EU: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe 25-29-4-18

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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
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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
Activists slam EU plan to force migrant kids to give fingerprints (, link):

"Activists have raised concerns about new EU plans to allow police to force migrant children to have their fingerprints taken. The aim is to prevent unaccompanied minors from going missing or ending up in the hands of criminal gangs. Critics say coercion is not the answer.

Under the proposal, EU member countries would be able to take the fingerprints of children as young as six, compared to the current age of 14."

Lesvos, Greece: Moria 35 Trial Ends in Conviction of 32 – But After 9 Months of Unjust Detention, the 35 will Finally be Free! (Lesvos Legal Centre, link):

"While all 35 defendants should soon be released from detention, a gross miscarriage of justice took place today at the Mixed Jury Court in Chios, Greece where a ruling of guilty was declared against 32 of the 35 defendants. The 35 were arbitrarily and violently arrested in Moria camp in Lesvos on 18 July 2017 following what started as a peaceful protest outside of an EASO office. This inherently unsafe verdict, reached despite an overwhelming lack of evidence, follows a week long trial which continuously violated fundamental principles of a fair trial under Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights and brings into serious question the impartiality of both the Judges and Prosecutor in the case.

32 of the 35 defendants were found guilty of injury to public officials, but acquitted on all other charges. The three individuals detained by a firefighter outside Moria Camp were found innocent of all charges; the testimony against them discredited as inconsistent and lacking credibility as the firefighter misidentified the defendants in court. (...)

Southern rim rebels against EU migration proposal - Opposition lowers chances of a deal by June (Politico, link):

"Five EU countries that sit on the bloc’s external borders are bucking a proposed overhaul of asylum rules, putting in peril efforts to strike a deal by June’s summit of European leaders.

The pushback from Italy, Spain, Greece, Cyprus and Malta — laid out in a three-page position paper obtained by POLITICO — comes as Bulgaria, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU, is pushing a proposal aimed at revising the so-called Dublin Regulation and ending one of the bloc’s most bitter policy fights.

Their hard position comes on top of the longstanding opposition by the Visegrad countries — Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia — to any effort by Brussels to force countries to accept refugees, or to set new restrictions on how asylum seekers might be returned to the first EU country they entered."

See: Dublin Regulation: Position paper of Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta and Spain on the Proposal recasting the Dublin Regulation (pdf)

Germany-Tunisia:Germany assists Tunisia with electronic border surveillance system

The German Ministry of Defence is supporting Tunisia in the development of an electronic border surveillance system. An already-existing barrier is now being extended along the Libyan border to the border town of Borj AI Khadra in the Sahara. The recipient of the initiative is the Tunisian military, while the overall project is planned in cooperation with the US government and is being implemented by the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). The financial assistance received from Germany is vaguely stated by the government as a "double-digit million amount".

Alarm over Hungary's treatment of migrant children at border (DW, link): "Hungary leaves migrant teenagers in harsh conditions at its border with Serbia in breach of agreed rules, the Council of Europe has said. Its report follows visits by human rights experts last year".

Lesvos, Greece: Law And Order No Longer Applies 24/04/2018 (Eric Kempson Youtube, video, link)

Turkey says facing ‘new refugee wave’ after 30,000 Afghans arrive (euractiv, link):

"Nearly 30,000 Afghans have arrived in Turkey in the last three months, the Turkish government said Wednesday (25 April), after Amnesty International criticised the authorities “ruthless” decision to send more than 7,000 back to Afghanistan.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said 29,899 Afghans had crossed into Turkey since January compared to 45,259 people in the whole of 2017, state news agency Anadolu reported."

European Parliament: MEPs support reforms to speed up assessment of asylum requests in the EU (Press release, link):

"• Asylum requests registered in three days, admissibility assessed in one month
• Protection granted in six months (nine in exceptional circumstances)
• Right to a personal interview, free legal assistance and appeal
• Turkey cannot be considered a safe country of origin."

German court to rule on medical age tests for refugee minors (DW, link): "In Germany, a refugee's age is generally established in an interview with youth welfare officers. A court decision could soon require authorities to determine it with a medical exam, but those methods are controversial."

Swedish left divided over migration policy (New Europe, link):

"As the Swedes go to the polls in September 2018, divisions between left-wing coalition partners are becoming visible, especially on migration policy.

On Tuesday the Social Democrats announced their intention to pass a law that would link eligibility to social benefits with proficiency in Swedish. The law would apply for asylum seekers and immigrants. Moreover, the government would be able to stop benefits to newcomers that do not take the offer of Swedish language tuition."

Search requests for missing Syrians soar, says Red Cross (DW, link):

"After dealing with up to 50 requests for missing Syrians, the Red Cross has said thousands more people have sought its help in recent months. Reunions, however, have seldom occurred, according to the aid organization

International Committee of the Red Cross President Peter Maurer told journalists at the UN late Wednesday that the organization had received some 13,000 tracing requests from Syrians over the past six months, compared to only 30 to 50 per month in the early years of the Syrian war."

