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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
8-12.2.18
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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
HUNGARY: Operation Starve & Strangle: how the government uses the law to repress Hungary's civic spirit (Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (TASZ) and Hungarian Helsinki Committee, pdf)

"On 18 January 2018, the Hungarian government launched the ‘ Stop Soros ’ package, a proposal of three laws that target civil society organisations... These laws follow up on the 2017 NGO Law on foreign-funded organisations (Act LXXVI of 2017) over which the European Commission has decided to refer Hungary to the EU Court of Justice. The 2017 NGO Law requires that NGOs receiving foreign funding over €24,000 register on a separate list, report and publicly label themselves as ‘foreign-funded’ or face sanctions.

The latest proposal comes amidst a wider effort to stigmatize specific individuals and non-governmental organisations, and has been presented as a bid to stop ‘illegal migration’, to ‘strengthen the protection of borders’ and to ‘protect Hungary’s national security interests’. The proposed measures will affect a number of areas key to the functioning of civic life in Hungary. Despite their name, they not only target those who allegedly engage in supporting or funding ‘illegal migration’, but through less-conspicuous provisions also target the wider group of NGOs."

And see: “Observer”: The Stop Soros bills–Hopefully only propaganda and nonsense (Hungarian Spectrum, link)

How refugee and migrant solidarity groups are confronting the hostile environment (IRR News, link) by Frances Webber:

"A review of recent pan-European developments in the criminalisation of solidarity. New developments are emerging in the criminalisation of solidarity, as the hostile environment principle, familiar to us in the UK, is adapted to other European contexts, further shrinking the space for solidarity.(...)

It was back in November 2017 that the IRR published its research, Humanitarianism: the unacceptable face of solidarity. At that time, we sent a copy the European Commission, asking them in a covering letter to reconsider the decision they made in March 2007. Two months later, at the end of January, the Commission finally replied. Their response (read it here) does not address the cases we presented, but argues that it is for member states to decide whether conduct is criminal or not. This entirely misses the point: a mandatory humanitarian exemption would not only set clear limits on states’ ability to criminalise acts such as rescue assistance if a humanitarian motive was established. It would also – and this perhaps explains the Commission’s reluctance – send a clear signal to states that there are limits to an anti-humanitarian political culture that, in abandoning refugees, criminalises humanity."

“Out of sight” – Second edition (MSF, link):

"This report is a follow-up to the research contained in "Out of Sight" - Asylum seekers and refugees in Italy: informal settlements and social marginalisation. It is the result of constant monitoring activities carried out in 2016 and 2017 by way of repeated field visits and in collaboration with an extensive network of local associations."

EU: ETIAS: Trilogue discussions on: Proposal for a Regulation establishing a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) and amending Regulations (EU) No 515/2014, (EU) 2016/399, (EU) 2016/794 and (EU) 2016/1624 (377 pages, pdf): State of play: Commission proposal, Council position, European Parliament position and "compromise" position.

See also::Four-column on the amendments to the Europol Regulation based on ETIAS (pdf)

EU: Commission responses to parliamentary questions: Dublin returns to Greece; arrivals in Sardinia; European Tracking Solution; Europol internet monitoring platform

Recent responses from Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs, to questions from MEPs on

UK: 'A lottery': asylum system is unjust, say Home Office whistleblowers (The Guardian, link):

"The British asylum process is a lottery and many asylum interviews are rushed, biased and resolved by “cut and paste” decisions by overworked Home Office staff, whistleblowers have told the Guardian.

Former staff employed in deciding asylum claims said some colleagues had a harsh, even abusive, attitude towards applicants, mocking them to one another and employing “intimidation tactics” during interviews.

As a result, the whistleblowers said, the asylum system was in effect a lottery, depending on the personal views of the decision-maker who picked up the file. They said some staff took pride in rarely, if ever, granting asylum."

And see, from eight years ago: Border staff humiliate and trick asylum seekers – whistleblower (The Guardian, link): "Claims that asylum seekers are mistreated, tricked and humiliated by staff working for the UK Border Agency are to be investigated in parliament."

EU: Few migrants returned to Turkey under 2016 deal (EUobserver, link):

"The vast majority of people arriving on the Greek islands from Turkey to seek asylum are not being returned, as was demanded under an EU-Turkey migrant swap deal.

(...)

