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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
21.5-3.6.19
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Statewatch Observatory: The refugee crisis in the Med and inside the EU: a humanitarian emergency

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ICC submission calls for prosecution of EU over migrant deaths (The Guardian, link):

"The EU and member states should be prosecuted for the deaths of thousands of migrants who drowned in the Mediterranean fleeing Libya, according to a detailed legal submission to the international criminal court (ICC).

The 245-page document calls for punitive action over the EU’s deterrence-based migration policy after 2014, which allegedly “intended to sacrifice the lives of migrants in distress at sea, with the sole objective of dissuading others in similar situation from seeking safe haven in Europe”.

The indictment is aimed at the EU and the member states that played a prominent role in the refugee crisis: Italy, Germany and France."

Background: Time to Investigate European Agents for Crimes against Migrants in Libya (EJIL: Talk!, link)

Turkey police bust human trafficking ring, arrest smugglers (Al Jazeera, link):

"Turkish police have arrested 20 members of an international migrant-smuggling organisation, including one of Europe's most wanted traffickers, Turkish police have said.

Akbar Omar Tawfeeq, the suspected leader of the crime syndicate, and others were captured on May 25 during a joint operation conducted by police and intelligence agencies, officials said in a news briefing in Istanbul on Wednesday.

At least 569 migrants were caught and judicial authorities confiscated six vehicles, six boats and numerous life vests belonging to Tawfeeq's organisation, police officials said.

The crackdown came after an investigation led by Istanbul's chief public prosecutor, who suggested that the organisation smuggled migrants from Afghanistan and northern Iraq, to Greece, Italy and other European countries in return for large sums of money.

The prosecutor's report also found that the group smuggled migrants stuck in Greece to other European Union countries, as a second route across Europe.

Authorities conducted a process of technical surveillance and tracked the suspects' movements in countries such as Ukraine, England and Italy, in coordination with local authorities."

Ministerial Forum for Member States of the Schengen Area with External Land Borders Joint Statement (Council document 9761/19, 28 May 2019, pdf):

"We, the Ministers in charge of border management of Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Romania and Slovakia, cooperating within the framework of the Ministerial Forum for Member States of the Schengen Area with External Land Borders (the Forum), established in Lappeenranta, Finland, in 2013; gathered in Kirkenes, Norway, on 20-22 May 2019, upon the invitation of the Norwegian Presidency of the Forum."

May 2019

UK: Home Office rules on determining if asylum seekers are minors ruled unlawful (Irish Legal News, link):

"Home Office rules on determining if asylum seekers are younger than 18 are unlawful, senior judges have ruled.

The Court of Appeal has supported a claim made by an Eritrean man, who sought asylum in 2014, The Times reports.

Guidelines from the Home Office state that asylum seekers should be believed when they claim to be under 18 unless “their physical appearance very strongly suggests that they are significantly over 18 years of age and no other credible evidence exists to the contrary”."

Judgment: BF (Eritrea) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2019] EWCA Civ 872 (23 May 2019) (pdf)

France: Hundreds of People Occupy Airport to Protest Airline’s Role in Deportations (ECRE, link):

"Several Hundred People have occupied terminal 2F of the airport Charles-de-Gaulle in Roissy, France, to protest against Air France’s collaboration in deportations from France and the asylum policy of the French state.

The protest was organised by the collective Gilets Noirs (Black Vests), a group of migrants without papers (“sans-papiers”) in the Ile-de-France region, and the pro-migrant activist group la Chapelle debout. Around 500 people occupied the terminal for two hours."

See: Les Gilets Noirs: We are in the airport in France (Statewatch News, 22 May 2019)

EU: Dublin regulation: Into the infernal machine of the European asylum system (La Cimade, link):

"For many people in exile who seek asylum when they come to Europe, the word “Dublin” brings to mind thoughts of a constant threat which might knoc k them down at any moment. Far from evoking thoughts of the Irish capital, “Dublin” puts them back into endless procedures, continual suspicion and fear of being sent back to a country where they don’t want to live. La Cimade publishes an Observation Report about the impact of the Dublin Regulation."

Are You Syrious (25-26.5.19,link):

Feature: Police Brutality on Greek island of Samos

"Refugees protesting the deplorable conditions in the Samos camp were met with tear gas and police batons this Saturday morning. According to statements by NGO workers and refugees, a protest began around 7:30 on Saturday morning when a line of police officers blocked the path of refugees.(...)"

Afghans deported from Germany face violence, other perils (DW, link)

"In May alone, there have been numerous murders, incidents of violence and terrorist attacks in Afghanistan. According to a UN report, 561 civilians were killed from January to March 2019. And Germany's Foreign Ministry has issued a travel warning for Afghanistan, reporting that "staying in most parts of the country remains dangerous."

Despite these facts, Germany recently deported 26 more people to Afghanistan. Since December 2016, almost 600 people have been sent to the country in a total of 24 repatriation flights. Authorities have even used physical force to deport people.

Once people who have been deported from Germany land in Afghanistan, they are left to fend for themselves and face uncertain futures."

CoE: Human trafficking: Experts underline the need to help victims (link):

"In its latest annual report, published today, GRETA sets out a series of legal requirements included in the Council of Europe’s anti-trafficking convention*, including proving victims with appropriate accommodation, medical treatment, psychological assistance and material support as well as information on their rights, legal assistance and help with reintegration into society."

