Statewatch Observatory
EU asylum and immigration policy

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News online Bookmark and Share Updated 20.8.15 [for ongoing coverage of the Crisis in the Mediterranean please see: News Online]


UK-FRANCE: CALAIS: Managing migratory flows in Calais: Joint Ministerial Declaration on UK/French Co-operation (pdf) and see: Commission: Joint statement by First Vice-President Timmermans and Commissioner Avramopoulos on Calais and European migration priorities (pdf)

UK-EU: Compulsory fingerprinting of migrants: Government Explanatory Memorandum: EM: Commission Staff Working Document (SWD, 150-15) (pdf). The UK is not bound by this proposal but totally backs the compulsory fingerprinting of all, and observes that when faced with "non-compliance" there will be consequences:

"including the use of detention or coercion to obtain fingerprints. In our experience the appropriate use of detention... can have the effect of bringing behavioral change" [emphasis added]

See: European Commission: Staff Working Document “on Implementation of the Eurodac Regulation as regards the obligation to take fingerprints”(pdf)

And: Fingerprinting by force: secret discussions on "systematic identification" of migrants and asylum seekers - Including "fingerprinting [with] the use of a proportionate degree of coercion" on "vulnerable persons, such as minors or pregnant women" (Statewatch) and Official reports on EU databases show massive increases in "discreet surveillance" and asylum seeker fingerprinting (Statewatch)

EU: European Parliament Study: Enhancing the Commom European Asylum System and alternatives to Dublin (pdf):

"It argues that as long as it is based on the use of coercion against asylum seekers, it cannot serve as an effective tool to address existing imbalances in the allocation of responsibilities among Member States.".

FINLAND: Report to the Finnish Government on the visit to Finland carried out by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) (pdf)

"During the visit, the CPT’s delegation examined the situation and treatment of persons deprived of their liberty in police establishments, immigration detention, prisons and in a psychiatric hospital. Despite on-going efforts in a number of areas, the CPT was concerned by the lack of sufficient progress in the implementation of many of its long-standing recommendations, for example those regarding the practice of holding remand prisoners in police establishments and the practice of “slopping out” in prisons, on the regime for prisoners segregated in high-security and closed units, and on the legal safeguards in the context of involuntary psychiatric hospitalisation."

GREECE: Report: Kara Tepe, transit camp for refugees, Lesvos (Greece) Outline development proposals (pdf)

"While going from tent to tent, interacting directly with refugees in their shelters and listening to their stories, we have observed in detail the living conditions of refugees in Kara Tepe camp and noticed that the humanitarian situation there is catastrophic.

Depending on the boats coming every day from Turkey, Kara Tepe camp houses an average of 1,000 to 2,000 mainly Syrian refugees (and from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Eritrea). The stay in this transit camp is supposed to last until 2 or 3 days. Our findings on site, however, reveal that some refugees (in July) would have waited their papers up to 11 days.

Thanks to numerous discussions with refugees, volunteers, NGOs and the UNHCR, we have drawn up this paper and hope the recommendations presented here will be found worthy of consideration."

EU: MED-CRISIS: COMPULSORY FINGER PRINTING OF MIGRANTS including: "fingerprinting [with] the use of a proportionate degree of coercion" including on "vulnerable persons, such as minors or pregnant women" AGREED WITHOUT DISCUSSION at: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 20 July 2015, Brussels:

Not released until 21.7.15: "A" Points agenda: Non-legislative activities - Implementation of the Eurodac Regulation as regards the obligation to take fingerprints 11013/15 ASIM 60 EURODAC 8 (adopted without discussion, pdf)

See: Implementation of the Eurodac Regulation as regards the obligation to take fingerprints (EU doc no: 11013-15, pdf) agreed at the Council::

"On 16 June 2015, the Commission held an ad-hoc technical meeting with Member States and Associated Countries. The main focus of the meeting was to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges Member States face when taking fingerprints and to agree on a common best practice approach to taking fingerprints in circumstances where the migrant refuses to cooperate. At that meeting, participating Member States reiterated their different practices when fingerprinting asylum seekers and irregular migrants and talked about different ways to deal with non-cooperation and damaged fingertips. The meeting concluded with the unanimous agreement of all Member States present that the best practices put forward in the above Commission document should be followed...

All delegations welcomed the [Commission] document, which, based on existing EU law, provides useful guidance to facilitate the systematic taking of fingerprints in full respect of fundamental rights and more specifically of the right to data protection... Coreper is therefore requested to recommend that the Council, at its meeting on 20 July 2015, invite the Member States to follow the mentioned 10-step approach." [emphasis added]

There is no reference to the "fingerprinting [with] the use of a proportionate degree of coercion" on "vulnerable persons, such as minors or pregnant women" in the Commission proposal (below)

See: European Commission: Staff Working Document “on Implementation of the Eurodac Regulation as regards the obligation to take fingerprints”(pdf)

See: Fingerprinting by force: secret discussions on "systematic identification" of migrants and asylum seekers - Including "fingerprinting [with] the use of a proportionate degree of coercion" on "vulnerable persons, such as minors or pregnant women" (Statewatch) and Official reports on EU databases show massive increases in "discreet surveillance" and asylum seeker fingerprinting (Statewatch)

EU states fall short on asylum targets (euobserver, link): "Interior ministers in Brussels on Monday (20 July) fell short of a European Commission-proposed target to relocate 40,000 asylum seekers arriving in Greece and Italy over the next two years. Instead they agreed to relocate 32,356 with Austria and Hungary refusing to take any asylum-seekers, despite the plan being billed by EU leaders last month as a demonstration of European solidarity."

