Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe 29.4.16

 EU: After the 18 March EU-Turkey "Statement", the "Letter" of assurances from Turkey, yet another set of "letters": What is the legal basis of "non-binding" documents?


Council of the European Union: Standard Operating Procedures implementing the mechanism for resettlement from Turkey to the EU as set out in the EU-Turkey Statement of 18 March 2016 - Endorsement (LIMITE doc no: 8366-16, pdf)

"Once endorsed by the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States and Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein meeting in the margins of COREPER, the Standard Operating Procedures will be formalised by way of an exchange of letters between the Commission and the Turkish authorities."

The following are excluded or NOT eligible:

"The person does not constitute a threat to public policy, internal security and public health;

A candidate who has refused admission to a particular Member State is no longer eligible;

Priority will be given to eligible persons who have not previously entered or tried to enter the EU irregularly"

 After Greece: Here we go again: Germany tells Italy to stem migrant flow to north Europe (The, link):

"Germany's interior minister on Friday put the onus on Italy to halt a new mass influx of migrants to northern Europe, lending backing to Austria in a row with Rome.

"We share Austria's position that there should not be a repeat of what happened along the Balkan route last autumn on the road from the Italian border northwards," said Thomas de Maiziere after a meeting with his Austrian counterpart Wolfgang Sobotka.

"We have said we want to reduce the numbers of refugees sustainably, above all at the external borders, and a policy of simply waving people through would only spur more from outside the EU to come to Europe," said the German interior minister..."

 OMCT: World Organisation Against Torture: Greece: Ongoing crackdown on civil society providing humanitarian assistance to migrants and asylum seekers (pdf):

"The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the ongoing crackdown on civil society actors providing humanitarian assistance to migrants and asylum seekers arriving in the Greek islands, even including judicial harassment against several groups and NGOs acting to protect migrants' rights, of Team Humanity Denmark....

on February 21, 2016 a last minute amendment was made to a Law voted by the Greek Parliament, in violation of several provisions of the Parliament’s Rules of Procedures. The new provision assigns the supervision and coordination of services provided to migrants and asylum seekers to the Greek Army and Minister of Defence, in newly established army-run facilities. This provision has led to a coordinated effort to stop civil society activities in camps that are not run by the army, through extensive threats of arrest and prosecution]. Moreover, several journalists and NGOs, including the Hellenic Action for Human Rights “Pleiades”’, are often not allowed access to army-run facilities....

The Observatory strongly condemns this crackdown on civil society actors in Greece, calls on the Greek authorities to put an end to the ongoing attempts to criminalise NGOs and volunteers working in the country in the field of humanitarian assistance to migrants and asylum-seekers or otherwise prevent them from carrying out their work and urges them to lift the ban on civil society activists and journalists to enter army-run camps."

See also: Council proposals on migrant smuggling would criminalise humanitarian assistance by civil society, local people and volunteers - Greece: NGOs and volunteers have to "register" with the police and be vetted (Statewatch) and NGOs and volunteers helping refugees in Greece to be placed under state control (Statewatch)

 Is the EU-Turkey refugee and migration deal a treaty? (EU law Analysis, link):

"In the European Parliament, questions were asked about the legal nature of the EU-Turkey Statement of 18 March, pursuant to which Greece has started to return asylum seekers to Turkey this week. Apparently, the EU’s procedure for negotiating and concluding treaties with third countries, laid down in in Art. 218 TFEU, has not been followed. The European Parliament wants to know whether the Council nonetheless considers the Statement to be a treaty, and, if not, whether Turkey has been informed about the non-binding nature. Importantly, for treaties “covering fields to which the ordinary legislative procedure applies” (asylum and immigration is such a field), the Council may only conclude a treaty with a third country after obtaining consent of the European Parliament (Art. 218(6)(a)(v) TFEU)......

That the institutional role of the EP has been neglected confirms the worrying trend that intergovernmental decision-making is taking over in the Union, and that national interests increasingly often prevail over the common values of the Union. This is bad for European democracy."

 Are You Syrious (link):

53,717 refugees and migrants in Greece today

"After a few quiet days, late this afternoon, 23 new arrivals from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan (11 adults and 12 kids) were registered by volunteers at #Samos. At the same time, 41 persons arrived in Lesvos....

380 unaccompanied minors to be sent to a separate camp at Lesvos.

