Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (5-11.2.19)


Including: How EU Countries Undermine the Right to Liberty by Expanding the Use of Detention of Asylum Seekers upon Entry - Libya: Parallel forces under interior ministry dominating decision making in Tripoli - Spain: APDHA, EntreFronteras and the Andalusia Union of Journalists call for an end to the information blackout at the southern border

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EU: Crossing a Red Line: How EU Countries Undermine the Right to Liberty by Expanding the Use of Detention of Asylum Seekers upon Entry (ECRE, link):

"This week the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, in conjunction with ECRE and a number of European project partners, launched their report “Crossing a Red Line: How EU Countries Undermine the Right to Liberty by Expanding the Use of Detention of Asylum Seekers upon Entry.” By examining four case studies; Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary and Italy, this research explores how asylum seekers’ rights to liberty are undermined upon entry, with a specific focus on de facto detention.

“Crossing a Red Line” explains that while there has been a significant decrease in asylum applications in Bulgaria, Hungary and Italy, the use of detention upon entry has been increasing since 2015 and continues to do so. Practises of de facto detention- which indicates the deprivation of an individual’s liberty without the requirement of a detention order- are widespread and specific to country context. Hot spots, transit zones, pre- removal centres, border zones at which migrants have been ‘pushed- back’ and boats- including search and rescue vessels- have all become spaces in which people can be detained. In other cases “protective detention” results in unaccompanied children having their freedom of movement restricted.

With no procedural guarantees and no opportunity to seek judicial review, the only possibility for release from de facto detention is to leave to another country."

EU: Relying on relocation: ECRE's proposal for a predictable and fair relocation arrangement following disembarkation (link to pdf)

"EU countries need to set up a relocation arrangement that guarantees predictability and certainty. The reinvigoration of discussions on responsibility-sharing in the Council presents a window of opportunity, with a French-German proposal calling for a solidarity mechanism “based on relocation as a rule”, and a European Commission Communication suggesting that “temporary arrangements of genuine solidarity and responsibility could be put in place… as a bridge until the new Dublin Regulation becomes applicable”.

In this policy paper, first, ECRE sets out its legal and political concerns with the current “ship by ship” approach to relocation of rescued persons, as well as questioning its compatibility with CEAS standards. The paper then elaborates on ECRE’s recommendation for a relocation mechanism for asylum seekers disembarked in EU ports based on fair and effective implementation of rules set out in the existing EU acquis."

German rescue ship named after drowned toddler Alan Kurdi (DW, link):

"The photograph of three-year-old Alan Kurdi's lifeless body washed up on a Turkish beach shocked the world in 2015. A German rescue organization has now named a ship after the toddler.

A German migrant rescue ship operating in the Mediterranean was renamed on Sunday after Alan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian Kurdish boy whose lifeless body washed up on a Turkish shore during the height of Europe's migrant crisis, galvanizing global opinion.

German charity Sea-Eye renamed the ship in the presence of Alan's father, Abdullah Kurdi, and aunt, Tima Kurdi, in Palma on Spain's Balearic Island of Mallorca."

Hungary blocks joint EU-Arab League statement over migration issue (New Europe, link):

"The EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini had hoped to secure a leadership role for the 28 members of the European Union in their relations with the members of the Arab League, but much to the chagrin of the Brussels establishment, Hungary stepped in and cratered the plan from within when blocked the issuance of a joint statement by both parties due to the migration issue."

New UN deal with data mining firm Palantir raises protection concerns (IRIN News, link):

"CIA-linked software firm Palantir will help the UN’s World Food Programme analyse its data in a new partnership worth $45 million, both organisations announced Tuesday, drawing immediate flak from privacy and data protection activists.

The California-based contractor, best known for its work in intelligence and immigration enforcement, will provide software and expertise to the UN’s food relief agency over five years to help WFP pool its enormous amounts of data and find cost-saving efficiencies."

EU: Follow the Money II – Report (ECRE, link):

"The Asylum, Migration & Integration Fund (AMIF) 2014-20 aims to contribute, via financial assistance, to the effective management of migration flows and to the implementation and development of a common EU approach to asylum and migration. The AMIF reflects efforts to simplify and streamline the implementation of the European Union budget in the area of home affairs. For the 2014-2020 period, approximately 88% (€2.39bn) of the total AMIF resources of €3.1bn were allocated to Member States that adopted multiannual national programmes.

...The first ‘Follow the Money: Assessing the use of AMIF funding at the national level’ study, published in January 2018, assessed the programming and design of national AMIF funds from a civil society perspective. This second ‘Follow the Money’ study presents:

  • A comparative critical analysis of the use of AMIF funding at national level during 2014-18, drawing on the outcomes of national and European interim evaluations of the Fund and the perspectives of civil society and other actors involved in national AMIF implementation.
  • Detailed case studies assessing national AMIF implementation in four Member States (Bulgaria, Estonia, Germany and Spain).
  • A critical overview of the use of AMIF emergency assistance to implement actions in Member States during 2014-17."

LIBYA: Minister: Parallel forces under interior ministry dominating decision making in Tripoli (Libya Observer, link):

"The Interior Minister of the Presidential Council, Fathi Bashagha, said there are armed groups and forces that are by name operating under the ministry, but in reality they are executing their own agendas away from the government's orders.

In an interview with BBC Arabic, Bashagha said the parallel forces have some kind of hegemony in the decision making of the government in all fields, including politics, security and economy.

"We have now a parallel interior ministry in Tripoli." He remarked, saying they do own a very huge amount of money to run their operations."

SPAIN: APDHA, EntreFronteras and the Andalusia Union of Journalists call for an end to the information blackout at the southern border

- They consider it a priority to guarantee compliance with the right to life, that rescues respect the legal requirements and that the right to information is preserved
- They denounce the fact that the rescued and deceased persons have remained completely invisible

More needs to be done to improve the situation of migrants and refugees on the Greek islands (Reliefweb, link):

"The humanitarian situation of asylum seekers in the Reception and Identification Centres on Lesbos, Samos and Chios have remained critical for many years, the Committee on Migration warned. Many are housed in tents with inadequate sanitary installations, insufficient food, lacking health services and poor security."

Greece: A Home for Refugees: The Need for Housing Throughout Asylum Procedures and Beyond (pdf):

"Having a place that can be called home is a universal need and a human right. Individuals fleeing violence and asking for asylum in the European Union strive to be safe and to rebuild their lives stepby- step in a country they do not know, often separated from the people they love and with little certainty about their future."

Italy asks Sudan secret police to testify in mistaken identity case (Guardian, link):

"Defence lawyer criticises use of witnesses from regime of ‘cold-blooded dictator’.

Italian prosecutors have controversially invited two high-ranking Sudanese officials to Sicily to testify in the case against a suspected human trafficker who appears to be the victim of mistaken identity.

Magistrates in the case are relying on testimony from the members of the feared secret police in Sudan, which is ruled by Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who has been charged with war crimes."

No more civilian rescue boats off Libyan coast (Info Migrants, link):

"The civilian rescue vessel Sea Watch 3, which was detained in Italy on Friday, is the latest of such boats to stop operations in the central Mediterranean. Now, only the Libyan Coast Guard is able to save migrants risking their lives at sea in an attempt to reach Europe from North Africa."

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