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 20 July 2015, Brussels: Background Note (pdf) The "non-legislative": Agenda (pdf) is soley concerned with:

Resettling 20 000 displaced persons from outside the EU in clear need of international protection
Relocating from Greece and Italy 40 000 persons in clear need of international protection
Provisional measures in the area of international protection for the benefit of Italy and Greece
Designation of certain third countries as safe countries of origin

See: Statewatch: Migration crisis: EU discussing common list of "safe countries of origin" and resettlement programmes Documents under discussion:

Draft Conclusions of the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States meeting within the Council on resettling through multilateral and national schemes 20 000 displaced persons in clear need of international protection (LIMITE doc no: 10595/1/15, pdf)

Draft Resolution of the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States meeting within the Council on relocating from Greece and Italy 40 000 persons in clear need of international protection (LIMITE doc no: 10849/15, pdf)

Draft Council Conclusions on safe countries of origin (LIMITE doc no: 10687/15, pdf)

See also Working Documents from the European Parliament: Developing safe and lawful routes for asylum seekers and refugees into the EU, including the Union resettlement policy and corresponding integration policies (INI report on the situation in the Mediterranean and the need for a holistic EU approach to migration) (pdf) and On Article 80 TFEU – Solidarity and fair sharing of responsibility, including search and rescue obligations (INI report on the situation in the Mediterranean and the need for a holistic EU approach to migration) (pdf)

Eurodac fingerprint database under fire by human rights activists (euractiv, link):

"The German Institute for Human Rights has criticised the repurposing of the EU's fingerprint database, Eurodac, for registering asylum seekers. Tagesspiegel reports. Biometric information, to which the police will soon be given access, will be stored there for ten years, just because an individual has fled their country, activists have warned.

The German Institute for Human Rights (DIMR) has come out strongly against the biometric registration of asylum seekers at Europe's external borders. The new regulation on Eurodac, scheduled to take effect on 20 July, is a misuse of the EU database and allows for "considerable interference into fundamental rights", said Eric Töpfer, a research associate at the institute."

and see: ECRE expresses concern over the European Commission's guidance on Eurodac fingerprinting (aida, link): "ECRE has published comments on the European Commission’s Staff Working Document “on Implementation of the Eurodac Regulation as regards the obligation to take fingerprints”, issued on 27 May 2015 as part of the first round of implementing measures announced by the European Agenda on Migration. These comments point to some alarming elements in the Commission’s guidance that challenges several underlying principles of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights."

Also: Fingerprinting by force: secret discussions on "systematic identification" of migrants and asylum seekers - Including "fingerprinting [with] the use of a proportionate degree of coercion" on "vulnerable persons, such as minors or pregnant women" (Statewatch) and Official reports on EU databases show massive increases in "discreet surveillance" and asylum seeker fingerprinting (Statewatch)

EU: Statewatch coverage of the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean 15 July 2015 (pdf): 14 new key documents and 21 news stories

EU: MED-CRISIS: Council of the European Union: Valletta Conference on Migration (Malta, 11-12 November 2015) - Orientation debate (pdf):

"Delegations will find enclosed at annex a note issued under the responsibility of the Cabinet of the President of the European Council, in close cooperation with the European External Action Service and the Commission services....

The Summit will bring together the leaders of the most concerned countries of origin, transit and destination as well as regional organisations to identify, agree and launch actions to jointly address immediate and long term migration challenges as well as to reinforce the current mechanisms to implement and follow up high level political decisions on migration. Therefore, the aim is to invite the Heads of State and Government of the European Union Member States and of the countries parties to the Khartoum Process and the Rabat Process, as well as the African Union Commission and the ECOWAS Commission.

Libya is central to irregular migration to Europe but its participation to the summit will depend on the evolution of its internal political situation....

Making progress on return and readmission agreements (actions for both the EU and the countries of origin to facilitate returns of irregular migrants, with particular attention to assisted voluntary return and integration and the establishing of readmission agreements with countries of origin)"

EU: MIGRATION POLICY: Council of the European Union: Incoming Luxembourg Council Presidency: Strategic coordination of the work of the Council preparatory bodies in the area of migration (LIMITE doc no: 10249-15, dated 25 June 2015, pdf):

The Council Presidency seem to have forgotten that migration policy is subject to co-responsibility with the European Parliament: How can a legislative body fully play its role if it is not associated when strategies are defined and when legislation is implemented?

"the Luxembourg Presidency proposes to start working on a short and concise paper on the Strategic Coordination of the work of the Council preparatory bodies in
the area of migration, in order to better integrate the work on the internal and external aspects of migration and to improve the efficiency and coherence of the Council preparatory bodies in this area.

The paper would define, under the responsibility of the Trio of Presidencies, the Strategic Coordination in the area of migration. It should be used to mainstream these priorities into the work of the Council preparatory bodies dealing with migration, in particular SCIFA and HLWG, but also other relevant thematic and geographical groups (CODEV, COHOM, etc.)."

Special Report: European Summit (meeting of Prime Ministers) Conclusions: European Council (25 and 26 June 2015) - Draft conclusions (dated 24 June 2015, LIIMITE doc no: 8395-15,pdf).

These Conclusions, drafted yesterday, still contain the same, worrying, and far-reaching measures on migration as the earlier draft and are based on:Letter from Commissioner Avramopolous to Ministers with Annex (pdf) which spells out in more detail where the EU is going:

See: Statewatch Special Report: "War" to be declared on migrants who - fleeing from war, persecution and poverty - have arrived in the EU are to be contained and detained in "Structured border zones" to be set up to "ensure the swift identification, registration and fingerprinting of migrants ("hotspots")" and Statewatch Briefing on a "Working Document" issued for discussion by the Commission: Coercive measures or expulsion: Fingerprinting migrants (pdf):

And Agenda of Summit (pdf) The UK issues are no 6 on Agenda. The Conclusions state: "IV. UK: 14. The UK Prime Minister set out his plans for an (in/out) referendum in the UK. The European Council agreed to revert to the matter in December."

