EU: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15-24.10.18)

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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
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Swedish student who stopped deportation flight of Afghan asylum seeker to be prosecuted (The Independent, link):

"Authorities in Sweden are set to prosecute a 21-year-old student who refused to sit down on a passenger plane in protest against the deportation of an Afghan asylum seeker who was also on board.

Elin Ersson single-handedly managed to stop the deportation on the 23 July flight from Gothenburg to Istanbul, due to take the 52-year-old man out of the country.

Footage of her defiant stand in defence of the Afghan man has notched up 13 million views online and earned her international praise.

But the Swedish prosecutor’s office announced on Friday that the activist will be charged with “violations of aviation law,” according to Swedish media."

FRANCE: Crimes of solidarity: freedom for the "7 of Briançon"

They are facing potential incarceration for helping migrants in danger in the French Alps. Bastien, Benoit, Eléonora, Juan, Lisa, Mathieu et Théo will face justice on November 8th in GAP. They are prosecuted for "helping undocument foreign nationals to enter national territory, in organized gang”. The envisaged penalty is 10 years in prison and 750.000 euros fine. What should they amend for? Being involved in a march against the far-right, little band called "Bloc identitaire", which was obstructing the border so as to retaliate against migrants trying to cross it.

EU: Common European Asylum System (CEAS): Asylum procedures at the border a sticking point for Member States

As the Member States continue to disagree over proposed changes to Common European Asylum System, "the biggest outstanding issue for most Member States" in the Asylum Procedures Regulation is that of the "border procedure" set out in Article 41, according to a recent note sent by the Austrian Presidency to Member States' representatives.

EU: New Asylum Information Database report: Access to protection in Europe: The registration of asylum applications

"The report analyses the legal and practical aspects of registration of asylum claims, with focus on: responsible authorities and content of information collected; locations of registration; time limits; and documentation. It also discusses interplay of the Dublin procedure (following the Court of Justice of the European Union ruling in Mengesteab) and the specific mechanisms for registration of asylum applications made at the border and in detention centres."

UK: Lift The Ban: Give people seeking asylum the right to work (Refugee Action, link):

"People seeking safety in our country are banned from working. Unable to provide for themselves and their families, they’re often left to live in poverty.

Adding your voice means we can fight harder for change and win over those with the power to make it."

Statewatch Viewpoint: Morocco: Wherever EU immigration policy rears its ugly head, violence and abuses follow (pdf) by Yasha Maccanico, October 2018

In the summer of 2018, after concerted efforts since 2014 by the EU and its Member States to block off the eastern (Turkey to Greece) and central (Tunisia and Libya to Italy) routes across the Mediterranean used by migrants and refugees to reach Europe, there was an increase in crossings using the western route (Morocco, and sometimes Algeria, to Spain). This was accompanied by an increase in deaths at sea and, in Morocco, extensive police operations to remove black African migrants from the north of the country, based on racial profiling and flagrant breaches of human rights.

Spain-Morocco: 55 people returned to Morocco from Spain in less than 24 hours

On Sunday 21 October, 208 people managed to reach Spanish territory by climbing over the fences separating Morocco from the Spanish enclave of Melilla. One man died whilst doing so and another 19 were taken to hospital with "injuries, cuts and some other fractures," according to the Spanish government delegation in Melilla.

55 of the 208 were subject to "express" removal proceedings and returned to Morocco in less than 24 hours, with the Spanish government invoking a bilateral agreement signed with Morocco in 1992 to do so.

Frontexit press release: The unrestrained race to strengthen Frontex at the expense of fundamental rights (11 October 2018, link):

"There is no tangible justification for this repeated revision of the mandate, other than what the EU says – the urgency of the situation. However, this emergency does not exist (the number of arrivals has been slashed in five since 2015 according to IOM), nor does the so-called “migration crisis”. The collapse in the number of arrivals is directly attributable to the increase in border security arrangements and unlimited cooperation with countries where rights violations are widespread.

Frontex, keen to describe Tunisian fishermen who save lives as “smugglers”, and eager to collaborate and even provide training to States where violations of rights are documented, is the image of a Europe sinking into an ever more security logic to the detriment of the rights of exiles and even of the people supporting them

This border closure is also a threat to the respect for the rights of people forced to exercise their right to leave any country using increasingly dangerous routes."

European Parliament study: Oversight and Management of the EU Trust Funds: Democratic Accountability Challenges and Promising Practices (May 2018, pdf) including the Facility for Refugees in Turkey and Emergency Trust Fund for Africa:

"This study provides a comparative assessment of the governance and oversight frameworks of selected EU trust funds (EUTFs) and the Facility for Refugees in Turkey (FRT). It explores how these EUTFs and the FRT add to and ‘mix’ the instruments set up under the EU Multiannual Financial Framework. It addresses the issue of their added value in light of the EU Better Regulation guidelines, their impact on the role of the European Parliament as a budgetary authority and the right to good administration. The study recommends reducing the complexity of the EUTF and FRT governance frameworks, and strengthening their consistency with the EU’s cooperation efforts in third countries and EU Treaty values. Finally, it recommends reinforcing the venues for democratic accountability, fundamental rights and rule-of-law impact assessments, which are trust-enhancing."

