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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
6-7.2.16
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Keep in touch: Statewatch Observatory: Refugee crisis in the Med and inside the EU: Daily news (updated through the day), commentaries and official documents
EU: PERMANENT RELOCATION PROPOSAL - LATEST DRAFT: Council of the European Union: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a crisis relocation mechanism and amending Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 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 (pdf) 44 Member State's positions.

"During previous discussions, a number of delegations underlined their wish for a thorough assessment of the functioning of the emergency relocation schemes and stressed the need to address the shortcomings in their implementation. Some delegations expressed their preference for linking the discussions on this proposal with the efforts which should lead to effective border controls and proper management of migratory flows and insisted on the voluntary nature of the proposed mechanism. Furthermore, several delegations were in favour of addressing this proposal as part of a broader package on asylum ("Dublin IV")."

"The following delegations have general scrutiny reservations on the text appearing in the Annex: AT, BG, EL, FI and SI.BE, CZ, EE, ES, FR, HR, HU, LT, LV, PL, PT, RO, SI and SK have general reservations on the substance of the proposal; HU and SI have also parliamentary scrutiny reservations."

Theresa May under pressure by MPs to oppose plans that could criminalise charities who help Syrian refugees (Independent on Sunday, link): "Opposition MPs urge the Home Secretary not to join EU members in outlawing a helping hand . Theresa May, the Home Secretary, is under pressure to oppose plans by EU member states that could criminalise individuals and charities who help Syrian refugees when they arrive on Greek islands.

A draft of conclusions reached last month by the Council of the European Union and later obtained by civil-liberties organisation Statewatch showed that Eurocrats could equate the smuggling of refugees with the far more serious crime of trafficking. ...

As a result, even holidaymakers who help refugees off boats might not be exempt from criminal charges on the grounds that they had provided humanitarian assistance".

Desperate EU to Criminalize Humanitarian Assistance in Greece - Leaked Docs (Sputnik News, link)

"A European Commission report, detailing a plan to criminalize volunteers rescuing refugees from drowning, has been revealed by UK civil liberties group Statewatch. The EU is desperate and is therefore making bad decisions, the group’s director told Sputnik.

Statewatch, a London-based civil rights watchdog, has published a confidential report by the European Commission, which reveals the Council of Europe’s plans to pass a new law, criminalizing volunteers who rescue refugees, stranded off the coast of Greece, from drowning.

The new proposals would penalize NGO’s, local people and volunteers -- all providing humanitarian assistance to refugees arriving in the EU - and would remove their exemption from being considered people smugglers.

"The EU has failed, they’re desperate. They’re trying to take over operations [in Greece] to take control of everything," Tony Bunyan told Sputnik.

"I’ve been doing this for 25 years and have never seen anything like it. The EU is in a complete mess. They failed to respond quickly to what happened last spring. The volunteers and smaller NGOs have been helping refugees since the crisis began. Where was the EU then? They only tuned up in November [2015] and by that time already 700,000 people had landed in Greece.""

and see: Rescuing refugees from drowning will be ‘criminalized’ under new EU law – activists (RT, link): " A petition has been launched calling on EU leaders to scrap plans that would criminalize those who rescue migrants and refugees arriving on the Greek islands as part of a push to secure the border between Turkey and Greece. London-based civil liberties watchdog Statewatch has released the confidential Council of the EU report detailing the plan, which was outlined in talks between EU ministers in Amsterdam late last month."

GREECE: Hot spot work intensifies as Greece agrees to recognize Turkey as ‘safe’ country (ekathimerini.com, link)

"Greek authorities agreed on Friday to recognize Turkey as a “safe third country,” which means migrants for whom Turkey is a country of transit, not of origin, can be returned there. The decision was announced after a meeting in Athens between Greek Interior Minister Panayiotis Kouroublis and his French and German counterparts, Bernard Cazeneuve and Thomas de Maiziere... He added that Germany is sending 100 police officers and two coast guard vessels to Greece...

As of yesterday, 94 prefabricated structures had been delivered to the site in Chios and 87 on Leros. Construction work was under way on Samos, where an old army firing range is being converted. On Kos, riot police who had been sent to the island from Athens fired tear gas to deter some 100 locals who tried to force their way into a disused army camp that is being turned into a hot spot.

European Union sources told Kathimerini they are hopeful that at least three of the five centers will be ready in the next few days given that the army is now coordinating the work..."

The EU, Turkey and the Refugee Crisis: What could possibly go wrong? (EU Law Analysis, link)

" The key non-EU country in the EU’s ongoing refugee crisis is Turkey: the host of over 2 million Syrian refugees, and a transit country for many asylum-seekers. An increasing number of them have been making the journey from Turkey to the Greek islands, leading to a significant rise in the number of would-be asylum-seekers in the EU over the last year. Tragically, many have died making this crossing....

the Samsom Plan proposing the systematic return of all asylum seekers from Greece to Turkey in exchange for increased refugee resettlement in Europe, appears to be not only very difficult to implement (due to both legal and practical obstacles), but also based on the doubtful presumption that Turkey may be (soon) considered a safe third country for refugees and asylum-seekers.

Furthermore, it is unfortunate that the EU and Turkey did not agree to fully apply the Geneva Convention for Turkey, and that there are no mechanisms of accountability in place for the EU institutions to report either in general upon Turkey’s compliance with international human rights standards or in particular to explain exactly how the EU’s money is being spent."

See also: Common Understanding establishing a Governance and Conditionality Framework for the Refugee Facility for Turkey, the "Facility", Hereinafter referred to as "the Common Understanding" between EU Member States (hereinafter the "Member States") and The European Commission (hereinafter the "Commission") (pdf) There is no mention of ensuring human rights protection.

News (6-7.2.16)

Greece-Macedonia: EU ministers want to buttress borders to stem refugee flow (ekathimerini.com, link): "European Union nations anxious to stem the flow of asylum-seekers coming through the Balkans are increasingly considering sending more help to non-member Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) as a better way to protect European borders instead of relying on EU member Greece."

Greece is overcoming hot spot delays, says EU official (ekathimerini.com, link): "A European Union official says Greece is making "rapid progress" in overcoming delays in building screening centers for migrants and refugees on islands facing Turkey, after involving the armed forces in the effort.... He said Friday that armed forces involvement had improved preparations to build screening centers, or "hot spots," on Greek islands and transit camps on the mainland.Greece is facing mounting European pressure to complete the screening centers on four islands this month, with the project already three months behind schedule."

Germany looks at new approaches for processing refugees (DW, link): "Germany has 770,000 unprocessed asylum applications. How can the stack be reduced? The responsible authorities have devised an ambitious plan to ensure that everything goes faster, DW's Kay-Alexander Scholz writes."

Daily limit on refugees still not enough for Austrians (euractiv, link): "Austria is now nearly in a position to introduce its daily limit on numbers. But for many Austrians, it does not go far enough."

Austria dodges asylum claims by dumping migrant fingerprints (DW, link): "Austria says it doesn't have legal authority to keep fingerprints from migrants passing through the country. Critics charge the government is skirting responsibility. Alison Langley reports from Vienna."

Deter hate-speech, urges Germany's Tillich (DW, link): "German Saxony state premier Stanislav Tillich says far-right Pegida movement leaders who call for violence against foreigners should be prosecuted. Europe is bracing for far-right rallies and counter-demonstrations. "

Greece: PM Tsipras meets with Interior Ministers of France and Germany (ANAmpa, link): "France will contribute 60 police officers to Frontex, who will come to Greece, and also use 18 expert staff specialising in identifying fake documents, to assist Greek authorities."

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