Also: EU toughens stance on migrant returns (IRIN, link) and EU flexes its muscles to tackle failed asylum seekers (Times of Malta, link)

EU:Jailing migrant families together with convicted criminals: A desperate EU policy to deter irregular migration by Steve Peers, Professor of Law, University of Essex:

"Taken together, the loss of these protections will mean that irregular migrants, including irregular migrant families, will not only be detained in ordinary prisons, but mixed in with the ordinary prison population of convicted criminals and those awaiting trial for serious crimes. Moreover, their capacity to challenge their detention by means of judiicial review will be severely curtailed.

Coupled with the recent Commission paper offering guidelines for using force, including against pregnant women, on migrants who refuse to be fingerprinted, this represents a significant turn in EU policy - turning toward direct and indirect threats of physical violence to control their behaviour and induce them to leave.

To say the least, this is hard to square with the EU's frequent professions of support for the human rights and decent treatment of migrants."

See: Letter from Commissioner Avramopolous to Ministers with Annex (Statewatch version, 75KB) or link to Council's 10.5 MB version (pdf)

Statewatch Special Report: "War" to be declared on migrants who - fleeing from war, persecution and poverty - have arrived in the EU are to be contained and detained in "Structured border zones" to be set up to "ensure the swift identification, registration and fingerprinting of migrants ("hotspots")"

This is set out in the Draft Conclusions of the European Council [the EU Heads of State] meeting on 25 and 26 June 2015: Draft conclusions (pdf)

Section 5.c says: "the setting up of structured border zones and facilities in the frontline Member States, with the active support of Member States' experts and of EASO, Frontex and Europol to ensure the swift identification, registration and fingerprinting of migrants ("hotspots");" [emphasis added]

Will the "swift fingerprinting" of those described here as "illegal" migrants involve coercive measures? See: Statewatch Briefing on a "Working Document" issued for discussion by the Commission: Coercive measures or expulsion: Fingerprinting migrants (pdf):

“If the data-subject still refuses to cooperate it is suggested that officials trained in the "proportionate use of coercion" may apply the minimum level of coercion required, while ensuring respect of the dignity and physical integrity of the data-subject..”

Statewatch Director, Tony Bunyan comments: “Where is the EU going? Migrants, including pregnant women and minors, who have fled from war, persecution and poverty are to be forcibly finger-printed or held in detention until they acquiesce or are expelled and banned from re-entry.”

Steve Peers, Professor of Law, University of Essex comments on the Draft Conclusions:

"It is remarkable that Member States (if this draft is accepted) are indeed willing to accept the relocation of 40,000 asylum-seekers from Italy and Greece, and 20,000 resettled refugees.

It is also notable that all Member States will participate in the latter decision - with even the UK agreeing recently to resettle a few hundred more Syrians. This is a very modest amount of the numbers needing protection however.

The European Asylum Support Office does not seem to have the powers to participate in fingerprinting asylum-seekers, and the reference to 'bringing together' rules on fast-tracking asylum applications is very vague. Is the intention to lower standards, and if so, how exactly? Any moves to negotiate more readmission agreements and to expel more people who supposedly have no need for protection will have to comply fully with EU, ECHR and all national and international human rights standards.

Equally if Frontex is to gain more powers over expulsion it must be made more fully accountable, including as regards individual complaints against it."

See: UN says one million refugees should be no problem for EU (euractiv, link): "The UN rights chief yesterday (15 June) called for the European Union to take bolder steps to address its swelling migrant crisis, insisting the bloc could easily take in one million refugees"

EU: Germany-Italian-French non-paper on EU migration policy.(pdf) and Letter (pdf) Includes:

- Dialogue with source/transit countries: At upcoming EU-Africa summit in Malta "we should also discuss the relationship between migration and mobility and their impact on development, the promotion of fair trade and the strengthening of security cooperation as well as return and readmission issues"

- Proposal for EU CSDP civilian mission in Niger: EUCAP Sahel Niger to become permanent and "work even more closely with Nigerien authorities in the fight against smuggling and trafficking in human beings"

- Adequate funding for continued "engagement" with countries in the Horn of Africa, to deal with migration from/through those countries (the recent ISF-Police work programme some money was put aside for this)

- "We must increase the effectiveness of return and readmission programmes"

And: "Our migration policy goals should relate to other relevant horizontal foreign policies such as counter-terrorism, maritime security, water and climate policy and a reviewed European Neighbourhood Policy which also considers the neighbours of our neighbours"

EU: MED-CRISIS: European External Action Service (EEAS): European Union Naval Force - Mediterranean (Press statement, pdf): Contributing States: Currently 14 Member States (BE, DE, EL, ES, FI, FR, HU, IT, LT, LU, NL, SE, SI, UK):

"The Council shall assess whether the conditions for transition beyond the first phase have been met, taking into account any applicable UN Security Council Resolution and consent by the Coastal States concerned."

Consent is needed for the EU to act within the territorial waters of another state (eg: Libya) and see: Comments below on this position.

EU: Council of the European Union: LIMITE documents: Migration - Policy debate & European Council draft Conclusions

- European Agenda on Migration - Policy debate (LIMITE doc no: 9825-15, pdf) Many areas of disagreement between Member States on how to respond to the crisis in the Mediterranean:

""Immediate Action" but also builds on four pillars as a basis for a comprehensive European migration policy: - Reducing incentives for irregular migration; - Border management; - Strong common asylum policy; - New policy on legal migration....

