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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
21.5.18-4.6.18
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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
Council of Europe CTP: Report on Greece reveals truly shameful situation

"The delegation received several consistent and credible allegations of informal forcible removals (push-backs) of foreign nationals by boat from Greece to Turkey at the Evros River border by masked Greek police and border guards or (para-)military commandos.""

Italy cannot be ‘Europe’s refugee camp’, Salvini says (euractiv, link):

"Italy’s new hardline interior minister Matteo Salvini said Sunday that “common sense” was needed to stop the country from being “Europe’s refugee camp” as he visited a migrant centre in the south.

The newly minted deputy prime minister in Italy’s populist coalition government travelled to Sicily, one of the country’s main refugee landing points, to push the anti-immigration platform that propelled him to power.

“Italy and Sicily cannot be Europe’s refugee camp,” he told a crowd of supporters under the blazing sun in the southern Sicilian town of Pozzallo, a migration hotspot."

And see: Italy Sends a Jolt Through Europe (Der Spiegel, link): "Euro-skeptic Italian populists are posing a serious threat to the European Union. Following the drama over Greece and Brexit, the political situation in Rome could throw Europe into its next major existential crisis."

Anti-immigration opposition SDS party leads Slovenia election (DW, link):

"Conservative Janez Jansa and his anti-immigration SDS party came out on top in Slovenia's election, winning nearly 25 percent — but not enough to rule alone. Second-placed is comedian-turned-politician Marjan Sarec."

Migrant workers in southern Italy strike after Malian man shot dead (The Local.it, link):

"Migrant farm workers in Calabria were on strike on Monday to protest the death of one of their fellow labourers, a West African man shot dead at the weekend as he gathered scrap metal.

Soumaila Sacko, 29 and from Mali, was killed on Saturday night in a shooting that also injured two other migrants who, like him, lived in the tent city of San Ferdinando in Reggio Calabria, a sprawling encampment in that houses around 1,000 people who pick the southern region's crops, often for little pay."

At least 46 migrants drown off the coasts of Tunisia (AOL News, link):

"At least 46 migrants have drowned in two separate incidents after their boats sank off the coasts of Tunisia and Turkey on Sunday.

- In a third incident, one migrant drowned and at least 240 more were rescued from 11 small boats by Spain's maritime rescue service.

- At least 1,178 migrants have died worldwide in 2018 through May 28, with at least 660 of the deaths occurring in the Mediterranean."

No entry: Hungary's crackdown on helping refugees (Guardian, link):

"Parliament debates bill that could lead to activists and lawyers facing jail time.

Hungarian authorities plan to go after the few people trying to help asylum seekers to navigate the system. This week parliament will debate a proposed law that could lead to activists and lawyers facing jail time for advising asylum seekers on their rights."

Are You Syrious (2.6.18, link):

Greece - NE Lesvos

"Philippa Kempson recorded a video, saying Frontex “used aggressive tactics to try to stop” a boat from landing despite a rough sea. However, the boat landed safely and everyone was okay, she said. More videos of the incident can be found on her facebook profile. According to volunteers, 35 people were on the boat.(...)

Frontex aggressively trying to stop a boat of refugees landing on the beach. This tactic went on for over half an hour forcing the boat repeatedly away from the beach in rough seas. Welcome to FortressEroupe! There were tourists on the beach watching and filming this also. This is wha t"protecting" the holiday-makers looks like. It is lucky they didn't sink them, there are six children and three babies on this boat.i.f this is the behaviour of frontex in daylight when people are watching what are they doing during the night?"

"One Happy Family on Lesvos released a newsletter, summarizing the previous weeks and giving an update of the current situation. “With (again) more than 7,000 people residing in Moria, it is clear that medical and psychological services are hardly available”, the group says, criticizing the camp management to not provide protection and safety for the people stuck there. In 2018, their community center has an average of around 660 people."

