March


CEUTA-MELILLA: Against a state of exception for human rights in Ceuta and Melilla (pdf):

"The 150 undersigned social associations have looked into the eyes of these migrants and seen their injuries, traumas and persecutions often, very often. This is why we wont look away and allow our shame for this illegal practice through which our name is being soiled to discourage us. We wont allow the existence in our country of zones of exception for human rights regardless of how hard they try to legalise them."

HUNGARY: Helsinki Committee: Refugees and migrants: Information note on Hungarian government plans to breach EU asylum law and to subject asylum-seekers to massive detention and immediate deportation (link) and see: Media information note (pdf, link):

"Hungarian Helsinki Committee aimed at providing background information and key facts about migration to *Hungary*, conditions for migrants in the country and recent developments in the government's migration policy. With 42,777 asylum claims registered last year, the number of asylum-seekers in Hungary saw a twentyfold increase from 2012 to 2014. The already problematic situation of migrants and asylum-seekers in the country risks to deteriorate following the *anti-migrant communication campaign* initiated by the Prime Minister last February.

Planned amendments to asylum and immigration laws are going, for example, in the direction of *systematic detention* of asylum-seekers and migrants irregularly entering the territory, *undermining the protection of their fundamental rights."

Deaths of Europes unwanted and unnoticed migrants exposed (Institute of Race Relations, link): "The deaths over the last five years, in the detention and reception centres, the streets and the squats of Europe, are a product of the rightlessness and the lack of human dignity European governments accord to migrants and asylum seekers. They are also the tip of the iceberg; the true figures are unknown, as in many countries migrants deaths are not recorded or investigated. But of the deaths whose circumstances are known, the largest number, sixty, were suicides; 26 were caused by untreated illness or illness exacerbated by detention, while sixteen were caused by destitution.

"Liz Fekete, Director of the IRR, said, Some lives simply dont matter. These deaths reflect exactly the same indifference to human life that we see at the border & this suffering, these deaths need to be accounted for."

Full report: Unwanted, Unnoticed: an audit of 160-asylum and immigration-related deaths in Europe (link to pdf)

EU: European Neighbourhood Policy evaluation for 2014 published

"In 2014 the EU maintained a high level of engagement with partners, in which the instruments offered by the ENP played a central part. The new European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI), adopted in 2014, provides EUR 15.4 billion for the period 2014-20. Financial assistance is more focused than before; civil society organisations (CSOs) and local authorities are better and more closely involved in preparing, implementing and monitoring EU support."

Full report: European Commission and High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy: Implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy in 2014 (pdf) and for an overview: Commission publishes neighbourhood reports for 'test year 2014' (EurActiv, link)

The document notes that: "The terrible loss of life in the Mediterranean Sea during 2014 showed that coordinated policy formulation of the EU with its partner countries in the South and beyond is indispensable.

"As ENP partner countries are mostly transit countries for irregular migration, the EU includes the neighbours of neighbours in relevant discussions, e.g. authorities from West and Central Africa in the framework of the 'Rabat Process'. Similarly, a regional dialogue process was launched in November with countries along the East African migratory route ('Khartoum Process'). Most of the EUs southern partner countries lack a comprehensive, sustainable legal and administrative system to deal with this issue. Libya, in particular, was very vulnerable to flows of asylum-seekers, irregular migration and human trafficking following the deteriorating security situation and the conflict in the country. "

On this issue, see also: Plan to block refugees leaving Africa and hand them over to North African states

A document was published at the beginning of March outlining the "clear need to review the assumptions on which the policy is based, as well as its scope, and how instruments should be used..." See: Towards a new European Neighbourhood Policy (pdf)

EU: Billions of euros for internal security and migration policy

22 EU Member States' plans for internal security and migration were approved by the European Commission yesterday, opening the door to billions of euros in funding from the EU's current seven year budget, which runs from 2014 until 2020. The new budgets follow the EU's previous internal security and migration budgets, which ran from 2007 until 2013 and paid for transnational databases and police operations, surveillance equipment, and detention centres, amongst other things.

European Commission press release: Investing in an open and secure Europe: ¬1.8 billion to fund Asylum, Migration, Integration and Security (pdf)

UPDATE: 24.3.15
Smart borders? Operation AMBERLIGHT: "Overstaying" in the EU: a problem for internal security and the need for "harmonised" laws which are enforceable - like in JPO Mos Maiorum people will be "apprehended" and sanctioned

" "Overstayers" to be checked at external borders in Joint Police Operation (JPO) in April
" "Overstayers" refers to visitors, students and others on visas and undocumented migrants
" Member States to report on: "Further procedure in Member States, and sanctions imposed" - law enforcement agencies will "apprehend" and sanction people

The document says that: "No personal data will be collected within the activity" - the same claim was made by the Italian Council Presidency during: Joint Operation "Mos Maiorum": Council's explanation is "economical with the truth" which argued that was only a data collection operation when in fact nearly 20,000 people were "apprehended": The Mos Maiorum JPO: Final report (LIMITE doc no: 5474/15).