There is wide consensus with regard to the need to further cooperate with third countries since both the root causes of and solutions to migration related issues can be sought there. In order to ensure a genuinely comprehensive approach, some Member States have suggested to strengthen the links with the Internal Security Strategy and measures proposed therein....

Member States’ views differ on the proposed concept of relocation in order to respond to high volumes of arrivals that includes temporary scheme for persons in need of international national protection.. The total number of persons to be relocated, the available funding, and the capacity of the Member
States' structures to deal with relocation were equally questioned..."
[emphasis added]

and: Update: COR -1 (LIMITE doc no: 9825-15, 12 June 2015, pdf)

- European Council (25 and 26 June 2015) - Draft guidelines for the conclusions (LIMITE doc no: 8392-15, pdf): Covers Mediterranean crisis response, security challenges, economic issues, the Digital Agenda and the UK:

Position on "1. "Relocation / resettlement p.m." is blank as is Position: "IV. UK p.m" and "Return policy: Mobilise all tools to promote readmission of unauthorised economic migrants to countries of origin and transit...." [emphasis added]

OSCE: Handbook: How to prevent human trafficking for domestic servitude in diplomatic households and protect private domestic workers (pdf)

EU: FORCIBLE FINGERPRINTING of MIGRANTS including pregnant women and minors: Implementation of the Eurodac Regulation as regards the obligation to take fingerprints (pdf)

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director comments:

"Where is the EU going? Migrants, including pregnant women and minors, who have fled from war, persecution and poverty are to be forcibly finger-printed or held in detention until they acquiesce or expelled & banned from entry. To add insult to injury the Commission deliberately withheld publication of the Guidelines yesterday to control news reporting when announcing its new migration plans."

EU: European Commission Migration Action Plan: The following documents were released:

- Proposal for a COUNCIL DECISION establishing provisional measures in the area of international protection for the benefit of Italy and Greece (COM 286-15, pdf)
- Communication: EU Action Plan against migrant smuggling (2015 - 2020) (COM 285-15, pdf)
- European Commission makes progress on Agenda on Migration (Press release, pdf)

- Questions and Answers (pdf)

Statewatch coverage of the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean (pdf)

EU: MED-CRISIS: ACP: Destroying boats is not a solution to migration (euractiv, link): "The Secretary-General of the ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific) group of states said yesterday (21 May) that his organisation was against the EU’s idea of destroying the boats of human traffickers, who make fortunes by luring prospective immigrants into risky journeys across the Mediterranean."

  EU: EUROPEAN SYSTEM OF BORDER GUARDS?: 21 May 2015: Speech by Commissioner Avramopoulos at the Frontex Conference on the European Day for Border Guards, Warsaw Poland (pdf):

"The ongoing evaluation of Frontex activities should also identify the limitations and shortcomings that will have to be addressed in the medium and long term development of the Agency. When speaking about the future of border management, one of the issues that we will explore is the possible creation of a European System of Border Guards."

And see: Commissioner backs EU 'border guard corps' (euobserver, link):

"Avramopoulos, a Greek former defence minister, used strident terms to praise the EU’s new military operation, EUnavfor Med, which is to start sinking migrant-smugglers’ boats in July if it gets UN and Libyan permission. “Europe has declared a war against smugglers”, he said. He noted that Frontex will create “profiles” of the type of vessels being used “in order to improve their detection”. He also said Frontex' “mandate must be reinforced” so it can physically help EU countries deport failed asylum claimants."

EU: MED CRISIS: European Commission: A European Agenda on Migration (COM 240-15, pdf):

"The criminal networks which exploit vulnerable migrants must be targeted. The High Representative/Vice President (HR/VP) has already presented options for possible Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) operations to systematically identify, capture and destroy vessels used by smugglers. Such action under international law will be a powerful demonstration of the EU's determination to act." [emphasis in original]

The Commission "Agenda" will thus be supplemented by a plan for a military-intelligence operation "on the ground" in Libya being prepared by the High Representative/Vice President (HR/VP) through the European External Action Service (EEAS) - see Guardian story below. See: Current: Ongoing EU operations (EEAS, pdf) and European External Action Service: Libya, a Political Framework for a Crisis Approach (LIMITE doc no: 13829-15, pdf)

See: Military action underpins EU migration plan (euobserver, link): "Foreign and defence ministers, in Brussels on Monday will discuss a 19-page blueprint prepared by Mogherini’s staff and leaked to British daily The Guardian... It notes that “a [military] presence ashore might be envisaged if agreement was reached with relevant authorities”. But it warns that “the terrorist presence in the region constitutes a security threat. Action taken ashore could be undertaken in a hostile environment.” and National concerns erode European migration strategy (euractiv, link)

EU: European Commission: EU Migration Agenda (pdf)

The following is a leaked draft of the Commission communication on the EU migration agenda which is due to be published on Wednesday 13th May. It might be changed before publication and may also be missing some text.(First published on EU Law Analysis)

EU moves ahead with military response to migration; pushes for Europe-wide migrant "quotas"

The EU's proposal to try and deal with the crisis in the Mediterranean by destroying boats used to transport migrants is moving ahead, with foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini making the EU's case for military action to the UN Security Council today. The proposed military effort will feature in the Commission's forthcoming 'Agenda on Migration', to be published on Wednesday (pdf), which will revolve around four themes: "a strong common asylum policy, the fight against trafficking and the prevention of irregular migration, managing external borders, and a new policy on legal migration."