Bosnia

“Numbers in Velika Kladuša are growing non stop, push backs from Croatia plus people coming from Sarajevo in order to try the game”, No Name Kitchen reports from the ground. Recently, a van with blankets and tents arrived from Sarajevo to cover the first needs. Also, NNK got a bigger water tank and is now able to provide showers for around 80 people a day."

Greece: Plans for more camps on Lesvos after riots (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Despite vehement local opposition, the government is planning to create new reception facilities for migrants and refugees on Lesvos after rioting at the severely overcrowded Moria camp on Friday prompted hundreds of Kurdish migrants to abandon the premises.

It is not the first time that riots have shaken the Moria camp, where, until last week, some 7,300 people were residing in a facility designed to host a maximum of 3,000.(...)

In a letter to Migration Minister Dimitris Vitsas, Lesvos Mayor Spyros Galinos described the government’s plans to set up new reception facilities as a unilateral action that is in direct contravention of the will of the local community."

"Big Brother" interoperability: Council of the European Union: Proposal for a Regulation on establishing a framework for interoperability between EU information systems (borders and visa) (LIMITE doc no: 9074-18. 24 May 2018, 69 pages, pdf): The Council discussing its negotiation position: 31 Footnotes including Member States positions:

"Delegations will find hereafter the text of the proposal for the aforementioned Regulation, as revised by the Presidency, based on the outcome of discussions at the JHA Counsellors meeting on interoperability of EU information systems on 18 May 2018, as well as on delegations' written comments."

Amnesty International: France: Pensioner facing jail term for showing compassion to children (link):

"Ahead of the resumption of the trial of Martine Landry, a 73-year-old woman who faces up to five years in prison and a fine of €30,000 for helping two 15-year-old asylum seekers in France, Amnesty International’s Senior Campaigner on Migration, Maria Serrano, said:

“Dragging a compassionate pensioner before the court on these surreal charges makes a mockery of justice. Acts of solidarity should be promoted, not punished.”

Hungary: Bill Makes Aiding Migrants a Crime - Proposed Constitutional Amendment Limits Asylum Access (HRW, link);

"A revised draft bill published by the Hungarian government on May 29, 2018, would criminalize efforts to help migrants and asylum seekers and curb their access to protection, Human Rights Watch said today.

The bill the government presented to parliament proposes amending nine existing laws related to asylum, the national border, and the police. It creates a new criminal offense in the Criminal Code of “enabling illegal immigration,” which is defined to include helping asylum seekers who are “not eligible for protection,” as well as to include border monitoring, producing and disseminating information, or “network building.” If committed “regularly,” or with the aim of “help[ing] several persons,” the offense would be considered aggravated. Anyone convicted would face a sentence of up to a year in prison."

EU: MEPs hope to break deadlock on migration reform (euractiv, link):

"Reaching a common EU response to the long-running migration crisis has been painfully slow. Ministers remain deadlocked on plans to reform the so-called Dublin Regulation that sets out the EU’s common migration and asylum rules.

Italian MEP Elly Schlein, the negotiator on Dublin for the centre-left Socialist and Democrat group, described this impasse as “shameful”.

“They have had the proposal from the European Commission for over two years. Instead, they are focused only on externalising borders,” by cutting deals with the likes of Libya and Turkey, she told EURACTIV."

From 7 to 77: There's been an explosion in building border walls since World War II (USA Today, link):

"BUDAPEST, Hungary — At the end of World War II, there were seven border walls or fences in the world. By the time the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, there were 15, according to Elisabeth Vallet, a geography professor at the University of Quebec-Montreal.

Today, as President Trump pushes his campaign promise to build a wall on the border with Mexico, there are at least 77 walls or fences around the world — many erected after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City and at the Pentagon.

"Walls are public relations exercises where governments demonstrate that they are actually doing something," Vallet said. "They usually create more problems.""

Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals Reach 30,300 in 2018; Deaths Reach 655 (IOM, link):

"IOM, the UN Migration Agency, reports that 30,300 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea through the first 147 days of 2018, with about 40 per cent arriving in Italy, 35 per cent in Greece, with the remainder (25%) arriving in Spain.

This compares with 69,219 arrivals across the region through the same period last year and about 198,346 at this time in 2016.

In other words: Mediterranean arrivals at this point in 2018 are running at under half last year’s level on this date, and less than 15 per cent of 2016’s volume at this point in the year.

Also worth noting: in the month of May, arrivals to Italy rank second – trailing Spain and slightly ahead of Greece"

EU-TURKEY DEAL: When Greek judges decide whether Turkey is a Safe Third Country without caring too much for EU law (EU Immigration and Asylum Law and Policy, link):

"A few days after the two-year anniversary of the EU-Turkey statement, almost 1,500 people have been returned to Turkey on this basis. Although most returnees originate from countries other than Syria, the legal precedent for returns of Syrians from Greece to Turkey has been established. On 22 September, the Supreme Administrative Court of Greece decided (dec n° 2347/2017 and 2348/2017, available only in Greek) that Turkey qualifies as a safe third country for two Syrians.

This conclusion comforts the EU-Turkey statement concluded in March 2016 on the presumption that Turkey qualifies as a safe third country to which asylum seekers can be returned and enjoy adequate protection in accordance with the Refugee Convention of 1951 and its 1967 Protocol. Numerous controversial discussions regarding the statement arose, on the one hand, over its nature, and on the other, on the question whether Turkey qualifies as a safe third country. So far, policy-makers are satisfied as the arriving migratory flows have significantly decreased, whereas the CJEU deems itself to lack jurisdiction to rule on the legality of the agreement by risking to contradict its historical case law on the external competences of the EU. The present analysis will focus on the safe third country notion, as interpreted through the Greek judges’ lens."

Council of the European Union:  "Safe countries" concept

The Council is discussing its "safe countries concept" which includes: safe third country, the first country of asylum and safe country of origin.

"As regards Turkey, the Commission proposal for an Asylum Procedure Regulation sets out that the legal basis for protection against persecution and mistreatment is adequately provided by substantive and procedural human rights and anti-discrimination legislation, including ratification of all major international human rights treaties. Turkey has been designated as a candidate country by the European Council and negotiations have been opened."

See: Reform of the Common European Asylum System - The safe countries concept = Policy debate (LIMITE doc no: 8735-18, pdf)

Fortress Europe lives on in Poland (euractiv, link):

"Since 2015, Poland has strongly opposed receiving refugees from Italy and Greece. Until now, not a single person has been accepted under the quota system set by the European Commission. And the majority of Poles actually side with their government on the issue, EURACTIV Poland reports."

Council of the European Union: Asylum Procedures Regulation: Documentation

Six documents including Reform of the Common European Asylum System - Building blocks within different legislative files of the CEAS Reform (LIMITE doc no: 8816-18, 14 May 2018, pdf) which sets out new grounds for rejecting asylum applications:

"One of the purposes of the asylum reform is to discourage abuses and prevent secondary movements of applicants within the EU, in particular by including clear obligations for applicants to apply in the Member State of first entry and remain in the Member State determined as responsible for the examination of their application. This also requires proportionate procedural and material consequences in case of non-compliance with their obligations." [emphasis added]

EU: Austrian Presidency reveals iconoclastic plans to beef up EU’s external borders (euractiv, link):

"In interviews with two major European newspapers, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz lifted the veil on the plans of his country’s EU presidency, which starts on 1 July. Unsurprisingly, the main highlight is to fortify the EU’s external borders.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Kurz described Brexit as “a terrible decision” and suggested the EU’s migration issues were a “main reason” for the vote.

“The closing of the Western Balkan route was successful and we did not have the support of Germany, France or bigger countries in the EU,” Kurz added."