Open Doors, Samos Island, Greece: We Need Your Help! (Samos Chronicles, link):

"The autumn of 2018 will see the opening of a new grocery store in Samos town. It will be the first of its kind on the island. It will be for the refugees run by refugees. The shop has been rented and is now in the process of being set up. It is in a very good location on one of the most used routes from the refugee camp into the town centre."

Who also report that: "Situation here looking increasingly grim. Over 360 arrivals this last week alone. 250 the week before. No space in the camp and no tents for new arrivals. Criminal. The weather stays fine but the rain will be here soon. Then disaster."

Greece: Four officers probed for mistreating elderly migrant woman (, link):

"Four officers who appear in a video posted on the Internet behaving in an unbecoming manner towards an elderly female migrant at the Moria hotspot on Lesvos were ordered to return to their respective bases on Saturday as an investigation gets under way.(...)

One of the officers, who can be seen verbally abusing the woman in the video, was suspended."

Council reports that the court find that nobody in the EU is responsible for the EU-Turkey deal of 16 March 2016

- "General Court's main finding according to which the aforementioned EU-Turkey Statement does not relate to an act of the European Council nor of any other body, office or agency of the Union and hence that the actions fell outside jurisdiction of the Court of Justice, stands."

See the Legal Service of the Council has circulated a Note: Cases before the Court of Justice Cases C-208/17 P, C-209/17 P and C-210/17 P - EU-Turkey Statement - Final dismissal of appeals (LIMITE doc no: 12217-18, pdf)

Rescued migrants in limbo while waiting for resettlement in Germany (DW, link)

"More than 100 migrants who were rescued at sea have been waiting months to be transferred to Germany, the German government says. Bureaucracy seems to be the main obstacle."

Asylum reforms derailed, as EU looks to north Africa (euobserver, link):

"Disagreements over the EU's internal asylum reforms remained entrenched after the EU summit on Thursday (18 October) - with notions of solidarity broadly dismissed as leaders press ahead to offshore migration with the supposed help of north African states.

The Brussels summit, where heads of state and government meet to thrash out solutions, failed to reach any agreement on long outstanding issues over the key EU asylum reforms that seek to better manage administrative bottlenecks and their adjoining political headaches."

And see: Reform of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) is in a mess (Statewatch News)

Northern Africa: Europe’s new border guard? (euractiv, link):

"As another EU summit gets underway, Leïla Bodeux and Davide Gnes wonder what values Europeans are willing to give up in order to stop migration.

Leïla Bodeux and Davide Gnes are policy officers on asylum, migration and development at Caritas Europa. (...)

In fact, EU engagement with countries of origin and transit for the purpose of stopping migration is nothing new. Propositions to enhance cooperation on migration management and border control in order to prevent departures of irregular migrants and to re-admit those returned from Europe have for long been sugar-coated with promises of economic investment, trade cooperation or development aid."

UNHCR: Refugee arrivals in 2018 (16 October): Sea arrivals: 90,562, Land Arrivals 5,288: Greece: 24,999, Italy 21, 631, Spain: 48,807, Cyprus 413. Dead or missing: 1,834.

CJEU: Advocate General Szpunar proposes that the Court should rule that the ‘Returns Directive’ must be applied to third-country national where internal border controls have been reinstated (pdf):

"The Advocate General therefore concludes therefrom that a Member State must apply the stages of the return procedure laid down in the ‘Returns Directive’ to the situation of a third-country national stopped or intercepted in connection with the irregular crossing of an internal border at which border controls have been reinstated by application of the Schengen Borders Code."

Are You Syrious (link, 16.10.18):


Report on child returnees from Save the Children

"Save the Children have released a report about the situation for children returned to Afghanistan from EU states the lack of protection they receive and the extreme danger they are placed in. The report concluded that “Children returning to Afghanistan face difficulties in accessing reliable shelter, education, jobs and medical support, and risk recruitment to armed groups and physical harm due to conflict. Child returnees face psychosocial and in some cases legal challenges,"

GREECE: Arrivals

"Aegean Boat Report state that three boats have arrived on the Greek islands today carrying a total of 125 people.

The first boat was picked up outside the airport by HCG, Lesvos south at 08.30. 57 people. No breakdown available.

The second boat arrived in port at Chios at 08.30 carrying 33 people, 5 children, 9 women and 19 men from Syria, Kuwait, Palestine and Iraq.

A further boat landed outside the airport, Chios at 22.00 carrying 35 people, 1 woman and 34 men,

Land Arrivals: About 200 people were reported to have waded across Evros river today into Greece from Turkey."

European Parliament Study: Humanitarian visas: European Added Value Assessment accompanying the European Parliament's legislative own-initiative report (pdf):

"it concludes that EU legislation on humanitarian visas could close this effectiveness and fundamental rights protection gap by offering safe entry pathways, reducing irregular migration and result in increased management, coordination and efficiency in the asylum process, as well as promoting fair cost-sharing."