Are You Syrious (23.5.19, link):

Feature: After 3 years, reception in Greece is still an emergency

Refugee Support Aegean (RSA) researchers conducted interviews with individual refugees and families living in five refugee camps in Northern and Central Greece (Central Macedonia, Epirus and Thessaly)

People risk death and are returned to Libya while Europe watches

"During the last two days more than 300 people left Libya on at least 5 dinghies. IOM report that 285 were intercepted by the Libyan Coast Guard and returned in the country, where they will be immediately detained.

Sea Watch, Moonbird and AlarmPhone witnessed teh developments (...)

Sea Watch report that an Italian military vessel refused to take action to rescue people risking to drown and hanging on to a deflating rubber dinghy."

GREECE ARRIVALS

"Arrivals on the Greek islands have not made the headlines for a long while, but the lack of attention by mainstream media does not mean that people have stopped trying to cross the Aegean Sea or that numbers are decreasing. Aegaean Boat Report have summarized the attempts to cross and the arrivals on the Greek eastern islands of the last weeks."

Samos: forgotten frontline: Video (link)

200,000 displaced Syrians flee towards Turkey (euractiv, link):

"Pressure is mounting on Turkish authorities to open their borders to more than 200,000 refugees from Syria. What prevents the refugees from entering is a 764-km wall Turkey has built along the border, in fear of Kurdish “terrorists”."

Net immigration to Britain falls to 5-year low in 2018 (Reuters, link):

"Long-term immigration to Britain fell to a five-year low last year, driven by a fall in the number of migrants from the European Union, official figures showed on Friday."

EU development aid used to put European police in Senegal (euobserver, link):

"Police in Senegal deal with a street disturbance - they will soon be joined by European officers, paid for by EU development aid, to tackle people-smuggling

In a matter of weeks, some €9m of EU development aid will be used to shore up the police in Senegal, West Africa, to help crack down on migrant smuggling.

While such EU-funded development projects on security are nothing new, the latest effort in Senegal is a novelty."

Dutch minister resigns over manipulated report of crimes committed by asylum-seekers (euractiv, link):

"The Netherlands’ minister for migration, Mark Harbers, resigned Tuesday (21 May) after a parliamentary outcry over elided data on crimes committed by asylum-seekers, in a bad blow to the government just ahead of European elections."

Council of Europe: Hungary should address interconnected human rights issues in refugee protection, civil society space, independence of the judiciary and gender equality (link):

"The Commissioner finds that the government’s stance against immigration and asylum seekers has resulted in a legislative framework which undermines the reception of asylum seekers and the integration of recognised refugees. The Commissioner calls on the government to repeal the decreed “crisis situation due to mass immigration” which is not justified by the number of asylum seekers currently entering Hungary and the EU and urges the authorities to refrain from using anti-migrant rhetoric and campaigns which fan xenophobic attitudes."

See: Commissioner's Report on Hungary following her visit to the country in February 2019 (pdf) and: Hungarian government comments (pdf)

ITALY: UN special rapporteurs call for withdrawal of Salvini decree criminalising search and rescue activities

Six UN special rapporteurs and independent experts have written to the Italian government demanding the withdrawal of an interior ministry directive that prioritises 'security concerns' over the saving of lives at sea, as examined in a Statewatch analysis published last month.

EU: Externalisation: Frontex launches first formal operation outside of the EU and deploys to Albania

The EU has taken a significant, if geographically small, step in the externalisation of its borders. The European Border and Coast Guard Agency, Frontex, has launched its first Joint Operation on the territory of a non-EU-Member State, as it begins cooperation with Albania on the border with Greece.

FRANCE: Les Gilets Noirs: We are in the airport in France

“I’m here to tell you that for them we are commodities! If they give us documents they lose their business. So they must see that someone stood up. We are not balls to be kicked about, we are not children. Our struggle is not only about papers. What you have yet to see you’ll see when you fight. There is sorrow and happiness inside. Things need to become red and people need to rise to bring it out. The shame is theirs, not ours. They must stop seeing black people as blackness, but see that they have become red.”

Italy seizes Sea-Watch 3 rescue vessel (DW, link):

"Italy's far-right interior minister has condemned the seizure of the ship, saying migrants on board should not have set foot in Italy. However, the condition of the refugees had swayed the authorities' opinion.

Italian prosecutors on Sunday impounded rescue vessel Sea-Watch 3 for breaching immigration rules despite government attempts to block the ship from reaching an Italian port.

The ship rescued 65 migrants off the coast of Libya last week. It had originally signaled its intention to disembark them at an Italian port, but was blocked by Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini."

ECHR: Italian Government must provide temporary accommodation for Roma children and their parents evicted from a settlement (pdf):

"On 5 April 2019 the Mayor of Giugliano issued Decree no. 29, ordering that all the settlement’s inhabitants be evicted for reasons of public health and safety. That order was carried out on 10 May. The applicants currently live with their families in an improvised campsite in an industrial area outside Giugliano.(...)

had been rehoused, the Court decided to apply an interim measure indicating to the Italian Government that it should provide temporary accommodation for the minors involved and their parents, without separating them."

EU elections 2019: Where do parties stand on migration? (euractiv, link):

"Although irregular arrivals in Europe are at their lowest level in five years, migration remains one of the top priorities for European citizens in the upcoming EU election. EURACTIV has looked into the European parties’ proposals on the matter."

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