Council of the European Union: European Criminal Records System (ECRIS) - Third Country Nationals

Proposal for a Regulation establishing a centralised system for the identification of Member States holding conviction information on third country nationals and stateless persons (TCN) to supplement and support the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS-TCN system) and amending Regulation (EU) No 1077/2011 - Note with questions (LIMITE doc 8984-18, 18 May 2018, pdf):

"Delegations will find an updated four column table in 8983/18. All texts in blue have provisionally been agreed upon in the technical meeting, following 'green light' in the Working Party. It is assumed that Member States are still happy with these texts, so that they can be turned green at the next trilogue, which is foreseen for 6 June.

See: 8983-18 (LIMITE doc, 127 pages, 18 May 2018, pdf): Multicolumn document: State of play.

Selected issues (LIMITE do no 8767-18, 14 May 2018, pdf):

"While substantial progress has been made in order to reach an agreement, one issue – regarding dual nationals – continues to pose a problem in the negotiations. (...) The European Parliament is strongly opposed to including in the central system identity information of EU-nationals who also have the nationality of a third country ("dual nationals")."

8767-ADD 1 (LIMITE doc, 16 May 2018, pdf):

"Further to informal contacts with the European Parliament, and in relation with question 3 in 8767/18, the Presidency invites Member States to reflect on the following compromise solution for the issue of "dual nationals": (...) While dual nationals will, for the time being, not be included in the ECRIS-TCN system, the Commission will be asked to carry out a study on the advisability of inclusion of dual nationals in the ECRIS-TCN system in the future."

8670-18: Note with questions (LIMITE doc,8 May 2018, pdf)

8669-18 (LIMITE doc, 8 may 2018, pdf): Previous 4-column document

Negotiations on the post-Cotonou Agreement stumble on migration (euractiv, link):

"Due to a lack of consensus on the issue of migration, member states cannot come to an agreement on a mandate to begin negotiations on the future partnership agreement with African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, EURACTIV.fr reports.

The disagreement among member states on the issue of migration in the future partnership agreement could postpone the start of negotiations, originally scheduled for 1 June."

Council of the European Union: DUBLIN IV

Proposal for a Regulation 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 (recast) (LIMITE doc no: 9047-18, pdf). Council Presidency seeking to deal with divisions in the Council:

"Following concerns raised by some delegations in Coreper, the Presidency proposed to replace the reversed qualified majority by reinforced qualified majority.

This option was presented to the JHA Counsellors held on 18th of May 2018. While many delegations supported this, others continued raising concerns and suggested as an alternative that this second layer of decision making be entrusted to the European Council. Moving the issue to the European Council risks, however, delaying delivering the support foreseen for the second sub-phase of the challenging circumstances."

Note: "Reinforced qualified majority": "When the Council acts without a Commission proposal or one from the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (i.e. in the fields of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters), the qualified majority must include at least two-thirds of EU countries."

Proposal for a Regulation establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection by a third-country national or a stateless person registered in one of the Member States by a third-country national or a stateless person (recast) (8895-18, 108 pages 17 May 2018, pdf): "the Presidency compromise suggestions on the above proposal."

And see: 8591-REV-1 (LIMITE, 97 pages, 14 May 2018, pdf)

Are You Syrious (26.5.18, link):

Moira, Lesvos

"AYS reported about the fight among Iraqis, Syrians, Afghans and Syrians Kurds in Moria with the consequence of hundreds of people leaving the camp, seeking refugee at Pikpa, Kara Tepe and at the football stadium.

On Saturday evening, 368 people were hosted by Humans 4 Humanity, while more than 300 (including residents) found a safe place in Pikpa, among them injured people, children and pregnant women."