Fewer than 2,000 have been returned between March 2016 and November 2017, according to the European Commission. Around 12,000 Syrians have resettled from Turkey."

IRELAND: A nation of welcomes? New figures challenge the Republic of Ireland’s record on asylum and immigration (The Detail, link):

"ALMOST nine out of every 10 asylum applications were turned down in the Republic of Ireland since 2008, according to new figures revealed by The Detail, which also show an upward trend in the number of non-EU citizens refused entry.

As part of a special investigation supported by the Mary Raftery Journalism Fund and the Tony Ryan Trust, The Detail analysed and visualised data relating to asylum and immigration to provide a comprehensive picture of the republic’s response to the global refugee crisis.

Using data sourced from the European Commission database, Eurostat, this analysis reveals that almost nine in every ten asylum applications considered by Irish authorities were refused between 2008 and 2016.

Eurostat figures also show that the republic’s 13% rate of granting asylum compares poorly with an EU average of 44% between 2008 and 2016.

This analysis further reveals that 28,000 non-EU citizens were refused entry to the republic since 2008 and that invalid or false visas or permits was the main reason for refusal."

And see: Rohingya man in ‘right to work’ case seeks reunification with children (The Irish Times, link): "The Rohingya man at the centre of the “right to work” case has asked the Minister for Justice to allow his three children, two of whom are in an orphanage in Bangladesh, to join him here."

EU politicising development aid to build Fortress Europe (euractiv, link):

"EU investments should not be used to blackmail or externalise borders. Particularly if the EU really wants to tackle the root causes of forced migration, writes Xabier Benito Ziluaga.

Xabier Benito Ziluaga is a member of the European Parliament from the GUE/NGL group, Spain-Podemos."

Attacks on immigrants highlight rise of fascist groups in Italy (Guardian, link):

"More than 70 years after Benito Mussolini’s death, thousands of Italians are joining self-described fascist groups in a surge of support that antifascist groups blame on the portrayal of the refugee crisis, the rise of fake news and the country’s failure to deal with its past.

The shooting in Macerata on Saturday that left six Africans injured was only the latest in a series of attacks perpetrated by people linked to the extreme right. According to the antifascist organisation Infoantifa Ecn, there have been 142 attacks by neofascist groups since 2014."

Human smugglers in Libya have links to security services: U.N. report (Reuters, link):

"Most armed groups involved in human smuggling and trafficking in Libya have links to the country’s official security institutions, sanctions experts said in a confidential report to a U.N. Security Council committee seen by Reuters on Wednesday.

(...)

Eritrean migrants told the sanctions monitors they had been arrested by the Special Deterrence Force (SDF), which is an armed group affiliated with the internationally recognized Government of National Accord’s Ministry of Interior, the report said.

The migrants said the Special Deterrence Force handed them to various smuggling rings. “The panel is assessing whether the SDF’s leadership was aware of collusion and trafficking being conducted within its ranks,” the sanctions monitors wrote."

Are You Syrious (8.2.18, link)

FEATURE: A letter to Paris

"At least 128 unaccompanied minors (aged 13 to 17, mainly boys) are reported to be on the streets of Paris at these freezing temperatures, while some reports are saying there are around 400. “Many unaccompanied minors (…) are currently left to their own devices in the streets of Paris, without shelter, in negative temperatures, and thus exposed to a serious and immediate danger to their physical and mental health,” lawyers Catherine Delanoë-Daoud and Isabelle Roth, heads of the unaccompanied minors section of the Paris Bar, and Emmanuel Daoud, a member of the Council of the Paris Orde, alarmed in a letter sent today to the prosecutor and the prosecutor in charge of minors. They are asking the city and the prefect of Paris to put “all the material and human means in work to ensure effective protection of these minors.”

CROATIA

"In the wake of the death of little Madina, that occurred near the border between Serbia and Croatia, the Croatian Ombudswoman has submitted a letter to the State Attorney regarding the circumstances of the event. Croatian police issued two orders (one on 24 November 2016 and on 15 February 2017) that match the data on increasing violence against refugees and unlawfully preventing refugees from seeking asylum in Croatia that us civil society organizations have been warning about. The police, however, do not want to submit the text of the order to the Ombudwoman due to “technical difficulties.”

The Croatian Center for Peace Studies, in addition to initiating proceedings before the Constitutional Court (...)

Statewatch has updated its: Observatory on the European security-industrial complex

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