48 million) and Italy (EUR 22 million), has developed a joint initiative with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to support the efforts of partner countries in Africa to strengthen migration management and to respond to the urgent protection needs and unacceptable loss of life of migrants. The joint initiative will cover 14 countries: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Côte d'Ivoire and Libya."

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director comments: "This is essentially a plan to create holding centres in Africa pending "returns" to the countries of origin or transit."

First wave of Afghans expelled from EU states under contentious migration deal (Guardian, link):

"Dozens of Afghans uprooted from Germany, Sweden and Norway as EU accord allowing deportation of Afghan asylum seekers comes into play...

For European countries, deportations are partly an attempt to deter migrants. Nearly 200,000 Afghans applied for asylum in Europe last year, most in Germany and Sweden.

However, the men who landed in Kabul on Thursday were not recent arrivals to Europe. Everyone the Guardian spoke to had lived in Germany for at least four years. They now returned to a country that has become more dangerous since they left....

Afghanistan is already straining under the weight of close to a million people returned or deported from Pakistan and Iran this year, according to the UN. The deportations from Europe are likely to compound unemployment and the economic crisis. Most returning migrants simply leave again."

UK to help fast-track European deportations of asylum seekers - Theresa May expected to pledge extra staff to help with ‘inadmissible’ claims of Iraqis, Afghans and Eritreans (Guardian, link):

"Britain is to step up efforts to fast-track European deportations of migrants from Iraq, Afghanistan and Eritrea.

At the European council in Brussels, Theresa May is expected to pledge an extra 40 staff over winter to help Greek border officials with asylum claims that Downing Street says are “likely to be deemed inadmissible”.

Children and families should never be in immigration detention – UN experts (link):

"Governments should stop placing children and families in immigration detention, a group of UN human rights experts* has said in a call to mark International Migrants’ Day on 18 December. The detention of children has been increasing amid rhetoric and policies that seek to criminalise undocumented migrants, including children. However, there is never a justification for such detention."

Children's rights at risk in EU hotspots (euobserver, link):

"The EU is falling short of ensuring basic rights of children in its "hotspot" migrant camps in Greece and Italy, a new report by the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) has said.

"The situation of children is a general concern in the hotspots; the one of unaccompanied children is a particularly burning one,” said Michal Nespor, an FRA official who presented the findings to the European Parliament's civic liberties committee on Thursday (8 December). The FRA is an EU watchdog agency in Vienna.

The hotspots were meant to facilitate EU assistance to Greece and Italy by concentrating asylum procedures and EU support in specific locations. But the idea is not working in practice, Nespor said. Lack of lawyers and other staff has caused logjams on asylum claims."

See FRA report: Opinion of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights on fundamental rights in the ‘hotspots’ set up in Greece and Italy (pdf)

NGOs’ responsibility questioned as Italy refugee arrivals surge (euractiv, link):

"Speaking ahead of the EU summit tomorrow (15 December), which will, among other things, address the issue of migration, a diplomat questioned the role of NGOs near the Libyan coast which, in his view, contribute to the increase of refugees arriving in Italy....

The diplomat said that the strong increase in arrivals was unusual for the winter season.

“One of the reasons is that there is a quite strong operation by various NGOs in the Mediterranean. Whereas in the beginning of the year the percentage of the number of migrants taken to Italy by NGOs was in the single digits, like 2-3%, now it’s 40%”, he said."

Frontex On FYROM-Greece Border (News That Moves, link):

"The European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) will deploy 60 police officers on the FYROM-Greece border to enhance controls on the frontier."

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