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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
16-29.4.19
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Statewatch Observatory: The refugee crisis in the Med and inside the EU: a humanitarian emergency

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Global Detention Project Annual Report 2018 (link):

"Last summer, people across the globe expressed outrage when U.S. immigration officials began separating children from their parents at the U.S.- Mexico border and placing them in hastily set up camps and cages. Absent from much of the criticism, however, was any recognition of the fact that children are detained for immigration-related reasons in dozens of countries, all of which—with the exception of the United States—have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2019.

...The continued insistence by states that immigration enforcement decisions take precedence over considerations of the well-being of children is also reflected in the much-anticipated Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), adopted in December 2018. As we discuss later in this Annual Report, there is much that is laudable in the GCM, including its insistence that immigration detention only be used as a measure of last resort and its re-iteration of long-standing fundamental norms requiring that detention “follows due process, is non-arbitrary, based on law, necessity, proportionality and individual assessments.”

Concerning children, the GCM encourages states to apply “alternatives to detention” while “working to end the practice of child detention.” But the compact falls short of recognising immigration detention’s violation of the “best interest” principle or calling for the prohibition of child detention."

Detention, Insecurity, Rights Deprivation – The Legal Crackdown on Asylum Seekers in Germany (ECRE, link):

"On 17 April 2019 the German Government pushed ahead with the deprivation of rights of refugees with two laws – the so-called “Orderly Return Bill” and an amendment to the social welfare law for asylum seekers. The highly controversial “Orderly Return Bill” promoted by the Ministry of the Interior has now been passed by the cabinet meeting of the Government and will be discussed in parliament. The draft law is part of a recent wave of legal measures that represent a crackdown on asylum seekers. It provides for far-reaching changes which have been sharply criticised by civil society associations as they include the deprivation of rights, expansion of the use of detention, and withdrawal of social benefits. It also makes the status of recognised refugees more precarious, introduces a downgraded version of the “Duldung” (toleration) status, and targets people and organisations involved in refugee support."

European governments’ targeting of migrant solidarity activists for prosecution must stop, says IRR (IRR, link):

"The Institute of Race Relations (IRR) publishes today a compelling new report on ‘crimes of solidarity’, drawing attention to a dramatic increase in prosecutions, restrictions and penalties, against a variety of civil society actors.

The online publication of When Witnesses Won’t be Silenced: citizens’ solidarity and criminalisation comes just days after the Global Legal Action Network petitioned the European Court of Human Rights arguing that the prosecution in January 2016 of Salam Kamal-Aldeen, the founder of Team Humanity, for his rescue work in the Aegean Sea constitutes a violation of human rights law."

France delivers boats to Libya: NGOs demand justice! (press release, pdf):

"Today our eight organisations invoke justice and denounce France’s complicity in violations of human rights in Libya. At the Administrative Tribunal in Paris we demand the suspension of a delivery of boats planned by the Armed Forces Ministry destined for Libyan coastguards, on account of serious doubts about its legality.

Last February, Florence Parly, France’s armed Forces minister, announced the purchase of six high-speed boats destined for Libyan coastguards in order to deal with ‘the problem of illegal immigration’. For the first time, France publicly announced direct and concrete bilateral collaboration with the Libyan coastguards. In buying these six boats for their use, France is participating in the cycle of violations of human rights committed in Libya in relation to refugees and migrants, by providing the logistics to intensify such measures."

GREECE: April 2019 Report on Rights Violations and Resistance in Lesvos (Legal Centre Lesvos, link):

"Last week, it was reported that in response to criticism the director of the notorious Reception and Identification Centre outside Moria village in Lesvos stated that “anyone who thinks they can do better than us is welcome to try.”

What he misses is that it is actually an obligation of the State to provide adequate reception facilities for asylum seekers. It is also an obligation of the state to respect, protect, and ensure the enjoyment of human rights for all residing in its jurisdiction, including all migrants and refugees.

Three years after the EU-Turkey Statement, time has shown that the Greek state, and the European Union in its role implementing European migration policies, have utterly failed to meet these obligations. The horrible conditions and systematic procedural violations are not only morally, but legally unacceptable.

The practices we have documented in the first quarter of 2019 demonstrate a continued policy of dehumanization, discrimination, and structural violence against migrants entering Europe via Lesvos. Below is just a sampling of the continuing violation of migrants we have repeatedly reported on."

Case filed against Greece in Strasbourg Court over Crackdown on Humanitarian Organisations (GLAN, link):

"Following a two-and-a-half-year legal ordeal in Greek courts, Salam Kamal-Aldeen, founder of the non-profit Team Humanity has filed an unprecedented application with the European Court of Human Rights challenging Greece’s crackdown on NGOs rescuing refugees at sea. (More on Salam’s show trail in Greece here.

The application filed with the Strasbourg court exposes the illegality of the Greek authorities’ crackdown on human rights defenders working to render assistance to persons in distress at sea. It challenges Greek’s abuse of power to arbitrarily prosecute and expose Mr Aldeen to a minimum ten years’ imprisonment, only to suspend his life-saving activities. The best evidence for the political extraneous considerations in prosecuting Salam is of course his complete acquittal."

