01 March 2018
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
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"Plans to deny millions of people the right to access immigration data held on them by the Home Office are illegal and will be challenged in court, the government has been told.
Organisations representing up to 3 million EU citizens living in the UK and digital rights activists have written to the home secretary, Amber Rudd, giving notice that they will take legal action if a clause in the data protection bill is enacted.
The threat is aimed at proposals in the bill to introduce an exemption for immigration information. It is claimed that the clause would prevent those facing deportation from obtaining and challenging the accuracy of personal data held on them by the government."
Strasbourg, 05.03.2018 Children in migration at all the stages of their journey to Europe should receive child-friendly and understandable information, which nevertheless must reflect the realities and difficulties they may face in the new environment, says the Council of Europe in a new report published today. The most effective way of providing the information is through personal verbal communication with professionally trained people the child trusts; leaflets and print material in clear language should be used as a complementary means; accurate peer-to-peer information should also be promoted.
The UN's Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent said last week that "racial profiling of people of African descent is endemic" in Spain, upon the conclusion of a fact-finding visit to the country. A host of other criticisms and shortcomings are contained in a statement issued by the group.
UK: Home Affairs Select Committee on BREXIT: Oral evidence: Post-Brexit migration policy(pdf)
Xenophobia in Italys Election Campaign (HRW, link):
"Italian politics are never boring, and election campaigns are always times of particularly strident debate. But the tenor of the campaign leading up to Italys national elections on March 4 on immigration issues is profoundly alarming.
In the wake of a drive-by shooting targeting sub-Saharan Africans in Macerata, in central Italy, on February 3, many politicians seem more concerned with blaming irregular immigrants than with forcefully condemning an act of racist violence that left five men and one woman injured. The confessed shooter, Luca Traini, a former failed candidate for the anti-immigrant party Northern League, said he was distraught over the horrific death and dismemberment of an Italian woman and wanted to shoot black men. Three Nigerian men have been charged with the murder."
UK: The Data Protection Bill's Immigration Exemption must go (Open Rights Group, link):
"The Data Protection Bill is supposed to be about giving people greater control over their data. Yet it contains an Immigration Exemption that does exactly the opposite, by denying people access to their data when they need it most.
The Exemption removes individuals right to data protection if it is likely to prejudice effective immigration control, meaning victims of administrative errors will have no way to stop a typo from turning their lives upside down. This is a huge problem because according to the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, the Home Office has a 10 percent error rate in immigration status checks.
Open Rights Group is teaming up with campaigners for EU citizens' rights the3million to get MPs to oppose the disastrous Exemption when the DPBill is debated in the Commons on Monday 5th March. Can you take a minute to write your MP to let them know you are concerned about your rights?"
EU: End of the infamous EU refugee "relocation" scheme
Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments: "The states that failed to respond deserve to be named and shamed and will go down in history for their inhumanity."
In the autumn of 2015 the EU set up a relocation scheme to move 160,000 refugees and migrants fleeing from war, persecution,poverty and climate change from front line EU states - especially from Greece and Italy - to the other 26 Member States. Later this was reduced to 98,253: 63,302 from Greece and 34,953 from Italy to be relocated.
The scheme ended at the end of 2017 when just 21,729 had been relocated from Greece and 11,853 from Italy: The final summary was published by the Commission on 5 February 2018 (pdf) and one of the last full summaries was dated 3 November 2017 (pdf). A number of Member States took no refugees, some a few and some met or nearly met their commitments.
"In practice, this Court jurisprudence turns the concept of overriding public interest and the subsequent public interest test established by the Transparency Regulation into a ghost concept with no practical relevance.
At the same time, the case also revealed something we would not have wished to learn: that the refugee deal was made based on extremely limited and hasty legal analysis, the substance of which was not and has not been made public. The implications of this for the substance of the legal advice is clear: if the analysis confirmed that the agreement was legally sound, then the Commission would have had no problem in allowing its disclosure, however its being kept in the dark all but confirms the suspicions regarding its contents. While this is something we already knew, it demonstrates the difficulty of running a Union in a manner consistent with its values, such as respect for fundamental rights. When things get rough, other matters tend to take priority. We refuse to believe that settling this balance is a matter of no significant public interest."
See: Judgment of the Court of Justice of the EU: Case T-851/16: Access Info Europe v European Commission (pdf)
The Andalusian Association for Human Rights (Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos de Andalucía, APDHA) has called today for Spain to establish safe routes to access the country that will prevent people risking their lives at sea. The call comes alongside the presentation of the report 'Migratory Balance 2017', which demonstrates the notable increase in entries into Spain by maritime routes: 22,419 people arrived in 2017, almost tripling the number from the previous year.
"The systematic crackdown on the rights of refugees and migrants in Hungary continued, while foreign-funded universities and NGOs faced new restrictions, according to Amnesty Internationals 2017/18 State of the Worlds Human Rights report.
In the report, the international human rights watchdog recalls the European Commission launched and moved forward with four formal infringement proceedings against Hungary in 2017."
GENEVA (26 February 2018) Placing migrants and asylum seekers in detention should be seen as a last resort to be used only in strictly limited circumstances, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has stated in its position document based on international law and its own jurisprudence.