"Overstayers" to be checked at external borders: Joint Police Operation (JPO): Council: Presidency activity AMBERLIGHT 2015 (LIMITE doc no: 5195-15, pdf) It is planned to take place in the period from 1-14 April 2015 or from 18 to 30 April 2015)

Institute of Race Relations (IRR): Dying for Justice (pdf link):

"509 people from BAME, refugee and migrant communities who have died between 1991-2014 in suspicious circumstances in which the police, prison authorities or immigration detention officers have been implicated.....the wronged will not rest the families movement, in particular, will not go away. Their cry goes up from the streets: there must be an end to dying for justice."

UK: Home Affairs Select Committee report: The work of the Immigration Directorates: Calais (pdf):

"The French and UK Governments should ensure that the migrants in Calais have access to advice on asylum, and understand that a successful claim is a legal path to secure rights in the EU. Every effort must be made to ensure someone who is fleeing war or persecution, who could apply for asylum either in France or the UK, does not decline the opportunity through a lack of information, or the provision of misinformation by fellow migrants, traffickers or others"

EU: MEDITERREAN PLAN TO SET UP "ad hoc operational cooperation mechanisms" between the EU and north African states, which will have a "real deterrent effect so that less and less migrants would be ready to put their life at risk to reach the European coasts" - to block refugees leaving Africa and hand them over to North African states

See: Non Paper on Possible Involvement of Third Countries in Maritime Surveillance and Search and Rescue from the Italian delegation (Confidential Note discussed at the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 12 March 2015, pdf)

The proposal involves the "direct involvement of reliable third countries", namely Egypt and Tunisia, as "Libya is unable to patrol their coasts" and to "take them [the migrants] to their own ports [ie: to Egypt and Tunisia]" where "competent authorities" will carry out "international protection procedures, provide assistance to vulnerable people and return irregular migrants to their country of origin".

See: EU considering plan to outsource Mediterranean migrant patrols to Africa Exclusive: Under Italian proposals the EU would cut deals with countries such as Egypt and Tunisia to fund them in rescue missions (Guardian, link)

and Brussels plans migration centres outside EU to process asylum applications - European commission wants to use offices and embassies outside EU to process applications for asylum and refugee status before migrants reach Europe (Guardian, link): "The interior ministries have also been discussing plans to establish and finance refugee camps or reception centres for migrants in North Africa and the Middle East to try to keep them from coming to Europe as well as out of the hands of the traffickers, and to set up European asylum-processing offices outside the EU in the same region."

EU considering plan to outsource Mediterranean migrant patrols to Africa Exclusive: Under Italian proposals the EU would cut deals with countries such as Egypt and Tunisia to fund them in rescue missions (Guardian, link):

"The EU is considering plans to outsource its patrols of the Mediterranean to countries such as Egypt and Tunisia in order to try to reduce the high numbers of desperate illegal migrants risking their lives to reach European shores.

Under the proposals tabled confidentially by the Italian government, the EU would cut deals with North African countries to fund and train their navies in search-and-rescue missions for the tens of thousands of people being trafficked from Libya to Italy. Once rescued, the migrants would be taken to the ports of the country saving them or sent back to their countries of origin."

EU: Council of the European Union: Handbook on trafficking in human beings - indicators for investigating police forces, (LIMITE doc no: 14630-rev-2-15, pdf): The term "search and rescue" is not referred to. It includes the use of "Special Investigative tools":

"investigations into human trafficking envisage the use of investigative techniques and tools to combat organised crime and serious crimes, as well as special operations and undercover activities. The latter, however, are not adopted in Malta, Slovakia and Sweden....

Not all Member States use wire-tapping and communication interception. According to the results of the questionnaire, they are not used in Belgium, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania or Malta, while Cyprus reports the strict conditions that must be met to apply these investigative tools, which are not commonly used.... Only Slovakia, Spain and Germany stressed the presence of "joint investigative teams" [emphasis added]

Background: Europol: Joint operational team launched to combat irregular migration in the Mediterranean (pdf) announcing the launch of Joint Operational Teams (JOT) Mare.Intelligence Centre

The JOT Mare intelligence Centre will work Frontex agency and with the European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR). It monitors third-country ports and targeted ships. Thirteen member states: Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom - are taking part in JOT Mare.

GREECE: European Council for Refugees and Exiles (ECRE): Whats in a name? The reality of First Reception at Evros: AIDA fact-finding visit to Greece (pdf) and see: Press summary (link): "The ECRE delegation visited Evros between 1 and 5 December 2014. The visit was organised in close collaboration with the Greek Council for Refugees and as part of the Asylum Information Database (AIDA) project"

"The conditions in the Fylakio Detention Centre are extremely bad, in particular as migrants may be detained for prolonged periods of time up to 18 months. The dormitories in Fylakio Detention Centre are large cells, behind bars, containing between 50 to 60 bunk beds, access to the courtyard of the detention centre is limited to 3 hours a day, weather permitting. The ECRE delegation found the place to be cold and damp. There is no doctor present in the detention centre and detainees only receive paracetamol, irrespective of any medical complaint they have.