UN-UK-MEDIA: UN Human Rights Chief urges U.K. to tackle tabloid hate speech, after migrants called “cockroaches” (link):

"After decades of sustained and unrestrained anti-foreigner abuse, misinformation and distortion, and in the wake of a recent article in the Sun newspaper calling migrants “cockroaches,” the UN Human Rights Chief on Friday urged the U.K. authorities, media and regulatory bodies to take steps to curb incitement to hatred by British tabloid newspapers, in line with the country’s obligations under national and international law."

UN human rights chief denounces Sun over Katie Hopkins 'cockroach' column - High commissioner launches scathing attack on tabloid columnist, comparing Hopkins’ migrant remarks with hate language used before Rwandan genocide (Guardian, link)

EU: MED CRISIS: EUROPEAN COUNCIL MEETING 23 APRIL 2015, Brussels: Agenda (pdf) and Background Note (pdf) and see story below

EU: MED CRISIS: Most migrants crossing Mediterranean will be sent back, EU leaders to agree - Exclusive: Confidential draft from summit reveals that only 5,000 migrants will be allowed to resettle in Europe with at least 150,000 likely to be repatriated (Guardian link):

"EU’s Frontex border agency, the head of Frontex, Fabrice Leggeri, said on the eve of the summit that saving migrants’ lives should not be the priority for his maritime patrols despite the clamour for a more humane response after the deaths of 800 refugees and migrants at the weekend."

See: Statewatch EU Council Draft Conclusions document: Draft European Council Conclusions (pdf)

EU-MED-CRISIS RESPONSE: Draft European Council Statement for 25 April 2015 Summit of Prime MInisters and Heads of State (pdf). includes:

- "to increase the search and rescue possibilities within the mandate of FRONTEX; [p.m.: welcome pledges]

But asks for "volunteer" Member States to join search and rescue - no commitment by all governments

and:

- increased intelligence and police-cooperation with third countries

- systematic efforts to identify, capture and destroy vessels before they are used by traffickers. The High Representative is invited to immediately begin
preparations for a possible CSDP operation to this effect, in accordance with international law

- increase support to Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan, Mali and Niger among others, to monitor and control the land borders and routes in order to prevent potential
migrants from gaining access to Mediterranean shores,

- promote readmission of unauthorised economic migrants to countries of origin

- new return programme for the rapid return of irregular migrants

- voluntary pilot project on resettlement, offering at least 5,000 places to persons qualifying for protection

- registration and finger-printing" [emphasis added]

EU: CJEU JUDGMENT: !mmigration law: Member States cannot just fine irregular migrants, they have to expel them (full text)

ITALY: Associazione per gli Studi Giuridici sull'Immigrazione (ASGI) statement:
Italy and Europe must react immediately to stop the tragedy of the deaths in the Mediterranean:

"Inactivity makes them accomplices of a slaughter: A failure to immediately adopt the measures listed above would entail a serious responsibility on Europe's part as, by forgetting its founding values, it remains objectively indifferent to the tragedies that are taking place at our borders."

EU: LIBYA & SEARCH & RESCUE: European External Action Service: Libya, a Political Framework for a Crisis Approach (LIMITE doc no: 13829-15, pdf):"three possible scenarios for the near future; a stalemate, with no clear winner; an escalation of violence, in which one side might overcome the other following a full-scale civil war; or a cessation of hostilities and the resumption of the political process. What these scenarios demonstrate is that the possibility for the EU to define its strategy and programme its activities depends highly on the outcome. The first 2 scenarios are clearly not conducive to any major EU footprint and/or support programme. Only a ceasefire agreement could eventually allow for a resumption of EU support" [emphasis in original]

Mass drowning prompts talk of EU search-and-rescue operation (euobserver, link):

"The EU is mulling options to launch a fully-fledged search and rescue operation following the reported drowning of some 700 EU-bound migrants over the weekend. Speaking on the behalf of Latvia’s EU presidency, interior minister Rihards Kozlovskis on Monday (20 April) said “options should be explored for setting up a full-fledged search and rescue operation of the EU”.

But Kozlovskis’ call for a EU-wide rescue mission is likely to meet resistance from national governments like the UK, which insist aid efforts are a pull factor for more people to make the perilous journey. The deaths and boating tragedies have historically been met with emotional statements from the EU and most governments but little in terms of action. “How many more people will have to drown until we finally act in Europe?” said European parliament president Martin Schulz in a statement."

And: EU to launch military operations against migrant-smugglers in Libya (Guardian, link): "The European Union is to launch military operations against the networks of smugglers in Libya deemed culpable of sending thousands of people to their deaths in the Mediterranean. Dimitris Avramopoulos, the European commissioner for migration issues, said the operation would be “civil-military” modelled on previous military action in the Horn of Africa to combat Somali piracy. The military action would require a UN mandate." [emphasis added]"

EU Council of the European Union: Migratory pressures: trends and further actions (LIMITE doc no: 6565-rev-1-15, pdf), includes:

"effective return policy: The swift return of migrants could serve as an example to counter the vain promises that migrants will see an immediate improvement in their lives in the EU....."

BELGIUM: CIRÉ statement on two suicides:A dark day for migrants and for Belgian migration policy - press statement of 3 April

"Thursday 2 April 2015 will remain etched as a dark day. Two people who were refused the right of residence by Belgium killed themselves. Acting as spokespersons for many others, they send out a message to our humanity and recall - if it still needs to be demonstrated - the true cost of our migration policies."