EU budgets for the externalisation of migration control: Austrian Presidency seeks Member State views

How do the Member States think EU budgets should be spent on the externalisation of migration control? That was the subject of a questionnaire issued to Member States' representatives in September 2018, in the context of the ongoing negotiations on the EU's budget for the 2021-27 period.

UN experts: concern over EU's attempts to seal borders, close protection space and disregard human rights and humanitarianism

In September eight UN working groups, independent experts and special rapporteurs issued a statement highlighting serious concerns over the ongoing attempts to reform the EU's migration and asylum systems. Their paper was addressed to the informal summit of EU heads of state and government in Salzburg in September, but remains relevant given the ongoing discussions in the EU on the Common European Asylum System and revamping of EU agencies such as Frontex and the European Asylum Support Office (EASO).

FRANCE-ITALY: French police admit taking two migrants over the Italian border 'by mistake' (The Local, link):

"French gendarmes have admitted driving two undocumented immigrants over the Italian border without Italy's permission, in what the French authorities said was a mistake.

The incident took place last Friday, when Italian police spotted a van belonging to their French counterparts near Claviere, a ski resort on the border between south-east France and north-west Italy that runs through the Alps.

The French officers reportedly ushered two men out of the vehicle into some nearby woodland, then drove back towards France."

EU: Solidarity vs ‘securitarian obsessions’ (EurActiv, link) by Progressive Caucus of the European Parliament:

"The sudden and substantial increase of migrants’ flow to Europe over the last years has produced a severe political and identity crisis within the EU, a crisis that risks undermining its basic principles and values, and fostering the rise of xenophobic nationalism, writes the Progressive Caucus of the European Parliament.

For this reason, migration is probably the greatest challenge the EU has to deal with in the near future. It is also a common challenge for all the Progressive forces in Europe.

In recent months, arrivals to the Mediterranean coasts have substantially decreased because of the border externalisation measures taken by the EU and its members, including the agreements with Turkey and Libya. This led certain governments to celebrate the result as a victory.

What they do not mention are the consequences these measures have produced on migrants’ lives: deaths at sea have proportionally increased and crossing the Mediterranean is becoming more dangerous. In addition, migrants are choosing new and routes that are more dangerous and many of them are trapped in Libya, victims of violence and exploitation."

GREECE: Victims of Torture: the invisible side of the refugee population vulnerability (Metadrasi, link):

"Imprisonment in inhuman conditions, extreme tactics of physical abuse, rape, daily psychological violence. In many countries of the world, unthinkable ways of cruel and degrading treatment are still being practiced in order to punish, intimidate, interrogate. Among the refugees arriving in Greece, a high percentage are victims of torture, but they often constitute the “invisible” faces of the vulnerable refugee population.

The act of torture aims to break the resistance of the victims, while leaving as little physical evidence as possible. What is more, victims of torture are naturally reluctant to trust state authorities when arriving in a foreign country and this, combined with the stressful living conditions, makes it very difficult for them to share their stories.

On the other hand, it may prove crucial for a victim of torture to be certified, in order to prevent refoulment or deportation, support their asylum application and/or family reunification claim and be referred to services related to their physical and mental rehabilitation, social support etc. Furthermore, a certification as a victim of torture protects the beneficiary from re-traumatising examinations, while formally acknowledging and recording their experiences is an assertive and empowering act in itself."

France: Tensions reach boiling point in crowded detention centres (ECRE, link):

"NGOs have denounced the increase of acts of violence and tension between refugees and migrants in detention centres in France- a trend that La Cimade argues is the consequence of repressive policies of confinement which severely endanger detainees.

The number of people detained in France for immigration reasons has continued to rise, according to the annual report compiled by civil society organisations monitoring administrative detention centres (CRA) and other administrative detention places (LRA). Statistics for 2017 reveal that a total of 46, 857 people were detained, in comparison to 45, 937 in 2016. The number of detained children has also risen from 179 to 304 within the same time frame.

La Cimade argues that incidences of violence and aggression between detainees are becoming more frequent, because this prolonged incarceration is leading to reactions that can range from aggression, (directed to one’s self or others) self- immolation, resistance, defence, despair or anxiety."

GREECE: 11 killed as migrants smugglers' car crashes (Irish Independent, link):

"A car carrying migrants collided with a truck in northern Greece yesterday, killing 11 people, police said.

Ten of the victims were believed to be migrants who crossed into Greece from Turkey. The 11th person was the driver and a suspected migrant smuggler, police said.

Police said the car, in which the migrants were packed, had another vehicle's licence plates and is suspected of having been used for migrant trafficking. The car had not stopped at a police checkpoint during its journey, but it wasn't immediately clear how close to the site of the crash that it happened."

And see: Turkey migrants: Lorry crash in Izmir 'kills 22' (BBC News, link)

Hungary: Amnesty launches legal challenge to shameful law on migration that targets civil society (link)

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