Although women with small children and babies are regularly detained there, including at the time of the ECRE visit, the detention centre neither provides baby food nor baby milk. Access to free legal assistance is very limited as there is only one lawyer, deployed by the Greek Council for Refugees, which is clearly insufficient to meet the needs of the persons wishing to challenge either their detention or a negative decision relating to their asylum application."

EUROPOL: Joint operational team launched to combat irregular migration in the Mediterranean (pdf): "The intelligence-led, European response to this problem is the establishment of the Joint Operational Team (JOT) Mare, which launches today. Hosted at Europol headquarters in The Hague, JOT Mare will tackle the organised criminal groups who are facilitating the journeys of migrants by ship across the Mediterranean Sea to the EU."

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council: Terrorism, migration, data protection and legal aid

"Home affairs ministers will exchange their views on the implementation of measures regarding the fight against terrorism" - reinforcing border controls, enhancing internet monitoring and content control, increasing cooperation on firearms trafficking and "stepping up information sharing, including through Europol and Eurojust." Also on the home affairs agenda are migratory pressures and the Greek Road Map on Asylum for 2015. Justice ministers will discuss the data protection regulation, legal aid for suspects in European Arrest Warrant proceedings, Eurojust, the acceptance of public documents and the European Public Prosecutor's Office.

See: Background note (pdf)

EU: Fingerprinting by force: secret discussions on "systematic identification" of migrants and asylum seekers

The European Commission and Member States are discussing, in secret, a set of "best practices for Member States to follow in order to ensure that their obligations under the Eurodac Regulation are fulfilled". The guidelines ultimately address "fingerprinting [with] the use of a proportionate degree of coercion" including on "vulnerable persons, such as minors or pregnant women". The aim is to "uphold the integrity of the Dublin Regulation" - the legal basis for Europe's asylum system, which many consider to be fundamentally flawed.

And: Press release (pdf)

EU: New report on alternatives to immigration detention

"This report... constitutes a significant pooling of knowledge on the law and practice on detention decision-making and alternatives to detention in 6 EU Member States (Austria, Belgium, Lithuania, Slovenia, Sweden and the United Kingdom). In addition, it includes legal research on the scope of Member States obligations to implement alternatives to immigration detention under international, European (i.e. Council of Europe) and EU law."

EU: European and national parliamentarians divided on the EU Smart Borders Package? (European Area of Freedom Security & Justice, link): "On February 23 the LIBE Committee has organized a interparliamentary meeting focused on the Smart Borders Package... The meeting served as a forum for the exchange of views between European and national parliamentarians, as well as the Commission and European agency representatives, in an aim to debate the possible future alternatives at technological and legal level of the smart border package."

See also: videos of meetings on 23 February and 24 February (links) and speakers' contributions (pdfs):

EU: Council of the European Union: Use of the VIS with a view to handling asylum cases (LIMITE doc no 6747-15, pdf):

"SE [Sweden] raised a point on the link between Schengen visas issued by Member States and the flows of asylum seekers. SE expressed concerns over the use of Schengen visas in order to access EU territory in view of lodging applications for international protection. SE noted the link between the identification of asylum seekers in the VIS database and implications for the Dublin system, and deplored the lack of harmonization between MS in the application of the Visa Code, which may result in costly procedures for other MS where asylum seekers end up applying for protection."

And: Council Directive on the coordination and cooperation measures to facilitate consular protection for unrepresented citizens of the Union in third countries - Revised Presidency compromise (LIMITE doc no 6065-15, pdf) The Council developing its position.

EU Commissioner: Avramopoulos: We cooperate with dictatorial regimes to fight migration (euractiv, link): "The EU's migration chief insisted yesterday (4 March) that the bloc must work with dictatorships in order to fight smugglers who traffic migrants to Europe, often using dangerous sea routes across the Mediterranean."

and: EU defends working with dictatorships to stop migrants (The Daily Star, link): "The EU's migration chief insisted Wednesday that the bloc must work with dictatorships in order to fight smugglers who traffic migrants to Europe, often using dangerous sea routes across the Mediterranean."

And see: Commission statement: Commission makes progress on a European Agenda on Migration (pdf): "First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said; "In May we will present a new migration agenda with an improved governance to strengthen our asylum system, set a sound course on legal migration, act more vigorously against irregular migration and ensure more secure borders." (and "Factsheet", pdf) and see: European Migration Network Conference 2015: Attracting and Retaining Talent in Europe (link)

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, notes: "This Commission announcement makes no mention of the EU's humanitarian responsibility for search and rescue, emphasising instead the need for "legal migration" which is based on bringing in skilled labour from the South to maintain the EU standards of living."

Next article

February

 

Spotted an error? If you've spotted a problem with this page, just click once to let us know.

Report error