EU: Shipowners, Unions Urge EU Address Migrant Crisis (Maritime Executive, link):

"European and global operators of merchant ships have joined forces with seafarers’ unions in a letter urging EU Member States to take immediate collective action in addressing the growing humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean Sea.....

In a joint letter to leaders of all 28 EU Members States dated March 31, the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA), the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF), the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) have warned that the crisis is spiralling out of control. They warn there is a serious risk of further catastrophic loss of life unless EU Member States respond with greater urgency."

See: Letter from shipping industry to EU Heads of State/Heads of Government of EU/EEA Member States: Humanitarian crisis in Mediterranean sea (pdf)

CoE: SPAIN: Report to the Spanish Government on the visit to Spain carried out by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) (pdf)

"The Council of Europe anti-torture committee (CPT) today published the report on its visit to Spain in July 2014, in which it examines the treatment of irregular migrants intercepted in Melilla on the border with Morocco. It also assesses the implementation of previous CPT recommendations in relation to the detention centres for foreigners (CIEs) in Barcelona (Zona Franca) and Madrid (Aluche).....The CPT also expresses its concern on recently adopted legislation, pending in front of the Spanish parliament at the time of the adoption of the report, which legalises the practice of forcibly deporting irregular migrants without any prior identification or assessment of their needs."

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 won’t look away and allow our shame for this illegal practice through which our name is being soiled to discourage us. We won’t allow the existence in our country of zones of exception for human rights regardless of how hard they try to legalise them."

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 "apphrended" 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 (or could take place from 18 to 30 April 2015)

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.

UK: Parliamentarians call for "very radical shift in thinking" on immigration detention

An inquiry conducted by MPs and Lords from the UK's three major political parties (Labour, Liberal Democrat and Conservative) has concluded that "a very radical shift in thinking" is required on immigration detention. The report makes four "key recommendations":

Between July and October 2014 the inquiry, launched by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Migration, received 182 submission of written evidence and held three oral evidence sessions. Members of the inquiry also visited detention centres and the Swedish Migration Board.

See: All Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Migration, 'The Report of the Inquiry into the Use of Immigration Detention in the United Kingdom' (pdf), 3 March 2015

And also: Immigration centres: Act now to overhaul Britain's 'shocking' detention of migrants indefinitely and in appalling conditions, say MPs (The Independent, link) and MPs call for immigration detention cap (BBC News, link).

EU: Frontex, poison or antidote to the tragedies in the Mediterranean? (Migreurop, link):

"As Malta receives millions of Euros to fund maritime border control operations in collaboration with Frontex, members of the FRONTEXIT campaign denounce the security obsession blinding Europe and leading to increasing numbers of deaths."

Update III on detentions and deportations of Sub-Saharan migrants in Morocco (No Borders Morocco, link):

""As part of the so-called European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), the EU and its member states fund surrounding countries to control their borders and effectively prevent migrants from reaching European territory. As an "Advanced Partner" in the ENP, Morocco is complicit in creating a buffer zone externalising the EU’s inhumane border regime to Northern Africa. To gain advanced status, Morocco signed a so-called "Mobility Partnership" including readmission negotiations, and receives "assistance in implementing the strategy to combat illegal migration" (EU/Morocco Action Plan, para 48) from the EU. The large-scale detention and deportations of Sub-Saharan migrants in Morocco show what this combat looks like in practice."

See: EU/Morocco Action Plan (pdf)

Frontex budget: €17 million increase puts agency on "cruising speed"

The 2015 budget of EU border agency Frontex has been increased by 16%, from €97 million to €114 million, with the largest share of the extra funding going towards Joint Operations at Sea Borders. According to the agency's Work Programme for 2015, published in December 2014, the budget is on "cruising speed".

'Joint Operations and Pilot Projects at Sea Borders' receives the largest share of the €114 million budget, with €31 million or 27% of the total. In 2014, Joint Operations at Sea Borders was allocated €25 million. According to the Work Programme: "Strengthening the Member States' operational capacity to cover increased operational areas and implementation periods will enhance the tackling of irregular migration on routes identified by risk analysis.

EU: CJEU: Advocate General (AG) Shartston: Opinion: 12 February 2015, Case C.554/13 (pdf): The AG says that if an undocumented person is suspected of a criminal offence then the authorities do not need to wait for the legal process to be completed in order to deport the person

EU: Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA): Criminalisation of migrants in an irregular situation and of persons engaging with them (pdf): "FRA research has highlighted the risk that domestic EU Member State legislation on the facilitation of entry and stay may lead to the punishment of those who provide humanitarian assistance..."

EU: European Commission:State of Play: Readmission and "facilitation": International agreements in the process of negotiation DG HOME – European Commission (pdf)

EU: Council of the European Union: LIMITE document Overstayers in the EU

Overstayers in the EU: methodology of gathering statistics; preventive measures; penalties (LIMITE dco no: 5194-15, pdf): The Council Presidency is looking at the harmoinsation of laws on dealing with people who overstay their visitors permint and who may enter the EU through one Member State and exit through another "without an appropriate sanction" . In 2013 there:

"were 344,888 detections of illegal stay in the EU....The overstayers detected in the EU are third-country nationals who have exceeded the authorised period of stay, most of them being short-stay visa holders"

NETHERLANDS: FORCED RETURNS: CoE: CPT report: Report to the Government of the Netherlands on the visit to the Netherlands carried out by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) from 16 to 18 October 2013 (pdf) and xGovernment response (pdf)

See: Press release: Council of Europe anti-torture Committee publishes report on forced return flight from the Netherlands (link)

EU: Council of the European Union: LIMITE documents: Dublin III & children, Handbook on THB and VIS extension countries

DUBLIN III: Unaccompanied children: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 as regards determining the Member State responsible for examining the application for international protection of unaccompanied minors with no family member, sibling or relative legally present in a Member State (LIMITE doc no: 5108-15, pdf) Council Presidency suggested changes and with 22 Footnotes giving Member State positions.