EU wrestles with plan to force fingerprinting of migrant children (Politico, link):

"EU plans that would allow police to forcibly fingerprint migrant children have become the focus of intense wrangling among the bloc’s major institutions.

Under plans to recast the Eurodac system that established a fingerprint database for asylum seekers from outside the EU, the European Commission has proposed letting police take fingerprints from children aged 14 and older. Rights activists have condemned the idea, saying coercion amounts to violence and could traumatize children.

The proposal is the subject of negotiations between the Commission, the Council of the EU and the European Parliament that began in September 2017. The next round of the talks takes place on Wednesday."

See: EURODAC: Trilogue document from 21 February 2018 including differing positions on forced fingerprinting of children

GREECE: Government Defies Court on Asylum Seekers: Reinstates Containment Policy That Keeps People Trapped on Islands (joint NGO statment, pdf):

"The Greek government’s move on April 20, 2018, overturning a binding court ruling ordering it to end its abusive policy of trapping asylum seekers on Greece’s islands raises rule of law concerns, 21 human rights and humanitarian organizations said today.

Rather than carrying out the April 17 ruling by the Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, the government issued an administrative decision reinstating the policy, known as the “containment policy.” It also introduced a bill on April 19 to clear the way to restore the policy in Greek law. Parliament members should oppose such changes and press the government to respect the ruling."

An Italian Court Decision Could Keep Rescue Boats From Saving Refugees in the Mediterranean (The Intercept, link):

"In August 2017, an Italian prosecutor ordered police to seize and impound the Iuventa, a ship operated by the German nonprofit Jugend Rettet, in Trapani, a port in western Sicily. The Iuventa is used to rescue migrants attempting the perilous sea crossing between North Africa and Italy, but the prosecutor said he was investigating the organization for alleged ties to human trafficking operations in Libya. The investigation relied on evidence gathered through the use of police informants, an undercover operative, tapped phone calls, and a recording device that police placed in the Iuventa’s bridge months earlier, and it purported to show the crew of the Iuventa coordinating with Libyan smugglers.

The Italians’ case for holding the ship, however, has been criticized by outside observers, who point to legal irregularities and gaping holes in the prosecutor’s narrative. This week, Forensic Architecture, a London-based research organization, released a new investigation that calls into question the key evidence in the three events pivotal to the case. Researchers with the organization, who shared their findings with The Intercept, argue that Italian police have withheld and distorted evidence in order to paint a picture of collusion. On April 23, a court in Rome will decide Jugend Rettet’s final appeal against the seizure of their ship. Whatever the court decides, the case will set an important precedent for humanitarian operations in the Mediterranean."

EU-LIBYA: Refugees International report: "Death Would Have Been Better": Europe Continues to Fail Refugees and Migrants in Libya

Today, European policies designed to keep asylum seekers, refugees, and migrants from crossing the Mediterranean Sea to Italy are trapping thousands of men, women and children in appalling conditions in Libya. This Refugees International report describes the harrowing experiences of people detained in Libya’s notoriously abusive immigration detention system where they are exposed to appalling conditions and grave human rights violations, including arbitrary detention and physical and sexual abuse.

EU-ITALY-LIBYA: Pushing Migrants Back to Libya, Persecuting Rescue NGOs: The End of the Humanitarian Turn (Part I) (Border Criminologies, link):

"The vessel Open Arms of the NGO Proactiva Open Arms... was informed by the Italian MRCC that the responsibility for coordinating the rescue lay with the Libyan authorities from that moment on. When the Libyan Coast Guard arrived, it requested the Open Arms to hand them over the migrants. The NGO crew refused, because Libyan ports are no ‘places of safety’ where rescued people can be brought according to international law...

This was not to be the end of the matter, however. Instead, the Italian authorities responded, first, by denying the Open Arms permission to bring the migrants to Italy, which has always been the landing point for NGO vessels acting under the coordination of the Italian MRCC. When the Open Arms was finally allowed to dock in the Sicilian port of Pozzallo, the Italian authorities confiscated the ship. The captain and the head of mission were subsequently charged with aiding ‘illegal immigration’.

...In this post, I argue that these incidents are part of a series of developments, which show that Italy is tightening its policy of containment to prevent ‘unwanted’ migrants from reaching European soil, while at the same time waging a war against humanitarian organizations. Through these actions, the government facilitates returns to Libya, which are carried out on Italy’s behalf by the Libyan coast guard and navy. In so doing, Italy is putting an end to its humanitarian turn and moving towards a more exclusionary management of the space of the sea."

Revamping the Schengen Information System: trilogue documents on police cooperation, border checks and returns

Statewatch is today publishing the most recent documents from the secret "trilogue" meetings on the new rules that will govern the Schengen Information System (SIS). The documents concern the rules on the use of the system for police cooperation, border checks and returns.

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