And see: Six people injured in clashes in Moria migrant camp on Lesvos (ekathimerini.com, link)

EU: INTEROPERABILITY: "Big Brother" database: Proposal for a Regulation on establishing a framework for interoperability between EU information systems (borders and visa) and amending Council Decision 2004/512/EC, Regulation (EC) No 767/2008, Council Decision 2008/633/JHA, Regulation (EU) 2016/399 and Regulation (EU) 2017/2226 (LIMITE doc no: 8621-18, 8 May 2018, 69 pages, pdf): Council working on its negotiation position. 32 Footnotes with Member State positions:

"Delegations will find hereafter the text of the proposal for the aforementioned Regulation, as revised by the Presidency, based on the outcome of discussions at DAPIX: interoperability of EU information systems on 17-18 April and 2 May 2018, as well as on delegations' written comments. Changes to the Commission proposal are marked in bold italics and strikethrough."

New changes to the Commission proposal compared to ST 7651/18 are marked in bold italics underline and strikethrough underline.

See: 7651-18 (LIMITE doc 13 April 2018, pdf)

EU-GERMANY: Germany's immigration offices lack technology to scan and compare asylum-seekers' fingerprints (Deutsche Welle, link):

"Officials at immigration and welfare offices attempting to identify asylum-seekers face serious difficulty ensuring people are not taking advantage of German social services, according to reports in Die Welt and the Nürnberger Nachrichten newspapers on Thursday.

A lack of fingerprint scanners at 200 of Germany's 494 immigration offices and all social service offices mean officials cannot use fingerprints to confirm people are not using multiple identities to apply for social benefits, the papers said, citing information from the Interior Ministry.

The immigration offices would receive the devices by September while job centers and other social service offices would be equipped with fingerprint scanners by the end of 2018, the Interior Ministry said."

Asylum Information Databse: Country Report: Greece (2017 update, pdf):

"29,718 persons arrived in Greece by sea in 2017, compared to 173,450 sea arrivals in 2016. The majority of those arrived in 2017 originated from Syria (42%), Iraq (20%) and Afghanistan (12%). More than half of the population were women (22%) and children (37%), while 41% were adult men.In addition, a total of 5,651 persons have been arrested at the Greek-Turkish land borders in 2017, compared to 3,300 persons during in 2016.

The Asylum Service registered 58,661 asylum applications in 2017. The number of applications submitted before the Asylum Service rose by 15%. Greece received the 8.5% of the total number of applications submitted in the EU, while it was the country with the highest number of asylum seekers per capita among EU Member States (5,295 first -time applicants per million population). In 2017, Syrians continue to be the largest group of applicants with 16,396 applications. A substantial increase of applications submitted from Turkish nationals was noted in 2017 (1,827 compared to 189 in 2016)."

EU-AFRICA: Niger: Europe’s Migration Laboratory (Refugees Deeply, link):

"The [European Union] has pushed for the mainstay of northern Niger’s economy to be criminalized but it remains wary of compensating the individuals and groups it has helped to brand as criminals. There is no precedent for demolishing an informal economy in one of the world’s poorest countries and replacing it with a formal model. Some 60 percent of Niger’s GDP comes from the informal sector, according to the World Bank.

As a senior government adviser put it, “When you slap a child you cannot ask it not to cry.”

According to an E.U. official who followed the program, “the law was imposed in a brutal way, without any prior consultation, in a process where the government of Niger was heavily pressured by the E.U., France and Germany, with a minimal consideration of the fact Nigerien security forces are involved in this traffic [of migrants].”"

Community Leader Targeted in Chios Trial Acquitted on all Charges - Moria10 Defendants Acquited on All Charges! (Lersbos Legal Centre, link):

"In a case that never should have gone to trial, the Moria10 trial ended with a verdict of not guilty! The verdict was unanimously reached by the Mixed Jury Court in Chios after even the prosecution’s witnesses testified that one defendant was a community leader who tried to peacefully solve problems in Moria Camp. The prosecutor also recommended acquittal after none of the State’s witnesses could credibly identify the three defendants who were on trial. Only three of the ten accused were tried today, as the other seven were never arrested. Two were present for the trial, the third was tried in absentia."

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