As above: Preparation for the first informal trilogue (LIMITE doc no: 5587-15, pdf): Council working on its negotiating position

Handbook on trafficking in human beings - indicators for investigating police forces (LIMITE doc no: 14630-rev1-14, pdf): "The procedures for the identification of potential trafficking victims, which were created in the field by a synergistic blend of police intelligence - some acquired through international cooperation - and information supplied by the NGOs which provide assistance to victims, are therefore fundamental in identifying possible trafficking victims."

VISA INFORMATION SYSTEM to be extended to include Ukraine and Russia: VIS - time frame concerning the roll-out in the last regions - Approval of the final compromise (LIMITE doc no: 5731-15, pdf):

"The VIS will be launched on 23 June 2015, for region 17 (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Republic of Moldova, Ukraine). The notification by Member States is no longer necessary as all Member States have already notified their technical readiness... The VIS will be launched on 14 September 2015, for region 18 (Russia). Pursuant to Article 48(3) of the VIS Regulation, the Member States who have not done so yet should transmit their notification of readiness at the latest by 1 March 2015...In December 2014, eu-LISA concluded that the VIS Biometric Machine System (VIS/BMS) would be able to support the VIS roll-out for region 17 and beyond," [emphasis added]

EU: European Commission: Detailed: Annexes: ANNEXES to the Proposal for a REGULATION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL on a Union Code on the rules governing the movement of persons across borders (Schengen Borders Code) (codification) (COM 8-2015, ANNEXES, pdf). Including "Standard form for refusal of entry at the border" which says on page 13:

"X is considered to be a threat to public policy, internal security, public health or the international relations of one of more of the Member States of the EU."

See also the Commission Decision: COMMISSION IMPLEMENTING DECISION of XXX replacing the Annex to Commission Implementing Decision 2013/115/EU on the SIRENE Manual and other implementing measures for the second generation Schengen Information System (SIS II) (pdf)

And see: New measure implementing SIS II: Very detailed, from Commission SIRENE Manual ANNEX to the COMMISSION IMPLEMENTING DECISION replacing the Annex to Commission Implementing Decision 2013/115/EU on the SIRENE Manual and other implementing measures for the second generation Schengen Information System (SIS II) (53 pages, pdf)

EU: Police chiefs want non-EU countries to "prevent irregular migration from happening"

Europol and police forces from EU Member States and beyond have called for "more funds [for] enhanced border control, preventive measures in countries of origin, and joint investigative and analysis teams" to deal with irregular migration, according to a leaked Europol report summarising the proceedings of the 2014 European Police Chiefs Convention. The Convention took place at the end of September 2014, and the report puts particular emphasis on the need for 'buffer states' that take on border control roles for the EU:

"Above all, pre-entry measures such as effective bilateral agreements are key to reducing illegal/irregular migration because once third-country nationals are in an irregular situation in the EU, it becomes more difficult and costly to locate them and address the irregularity. Therefore, it is a policy priority to invest in the country of origin to prevent the irregular migration from happening."

EU: Drones for maritime rescue only, not to prevent migration (Pressemitteilungen von Andrej Hunko, link): "“31 million euros is the cost of new research into the use of drones in the Mediterranean to ward off unwanted migration. The EU Commission is contributing around two-thirds of this. Instead of making risky crossings even more difficult for refugees, the money could be used to simplify entry procedures.....”, said Member of the Bundestag Andrej Hunko, in reaction to the European Commission’s two replies to a question on this subject.

Hunko had enquired about EU projects SUNNY, CLOSEYE and AEROCEPTOR. These involve drone tests in three regions of the Mediterranean Sea deemed hot spots for refugee crossings, with AEROCEPTOR using aerial police weaponry for the first time."

.See European Commission answers: Project “SUNNY” (link) and Projects “Closeye”, “DeSIRE” and “Aeroceptor” (link)

GERMANY: Police investigate death of Eritrean man in Dresden - Murder investigation launched after man’s body found in German city where there have been anti-immigrant Pegida marches (Guardian, link):

""Dresden police have launched a murder investigation following the death of an Eritrean man whose blood-soaked body was found outside his home in the east German city. (...) "Police initially said there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding his death, saying on Tuesday: 'Up to now there are no indications of foul play.'

"But after a flurry of activity on social network sites and inquiries by a local journalist from the newspaper MOPO24 as well as from members of the 35,000-strong Eritrean community in Germany as to how it could be ruled out so quickly that the man had been the victim of assault, police said a murder investigation had been launched."

See Letter from NGO Human Rights Concern Eritrea to Heiko Maas, Germany's Justice Minister (pdf)

EU ACCOUNTABILITY GAP: European Parliament: Joint Police Operation "Mos Maiorum" (13-26 October 2014): During this JPO the Commission, the Council and Frontex denied any part in planning it - its was all the responsibility of the Italian Council Presidency (and presumably the Greek Council Presidency which took the decision) plus all the EU Member States who took part.