At Moria, according to Deputy Migration Minister Yannis Mouzalas, there are 380 unaccompanied minors who will be transferred to a separate camp. The Greek government decided to move all unaccompanied underage kids to a separate camp on the island under the supervision of NGOs Doctors Without Borders, Save the Children and METAdrasi....

Solidarity is our weapon!

Around 200 refugees found a new home at the largest self-organized hospitality center in Greece, #CityPlaza, a old hotel in downtown Athens. The Facebook page they established details how the City Plaza was a hotel in downtown Athens which was abandoned by its management more than 6 years ago...

People deported to Croatia from other EU countries

Today we received information from different sources about deportations of refugees from different EU countries (as of now we know of Slovenia, Austria, Sweden, Switzerland) to Croatia. Apparently, they are sent back on the grounds of so called Dublin transfers?—?deportations in the first safe EU country of entry. Currently there are at least 20–30 persons in Croatia who were sent back in this way....

Fingerprinting of refugees to begin on rescue boats

The Italian government announced that refugees and migrants will be fingerprinted as soon as they are picked up by rescue boats. It was announced that this approach could help to reduce mounting tensions between Italy and its EU partners over the large numbers of migrants who arrive in Italy but are not registered here and then travel on to northern Europe. If they are not registered in Italy, neighboring countries like Austria and France and popular destination states like Germany and Sweden do not have the option of sending them back to Italy, which they should be able to do under the EU’s Dublin convention rules governing asylum claims....

230 people charged with a crime for helping refugees

According to a media report, the public prosecutor’s office charged 230 people for helping other people transit through the country “illegally” during the biggest wave of refugees last fall. Danish trafficking laws don’t distinguish between smuggling people for financial gain and doing it for humanitarian reasons. Some of them, as we reported earlier, are distinguished human rights activists, but many are just ordinary people who were helping other people in need."

 UNHCR Daily report (28.4.16):

"In Greece, Alternate Migration Minister Yannis Mouzalas has agreed to the permanent presence of lawyers in two accommodation centers (Elaionas in Athens, and Moria on Lesvos island), following a meeting with the head of the Athens Bar Association.

The Ministry said the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) has also expressed an interest in offering legal aid to refugees in Moria." [emphasis added]

Comment: Does not the Ministry know that under the Asylum Procedures Directive refugees have the right to legal aid? Why is it not ensuring that it is available to all?

 Pro-Nazi nostalgia flourishes under new Croatia government (euractiv, link):

“Nostalgia” for a pro-Nazi past, spurning of ethnic minorities and pressure on the press: Croatian activists say an alarming climate of intolerance is taking hold under a new conservative government.

Since the ruling coalition took power in the European Union country in January, critics say authorities have turned a blind eye – and even contributed to – concerns over a far-right right surge.

Last week, in response, angry Jewish, ethnic Serb and anti-fascist groups refused to attend a ceremony remembering tens of thousands who died at Jasenovac, the most notorious concentration camp under Croatia’s pro-Nazi Ustasha regime during World War II.

The boycott was a “brave and correct decision in the face of the wave of neo-fascist Ustasha nostalgia which is sweeping Croatia”, said Efraim Zuroff at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, an international Jewish rights organisation".

 Fascism and the far right in Europe: country by country guide – part one (dream deferred, link)::

"Europe is witnessing a dangerous revival of fascist and racist populist parties and organisations. Over the next few weeks we are going to publish a series of articles analysing the scale of this threat.

We will focus on the countries where fascist and racist parties have made significant electoral and/or organisational breakthroughs. There are small fascist groups operating in several other countries, but with very small numbers and little impact. We intend to look separately at the situation in Russia at a later date and have not included it here."

 News (29.4.16)

Italy: Border plans 'an enormous mistake' (The Local, at, link): "Italy told Austria Thursday it would prove Vienna was "wasting money" on anti-migrant measures and closing the border between the two countries would be "an enormous mistake"."

Migrants cling to trucks in bid to reach Sweden (The Local, dk, link): "Growing numbers of asylum seekers are trying to get to Sweden from Denmark by clinging to trucks, a ferry company has warned."

Mimica: Emergency Trust Fund for Africa ‘might not be a game-changer’ (euractiv, link): "In a wide-ranging interview, Commissioner Neven Mimica tells’s Matthew Tempest about the executive’s master plan for legal migration, as well as the limits of development aid to African states in the rough."


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