GREECE: Racist Violence Recording Network: Annual Report 2018 (pdf):

"In 2018, the Racist Violence Recording Network (RVRN) recorded an increase in incidents of racist violence, especially against refugees and migrants. This increase is linked to the political polarization at a global level regarding the reception of refugees and migrants, coupled with national and local factors shaping the situation in Greece. The reinforced presence of the far-right parties in Europe encourages the violent xenophobic groups that claim an increasing proportion of the public sphere. In view of the European elections, the more space is occupied by the far-right agenda and euro-scepticism, the more the far-right, neo-Nazi and extreme nationalist groups across Europe gain further strength and form alliances with each other or even compete in committing racist attacks."

Starving in Hungary's transit zones (InfoMigrants, link):

"Since August 2018, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee (HHC), a non-governmental organization advocating for human rights in Hungary, has counted a total of 13 cases of starvation in Hungary’s transit zones, affecting 21 individuals.

An Iraqi family of five with three children left Iraq in the hope of finding treatment for their 9-year-old son who is particularly vulnerable due to his mental disability. Their 6-year-old child also has autistic tendencies.

An Afghan family arrived in Hungary after fleeing Afghanistan during a family dispute over land. They were threatened with death and then mistreated in Iran because they were Afghan. Another Iraqi family of eight fled Iraq due to ISIS. They had witnessed killings and the abduction of young girls. They were afraid for their lives.

These are just some of the case studies highlighted by the HHC in their latest report about the denial of food to rejected asylum seekers inside Hungary's transit zones. In all cases, food was denied to the adults in the group for between one and five days."

Libya: Detained refugees shot as clashes near Tripoli continue (Al Jazeera, link):

"Refugees and migrants trapped in a detention centre on the front line of conflict in Tripoli for weeks say they were shot at indiscriminately on Tuesday by fighters aligned with eastern forces advancing on Libya's capital.

At least 10 people were seriously wounded by gunfire, detainees said.

"Right now they are attacking the centre, shooting more people … They are shooting us directly," an Eritrean man told Al Jazeera through the messaging service WhatsApp."

And: Migrants in Libyan jail were reportedly seriously wounded in shooting: U.N. (Reuters, link)

EU-TURKEY: 10,000 irregular migrants held in Turkey this year (Anadolu Agency, link):

"Some 10,000 irregular migrants were rounded up off Turkey's Aegean Sea coast in the last three months, security sources said.

Coast guard units held 5,729 migrants. Six migrants lost their lives due to drowning or hypothermia and 15 human smugglers were arrested.

Also, 3,919 migrants and 82 human smugglers were held by the land forces.

All of the migrants were later referred to provincial migration directorates.

Last year, 6,336 irregular migrants were held in Turkey."

Germany sets tougher rules for deporting migrants (AP, link):

"The German government has agreed on a set of rules aimed at making it harder for failed asylum seekers to avoid deportation.

The country’s top security official, Horst Seehofer, said Wednesday that the package agreed by the Cabinet focuses on people who have exhausted all legal avenues to obtain asylum.

Seehofer told reporters in Berlin that people who try to hide their true identity can be jailed and those who fail to replace lost travel documents may face fines.

Authorities will double to about 1,000 the number of prison places designated for deportees."

CATALONIA: Government launches 'safe' ports plan for refugees and rescue boats (Catalan News, link):

"The Catalan government has launched an initiative bringing together several departments in order to make its ports "safe" for refugees and NGO rescue boats.

Speaking as the scheme started on Monday with the first meeting of the working group, the foreign minister reminded reporters that Catalonia does not have the power to grant migrants asylum, but does have control over reception and integration policy.

Alfred Bosch said the plan was a response to the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean and recognition of the "moral and political obligation" to welcome migrants, particularly in the face of what he denounced as the "inaction" of EU member states."

Fighting in Libya will create huge number of refugees, PM warns (Guardian, link):

"Fayez al-Sarraj says Khalifa Haftar’s attack on Tripoli ‘will spread its cancer through Mediterranean

Hundreds of thousands of refugees could flee the fighting caused by Khalifa Haftar’s attempt to seize the Libyan capital, Tripoli, the prime minister of the country’s UN-recognised government has warned.(...)

There have been concerns that Libya could become a “new Syria”, with civil war leading to massive population displacement.(...)

“There are not only the 800,000 migrants potentially ready to leave, there would be Libyans fleeing this war",

Rescue ship says Spain is blocking its bid to aid refugees in Greece (El Pais, link):

"A vessel operated by an NGO is trying to deliver humanitarian relief to Lesbos, but Spanish authorities say it needs a new permit despite having one from Portugal.

A Basque fishing vessel converted into a migrant rescue boat called the Aita Mari is having problems going to the Greek island of Lesbos, where it aims to deliver humanitarian aid to the thousands of refugees concentrated there."

The excetional become the norm: Border controls: state of emergency becoming state of normality (euractiv, link);

"Germany, as well as other EU member states in the Schengen area, is extending the period of random border checks. The EU Commission is not pleased. EURACTIV’s media partner Der Tagesspiegel reports.

Actually, border checks should only be temporary. However, the deployment of the German Federal Police at the German-Austrian border, which began at the height of the refugee crisis in September 2015, has since been repeatedly extended."

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