See: Council put out censored, "partially accessible", version of the operation document deleting the date and all the details of Joint Police Operation (JO): Censored text (pdf) and see: Full-text (pdf)

MEPs tried to find out more: Question to the Council: Subject: Planned joint police operation ‘Mos Maiorum' (EP, link) from: Barbara Spinelli (GUE/NGL) , Kostas Chrysogonos (GUE/NGL) , Malin Björk (GUE/NGL) , Martina Anderson (GUE/NGL) , Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE/NGL) and Reply by the Council (EP link) and see Question: ‘Mos Maiorum’ joint operation and role played by Frontex: from Silvia Costa (S&D) , Kashetu Kyenge (S&D) , Elly Schlein (S&D) , Patrizia Toia (S&D) and the Reply by the Council (link) which simply refers to the same answer as that given to the first question. Thus the replies by the Council are:

"The attention of the Honourable Members is drawn to the fact that the joint police operation Mos Maiorum is being conducted under the responsibility of the Italian State, with the support of those Member States which have decided to participate. The Council as an institution has therefore not taken any decision in its setting up, nor is it in a position to comment on the way it is managed.

The competent courts, along with the Commission, as guardian of the Treaties, are responsible for overseeing Member States' application of Union law...."

Background: Statewatch Summary of coverage: (5.11.14): Media and Web coverage: no 7 (pdf) (24.10.14): Media and Web coverage no 6 (pdf), (20.10.14): Media and Web coverage: no 5 (pdf), (17.10.14): Media and Web coverage: no 4 (pdf), (15.10.14): Media and Web coverage: no 3 (pdf), 13.10.14: : Media and Web coverage: no 2 (pdf) and 13.10.14:same day Web-media coverage: no 1 (pdf) and see: "Mos Maiorum": Images and photos of protests (pdf)

New in Brief (9.1.15)

Austria Detention Profile (Global Detention Project, link); "In early 2014, Austria opened its first specialized immigration detention facility. The development comes after more than two decades of criticism from national and international observers, who have pressed the country not to detain migrants and asylum seekers in prisons and other criminal facilities. The opening, however, was accompanied by controversy because of the decision to outsource security and other services at the facility to a heavily criticized private prison firm, G4S."

Syrian refugees told to decide as camp shuts down (Cyprus Mail, link): "THE Syrian refugees who were rescued off the coast of Cyprus in September and are temporarily housed at the Kokkinotrimithia reception centre, need to urgently make arrangements for their stay in the country, since the camp will close down in a few days, the Interior ministry announced yesterday."

Germany's right-wing populists join hands with anti-Islamist Pegida (euractiv, link)

Greece: New anti-discrimination report set for February launch (Coe Human Rights, link): "The February analysis from the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) will be the fifth Council of Europe examination of the country’s efforts to strengthen social cohesion and fight xenophobia, anti-semitism and bigotry."

EU: Council of the European Union: "Researchers" Directive: Proposal for a Directive on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of research, studies, pupil exchange, remunerated and unremunerated training, voluntary service and au pairing [Recast] (LIMITE doc no: 16343-14, 158 pages, pdf): Developing the Council's position: "At its meeting held on 2 December 2014, the JHA Counsellors had an exchange of views on the
Presidency compromise suggestions included in document 15800/14. The outcome of this exchange of views is reflected in the text in Annex.
" With 177 Footnotes including Member State positions.

EU: "BEST PRACTICES" for COERCIVE FINGERPRINTING of MIGRANTS and their DETENTION "for the purpose of fingerprinting [with] the use of a proportionate degree of coercion" including "vulnerable persons, such as minors or pregnant women"

European Commission: Best Practices for upholding the Obligation in the Eurodac Regulation to take fingerprints (LIMITE, doc: DS 1491/14, pdf) "Meeting document" from European Commission. In the attached study it is clear that many EU states do not have laws permitting the use of coercion to take undocumented migrants' fingerprints, the Commission's "Best Practices" however foresees the use of coercion although the study shows that coercion is not allowed by law in 14 Member States. It is only lawful in 7 Member States (Croatia, Austria, Finland, Germany, Poland, Slovakia and the UK). In Italy it not allowed by law but is by courts and in Sweden people are detained.

"The European Commission carried out an EMN enquiry to find out how Member States were dealing with this situation. The results of this enquiry (attached) show that some Member States permit the use of detention for the purpose of fingerprinting some permit the use of a proportionate degree of coercion, while others neither use detention nor coercion....

For as long as a data-subject refuses to cooperate in the initial identification process, including in the taking of his/her fingerprints as required by EU law, it is not possible to conclude whether or not there is a realistic prospect of his/her return being carried out and, as such, detention may be permitted under the terms of the Return Directive...

Member States may consider that it is never appropriate to use coercion to compel the fingerprinting of certain vulnerable persons, such as minors or pregnant women. If some degree of coercion is used for vulnerable persons it must be ensured that the procedure used is specifically adapted to such persons. The use of coercion should always be recorded...."

EU: THE SURVEILLANCE of TRAVEL by LAND, SEA & AIR?: Council of the European Union: Smart Borders Package pilot project: draft political guidelines LIMITE doc no:16275-14, (pdf):

"The pilot project should aim at testing and validating the technical options, regarding […] border control processes and the use of biometrics... The pilot project should address the broadest possible variety of border crossing situations, looking at airport, land and sea borders....

The pilot project should in particular test the following aspects: the impact of biometrics' use on border control processes: testing different biometric identifiers for enrolment in EES (10 fingerprints in combination with facial image; 8 fingerprints in combination with facial image; 4 fingerprints in combination with facial image; facial image only); using several types of biometric devices (existing technology at border posts, last generation of fingerprint scanners, contactless fingerprint scanners, hand-held devices, Automated Border Control (ABC) gates or electronic (e-) gates). The option of the facial image could in particular be tested in case of cruises." [this last emphasis in original]

See also: EU: Smart borders: "no sufficient evidence" to justify law enforcement access to proposed Entry/Exit System travel database (Statewatch database) and Analysis: Smart borders: fait accompli? (Statewatch database)

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