The groups intervention comes amid concern over the increasing use of detention of migrants, a worldwide practice which has grown steadily over recent years.
EU: Migrant border crossings remain challenging in some Member States (Fundamental Rights Agency, link):
"Stricter border management policies remain in effect in a number of Member States, according to Agencys latest report on migration-related fundamental rights issues. Pushbacks and refused entry for asylum seekers are just some of the challenges facing migrants when trying to enter or travel through the EU. Harsh winter conditions are also making conditions difficult for migrants."
FRANCE-NIGER: At French Outpost in African Migrant Hub, Asylum for a Select Few (New York Times, link):
"NIAMEY, Niger In a bare suite of prefab offices, inside a compound off a dirt road, French bureaucrats are pushing Frances borders thousands of miles into Africa, hoping to head off would-be migrants.
All day long, in a grassy courtyard, they interview asylum seekers, as the African reality they want to escape swirls outside donkey carts and dust, joblessness and poverty, and, in special cases, political persecution.
If the French answer is yes to asylum, they are given plane tickets to France and spared the risky journey through the desert and on the deadly boats across the Mediterranean that have brought millions of desperate migrants to Europe in recent years, transforming its politics and societies."
"Spain should create a strong equality body, adopt new comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation and improve the education of Roma and migrant children, says the ECRI monitoring report. While progress has been achieved in re-housing and education of Roma, only 45% of Roma children complete compulsory education and the rehousing measures have contributed to residential and school segregation.(...)
Racist and xenophobic hate speech on the rise in Sweden, despite considerable preventive efforts, ECRI says. Positive developments recorded in the country include state support to combating racism and xenophobia, to integrating the extraordinary high number of refugees who arrived in 2015 to facilitate their access to the labour market and housing."
EU: EIB: Council approves extra 3.7 billion to address migration issues(Council press release, pdf):
"The Council has given the go-ahead to increased lending by the European Investment Bank to projects outside the EU that address migration issues.
It adopted the decision and regulation on 27 February 2018, following an agreement with the European Parliament on a mid-term review of the EIB's mandate for 'external' lending.
In total, the financing limit under an EU guarantee is increased by 5.3 billion. Of this, 3.7 billion are earmarked for projects in the public and private sectors providing a strategic response to the root causes of migration."
"Last year, the EFI received 5 million from the multi-billion-dollar EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF) to expand its programmes in Burkina Faso.
The fund, launched in 2015, aims to tackle the root causes of outward migration through development aid, security and peacebuilding support, as well as financing for migration management.
But in a country like Burkina Faso where remittances from migration represent real financial benefits for families, are projects like EFI or more traditional EU rural development assistance enough to dissuade young people from taking the risk of travelling to Europe?"
EU-GEORGIA:Foreign Minister Warns Against Visa-Waiver Abuse (Civil.ge, link):
"Georgian authorities will step up police cooperation with European partners on fighting organized crime, and will carry out a nationwide information campaign to reduce the growing number of Georgian asylum seekers in the Schengen countries, according to Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze.
They are spending their already limited [financial} resources to travel to the EU Member States, and are in very dire conditions in [refugee] camps and as I have already pointed out, seeking asylum [in EU countries] is almost like a lottery the approval rates are between zero percent and three percent [for Georgian citizens], Janelidze clarified.
Earlier, the government announced that it would tighten regulations for reducing the number of Georgian asylum seekers. These measures, among others, will involve a set of legislative amendments, which will impose readmission costs on readmitted persons, toughen procedures for changing last names, etc."
Greek authorities anticipate spike in Turkish appeals for political asylum (ekathimerini, link):
"Greek authorities are anticipating a significant increase in applications for political asylum from Turkish nationals fleeing their homeland amid a continuing crackdown by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Kathimerini understands.
The last major case involved 17 Turkish nationals who arrived on the islets of Oinousses last Monday.
They were initially transferred to a reception center on nearby Chios before being moved, in a secret operation, to Piraeus.
According to official government figures, 1,827 Turkish citizens lodged applications for asylum in Greece last year."
UK: Yarl's Wood Centre detainees 'desperate' (BBC News, link):
"Detainees at an immigration removal centre are in a "desperate" situation, according to the shadow home secretary.
Diane Abbott visited the Yarl's Wood Centre in Bedford on Friday and raised concerns in Parliament on Monday.
The Labour MP accused the government of ignoring women who are on "hunger strike" at the centre.
The company which runs the centre, Serco, said some women were refusing to eat in the restaurant, but that it was not a hunger strike."
See: This Is Why Over 100 Women Are Currently On Hunger Strike Inside Yarl's Wood (The Debrief, link)
EU: Italian work on Libya and migrants OK (ANSA, link):
"Brussels, February 20 - Italy's work on migrants and Libya has been positive, Frontex chief Fabrice Leggeri told ANSA in an interview Tuesday.
"Italy is working to use the resources allotted by the EU to find sustainable solutions for Libya" and the migrants held there, he said.
"And for now it is going in the right direction, even though the conditions of the centres in Libya are not in line with our standards, and with basic humanitarian standards.
"But that is not Italy's fault, all the international community and not only the EU can help"."
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